George Washington's Washington's Farewell Address was written to the people of the United States at the end of his second term as President of the United States. It appeared in many Americans' newspapers on September 19, 1796. Technically speaking, it was not an address, but an open letter to the public published in the form of a speech. Washington's fellow Americans gave it the title of "Farewell Address" to recognize it as the President's valedictory to public service for the new republic.
In 1792, Washington was prepared to retire after one term as the President of the United States. To that end, Washington, with James Madison, wrote a farewell address to the public of the United States of America. Faced with the unanimous objections of his Cabinet, Washington agreed to stand for another term. In 1796, Washington refused a third term. Starting with his 1792 draft, Washington rewrote the text to better fit the problems that were emerging in the new political landscape. He had much help from Alexander Hamilton, and some passages do sound like Hamilton's writing, but all the key ideas were those of Washington, not Hamilton or Madison.
|Washington's Farewell Address#1||Impending retirement from public life|
|Washington's Farewell Address#8||Importance of unity, danger of factions, authority of the Constitution|
|Washington's Farewell Address#19||Strict construction of the Constitution|
|Washington's Farewell Address#20||Danger of political parties|
|Washington's Farewell Address#26||Checks and balances, strict construction of the Constitution|
|Washington's Farewell Address#27||Religion and morality|
|Washington's Farewell Address#29||Education|
|Washington's Farewell Address#30||Sparing use of government borrowing|
|Washington's Farewell Address#31||Foreign relations, avoiding permanent foreign alliances|
|Washington's Farewell Address#43||Closing thoughts|
|Washington's Farewell Address#45||American neutrality in European war|
|Washington's Farewell Address#50||More closing thoughts|
In 1862, the House and Senate commemorated the 130th Anniversary of Washington's birth by reading aloud his Farewell Address. In a special joint session held in the House Chamber, the House and Senate, along with several cabinet officials, Justices of the Supreme Court and high-ranking officers of the Army and Navy, gathered to listen to the Secretary of State read the address aloud. Eventually, the reading of George Washington's Farewell Address became an annual event for the Senate, a tradition that is still observed to this day.