President George Washington’s Farewell Address is one of the most important political speeches in American history.
Rather than seeking reelection, Washington chose to step down as Chief Executive after his second term — a move that set a powerful precedent for later Presidents and was eventually enshrined by the Twenty-Second Amendment.
On September 19, 1796, Washington exhorted the fledgling nation — which he had led in defeating the world’s most powerful empire — with several pieces of advice.
Roughly 225 years later, however, the United States is ignoring most of its first Commander-in-Chief’s counsel — which it would be wise to once again consider.
Throughout the speech, Washington affirmed the United States’ commitment to individual liberty — a reward that its citizens had earned with blood.
In particular, Washington told his countrymen to preserve the Constitution and hold it as a standard of republicanism to other nations across the globe:
I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement