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

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out following the preceding paper written by another man ;
for certainly all human experience is against it. But, far
beyond that, we have nearly fifty paragraphs as witnesses,
testifying exactly in the same direction ; and, considering
the perhaps infinite variety of thoughts, language, taste, and
arrangement in the written compositions of different men
from the same theme, we may be entitled to say, that no
finite succession of numbers can express the true extent of
the improbabihty of such a correspondence as exists be-


twfHMi the Farewell Address and . Hamilton's original
dranicht, without tlie copying of the one, either mediately
or immediately, from tlie other.

Tlio Farewell Address, if thus compared with Hamilton's
original draught, will be found to be a transcript of the
dmuglit, with ^•erbal corrections, and the omission of certain
clauses, adding three or four short clauses at the most —
alterations by Hamilton, or by Wasliington, or partly by
one, and partly by the other.

This review of the two structures, throws us back to the
source or sources of Hamilton's original draught. If Ham-
ilton was the author of his original draught, that is to say,
the composer and writer of it, and the Farewell Address
was a transcript of that draught with verbal corrections, and
a clause or two struck out or added, then Hamilton was in
the same sense the composer and writer of the Farew^ell

But was Hamilton the composer and w^riter of his original
draught I Tliis is a perfectly proper question, and a sensible
one, also ; for a writer may have copied and not composed
the paper, which another has followed, or he may have taken
frequent and large sentences from the works of other men,
and mechanically followed their plan and arrangement in all
points. He may have formed his own paper to a great
extent from antecedent materials, giving it very little of his
o\Mi, so that he is only the compiler of the paper.

There exist authentic materials for answering this question
with Aoiy considerable certainty, and which answer will do
Washington full justice, and Madison also all the justice that
can be claimed for him. That justice is to be derived through
A\ ashiugton's preparatory draught — the lyreserved paper.

Hamilton's abstract of points. 97

Hamilton, with the just view of making the paper he was
about to write, conform to the sentiments of Washington,
either expressed or understood, and meaning also to produce
a paper that should by its topics, and the order of their de-
velopment, engage and impress the minds of patriotic and
wise men throughout the country, prepared an " ahstract of
" points to form an Address," which is printed in the seventh
volume of his pubHshed Works, page 570 ; and this paper
has such a clear and important bearing upon the question of
authorship, and has received so little attention from any one
heretofore in this relation, that it must have the more of it
at this time.

The points or di\isions of matter are twenty- three in
number, distinguished by Roman numerals.

The first ten of these divisions, without any subdivisions
among them, embrace the expression of Washington's sen-
timents and feelings in regard to the announcement of his
intention to retire ; his previous hope, that long ere this it
would have been in his power to do so ; and that he had
nearly come to a final resolution in the year 1792 to do it,
but had been dissuaded from it by the peculiar situation of
affairs, and the advice of confidential friends ; his acqui-
escence at that time in a further election, in hopes that a
year or two longer would have enabled him to withdraw ;
but that a continuance of causes had delayed it till now,
when the position of our country, abroad and at home, jus-
tified him in pursuing his inclination : and that in doing it,
he had not been unmindful of his relation as a dutiful citizen
to his country, nor was he now influenced by the slightest di-
minution of zeal for its interest, or gratitude for its past kind-
ness, but by a belief that the step was compatible with both.


98 Hamilton's abstract of points.

Tlicso sontimonts occupy the ^rst/our divisions, by which
it may be rc(mi how carefully Hamilton prepared himself to
carry the s])irit of ^^'ashington, even in minute personal par-
ticulars, into the Address.

Still continuing the writer's preparation of heads to intro-
duce like particulars, the f ft h head adverts to the fact that
tlu^ impressions under which Washington first accepted the
office were explained on the proper occasion : the sixfli, ' that
' in the execution of it, he had contributed the best exertions
' of a very fallible judgment, anticipated his insufficiency,
' experienced his disqualifications for the difficult trust, and
' every day a stronger sentiment from that cause to yield the
' place. Advance into the decline of life, every day more sen-
' sibl(^ of weight of years, of the necessity of repose, of the
' dut}' to seek retirement,' &c. " Add, seventh^ It will be
" among the purest enjoyments which can sweeten the rem-
" nant of his days, to partake, in a private station, in the
" midst of his fellow-citizens, the laws of a free government,
" the ultimate object of his cares and wishes."

