Top-Rated Free Essay

Summary of George Washington's Farewell Address

Good Essays
Summary of George Washington’s

“Farewell Address”

Scott Craiger
GOVT –D12
Prof. Jesse Chupp
July 23, 2012

The Farewell Address is a speech given by George Washington in 1796 to the people of the United States. This speech was delivered close to the end of Washington’s second term in the Presidential office. The Farewell Address will, ultimately, be a key element of Washington’s legacy as it was one of the most memorable speeches in American history.
In this speech, Washington hope was to lay the foundation for the United States political future. He expressed his wisdom and knowledge in running a country, despite his wild inexperience. Washington’s speech was both humbling and inspirational. The Farewell Address expressed three main points in an attempt to give advice to future leaders to follow in his footstep. First, he wanted to express his desire to NOT seek re-election for a third term. Second, was addressing his opinions on foreign policy. Third was advising the nation to avoid creating parties within the country. Throughout the speech, Washington offers his reasons behind these notions that will ultimately lead to a successful political landscape for our nation.
Near the close of his second term, Washington decides to not take office for a third term. He states “I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.”** He realizes that this nation will have to choose a new leader, and does not believe they will have any difficulty in that. In his own humility, he realizes and divulges his own inexperience and hopes that future leaders will draw on his experiences in office to make wise decisions for the country moving forward. “Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications.”** Washington realized even at the end of his first term that he did not want to be elected again, but due to the instability of the new nation, he decided to stay for one more term.
Upon his departure from office, he came to the realization that he no longer felt he was the person for the job. He felt the heavy burden of the Presidency and political life was beginning to take its toll on him. He felt the nation was ready for a new leader to continue to forge the path he had started. Washington had forever left his stamp on this new nation and was ready to move on. He was very thankful, grateful, an appreciative to the people who had given him the opportunity to be in this position. He was also thankful for the support he had received as he attempted to make sound decisions for the country. He urged the people of the United States to honor and defend their rights given in the Constitution. In doing so, the country would prosper as a sturdy and stable government. This will attract the interest of other countries and United States would eventually become a benchmark for other countries to strive for.
Although grateful for the leadership opportunities and support, he urged, in his speech, for the country to build on the foundation he laid in regard to foreign policy. Washington believed there was only one true course of action the nation could take with regard to foreign policy. Washington asked people to “observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.” He felt that if America, for example, showed favoritism toward any one certain country, other countries could perceive that as an ally and feel threatened, thus enhancing the chances for wars and disputes without just cause. He notes that this could trigger jealousy in other nations that are not favored. Washington urged that any existing alliances should be honored, but it was wise to steer away from any permanent alliances with any particular foreign nation.
Washington has seen, due to his own experiences as a military leader, the true horrors of war, mainly the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War. Later, as President, he even further understood the difficulties of getting tangled up in foreign affairs, hence the French Revolution. Because of this, he pushed for the country to stay neutral. These words of advice were very carefully adhered to. This notion was even tied into the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 warning other nations not to interfere with American territory. Washington’s general political philosophy had been followed, for the most part, for the next 140 years unless America was being pushed or provoked into voluntarily entering into a war. In the Farewell Address, Washington spoke to the people about avoiding foreign affairs as it would lend to the country’s vulnerability.
In Washington’s Farewell Address, he also states his strong opinions on the formation of political parties. He believes that forming separate parties would be detrimental and would ultimately lead to a separation in the nation in the long run. Washington states “one of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.”** Washington was trying to forewarn the people of the United States that if political parties are formed, it will do no good and only lead to a permanent separation within our nation. His thoughts were that if a government is going to lead the people successfully, it should stay as a whole to keep the best interests of the people in mind. If political parties are formed, the separation in ideals and mentality will ultimately break down the trust and unity of the people of the United States.
In closing, Washington’s memorable Farewell Address was a major milestone in American history. As our nation’s first President, George Washington felt it was imperative to impart his knowledge and wisdom derived from his own experience on the future leaders of this country. It was obvious he was grateful and humbled, to be given the opportunity to serve as President. He had given 8 years as a leader of this country and felt it was time to retire. He felt it only deeming and respectful to address the people of the United States formally to inform them of his decision to step down as President. George Washington’s Farewell Address was a guide, framework, and path for future leaders to establish and run a successful political government moving forward. He had hopes that future leaders would head to his advice
Page 2 regarding foreign affairs and political parties. Washington was a great military leader which led to the iconic impact he had on the nation during his Presidency. Although the nation has since moved away from the political philosophy Washington founded, his innovative changes profoundly affected the American identity, society, and culture in the last half of the twentieth century.

