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Primary Documents in American History

George Washington's Farewell Address

George Washington, first president of the United States George Washington, first president of the United States.
1 print: lithograph. [1828(?)].
From the original series painted by Gilbert Stuart for the Messrs. Doggett of Boston.
Prints & Photographs Division
Reproduction Number:
LC-USZ62-117116

George Washington's Farewell Address announced that he would not seek a third term as president. Originally published in David C. Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796, Washington devoted much of the address to domestic issues of the time, warning against the rise of political parties and sectionalism as a threat to national unity. In the area of foreign affairs, Washington called for America "to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." Although the ideas expressed were Washington's, Alexander Hamilton wrote a large part of the address. James Madison drafted an earlier version of the address in 1792.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

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George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress

The complete George Washington Papers collection from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 65,000 documents.

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Exhibitions

Creating the United States

This online exhibition offers insights into how the nation’s founding documents were forged and the role that imagination and vision played in the unprecedented creative act of forming a self–governing country. A section on the formation of political parties in the 1790s includes Alexander Hamilton's draft of George Washington’s Farewell Address.

Religion and Founding of the American Republic

This exhibit explores the role that religion played in the founding of the American colonies, in the shaping of early American life and politics, and in forming the American Republic. A section entitled Religion and the Federal Government contains Alexander Hamilton's draft of Washington's Farewell Address and a broadside of the address. In his Farewell Address, Washington advised his fellow citizens that "Religion and morality" were the "great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens." "National morality," he added, could not exist "in exclusion of religious principle." "Virtue or morality," he concluded, as the products of religion, were "a necessary spring of popular government."

Today in History

December 14, 1799

On December 14, 1799, George Washington died at his Mt. Vernon home after five decades of service to his country. This page links to Washington's Farewell Address and other online resources related to Washington.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

First Draft of George Washington's Farewell Address, New York State Library

Our Documents, President George Washington's Farewell Address, National Archives and Records Administration

The Papers of George Washington: The Farewell Address, University of Virginia

Rediscovering George Washington: Farewell Address, PBS

Washington's Farewell Address (PDF 252KB; requires Adobe Acrobat Reader), Government Printing Office

Washington's Farewell Address, The Lehrman Institute

Washington's Farewell Address, United States Senate

Selected Bibliography

Gilbert, Felix. To the Farewell Address: Ideas of Early American Foreign Policy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961. [Catalog Record]

Kaufman, Burton Ira, ed. Washington’s Farewell Address: The View from the 20th Century. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1969. [Catalog Record]

Paltsits, Victor Hugo, ed. Washington’s Farewell Address in Facsimile, with Transliterations of all the Drafts of Washington, Madison, & Hamilton; Together with Their Correspondence and Other Supporting Documents. New York: The New York Public Library, 1935. [Catalog Record]

Spalding, Matthew, and Patrick J. Garrity. A Sacred Union of Citizens: George Washington’s Farewell Address and the American Character. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996. [Catalog Record]

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  June 10, 2015
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