Horace Binney.

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

. (page 3 of 20)
Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 3 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

30 washin(;tox's preparatiox of a draught.

been cancelled iii tlie aiiton^rapli copy, now restored and
printed at tlie foot of tlie respective pages.

'Hiese are all the authorities which are necessary to de-
tennine the respective contributions of Washington and
Hamilton to the Farewell Address; and they are all acces-
sible, in original or copy, in their original completeness.
And it is reniarka])le that they are not only all that is neces-
sary to this end, but that some of them supply iiTesistible nega-
tive proof, that nothing occurred personally, or face to face,
betw(>en Washington and Hamilton, to affect the inferences
which the written or printed documents justify; for, except
a single jx'rsonal interview between them, before the corre-
spond(Mic(^ began, which interview, the correspondence
shows, had no influence whatever on the subsequent work
of either of the parties, there was not a single instance of
personal intercourse, direct or indirect, from the beginning
to the end of the whole work on both sides. The whole
matter was conducted in writing, and without the interven-
tion of any common friend, instructed upon the subject, and
passing between the parties.

Washington himself prepared a draught of a valedictory
address, and showed it to Hamilton in Philadelphia, before
the lOth of May, l'i96. On that day Hamilton wrote to
Wasliington from Xew York, in regard to this paper, and
Washington sent it to him, with a letter dated the 15th

A draught of such an Address, in Wasliington's haud-
writinix, either the same which he sent to Hamilton, or
anotlu r, was found among Washington's papers, after his
death. 'Hie. paper that was so found, and which I shall


hereafter refer to as the preserved paper ^ is described, by Mr.
Sparks, in the Appendix to the twelfth vohime of Wash-
ington's Writings, at page 891, as follows: "It is certain,
" however, that it was Washington's original idea to embody
" in the Address the substance and the form of ]Mr, ]Madi-
" son's draught, and to make such additions as events and the
" change of circumstances seemed to require. A paper of
" this description has been preserved, in which is first in-
" serted Mr. Madison's draught, and then a series of memoran-
" da or loose hints, evidently designed to be wrought into the
" Address. These are here printed as transcribed from the
" original manuscript :" and then follows a succession of
paragraphs, Avith the heading Hints or Heads of Topics,
filling about two pages and a half of the Appendix.

Mr. Sparks's imperfect knowledge of some of the papers
I have referred to, which were not published until after the
completion of his edition of Washington's Writings, and
perhaps something in the very considerable dissimilitude, at
least in form, between the preserved paper and the published
Farewell Address, induced him, probably, to regard it as
uncertain whether this paper was the same which Wash-
ington showed, and afterwards sent, to Hamilton, as his
draught of the Address. In this state of doubt or disbehef,
he omitted to print the entire paper in ex ten so. Some
remarks in the initial part of it, introductory of Madison's
draught, might have given some pain to the surviving family
of Mr. Madison ; and if the paper was in reahty, w^hat !Mr.
Sparks seems to have thought it was, a speculative paper,
or a paper containing mere memoranda or hints of topics
for an address, and not a definite presentment of Wash-
ington's thoughts and language, it may seem to have come


uitliin the discrrtion of an editor, oitlicr to select it or not,
for ))ul)lic:iti()ii. Hut tlie publication of several papers on
the Milijcct of tlic Afldress, since that edition of Washing-
ton's AN'ritini^'s, i)articularly Hamilton's original draught, and
Washington's letters to Hamilton, having made it not pro-
hahlr increlv, hut morally certain, that this preserved paper
is till' \ery (h'auglit which was sent by Washington to Ham-
ilton, bv a letter of tlie loth May, 1796, Mr. Sparks, upon
re(iuest, immediately supplied to Mr. John C. Hamilton
copies of the beginning and conclusion of the paper, and
has always, I learn, been ready so to communicate copies of
such of tliese papers as were in his possession, on this sub-
ject ; and by means of them the whole draught has been
completed, and appears in the Appendix to this Inquiry.
TluTe can be no reasonable doubt that the preserved paper
at large, is the original draught of Washington, Avliich his
letter to Hamilton refers to. It was also, in some degree, a
comph^ted paper, as far as Washington personally meant to
go. It begins with a formal address to the people, by the
description of '• Friends and Fellow-Citizens ;" and it con-
eludes with Washington's signature in the usual form, but
witliout dat(\ Its identitv is specially established bv an
alteration on the first page of it, which is noticed in Wash-
ington's letter to Hamilton, and is made by a line drawn
through certain expressions, and through a name at the foot
of tlu« first i)age. As the whole matter is now, at least,
liistorical, tliere can be no propriety in leaving any part of a
writing incomplete, which is so manifestly a principal hinge
of the main (piestion. Tlie alteration in the paper has
become, also, a matter of complete insignificancy, in the
personal relation, to ^[\\ Madison or to any one else, even if,


