Washington`s Farewell Address

The Farewell Address was Washington's final statement to the American public. It was presented in the form of a newspaper essay, appearing first in the American Daily Advertiser in Philadelphia in September 1796; it was not a speech and was not delivered orally. James Madison made some contributions to the document, but the prime collaborator with the president was Alexander Hamilton.

The address warned first against the growth of political parties, especially if geographically based. In foreign affairs Washington acknowledged the need for temporary alliances, but warned against "permanent alliances." (The term "entangling alliances" is not found in the address.) Finally the departing president urged the country to continue to honor the payment of all financial obligations.

Nonetheless, Washington's pleas were made by one who himself had unknowingly become a partisan figure. By his last years in office the President sought counsel only from like-minded Federalist advisors (usually Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and John Jay); the Jeffersonians were ignored. His warning against becoming involved in "permanent alliances" reflected his concern about the French alliance, not about a fondness for Britain.

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