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1796 George Washington’s farewell address is published

September 19, 2021

1796 George Washington's farewell address is published

On Sept 19, 1976, a newspaper in Philadelphia published what is now regarded as the first president’s legacy to the people of America, known as George Washington’s Farewell. As his second term came to an end, President George Washington decided not to seek re-election but instead retire to his Mount Vernon home.

President George Washington feared that if he died in office, future presidential aspirants and the American people would perceive the position of president as a lifetime appointment. His stepping down set the two-term limit put forth on the Twenty-Second constitutional amendment.

The “Farewell Address” was first drafted by James Madison in 1792 when President George Washington had first contemplated retiring after his first term. Later, Alexander Hamilton, who was the Treasury Secretary, rewrote it. The president provided the final edits, and the address was published in the American Daily Advertiser.

The 32-page address began with the president explaining his decision not to view. He revealed that he opted not to step down after his first term due to the “critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations.” By this statement, he referred to the tension between the USA and Great Britain over the latter’s war with France. With the crisis over, he thought that the country would be safe under new leadership. He also stressed the importance of unity through avoiding partisanship, regionalism, and extended entanglements with the affairs of foreign nations.

The president closed the address stating that he was excited about being a private citizen and supporting the free government he had helped establish over his 45 years of public service. Each year, a chosen member of the U.S. Senate read the “Farewell Address” in public.


  1. Red Dawg

    Great Man Great Leader and had the right foresight for the future of our country.

  2. Karen Zeto

    Frank, I thoroughly enjoy your bits of history! So many wonderful stories and truths for our day! Thanks for sharing your love of history with all of us! God bless!

  3. Ted Herbert

    The Vietnam war failure at home and abroad began when graduate deferments were first ended by LBJ’s Select Service Director Gen. Hershey. He also was instrumental in ending the ‘Happy Pappy’ deferment. Both of those turned the vast majority of young leaders of the US political society into an anti-war activist group far larger and much more diverse than merely ‘The Hypes’ of the SDS as President Nixon insisted this vast majority of Americans continued to be wrongfully referred to throughout Nixon’s terms as President.
    I, who lived through this period of change and unrest on the campus of the University of Kentucky,(1965-1972) experienced the change from respect of those of us who volunteered to join ROTC to being looked upon as a monolithic group of ‘baby killers/rapists’ at least in-training to the point that we went from being looked upon and acting proudly to wear the uniform of our respective US Army or US Air force ROTC Unit (1965-67) to being requested and even encouraged to no longer wear our uniforms on campus (by 1968).
    I remember when I first saw a ‘ peace symbol’ crudely drawn in chalk on a side walk in the mid- point of campus in the Winter of 1967. Most of those who gathered to gaze at this strange sign ☮️(including myself) could not identify it as representing Peace in Vietnam! Only a very few of those of us gathered there even identified the symbol as being what it would soon become: The Universal Peace Sign; along with the age old ‘peace sign ???? which became even more ubiquitous!
    I can remember a saying spray painted on the ‘Great Wall’ surrounding the central Campus construction site that became nick named ‘ the Giant Concrete Phalix symbol’. The spray painted phase went;
    : ‘LBJ Sucks … BUT Hershey MUNCHES!’
    No matter what your political persuasion if you were of the age to either be classified as a graduate student or were approaching that age you could not argue with that sentiment! Even those of us who were then in Sr ROTC ( I.e. we were so classified because we were taking ROTC classes as well as US military $$$ each month{$55.00}) and no longer subject to the draft as many of our classroom ‘leaders’ were suddenly found their very lives thrust into the middle of an admittedly ‘broken’ system of conscription of the best and brightest of all of us to go off to their death or permanent scaring to fight in a war that was no longer seen as relevant to our national interest let alone our peace and tranquillity.
    There is a saying from the French Revolution that captures everything. It goes , ‘Nothing concentrates a man more on his defense more than watching his guillotine being built outside his prison cell.’ We as a society went from watching ‘advisors’ as well as their puppet warriors of the South Vietnam(remember the vast majority of Americans could not identify Vietnam as being a ‘sovereign ‘ country within SE Asia!)

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