under any circumstances, the contrary aspect of it can be
thought to justify a departure from the right Une of history,
in regard to the acts of great pubHc men, who have left the
records of them for inspection.

There are one or two particulars in which Mr. Sparks, by
his omission to print the concluding paper, and by remarks
upon a part of it which he does print, has unintentionally
done some injustice to Washington. Nothing coidd have
been further from his intention.

From the concluding part of the preserved paper, Hamil-
ton has taken some rather touching thoughts of Washington,
in regard to his long life of service, and to the affection which
he bore to the land that had been his birthplace, and the
birthplace of his ancestors for four generations. He also has
taken from it his reference to the Proclamation of Neutrality,
and other matters. A considerable portion of the conclusion,
Hamilton, with Washington's approbation, has omitted ; be-
cause, as a public paper, looking to distant posterity, as well
as to the time present, it was thought best to turn away
from the temporary causes of irritation, which Washington,
with some animation, had referred to as a party injustice to
him. One ought not to question what two such judgments
as Washington's and Hamilton's finally approved. But the
concluding part of Washington's draught appears to be of
the greatest importance to his personal biography. It will
enable the public to know him, even better than he is gene-
rally known, and neither to love nor to honor him less.
It may show us, that Kke AchiUes, he was vulnerable in one
part, not, however, in a lower part of his nature, but in the
sensitive tegument of the higher; and that the arrows of
party had just so far raised the skin, that his arm was up.


and had i,'iv(>ii tlic wave of defiance to his enemies, prepara-
tory to a Mow. wliifli Ins deep love of the whole country
arrested. It was niaf^nanimous as well as wise in Hamilton,
wlio was a copartner and sufferer in tlie conllict, to exclude
tliis p(^rtion of the paper from the Farewell Address ; but it
colors A^'aslliniJ:ton to tlie life, and with the colors of a grand
and noble nature, not the less impressive because it was
human nature.

In another particular, Mr. Sparks's remarks deserve re-
consideration. Being made, probably, imder the apprehen-
sion that the preserved paper was a mere study by Washing-
t(^n for a larger work, Mr. Sparks has regarded the second
or principal division which he has printed in his Appendix,
as being " a series of memoranda or loose hints, evidently
" designed to be wrought into the Address :" whereas they
contain the great body of Washington's contribution to the
Farewell Address, and are the basis of Hamilton's expan-
sions, on the most important points. The thoughts, and
sometimes tlio language, appear in their appropriate places
in Hamilton's draught ; and with Madison's draught, or rather
AVasliington's letter to Madison, from which that draught
was framed, they are the entire contribution of "Washington,
except as he may have added to the copy of Hamilton's
original draught, after its tinal revision and return to him.
I am compelled to differ from ^Ir. Sparks on this point as
well as on one or two others ; but nevertheless, I trust, with
all becoming deference to his opinions.*

* There is a fine tone of criticism in a most able and interesting work, now near its
completion, Rawlinson's Translation of Herodotus, with Appendices containing Essays
on important epochs and topics in Ancient History. It is not for the appropriateness


That portion of the preserved paper to which the remarks
of Mr. Sparks are applied, and which is indicated in his

of any of these dissertations to the subject of this Inquiry, but for the author's manly
freedom of dissent from opposite opinions, without the least bitterness, and for his dis-
criminating praise without flattery, that I extract a portion or two of his remarks upon
passages in the two best English histories of Ancient Greece. I wish them to be
regarded as exhibiting my own state of feeling in any dissent I may express from the
opinions of Mr. Sparks, or of any other writer upon the subject of tne Farewell

