Washington’s Farewell Address
For this assignment, you will analyze the major points of George Washington’s “Farewell Address” and write a 3-page analysis, considering contemporary government and including differing points of view.
Your analysis must adhere to the following specifications:
• No more than 3 double-spaced pages (12-point font with 1-inch margins).
• Must include a title page (not counted in total page number) that contains:
o A title,
o Your name,
o Your section (GOVT 200-S02),
o Your instructor’s name, and
o The date the assignment is due (all single-spaced in the footer of the cover page).
• No page number is necessary for the cover page or for the first page in the body of the paper.
• Pay particular attention to the grading rubric for how your paper will be graded.
Washington’s Farewell Address
George Washington was a prudent man endowed with acerbic wits; in 1796 he gave a farewell address to tell the elector’s that he would rather retire than accept another term as the U.S President. Washington gave sound judgments in all things, and just before his retirement he gave the famous farewell address highlighting the defects that he thought would be detrimental to American liberty. Having worked in a republican government he was thoroughly acquainted with its workings, and he knew ways in which it could be misused.
From the beginning of his address, George Washington seeks to defend a well-built, central government. The point he was passing across was not that autocratic governance would usurp power from the citizens and impose its will on them but rather a sturdy system that would shelter the citizenry and make sure that their liberties are protected (SENATE DOCUMENT NO. 106–21, WASHINGTON, 2000). He requested the Americans to be united in purpose and have a feel of oneness; he wanted them to feel as though they belonged to one nation irrespective of the states they come from. Washington also wanted to reinforce the power of the newly implemented constitution which safeguards individual welfare and the rights of the U.S citizens. He knew united Americans would be strong; but alienation would make them weak and vulnerable (Ellis, 2001).
The other element that Washington addressed was the harm that political parties would precipitate. Since every person would seek to back his identity with his state and background, there were high chances that regional parties would tear down federal unity. Union in his terms is considered as the main strut of individual liberty; he challenged the Americans to preserve each other through bonds of love. In the modern America unity has been sustained but the regional parties as Washington feared are the very vehicles that threaten the future American unanimity (SENATE DOCUMENT NO. 106–21, WASHINGTON, 2000). George Washington hated parties and wanted them thrown out, although to the modern thinker this kind of approach serves to throttle democracy and cannot be accepted in the modern American society. Nonetheless, Washington did not hate the parties per se he feared that selfish individuals would use parties as vehicles of disrupting unity in order to take power for themselves.
The manner in which the democrats and the republicans compete displays the spirit of revenge that George Washington prophesied long time ago. Despotism has been rampant in the party politics as one party seeks to exert itself, or by implementing policies intended to serve one ideology over the whole nation. Washington foretold that when people became disorderly and miserable they would seek security and recline in the unconditional power of the party leader (SENATE DOCUMENT NO. 106–21, WASHINGTON, 2000). For instance, the terrorist revolt compelled George Bush to take more power than the presidents had before. Economic down times also pushed Barrack Obama to add to the presidential power. In these two cases, the leading parties accorded presidents’ power through great lenience in what they did. As the U.S citizenry continue to support the dynamic rivalry between the national parties they allow them to groom powerful figures who take advantage of the citizens.
Creating powerful presidents poses a great danger as it could give hem liberties to change the constitution and this could compromise on the rights and privileges of the U.S citizens. Washington wanted the U.S citizens to have mutual checks that would ensure that political power is not abused; this could only be achieved if political power was distributed into diverse depositaries, ordaining each to be the guardian of the public weal against attack by the others. He urged political leaders to be guided by religion and morality. A people guided by religious morals could not abuse power or bring disunity.
He urged the leaders to use public credit sparingly; this would help Americans to minimize debt accumulation. In the past, America operated with a balanced budget and balanced credit but in the modern U.S the nation lives beyond its means. The loss of good credit could essentially compromise the American liberty. In order to have peaceful existence America was advised to observe good faith and justice towards all nations at the same time cultivating harmony with all; these elements could only be attained through morality and religion. Liberty could be perpetually attained by keeping away from foreign powers. But there is a notable aversion for Iraq and fealty for China amongst the Americans that contravenes Washington’s wisdom.
George Washington gave Americans a blueprint for enhancing liberty. He illuminated the core things that could pose a threat to the American freedom such as regional and ideological factions, power seekers, foreign debts and commercial entanglements (Gilbert, 1965). Currently, America faces each of the named threats. Washington came from a unique viewpoint. He had thorough knowledge of what it felt like to live under repressive regime. Being amongst the founding fathers of the nation since its conception and infancy. Washington saw how the power moved and how its patterns worked, so he was well-positioned to predict the outcome of power play. Washington considered it his duty to warn the Americans so that they don’t fall into despair and lose their liberties (Ellis, 2001). Gradually, the U.S leadership let Washington’s waning slide, today the many things he predicted are happening. Americans now have a duty to listen and act and pursue the path that our founding fathers etched for us.
Ellis, J., J. (2001) Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. New York
Gilbert, F. (1965). The Beginnings of American Foreign Policy: To the Farewell Address. New York: 1965.
SENATE DOCUMENT NO. 106–21, WASHINGTON (2000). Washington’s Farewell Address to the People of the United States. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-CDOC-106sdoc21/pdf/GPO-CDOC-106sdoc21.pdf
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