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To what motives and emotions did Henry address his appeal?
As compared with Otis, is his speech chiefly argumentative or persuasive?
Is the current popularity of this speech due chiefly to its literary value, to its historical associations, or to its appreciation of liberty?
WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL ADDRESS
September 19, 1796
GEORGE WASHINGTON busied himself with the affairs of his household and estate for one month after he had listened to Patrick Henry's impassioned appeal; and then, at the call of the Continental Congress, set out, May 3, 1775, for Philadelphia. He little dreamed that eight years would go by before he would again be free to enjoy the leisure of his home and fields.
On June 15, 1775, he was made commander-in-chief of the American forces. A few weeks later at Cambridge he inspected the troops and found them without discipline, without munitions, and without food. In response to his most urgent requisitions, Congress either granted supplies grudgingly or delayed action. How under these disheartening conditions he was able to form an army and lead it to victory is almost incomprehensible.
The state of public opinion, moreover, caused Washington nearly as much concern as the condition of his army. He was continually harassed by hostile criticism. More than once, against his better judgment, he was forced to fight battles that became defeats. But at last the righteousness of the cause and his indomitable courage prevailed. In the course of six years he led his army through Valley Forge to Yorktown, where in 1781 Cornwallis surrendered.
On Christmas Eve, 1783, Washington returned to Mount Vernon, hoping to pass his life with his household in peaceful enjoyment of the victory he had won.
It was not to be his privilege, however, to live the life of a private citizen. Those were perilous years that followed the war. Once when bloodshed and insurrection seemed imminent, by personal influence Washington had quelled the disturbance and had aroused the patriotism of the disputants. In like manner from time to time he was summoned from Mount Vernon when danger menaced the country in near or remote regions. Finally in 1787, when the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia, he was made chairman. Washington had feared that when disputes arose, the Confederation—which was merely a league of friendship--would lack power to compel obedience. He had called it a shadow without substance. At the Constitutional Convention, accordingly, he assisted Hamilton in securing the adoption of a constitution that created a strong central government.
In 1789, when elected president, he possessed in this constitution the working-plan for forming a Union. But he was without models or precedents for such statecraft. Out of thirteen diverse commonwealths, it was his duty to build a nation. He had even to create a national spirit. Under the Confederation the states had been loosely joined and had regarded one another with almost as much jealousy as if they had been foreign countries. The wonder was not that there were differences in 1789 but rather that they had been able to unite as they did in 1775. Almost every one regarded the Union as an experiment and many believed that it could not long exist. The Constitution had not been adopted unanimously; and a thousand men were already advocating a thousand changes. Some states were on the verge of secession; there were post-revolutionary troubles such as now exist in Russia; demagogues were rampant. Only the clear-eyed
could see anything but confusion. The story, which will not be told here, of how Washington unified and harmonized these diverse and conflicting elements, is even more marvelous than the account of the victory he had won over England by the aid of his ragged and half-starved troops.
When at length indecision and confusion had been banished, Washington found that definite and very real perils had taken their place. On account of economic differences the South became pitted against the North. A part of the people wished to join with the French revolutionists in their war against England; others wanted to fight Spain, with the hope of opening up the Mississippi valley. In Pennsylvania the authority of the Federal government to lay taxes had been disputed and it took fifteen thousand men to end the uprising. These newer perils Washington met one by one and terminated them, or at least made them less dangerous.
It was with no little sacrifice that Washington devoted himself to public affairs. His tastes were naturally domestic. He took no pleasure in glory or vain show. He would have preferred to live quietly on the estate that he had cherished and adorned in the early years of his manhood.
More than once he had suggested retirement from public life but had been persuaded by the appeals of his countrymen to resume the burden of government. Finally, however, near the close of his second term as president, he realized that no persuasion, however appreciative or loyal, could heal the infirmities of age; and he declined to be a candidate for reëlection.
He had devoted forty-five years of his life to his country and for twenty-five years had rendered service that no other man could have given. With an affection
for the Union as fervent as the love of a father for his child, he prepared his Farewell Address. His words reflect the labors, sacrifices, and hopes of one who had led his country through the most critical period of its history and was at length compelled to place the supreme object of his affection in the hands of others. With parental solicitude Washington appealed to the American people to act thoughtfully, deliberately, and reasonably in all that concerns the welfare of the country. With sagacity and insight almost prophetic, he warned them against perils without and perils within. So thoughtfully is his advice expressed that it is as valuable to-day as when first written. Its maxims are founded both upon the wisdom that comes from experience and upon sound principles of government.
FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE OF
THE UNITED STATES
FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS:
The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprize you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made,