When speaking of the extent to which ]\tr. Grote supposes that the iiistuiitions of
Solon permitted all the free inhabitants of Attica except actual aliens, to vote for
Archons and Senators, and to take part in the annual decision of their accountability,
whether these inhabitants were or were not members of the four tribes, Mr. Rawlinson
says, " To me it seems that the admission of these persons to citizenship at this time,
" is highly improbable, and that if it had been a part of the Solonian scheme, we must
" have found distinct mention of it." — " Mr. Grote, in his account of the Clisthenic
" legislation, seems to admit all that is here contended for; but his statements in that
" place appear to me to be wholly inconsistent with those contained in his account
"of the Solonian Constitution:" and then, in a note, the author cites the inconsistent
passages. — 3 Rawlinson's Herodotus, 406. But soon after, in speaking of his own notes
on the modern portion of the history of Athens, the author says, '' Those who require
" more, are referred to the thirtieth and thirty-first chapters of Mr. Grote's history,
" which contain the most accurate digest of the ancient authorities, and the most philo-
" sophical comments upon them, to be found in the whole range of modern literature."
—Ibid. 412.

So also as to Bishop ThirlwalFs history. " If the democratic character of the Solonian
" Constitution has been insufficiently apprehended by some of our writers, by others
" it has been undoubtedly exaggerated to a greater extent. To ascribe to Solon (as
" Bishop Thirlwall does) the full organization of the Helifea, as it appears in the time
" of the orators, the institution of the Heliastic oath, of the Nomothets and Syndics,
" and of that bulwark of the later constitution, the graphe paranomon, is to misunder-
" stand altogether his position in Athenian constitutional history, and to fail in dis-
'• tinguishing the spirit of his legislation from that of Clisthenes." — Ibid. 405. On the
other hand, when the author is speaking of the internal changes in the Constitution of
Sparta, which grew out of the first Messenian war and conquest, he says, " Perhaps
" there are scarcely sufficient data to reconstruct the true history of the period ; but the
" view taken by Bishop Thirlwall of the changes made, and of the circumstances
" which led to them, is at once so ingenious and so consistent with probability, that
"it well deserves at least the attention of the student." — "Mr. Grote, without ex-


Ap]><'ii<H\ bv a linr at tli(^ licad, in small capitals, as hints,
OK HKADS OF Toi'ics, (locs iiot appear to warrant such a de-
scription. rrop(>rly speaking, they are certainly not hints
and heads of topics, but decidedly much more. They are
certainly not liints or heads of topics for the further use of
Wasliington liimself ; tliough it is not improbable that they
were written for the guidance of the person who should
foll()^v and complete the work.

This heading is not inclosed by Mr. Sparks with marks of
quotation, like the paper that follows, from beginning to
end, and therefore I suppose it to he Mr. Sparks's heading.
I have not seen the original, and it seems to be uncertain
whether the original can be found. If the heading was
"Washington's, it must be admitted, that at the time of
writing it, he regarded the eleven paragraphs that follow as
hints or heads of topics ; ])ut the paragraphs themselves,
instead of being loose hints, slight touches, allusions or sug-
gestions, by way of reminder, constitute a perfectly formal
and regular paper, in extension of Madison's draught, hav-
ing a beginning and ending, and according to AVashington's
plan, sufficiently exhaustive of each of the ten subjects
which succeed the first paragraph.

Of these " Hints, or Heads of Topics," the first and the

" amining it formally, by implication rejects it." — ''Bishop TliirlwalTs conjectural
" restomiion of the fact, is on the whole satisfactory j and if not history, deserves to
" be regarded as the best substitute for history that is possible, considering the scan-
" tiiiess and contradictory character of the data." — Ih. .361-3.

