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The Significance of Farewell Adress by James Madison, Washington and Hamilton

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On September 19, 1796 George Washington decided not to publicly deliver his famous farewell address to the nation but, instead choose to have it published in the Philadelphia “Daily American Advertiser”. Washington’s speech comes after he decided to step down from his presidency after his second term due to being tired and worn out from the political life, he simply wanted to enjoy the time he had left back in his hometown Mount Vernon. With the help of his companions Alexander Hamilton and James Madison is that he was able to compose this powerful speech in which he warns the newly formed United States about involving itself with permanent alliances, political parties, and national debt. But to also remain peaceful with other countries and to keep their neutrality. 

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To begin with, George Washington who is widely remember for his great service as the first United Sates president is also known for writing one of his most influential speeches, the Farewell Address. Which he wrote after his first presidential term ended but decided not to publish because he went back for a second term, as he took in consideration multiple reasons. One of these reasons was the fact that he could not bear the political divisions occurring between the Federalist and Anti-Federalist at that time. Another was his fear of the United States going through dilemmas that would cause the nation to split apart. Lastly, it was the influence that Washington received by his closest companions that convinced him in becoming president once again. Throughout the years it was that he became a gradually political involve person in America. According to History.com editors(2009), it all began in the year of 1753 when he was appointed by the Governor Dinwiddie to have a position in the Virginia military, to 1759 when he was finally elected as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses after losing two times, then to 1775 when he was chosen to become the leader of command for the Continental Army, due to his experience in the military and in hope that he could accomplish in uniting the colonies., then finally to the year 1789 when he was unanimously elected to become the first president because of his great skills and leadership showed. All these important events of which he became apart allowed him to get politically involve a lot with the United States, as he became a person of great importance. To continue, Washington did not have the opportunity to continue school or attend college to further his education because from the young age of 11, he had to take responsibility of running the farm that his father left, after he passed away. This was all due to him being the oldest of siblings, so the carry weighted all on his shoulders. However, this did not stop him from teaching himself through reading and experimenting with the new things he learned. This helped him gain understanding of basic math, reading, and writing. Also, it is said that he had three major influences that helps his social education. According to Biography.com Editors (2014) these were the Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, a book on how to use proper etiquettes, the help of Lawrence Washington, his half-brother, and the Fairfax family, who were the in-laws of Lawrence. Altogether these things helped him be recognized by the upper-class people because he grew up to have good self- representation and manners. 

The intended audience Washington wanted to target is the whole nation, the American citizens. Which he successfully accomplishes in paragraph two of his speech by showing gratitude and thankfulness to his people for allowing him to serve as America’s first president. He said, “I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both” (Washington) However, he also targets his audience by informing them to stay united and not let their jealousy and many differences separate them being a nation. A quote where he implies this is when he says, “The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.”(Washington) He even goes as far to include the reminder used in the constitution about unity, “that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual” (Madison) Altogether is through these inferences that he is talking to the American citizens, who’s future of America lays in their hands. 

