The Washington Farewell Address is a retirement letter drafted by President George Washington after 20 years of service. George Washington wrote the letter after his second term after he resigned from power to allow the normal two-term limit that exists even today. The letter was first published in September 1796 by Philadelphia’s American Daily Advertiser. George Washington starts his address on the letter claiming that he did not want to run for a third term as president and had hoped to retire after the first term. He only remained in power in the second term because of the increasing tensions with Great Britain due to the war with France but after the crisis, he decided to step down (Pruitt, 2020). In the letter, he wrote that he believed that he was no longer needed as president and America would be safe in the hands of a new president (Pruitt, 2020). George Farewell Address has had a great impact on our culture and helped shape America as it is today.
In the letter, George explained why he resigned after serving for two terms which later led to the setting of a two term limit to any American president. The two-term limit was formalized in the Twenty-Second Amendment of the constitution. Every other American President followed the two-term limit apart from Franklin D. Roosevelt. George Washington stressed on the importance of a Union to bring Americans closer and provide for the prosperity and freedom. He emphasized that the dangers, suffering and success had brought the people of America together and that the country had to remain united. The country continues to enjoy the fruits of this unity as America today is a democratic state and continues to proper. Partisanship opens doors to corruption and foreign influence. American citizens continue to enjoy their freedom under the democratic government to date.
George Washington cautioned warned of three dangers that can destroy the union, which include foreign entanglement, partisanship, and regionalism. At the time, Americans were mostly identified with their region or state. Washington Farewell Address advised American citizens to not let their regional loyalties overwhelm their national attachments as it could break up the union formed. To date, Americans are united and the politics of the state they come from to divide them. According to the letter, partisanship could destroy the country as people would be divided according to their geographic location supporting a specific political party. The Washington Farewell Address cautioned that parties could be used as a means of subverting the power of the people. Individuals could use this power to seize the reigns of the government and this could destroy the country. To date, America follows this philosophy and has only democratic and republican parties.
The Washington Farewell Address warned of the dangers of foreign entanglements. It advocated that America to build commercial relations and to be on good terms with all nations. The letter advocated that America should have a foreign policy based on neutrality to ensure stability and national unity. The Washington Farewell Address also cautions the country to not form permanent alliances with other countries (Pruitt, 2020). To date America remains a neutral country and has formed strong commercial ties with most countries in the world, enabling it to become and still remain an economic giant.
Washington’s Farewell Address mainly lists the concerns that the Unity was weak and both internal and external threats could weaken the unity. He listed some of the major threats to the unity and urged America to not let anything come between them and their patriotism. The message of unity written in the letter remains strong to this day as even the presidents who came after George Washington quote some of the writings to ensure unity is preserved in the country (Avlon, 2018). President Dwight D. Eisenhower quoted the Washington Farewell Address to warn against the rise of military industrial complex while President Ronald Reagan emphasized the importance of virtue and morality. Reagan quoted the Farewell Address on issues regarding regionalism or seclusion of states frequently (Avlon, 2018).
The Washington’s Farewell Address has had a huge impact on the culture of United States. The whole culture of the country is based on the document. The main strength of the Farewell Address is that it lists the problems facing the country and highlights the means of overcoming these problems. It is also a culture for future presidents to read the document before retirement and some of the message being passed has been integrated into the constitution.
The Farewell Address was based on the specific problems facing the United States at the time. Washington’s Farewell Address continues to echo throughout the ages. It has helped shaped the events that have happened in America through-out the ages and has unified the country leading it to economic prosperity and making it the super power it is today. The Farewell Address stresses on the importance of unity, and the dangers that might break up the country. Washington’s Farewell Address serves as an important founding document for the country that highlights issues of Union, partisanship and isolation (Pruitt, 2020).
Avlon, J. (2018, February 16). How Washington’s farewell address inspired future presidents. HISTORY. https://www.history.com/news/washington-farewell-address
Pruitt, S. (2020, February 10). George Washington warned against political infighting in his farewell address. HISTORY. https://www.history.com/news/george-washington-farewell-address-warnings