The e/r/////i division records the single word " Rotation ;"
a subject introduced into Madison's draught at Washington's
suggestion. The ninths that "in contemplating the moment
" of retreat, he cannot forbear to express his deep acknow-
" ledgments and debt of gratitude for the many honors con-
" ferred on him — the steady confidence which, even amidst
" discouraging scenes and eftbrts to poison its source, has
" adhered to support him, and enabled him to be useful —
" marl<in<r, if well placed, the virtue and wisdom of his
" countrymen. All the return he can now make must be in
'• the vows he will carry with him in his retirement: 1st. For
" a continuance of the Divine beneficence to the country.

Hamilton's abstract of points. 99

" 2d. For the perpetuity of their union and brotherly afFec-
" tion — for a good administration insured by a happy union
" of watchfuhiess and confidence. f3d. That happiness of
" people under auspices of liberty may be complete. 4th.
" That by a prudent use of the blessing, they may recom-
" mend it to the affection, the praise, and the adoption of
" every nation yet a stranger to it."

The tenth is as follows : " Perhaps here we ought to end.
" But an unconquerable solicitude for the happiness of his
" country will not permit him to leave the scene, without
" availing himself of whatever confidence may remain in
" him to strengthen some sentiments which he believes to be
" essential to their happiness, and to recommend some rules
" of conduct, the importance of which his own experience
" has more than ever impressed on him,"

Thus far these sentiments in the abstract are gleaned from
the draught of Madison, who in part took them from the
letter of Washington, and in part originated them under his
instructions ; but they are much more Madison's than they
are Washington's in point of origin ; and having been adopted
by Washington in his draught, Hamilton has followed them,
and except in one point, hereafter to be noted, a point sug-
gested by Washington in his letter to Madison, has exhausted
Madison's draught, modified some of his expressions, and
placed them in the abstract in an order in some respects
Hamilton's own. They are subsequently introduced at the
commencement of Hamilton's draught, in language some-
thing more easy and fluent, though equally plain, omitting
one head altogether, the head of rotation in ofiice, and
changing one phrase of some sharpness responsive to Wash-
ington's sensibility to invective, " amidst discouraging scenes

100 Tr\Mir.Tox's abstract of points.

'• and (efforts to ])oison its source," into " situations in which
'• not uiifVc(iucMitly want of success has seconded the criti-
" risnis of malovolcnce ;" and thus abating the pungency of
tlie phrase in tlic abstract.

Tli(^ effort to keep from tlie Address eveiy pointed refe-
rence to thv poUtical party maltreatment which Washington
tliought he liad received, is conspicuous on the part of Ham-
ihon tln-ougliout, his noble design being to make it speak a
lanizuaire that was both j^^enerous and catliolic, and which
woidd meet with acceptance at all future time by wise and
good men. Rotation — Hamilton leaves out altogether from
his draught, thinking, no doubt, though Madison introduced
it upon "Wasliingtou's (pialified suggestion, or perhaps un-
qualified, if the original letter to Madison is a truer reading
than that of ]Mr. Sparks,* that mere rotation, without regard 1
to circumstances, was unreasonable and restrictive of the
Constitution ; and that to attempt to state the circumstances,
would lead to suppositions and discriminations which "would
not obtain general assent. In such matters the subsequent
surrender by Washington of personal feelings and personal
predilection, shows both the soundness of his judgment and
the nobleness of his spirit. Even the word " malevolent" has
been struck from the Address, either by Hamilton in his|
corrected copy, or in his revision, or by Washington himself.

After these heads of the abstract, come the great heads of)
the work, with tlie subdivisions of some of them; and it is
here tliat the public principles of the Address begin to]
assume their order, and to receive their analysis.

The central thought and sentiment of the piece is the]

• See p. 19, supra.