Tiiis is the strain of the critic, free, candid, and explicit, without bitterness, and
without veiling either praise or dissent in generalities; and there are multitudes of
like examples in the work. A too common fault of some critics among us, has
been vague and personal bitterness, or lavish but indiscriminating praise, from which
it has almost come to be considered, thnt dissent is an imputation and a challenge.


last of them embrace the subject of party disputes, in-
vectives, and malevolent misrepresentations, which Madison
had touched lightly, and with such apparent misapprehen-
sion of Washington's \iews. One of the central paragraphs,
recommending pride in the name of an American, and ex-
posing the danger of the annihilation of our national dignity
by foreign intrigue and influence, and exhibiting both the
follies and evils of foreign engagements, interferences, and
favors, is developed to the extent of twenty-nine lines of
the broad and compact page of the Appendix ; and others
to the extent of ten, eight, and six lines each. These are
not hints, or heads of topics. All the paragraphs consti-
tute definite, complete, and well-expressed sentiments,
beginning with a preamble, which sets forth, that if public
affairs had continued to bear the aspect they assumed at the
time the foregoing address was drawn (Mr. Madison's pre-
paration), he could not have taken the liberty of troubling
his fellow-citizens with any new sentiment, or with a repe-
tition more in detail of those which are therein contained ;
but considerable changes having taken place at home and
abroad, he should ask their indulgence, while he expressed
"with more lively sensibility the following most ardent
" wishes of his heart :" and in the expression of these, he
follows the formula he had used in his letter to Madison,
and which Madison had pursued in his draught, when he ex-
pressed certain of Washington's wishes, as " vows which he
" would carry wdth him to his retirement and to his grave."
They cannot be accurately described, as " Hints, or Heads
" of Topics ;" though a hint may be taken from anything,
and any single paragraph may be divided into heads of
several topics. They are not, in an accurate sense, " a series


"of iiicuK)raiul;i or loosr liints ;" though by some men, who
take an artistic \ir\v of composition, and regard its struc-
ture and the coiuljiiiation and lioaring of its parts as matter
of essential consideration, they might be so described.

Althougli tlie entire paper is now presented in the Ap-
])('n(li\ to tliis Inquiry, it will make some of my future
remarks more intelligible, if the substance of these nine
paragra]ihs intervening between the first and the last of
them, is noticed in this pkace, in the order in which Wash-
ington has arranged the subjects.

The holding paragraph — the second in the paper — ex-
presses the ardent wish of Washington's heart, that party
disputes among all the friends and lovers of the country
may subside ; or, as Providence has ordained that men shall
not always tliink alike, that charity and benevolence may so
shed their benign influence, as to banish those invectives
which proceed from illiberal prejudices and jealousy. And
then tlic paper goes on to express like fervent wdshes,

that as the Allwise Dispenser of human blessings

has favored no nation M'ith more abundant means of happi-
ness than United America, we may not be so ung-rateful to
our Creator, or so regardless of ourselves and our posterity,
as to dash the cup of beneficence thus offered to our ac-
ceptance :

that we may fulfil all our engagements, foreign and

domestic, to the utmost of our abilities ; for, in public as
well as in private life, honesty will ever be found to be the
best policy :

that we may avoid connecting ourselves with the

politics of any nation, further than shall be found neccssarv
to regulate our own trade, that commerce may be placed


upon a stable footing, our merchants know their rights, and
our government the ground on which they are to be sup-
ported :

that every citizen should take pride in the name of

an American, and act as if he felt the importance of the
character, by considering that we are now a distinct nation,
the dignity of which will be annihilated, if we enlist our-
selves, further than our obligations require, under the ban-
ners of any other nation. And moreover, that we should
guard against the intrigues of every foreign nation who
shall intermingle in our concerns, or prescribe our policy
with other powers, if there be no infraction of our engage-
ments with themselves, as one of the greatest evils that can
befall us as a people ; for, whatever may be their professions,
the event will prove, that nations, like individuals, act for
their own benefit, and not for the benefit of others ; and
that all their interferences are calculated to promote the
former, and in proportion as they succeed, will make us less
independent. Nothing is more certain, than that if we
receive favors, we must grant favors, and, in such circum-
stances as ours, we cannot tell beforehand on which side the
balance will be found ; but it is easy to prove that it may
involve us in disputes, and finally in war, to fulfil political
alliances ; whereas, if there be no engagements on our part,
we shall be unembarrassed, and at liberty at all times to act
from circumstances, and the dictates of justice, sound poHcy,
and our essential interests :

that we may be always prepared for war, but never

unsheath the sword, except in self-defence, so long as justice
and our essential rights and national respectability can be
preserved without it. If this country can remain in peace

