Horace Binney.

An inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. online

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perfect good faith. — Here let us stop. —

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or
a very remote relation. — Hence she must be engaged in frequent
controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our con-
cerns. — Hence therefore it must be unwise in us to implicate our-
selves by [ t ] artificial [ties]| in the ordinary vicissitudes of her
politics, [or]§ the ordinary combinations and collisions of her
friendships, or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to
pursue a difierent course. — If we remain one people, under an
efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy
material injury from external annoyance ; when we may take such
an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve
[uponJII to be scrupulously respected. — When[T[] belligerent na-
tions, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will
[not] lightly hazard the giving us provocation [**]; when we
may choose peace or war, as our interest guided by [ft] justice
shall counsel. —

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation ? — Why
quit our own to stand upon foreign ground ? — Why, by interweav-
ing our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace

* circumspection indeed, but with t ""

{ connection § in || to observe IT neither of two

** to throw our weight into the opposite scale; tt 0"r


and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest,
humour, or caprice ? —

'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances [*]
with any portion of the foreign world ; — so far, I mean, as we are
now at liberty to do it — for let me not be understood as capable
of patronizing infidelity to [existing]! engagements, ([I hold the
maxim no less applicable to public than to private afFairs]|, that
♦honesty is [always] the best policy). — [I repeat it there-

\'o I "1*1

fore, let those engagements]§ be observed in their genuine
sense. — But in my opinion it is unnecessary and would be unwise to
extend them. —

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments,
on a respectably defensive posture, we may safely trust to [tempo-
rary]l| alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended
by policy, humanity and interest. — But even our commercial policy
should hold an equal and impartial hand : — neither seeking nor
granting exclusive favours or preferences ; — consulting the natural
course of things ; — difi"using and diversifying by gentle means the
streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; — establishing with
Powers so disposed — in order to give to trade a stable course, to
define the rights of our Merchants and to enable the Government
to support them — conventional rules of intercourse, the best that
present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit ; but tempo-
rary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as
experience and circumstances shall dictate ; constantly keeping in
view, that 'tis folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors
[from]^ another, — that it must pay with a portion of its indepen-
dence for whatever it may accept under that character — that by
such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having

* intimate connections •{■ pre-existing

X for I hold it to be as true in public as in private transactions,

§ those must y occasionaj IT at


given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being rcproachca
mill ingratitude for not giving more.— There can be no greater
error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to
Nation. — 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, -which a just
pride ought to discard.

In offering to jou, my Countrymen, these counsels of an old and
affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the stroiu' and
lasting impression, I could wish,— that they will controul the usual
current of the passions or prevent our Nation from running' the
course which has hitherto marked the destiny of Nations. — But if
I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of
*some partial benefit ; some occasional good ; that they
may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to
warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the
impostures of pretended patriotism, this hope will be a full recom-
pense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been
dictated. —

How far in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided
by the principles which have been delineated, the public Records
and other evidences of my conduct must witness to You, and to the
AYorld. — To myself, the assurance of my own conscience i.^, that I
have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting War in Europe, my Proclama-
tion of the 22d of April 1793 is the index to my plan. — Sanctioned
by your approving voice and by that of Your Representatives in
both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually
governed me : — uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me
from it.

After deliberate examination with the aid of the best lights I
could obtain, [*] I was well satisfied that our country, under all the

* (and from men disagreeing in their impressions of the origin, progress, ami nature

of that war,)— [Supra, p. 207.]



circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in
duty and interest, to take a Neutral position.—Haviug taken it, I
determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with
moderation, perseverance, and firmness. —

[The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct,
[it is not necessary]* on this occasion [to detail.] I will only ob-
serve, tliat according to my understanding of the matter, that right,
so far from being denied by any of the Belligerent Powers, has
been virtually admitted by all. — ]t

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without

♦anything more, from the obligation which justice and hu-

^ ' ^ manity impose on every Nation, in cases in which it is free

to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of Peace and Amity

towards other Nations. —

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct, will best

be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a

predominant motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our
country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to pro-
gress without interruption to that degree of strength and consist-
ency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command
of its own fortunes.

* some of them of a delicate nature would be improperly the subject of explanation.

■f The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, some of them of a
delicate nature, would be improperly the subject of explanation on this occasion. I
will barely observe that according to my understanding of the matter, that right so far
from being denied by any belligerent Power, has been virtually admitted by all. —

This paragraph is then erased from the word " conduct," and the following sentence
interlined, " would be improperly the subject of particular discussion on this occasion.
I will barely observe that to me they appear to be warranted by well-established prin-
ciples of the Laws of Nations as applicable to the nature of our alliance with France
in connection with the circumstances of the War, and the relative situation of the
contending Parties."

A piece of paper is afterwards wafered over both, on which the paragraph as it
stands in the text is written, and on the margin is the following note : " This is the first
draft, and it is questionable which of the two is to be preferred."


Though in reviewing the incidents of my Administration, I am
unconscious of intentional error — I am nevertheless too sensible of
my defects not to think it probable that I [may] have committed
many errors.— [Whatever they may be I]* fervently beseech the
Almighty to avert or mitigate [the evils to which they may tend.]t
— I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never
cease to view them with indulgence ; and that after forty-five years
of my life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults
of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself
must soon be to the mansions of rest. [ | ]

*Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and


actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so

natural to a man, who views in it the native soil of himself and
his progenitors for [several] § generations; — I anticipate with
pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to
realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the
midst of my fellow citizens, the benign influence of good Laws
under a free Government, — the ever favourite object of my heart,

* I deprecate the evils to which they may tend, and — [^Supra, ji. 207]

■)" them

t May I without the charge of ostentation add, that neither ambition nor interest has
been the impelling cause of my actions — that I have never designedly misused any
power confided to me nor hesitated to use one, where I thought it could redound to
your benefit 1 May I without the appearance of affectation say, that the fortune with
which I came into office is not bettered otherwise than by the improvement in the
value of property which the quick progress and uncommon prosperity of our country
have produced? May I still further add without breach of delicacy, that I shall retire
without cause for a blush, with no sentiments alien to the force of those vows for tlie
happiness of his country so natural to a citizen who sees in it the native soil of his
progenitors and himself for four generations'? — [Supra, p. 208.]

On the margin opposite this paragraph is the following note: "This paragrni)h may
have the appearance of self-distrust and mere vanity."

§ four



and the li:ipj)y rcwiird, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours,
ami (lanjxers. [ *] — [Sujn'a, p. 190.]

G— Washington.

Unitkd Statks, ]

nth Scptcmhc


* The paragraph beginning with the words, " May I without the charge of ostentation
add," having been struck out, the following note is Written on the margin of that which
is inserted in its place in the text : — " Continuation of the paragraph preceding the last
ending with the word ' rest.' "



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Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 20 of 20)