Hamilton's abstract of points. 101

Union, which is the eleventh head; and from this all subse-
quent thoughts radiate, and it may be said, with equal truth,
that they all converge to it, illustrate its value, and tend to
corroborate it, " It is the rock of their salvation ; presenting
" summarily these ideas: 1. Strength and greater security
" from external danger. 2. Internal peace, and avoiding
" the necessity of establishments dangerous to liberty. 3.
" Avoids the effect of foreign intrigue. 4. Breaks the force of
" factions, by rendering combinations more difficult." The
great natural bond of Union, — what may almost be called
the religion of its nature, is selected by the abstract as the
first matter to be developed — " the fitness of the parts for
" each other by their very discriminations. 1. The North,
" by its capacity for maritime strength and manufixcture.
" 2. The agricultural South furnishing materials, and re-
" quiring those protections. The Atlantic board to the
" western country by the strong interests of peace, and the
" western by the necessity of Atlantic maritime protection.
" Cannot be sure of their great outlet otherwise — cannot
" trust a foreign connection. Solid interests invite to Union.
" Speculations of difficulty of government ought not to be
" indulged, nor momentary jealousies — lead to impatience.
" Faction and individual ambition are the only advisers of
"disunion:" and then, noting for remembrance the jea-
lousies existing at that time in the West, in regard to the
Mississippi and its outlet, and the late treaty with Spain,
which tended to allay them, it repeats, " Let confidence be
" cherished ; let the recent experience of the West be a
" lesson against impatience and distrust."

The tweJfili is the " actual government," the government
which the Constitution provides for the Union. " Cherish


" the actual frovommcnt. It is the government of our oa\ti
'' choice — free in its principles, the guardian of our common
'' ri^lits. the patron of our common interests, and containing
" within itself a provision for its own amendment. But let
'' that provision he cautiously used — not ahused ; changing
'• only, in any material points, as experience shall direct ;
'• neither indidging speculations of too much or too little
" force in the system, and remembering always the extent of
'• our country. Time and habit of great consequence to every
" government, of whatever structure. Discourage the spirit
" of faction, the bane of free government ; and particularly
'• avoid founding it on geographical discriminations. Discoun-
" tenance slander of pubUc men. Let the departments of
" eoveniment avoid interfering and mutual encroachments."
These being the guiding notes for a comprehensive state-
ment of the particular advantages of the government which
the Constitution had provided, of the means of amending
cautiously its defects, when ascertained, and of the dangers
which might threaten it, founded on geographical discri-
minations, or promoted by encroachments of the depart-
ments on each other, the abstract proceeds with heads, to
introduce such admonitions as concern the people in their
personal relations, private and public: ■•' Thirteenth, Morals,
'• religion, industry, commerce, economy — Cherish pubhc
'• credit — Source of strength and security — Adlierence to
" systematic views."

" Also their relations to foreisrn nations : Fourteenth.
" Cherish good faith, justice, and peace with other nations.
•• 1 . Because religion and morality dictate it. 2. Because
'' policy dictates it. If there could exist a nation inva-
" riably honest and faithfid, the benefits would be immense.

Hamilton's abstract of points. 103

" But avoid national antipathies or national attachments :"
and then follows, in emphatic italics, " Display the evils :
" fertile source of wars, instrument of ambitious rulers."

As distinct heads, then follow four others, which branch
out naturally from the preceding: '•'■Fifteenth. Republics
" peculiarly exposed to foreign intrigue ; those sentiments
" lay them open to it. /Sixteenth. The great rule of our
" foreign policy ought to be to have as little political con-
" nection as possible with foreign nations ; cidtivating com-
" merce with all by general and natural means, diffusing and
" diversifying it, hut forcincj nothing; and cherish the senti-
" ment of independence^ taking pride in the appellation of
" American ;" and against this last note the margin adds,
" establishing temporary and convenient rules, that com-
" merce may be placed on a stable footing ; merchants know
" their commerce ; how to support them, not seeking /a yo/'s."
" Seventeenth. Our separation from Europe renders standing
" alliances inexpedient, subjecting our peace and interest to
" the primary and complicated relations of European inte-
" rests. Keeping constantly in view to place ourselves upon
" a respectable defensive, and, if forced into controversy,
" trusting to connections of the occasion. Eighteenth. Our
" attitude imposing, and rendering this policy safe. But
" this must be with the exception of existing engagements,
" to be preserved, but not extended."

