Washington’s Farewell Address, which was issued as a public letter in 1796, was and still is one of the most influential documents of our nation. It was also said to be a corner stone to our nations foreign policies. Drafted primarily by Washington himself, with some help from Alexander Hamilton, the address gives advice on the essential need of and importance of national union, the value of the Constitution and the rule of law, the evils of political parties, and the appropriate virtues of a republican people.
Moreover, Washington’s public political address warned against foreign influence in domestic affairs and American meddling in European affairs. He warned against bitter partisanship in domestic politics and called for men to move beyond partisanship and serve the common good. He called for an America wholly free of foreign attachments, saying the United States must concentrate primarily on American interests. He counseled friendship and commerce with all nations, but warned against involvement in European wars and entering into long-term “entangling” alliances.
The address quickly set American values regarding religion and foreign affairs. The first value that he warned against was against permanent foreign alliances. He says in the address, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world… ” The second was he warned against the party systems. He states, “It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration…. agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one…. gainst another…. it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption… thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another. “
Then, the third virtue was he warned people about an over-powerful military establishment. Washington asserted this by saying,”… avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty. The fourth was that he extolled the benefits of the federal government by proclaiming,”The unity of government… is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence… of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. ” Lastly, the fifth virtue set by Washington’s Farewell Address was that he stressed the importance of religion and morality. 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? ” In conclusion, Washington further asks the people to look beyond any slight differences between them in religion, manners, habits, and political principles, and place their independence and liberty above all else. He wants everyone to be united. Thus, with stating these believes, Washington’s Farewell Address is now one of the most important documents to our nation.