To continue, every political document or speech has an important and meaningful purpose behind it, including the Farewell Address. Who George Washington wrote with the purpose to serve as a basis and guide for the American government and future leaders of America. He wanted for his work to influence this newly formed country, so that they would know what to avoid and what not to avoid to in the absence of his retirement. This address did not only serve a powerful purpose, but it also explained what was going on and what he wished for the people to do. In his speech Washington warned us about permanent alliances, the rise of political parties, and becoming involve with foreign affairs. His warning about permanent alliances is seen in his speech when he says, “Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign world. So far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it, for let me not be understood as capable of patronising infidelity to existing engagements (I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy). We may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.” (Washington) The meaning behind this was for neutrality to remain in the United States that way exchange and trade could easily happen with other countries and not have the invasion of royal powers tear apart the newly formed nation. However, another reason was so the United States could remain in peaceful relationships with other countries because if they formed permanent allies, they would then be drag by other countries in fighting which would cause the United States in forming implacable enemies and new battles. All which Washington learned from during his presidency, especially during the French Revolution when he faced difficulty due to foreign policies with Spain, England, and the Native Americans. Another important factor of his address was the mentioning rise of political parties. Specific quotes regarding this can be read when Washington says, “Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally. -It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions.” What he tried to advocate through this quote was to not have political parties because during his presidency he watched how the Federalist of Alexander Hamilton and the Anti Federalist of Thomas Jefferson came to form. Which worried him because he thought that their differences on how to run the new nation would eventually lead to the split and downfall of the United States. The last thing he desired was division since he strongly believed in unity and peace. Also, his warning of political parties came to be, as he believed that eventually they would get too caught up with their issues and growing popularity that they would no longer focus on the United States and the issues it faced. Lastly, a third thing that he addresses are not involving ourselves with debt. Which can be read in a quote from his speech where he says, “As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible: avoiding occasions of expence by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt”(Washington) His intention in this was to let its country know that if they did not take care of national debt it would only lessen the effectiveness of their independence as an independent country. The country as a whole needed to be responsible and take into consideration the wise words of George Washington, who knew what he was telling them. 

George Washington’s Farewell Address was a hand-written document intended to the United States public. This widely significant document of history was able to be published due to the great help of Alexander Hamilton, one of Washington’s closest peers. The contribution that Hamilton played in this was helping Washington draft his speech by writing a big part of it on July of 1976, although the ideas all came from Washington’s. However, he also received help from James Madison who edited one of the earliest versions of his address.  All with the purpose to help him deliver a remarkable message of remembrance, honor, and honesty. According to Mount Vernon.org (2019), in his honor every year for his birthday they read and celebrate his famous Farewell Address which was a tradition started by Abraham Lincoln, as a way commemorate Washington’s service and birthday.  In addition, some of the basic assumptions made by Washington was the hope that his people would listen and take into consideration the things he warned them about. Which they did not consider, an example that proves is the emergence of the political parties, the Anti-Federalist and Federalist which ended up rapidly growing in number. Since both had different political views on the constitution and on how the new government would be better organized. A second example could be the debt the United States got itself into in 1790 after the Revolutionary War. It was from there that they continue to get more in debt with wars, inflation, and the recession of economy. Going against everything that the first president, George Washington told them not to do. This document is a reliable one because it was written by the first president, George Washington as he is about to retire and wants to thank all his people for giving him the opportunity to serve as president of the United States. He wrote a hand-written copy of it which can be found in the White House and places like The New York Library. It is his influential political involvement and found written copy that truly make its reliable.  

After analyzing the document, it reveals assumptions or inferences about the society at the time the Farewell Address was published. Because of George Washington’s leaving after his second term, it if inferred that the society in the U.S. were still getting used to their own independence, so Washington tells both the citizens and the government in advance how to maintain a balance between their power and independence so it would not get out of control and start conflicts with outside countries even though they won their independence from Britain it assumed that the U.S. still needs some guidance. 

To history this document holds a strong significance because it is on this that we have based America’s government and political aspects. For example, we took the advice of Washington in keeping our neutrality until 1949 when we joined The North Atlantic Treaty, to protect ourselves from the Soviet Union. In addition, future United State presidents would also use this document as their guide throughout their presidency to make important decisions, like treaty alliances. Lastly, to me this document holds a special significance because the Farewell Address is a speech that should be known and remember by everyone, as it became an essential part of American society and has influence it in many ways, we haven’t realized it. Also, this marks the formation of the United States as our first president, George Washington addresses the new nation through his honest and respectful words. To me one of things that stood out to was when he said, “Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” The reason why it stood out to me so much was because he made me feel proud for having the privilege of being born in United States, while at the same time giving me a sense of belonging to this country.

In conclusion, George Washington decided to publish his written Farewell Address for all the people to see in 1796. With the help of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, they were all able to compose a written speech discussing how the U.S. should avoid all types of conflicts with other countries but remain peaceful and in good terms with one another.

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