The remaining heads of division may be noticed summa-
rily. The nineteenth is a hint to remark, that it is not ex-
pected that these admonitions can control the course of
human passions ; but if it moderates them in some in-
stances, Washington's endeavor is rewarded. The twentieth.,
that the public records must witness how far his aclministra-

104 Hamilton's abstract of points.

tioii has ronformcd to those principles. His conscience
assures liim tliut he heUeved liimself to be guided by them.
TiC( iiti/'l'irsf. '• l^lrticularly in rchition to the present war,
" tlio proclamation of 22d April, 1793, is the key to my
" plan. Approved by your voice, and that of your represen-
" tatives in Congress, the spirit of that measure has con-
" tinually guided me, uninfluenced by, and regardless of, the
" complaints and attempts of any of the powers at war, or
" their partisans, to change them." " I thought our country
" had a right, nnder all the circumstances, to take this
" ground, and I was resolved, as far as it depended on me,
" to maintain it firmly." There is a memorandum in the
maririn of the second clause of this division, to " touch sen-
" timcnts with regard to conduct of belligerent powers. A
" wish that France may establish good government." Against
the last clause of it are these words : " Time everything."
The ticentij-second is a clause which is introduced into the
original draught of Hamilton, in substantially the same
words, and almost verbatim from that draught into the
Farewell Address of Washington, of which it is the penul-
timate clause. It frankly declares, that however, in review-
ing the course of his administration, he may be unconscious
of intentional error, he is too sensible of his own deficiencies
not to believe that he may have fallen into many — depre-
cates the evils to ^^•hich they may tend, and prays Heaven
to avert, or mitigate or abridge them ; — that he carries with
him. ncnertheless, the hope that his motives will continue
to be A iewed with indulgence ; that after forty-five years of
his life devoted to public service, Avitli a good zeal and
upright views, the faults of deficient abihties will be con-
signed to obhvion, as himself must soon be to the mansions


of rest. — ^Ve cannot help envying the noble emotion with
which Hamilton repeated this clause, Avhich was Washing-
ton's own thought, out of the full consciousness of what was
stirring in Washington's great heart !

The ticeutjj-tJdrd, and last clause of the abstract, is sub-
stantially the same with the corresponding clause in the
draught, but is completely altered in the concluding clause
of the Farewell Address. Both the clause in the abstract,
and the clause in the draught, are taken from the conclusion
to Washington's original or preparatory draught. The
alteration in the Farewell Address is by Washington.

It is a declaration that neither interest nor ambition had
been Washington's impelling motive — that he had never
abused the power confided to him — that he had not bettered
his fortune, retiring with it no otherwise improved, than by
the influence on property of the common blessings of his
country. " I retire," it says, " with undefiled hands and an
" uncorrupt heart, and with ardent vows for the welfare of
" that country which has been the native soil of my ancestors
" for four generations." The sentiments were all just, and
were all suggested, in nearly the same words, by Washington,
in the concluding section of Washington's own draught to
which I have referred ; and therefore his friend and minister
would be naturally desirous that he shoidd close his valedic-
tion with the expression of them ; but they bordered upon
what the world might mistake for vain-gloriousness, in re-
gard to his motives, his purity, his fortune, and his family ;
and we may take pleasure in supposing, that this final clause
Washington himself preferred to put aside, as he did, except-
ing only the reference to his American ancestors, the bond of
his affection for his country, the view of whose coming


liappiiK^ss and greatness, seemed to gild the last words of
his Farewell.

Alter liaxiiig thus placed before the reader this clear and
orderlv abstract, witli but little more elucidation than a copy
of it would give to every one in reading it, we feel some con-
fidence in remarking, that it would be written as a syJldhus
of Hamilton's original draught, w'ithout recurring to Ham-
ilton's ahslract. The syllabus might be considerably fuller
in some parts, and less fidl in others. It might omit, in one
or two ])laces, what the abstract notices, and it might notice
in mor(> what the abstract does not contain. But they would
substantially concur; and no person of intelligence, who
peruses the draught with the abstract before him, can fail
to perceiAc that the draught is the regular and orderly ex-
pansion of the abstract, and a symmetrical structure, of
which the abstract is the frame, — in some parts the full
frame, in other parts the more open frame. This structure
and frame, then, are Hamilton's incontestably.

