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George Washington's Farewell Address

by Bill Osler / February 23, 2004 3:23 AM PST

NPR ran a piece on Washington's farewell address in memory of his birthday. NPR : Morning Edition for Monday, February 23, 2004 Scroll down to Commentary: George Washington's Farewell Speech

The full text of the address is at Washington's Farewell Address 1776. It's a remarkable speech. When he voluntarily removed his name from consideration for a 3rd term it set a powerful precedent, not only for the US but for the world as a whole. Very few leaders before (and not many since!) have given up office so gracefully.

A significant quote:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

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Re:George Washington's Farewell Address
by Dan McC / February 23, 2004 6:12 AM PST

It's part of a series on religion and government, I believe. It just goes to show you that GW wasn't right about everything, but he sure could write.


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Re:George Washington's Farewell Address
by Angeline Booher / February 23, 2004 6:49 AM PST

There had been an offer to be King, which he also refused. He put the country first.

There have been a couple, IMO, of excellent TV series about him, both on PBS and network, that included that speech.

It isn't as easy to remember that there is a President's Day save for no mail delivery. There is no longer any special TV programming to honor Washington and Lincoln.

IMO, a good leader has the propensity to surround himself with people of outstanding ability. Under Washington were John Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, so he chose well.

Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.[. {/I}

I wonder if he foresaw a possible erosion of those principles.

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