40 DEsrmi'Tiox of thk paper.

twrntv yrars lonixor, siuli, in all ])i-obability, will be its
p()l)ul:iti<)n. richrs, and ivsourccs, wlion combined with her
distanre from other (piarters of th(> globe, as to bid defiance,
iji a just cause, to any earthly power whatever:

that so long as we profess to be neutral, our public

conduct, whatever onr private affections may be, may accord
witli our professions, without suffering partialities or preju-
dices to control our actions. A contrary practice is incom-
I)atible with our declarations, pregnant with mischief,
embarrassing to the administration, tending to divide us
into parties, and ultimately productive of all those evils
which proceed from faction :

tliat our Union may be as lasting as time ; for while

we are encircled in one band, we shall possess the strength
of a Ljiant, and there will be none to make us afraid.
Divide, and we shall become a prey to foreign intrigues and
internal discord, and shall be as miserable and contemptible
as we are now enviable and happy.

The ninth and final wish is, that the several departments
may ])e preserved in their constitutional purity, without any
attfMupt of one to encroach on the rights or privileges of
another. — that the General and State Govenmients may
mcne in their proper orbits, and the authorities of our own
C^onstitution may be respected by ourselves, as the most
certain means of ha^'ing them respected by foreigners.

TIh> concluding paragraph in the division corresponds
with that wliich I have already noticed as the fourth head
in a part of A^'asliington's suggestions, in his letter to Mr.
Madison, in r(>gard to the treatment of public servants; and
I sluUl quote its language hereafter.

These are golden truths, a treasure of poHtical wisdom,


experience, and foresight, which, from the gravity of their
tone, the depth of their sincerity, their simpUcity, and the
tenderness as well as the strength of the concern they
manifest for the whole people, make them in themselves a
" Farewell Address," as it were, from a dying father to his
children. And they are Washington's alone, without sug-
gestion by anybody, — Madison, Hamilton, or any other
friend or adviser, — drawn from the depth of Washington's
ow^i heart ; and if the whole Farewell Address, as it now
stands on record, were decomposed, and such parts dispelled
as were added to give the paper an entrance into the minds
of statesmen and legislators, and to place it among the per-
manent rules of government, the great residuum would be
found in these principles, an imperishable legacy to the
people. They are the soul of the Farewell Address.

All these thouo:hts will be found introduced into Hamil-
ton's original draught of the Farewell Address, and not
unfrequently in the language in which Washington has ex-
pressed them; but, from the bearing that is there given
them, they have not only a different aspect, but a united
and concentrated influence upon one momentous and predo-
minant interest. Their aspect is changed. In the Hints, or
Heads of Topics, they have the enunciative form, which is
so common in Washington's writings — simple truths, or
propositions, or statements of wisdom or patriotism, with
little support by argument, and without a manifest bearing
upon each other, or upon any general truth which they are
meant to establish ; and they have no dependent order or
succession. They are neither branches from a common
trunk, nor rays converging to a common focus, but separate
and independent truths or postulates. With the exception


of tlio ])rraiiil)l(* and the final clause, they might all change
places witli cadi otlicr, in any way tliat could be chosen,
and none of them would receive injury, nor would the effect
of tlie whole he iin])aired by the change. But when they
arc carried into the Farewell Address, they are found to
assume the ratiocinative or argumental form, so characteristic
of Hamilton's writings. They are made to have a general
bearing upon a general truth or aspiration ; and their sepa-
rate vidue, and their combined strength, are augmented by
their order and position.

I nuist. therefore, assume that these paragraphs, in con-
nection with Madison's draught, and the heglnnlng and con-
chifiion before mentioned, did, in the design of Washington,
constitute definitelv a draught by him of a valedictory address,
SO far as he should prepare or arrange it himself; and that
this was the very paper that Hamilton saw before the lOth
May, 1796, and was sent to him by Washington on the
loth May, 1796, as the basis of the work to wdiich Wash-
ington called him. This, however, will become more evi-
dent by the letter itself, to be presently introduced.

It is proper to remark in this place, that if the preserved

1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 3 of 20)