The first portions of the frame^ -where it is fullest, were
tak(>n in separate parts from portions of Washington's pre-
paratory draught, as Mr. Madison had sketched it, and also
as A\'ashington had completed it ; but by Hamilton they are
placed in a new order. They are what may be called the
personal ])arts of that draught, having reference to his own
relations with the government, his previous wish to retire,
his ]iresont intention to do so, and his motives and feelings
in regard to the retirement. In these particidars the lan-
guage of ^^'ashington's draught is adopted as far as it could
bt\ 'I'he structure is built upon, and with, and around
^^ ashington's principles and sentiments as they appear
throughout his draught, but upon a plan altogether new,


none of the elements provided by Washington being omitted,
except such as had too pointed a reference to partisan oppo-
sition, and the whole being enlarged and combined together
by the collateral thoughts and illustrations of Hamilton upon
his new plan ; and this entire plan goes into the Farewell
Address, some portion of the filling up by Hamilton's ori-
ginal draught being omitted, most probably by Hamilton in
his amended copy or in his revision, and other portions struck
out by Washington from liis final copy, though Hamilton
had introduced several of them from express passages in
Washington's preparatory draught. Adopting a mechanical
measure of contribution by the preparatory draught of Wash-
ington, when compared with the original matter by Hamil-
ton, as he extended it in his draught, Washington's part was
not in quantity a moiety of the whole. But such a measure
of those contributions, is obviously unsatisfactory and defec-
tive. We may get a better notion of them by an analysis
of Hamilton's original draught, which will be in fact an
analysis of Washington's Farewell Address. I may say,
however, that the principal original contribution by Mr.
Madison, is that which repeats the vows that Wasliington
would carry into his retirement and his grave, and is the
ninth head of Hamilton's abstract. All else is substantially,
and by original suggestion, Washington's or Hamilton's.

In his original draught, Hamilton made the unity of
Government, or the Union, the central and radiating thought,
and the focus to which all important reflections from any
quarter of the work, except the personal introduction,
tended. Wasliington had breathed a warm wish of his heart
for the maintenance of the Union, in that paragraph of the
Hints or Heads of Topics, which I have already transcribed, —


'' tlmt it," our Vnion, " may be as lasting as time ;" and many
of liis sontimonts liavc an obvious influence upon the prospe-
rity and continuance of the Union ; but he does not expressly
connect tlioni with that object, nor make it the point to
■vvliich they converge.

In Hamilton's original draught, after the personal intro-
duction, the great subject is opened at once. Of the love of
libertv, wliicli is first noticed, no recommendation was neces-
sary to fortify the attachment of the people to it. Two lines
only are given to that subject. But after these lines which
enter upon the topics of advice and admonition, as soon as
the introduction had closed, all that follows the expression,
UNITY OF GOVERNMENT, is exhibited and comprehended as
inducements of sympathy, or motives of interest, in the
people, to maintain the Union.

Hamilton calls it the main pillar of their independence, of
their peace, their safety, freedom, and happiness. In his
abstract he had called it the rock of their salvation ; but,
with great propriety, as AVashington w^as to speak, he left
that phrase to its more solemn appropriation, and substituted
in his draught " the maix pillar of their independence."

He first speaks of it as the point in their political fortress
against which the batteries of internal and external enemies
would be most constantly and actively, however covertly and
insidiously, levelled ; and therefore it was of the utmost im-
portance that they should appreciate in its full force the
immense value of their political union to their national and
individual happiness, that they should cheiish towards it an
aff"ectionate and innnovable attachment, and should watch for
its preservation with zealous soUcitude.

For this, he says, you ha^-e every motive of sympathy and



ANALYSIS OF Hamilton's draught. 109

interest ; and following Washington's thoughts, and in some

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Online LibraryHorace BinneyAn inquiry into the formation of Washington's Farewell address .. → online text (page 8 of 20)