Washington Farewell Summary

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In September 1796, President George Washington published his Farewell Address to the people of the United States. Washington expressed his thoughts and advice on what he perceived to be the important considerations for the new American nation. He did not expect that his advice should dictate future American policies, but he hoped that Americans would be wary of the harmful impact of sectional and economic disunity, political parties, foreign influence, and the claims domestic power-seekers. Washington believed that the Constitution provided the most effective framework for the future operation of politics in America and the conduct of international relations. A large portion of President Washington’s address warned against foreign involvement. He cautioned the people about forming permanent or long-term alliances and rivalries with foreign countries, as this would cloud judgment on foreign policy matters or potentially lead to expensive wars. He counseled that our foreign involvement should be limited to free trade, and that this should be done with as little political involvement as possible. Washington advised the nation to avoid an overgrown military establishment. He felt a military establishment was not conducive to liberty. He also noted that self-interested divisions—sectional and economic, as well as individuals asserting their personal power—were becoming organized around political parties; He warned against the divisiveness of these situations. Washington felt that the checks and balances, separation of powers through the branches of government that our constitution established were vital to keeping a group or single individual from taking control of the nation. He advocated the use of amendments to our constitution if changes were needed instead scrapping the Constitution all together. President Washington stated that public credit is a very important source of strength and security for our nation. He urged the nation to avoid unnecessary borrowing,...
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