**McClellan, James. Liberty, Order and Justice: An introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government. Third Edition. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, Inc., 2000. “Farewell Address”, Pgs 533-548.
Page 3

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    Washington's Farewell Address: Review and Response George Washington's Farewell Address was published On September 19, 1796. In his address, Washington began by heeding the citizens of America to hold fast to the Union and the Constitution. Washington emphasized the necessity of staying unified as a nation, claiming that their independence and longevity was centered around being unified as a nation, which meant abandoning feuding political entities within the nation. He continued his letter by…

    • 417 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Cameron Analysis Essay #1 AP Language and Composition December 8, 2008 George Washington resigned from office in 1796. For the occasion, he wrote a farewell address directed to the citizens of the United States. He was certainly aware that his audience would include other politicians as well as dignitaries and officials from foreign nations. Washington feels that the citizens need his closing remarks before he steps out of office. He is informing the citizens of how he feels about his…

    • 1250 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Farewell Address Analysis Thomas Webb GOVT 200-S02 Professor Edward Sotto September 14, 2008 Farewell Address George Washington Farewell Address was a message written to the American people. George Washington wrote this Farewell Address doing his exiting term as the President. This address was basically an outline of what he believed the Nation should follow. George Washington started off his address by letting people know that he would not be running for a third term. "I should…

    • 577 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    September 19 , 1796, President George Washington, published his Farewell Address I the American Daily Advertiser. Within this address, Washington discussed why he wished to retire and gave some advice on how to keep the nation's unity . While Washington stated there should be unity with the government, he also wrote that the North and South should remain at peace in order to benefit each other. In his address it is important to remember that George Washington said while every part of the country…

    • 533 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    ANALYSIS OF WASHINGTON’S FAREWELL ADDRESS President George Washington in early 1796 had decided not to run for a third term as President of the United States and with suggestions from Alexander Hamilton, he drafted his “Farewell Address.” He tried to convey three points in his “Farewell Address.” The points were, his decision not to be considered for a 3rd term as President of the United States, his advice to the country to stand united, and his advice to the future leaders of the country concerning…

    • 703 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Farewell Address Essay

    • 489 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Farewell Address Washington's Farewell Address, which was issued as a public letter in 1796, was and still is one of the most influential documents of our nation. It was also said to be a corner stone to our nations foreign policies. Drafted primarily by Washington himself, with some help from Alexander Hamilton, the address gives advice on the essential need of and importance of national union, the value of the Constitution and the rule of law, the evils of political parties, and the appropriate…

    • 489 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    In Washington’s Farewell Address, he voiced his opinion about many things, including the economy, political parties, and foreign affairs. Washington advises us against forming political parties because he believes that they will destroy the nation. We did not follow his advice on this. Today we have the Democrats and the Republicans. Because of the political parties, we have multiple candidates running for offices (president, etc.) and our country is divided by differing viewpoints. On TV, we see…

    • 207 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    Significance of Washington’s Farewell Address and Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were the first and the third president, respectively. Both were great at being presidents in their own ways. In George Washington’s Farewell Address he advised Americans to not get entangled within foreign countries’ problems and conflicts and to not have permanent alliances and treaties, and also to not have different political parties, and he also stressed the importance…

    • 1183 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Obama's farewell address was comparable to george washington's farewell address and many other presidents. Washington was a wealthy farm owner while barack was not, so there Farewell addresses will be different in their own way . in Obama's farewell speech he talks about the good and bads of his presidency and things america needs to fix. Obama's strengths of his presidency include taking down osama bin laden who was the mastermind of 9/11. He also increased employment rates by creating more jobs…

    • 322 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Essay George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were the first and the third presidents of the United States, respectively and both were established presidents in their own ways. In George Washington’s Farewell Address he advised Americans to not get entangled within foreign countries’ problems and conflicts and to not have everlasting alliances and treaties. Washington also did not like the idea of having diverse political parties, and he also stressed the magnitude of religion and morality. Thomas…

    • 948 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays