Re­mem­ber­ing Wash­ing­ton’s in­ten­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - Letters To The Editor -

“Our Wash­ing­ton is no more,” said John Mar­shall as he be­gan an ad­dress in Congress on Dec. 18, 1799. The great man had un­ex­pect­edly died the night of Dec. 14 at Mount Ver­non. A pe­riod of mourn­ing was de­clared across the coun­try. The one in­dis­pens­able cit­i­zen, sol­dier and states­man, loved and trusted by al­most all, was no longer avail­able to help and ad­vise the peo­ple. Less than three years be­fore, he had vol­un­tar­ily re­lin­quished the helm of state. He wished only to re­turn to his beloved home in Vir­ginia with his wife to spend the last years of his life.

Prior to leav­ing of­fice in Septem­ber, 1796, he had pub­lished his “Farewell Ad­dress” in news­pa­pers through­out the coun­try. The pur­pose of this let­ter was to ex­press what he be­lieved to be the true mean­ing of the Amer­i­can Revo­lu­tion and to ad­vise the peo­ple on their new gov­ern­ment. The doc­u­ment was ad­dressed to “Friends and Fel­low Cit­i­zens.” He apol­o­gized for step­ping down and he hoped the peo­ple un­der­stood. He wrote of what could be called “Wash­ing­ton’s Amer­ica,” where in­di­vid­ual cit­i­zens take upon them­selves the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of moral and proper con­duct in their private and pub­lic af­fairs and where cit­i­zens ac­tively take part in their na­tions gov­ern­ing.

Gen. Wash­ing­ton em­pha­sized that the na­tion must re­main uni­fied. That the gov­ern­ment of their choice, the Repub­lic un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, has just claim on their sup­port and con­fi­dence. He told the peo­ple to guard against for­eign al­liances, to be­come in­volved only when our own na­tion’s in­ter­ests are strongly in­volved. He stated that peo­ple should be aware of the harm that fac­tions can im­pose on the Repub­lic. The spirit of po­lit­i­cal par­ties can negate the needed and proper ac­tions of the gov­ern­ment. And, when the op­po­si­tion to the gov­ern­ment reaches ex­ces­sive pro­por­tions, our na­tion will come to a stand­still and even regress. A free Repub­lic such as ours has nor­mal av­enues of pro­tec­tion against mis­uses of power by the gov­ern­ment. He felt the sep­a­ra­tion of power as dic­tated by the Con­sti­tu­tion as­sured this as­pect.

“Wash­ing­ton’s Amer­ica” was one of per­fec­tion and great­ness. He did not ex­pect it to ever be to­tally achieved. He was not naive; he knew and un­der­stood hu­man na­ture and the good and bad of hu­man con­duct. This was his chal­lenge to the Amer­i­can peo­ple: to con­tinue to strive for per­fec­tion through the ages. He made it clear that our na­tion would sur­vive only if the peo­ple them­selves are good and lead pro­duc­tive lives. For the na­tional char­ac­ter of the Repub­lic is es­tab­lished by that of the ma­jor­ity. He also stated that the na­tional char­ac­ter must be based on moral­ity and re­li­gion, the pil­lars of a righ­teous na­tion, and that moral­ity can­not ex­ist with­out re­li­gion.

For 230 years our Repub­lic has been suc­cess­ful. With one ex­cep­tion, the Civil War pe­riod, our na­tion has re­mained uni­fied. This coun­try of free peo­ple has pro­duced the high­est stan­dard of liv­ing known in the world. And to­day, it is the strong­est and most pow­er­ful na­tion on earth. But, his­tory tells us that no na­tion can last for­ever. One day the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple will lose their will to de­fend their val­ues and way of life. The glue of in­di­vid­ual lib­erty will no longer keeps the ma­jor­ity uni­fied. One won­ders when will this hap­pen. Then, we will be forced to pro­claim: “Wash­ing­ton’s Amer­ica is no more.” Ken Ruzich Pitts­burg, Penn­syl­va­nia

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