George Washington was the first president of the United States. He served two terms, his last term ending in 1797. But near the end of his second term in 1796, he published a farewell letter to the nation, which became essential to future generations. Here are a few reasons why this address was so important.
Since George Washington was the first president of our new nation, he wanted to make a lasting impression on the government he served and other countries abroad. He tried to set an example for future presidents in the United States.
He wanted to show that the presidency should not be a lifetime job. He did not want to die in office. But instead, he wanted to show the world that the United States was in good shape, that a new president would be able to lead with the strength and pride of the new nation.
He also wanted to thank the people of the United States for allowing him to serve. In his address, he showed his gratitude and respect for the American people.
Washington also wanted to advise any future people seeking the office of the presidency. He warned against the idea of political parties, that they should be discouraged.
Unfortunately for Washington, his advice about political parties went unheeded. Since Washington was retiring, there was a frenzy of people who wanted to replace Washington as president. John Adams (who became the second president), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and others fought hard to become that next leader behind Washington.
Washington also warned about alliances with other countries, yet stopped short of saying the United States should be isolated from other nations. His idea was that there should be an understanding and peace between the United States and all other countries.
Washington also wanted to remind people about the importance of liberty, freedom, and prosperity. He wanted to have people keep in mind the trials and tribulations that he and the other founding fathers went through to gain independence for the nation.
Washington’s farewell address is available for all of us to read, and we probably should read it. One problem is it was written over 200 years ago, and the English of Washington’s time is quite different from today’s English. It’s too bad because what Washington wrote should be considered more important than it is. After all, this is a man who was the first leader of our new nation. His words, therefore, should have deep meaning for all of us.
The question becomes, have we followed Washington’s advice? Have we tried hard to keep peace with foreign countries? Have we tried hard to unite, cooperate, become one nation, and keep our strength among us? I guess these questions are up to all of us to answer. In some ways, we have, and others no, but it is probably a great idea if we all were to read and try to understand what Washington meant in his farewell address. That is what makes it important.
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