Little Bits of History

Farewell

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 19, 2014
George Washington’s Farewell Address

George Washington’s Farewell Address

September 19, 1796: George Washington’s Farewell Address is printed as an open letter to the public. Washington published the letter late in his second term before he retired to his home, Mount Vernon. The letter was published in the American Daily Advertiser on this day under the title “The Address of George Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the United States.” Newspapers across the country reprinted the letter for others to share and it was also put out in pamphlet form. Since the title was a bit over the top, it was later changed to “Farewell Address”. This was Washington’s farewell after twenty years of service to the new nation.

The first draft was written in 1792 with the help of James Madison. Washington had hoped to serve only one term and then finally get to retire. As he ran for a second term, the letter was put aside. He opted to run for a second term when it was pointed out that party politics would tear the country apart without his adept leadership counteracting the divisive nature of the two parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. This disunity, along with troubling foreign affairs, led Washington away from retirement and into the ring for a second term as President.

Four years later, Alexander Hamilton helped Washington prepare a revision to the original draft. Washington looked at the emerging political landscape and how far the young country had come in a short time. His support of the Constitution was also mentioned. He defended his actions of the prior eight years and advised the nation and the population on how to proceed. Washington was exhausted. He was an old man of 64 at the time of the letter’s publication and it was two months before the Electoral College would announce the new leader of the country, John Adams.

Washington was able to retire in March 1797 and returned to his home in Virginia. He spent the last three years of his life immersed in his plantation and other business interests which included a distillery which produced its first run in February 1797. His estate was worth nearly a $1 million in 1799 dollars or about $19.3 million in today’s dollars. However, Washington was land poor. His holdings didn’t earn much money and squatters on his property refused to pay rent, feeling he was rich enough and didn’t need their money. By July 4, 1798 with war with Britain looking like a distinct possibility, Washington came out of retirement to become Commander-in-chief of the US armies, a position he held for seventeen months until his death. He was 67 years old and had been inspecting his plantation on horseback. He was cold and wet and became ill. Physicians were called and bloodletting was the choice of treatment. Three doctors helped bleed the Father of Our Country to death.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments. – all from George Washington

Also on this day: Lord Haw-Haw – In 1945, William Joyce is sentenced to death for high treason against the British Government.
Buy a Vowel? – In 1983, Wheel of Fortune began evening broadcasts.
Sportsman of the Year – In 1988, Greg Louganis hit his head on the diving board at the Olympic games.
Equal Rights – In 1893, women got the right to vote in New Zealand.

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One Response

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  1. hairballexpress said, on September 19, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I had no idea that George Washington died that way! Or, that he was also a businessman. So glad they finally quit that ridiculous “bloodletting” nonsense!


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