"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars...Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle...Morality is a necessary spring of popular government...Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation?
And of fatal tendency...to put, in the place of the delegated will of the Nation, the will of a party; - often a small but artful and enterprising minority...They are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the Power of the People and to usurp for the themselves the reins of Government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion...
But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism...Disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual...(who) turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty...The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism..."
Let there be no change by usurpation...It is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed."
-- George Washington, Farewell Address
"I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally. This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."
-- President George Washington, Farewell Address
"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."
--George Washington, First Inaugural Address, 1789
"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God."
-- George Washington
"For if Men are to be precluded from offering their Sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of Speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter."
-- George Washington, address to the officers of the army, Mar. 15, 1783
"We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our own Country’s Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions – The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."
-- George Washington, 1776
At the close of the Revolutionary War in 1783, George Washington wrote to the thirteen governors to disband the army and send his troops home. He included a prayer that God would “dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy” and love one another. This foundational prayer by our nation’s first leader for his soldiers and his people is worth remembering as we honor their costly sacrifices for the independence of our country.
Here is the full version of his letter to the Governors requesting that his troops be sent home:
Circular Letter Addressed to the Governors of all the States on the Disbanding of the Army, June 14, 1783
"I have thus freely declared what I wished to make known, before I surrendered up my public trust to those who committed it to me. The task is now accomplished. I now bid adieu to your Excellency, as the chief magistrate of your State, at the same time I bid a last farewell to the cares of office and all the employments of public life.
It remains, then, to be my final and only request that your Excellency will communicate these sentiments to your legislature at their next meeting, and that they may be considered the legacy of one, who has ardently wished, on all occasions, to be useful to his country, and who, even in the shade of retirement, will not fail to implore the divine benediction on it.
I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for brethren who have served in the field; and finally that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation."
-- General George Washington
American Minute with Bill Federer
George Washington was born FEBRUARY 22, 1732.
He was unanimously chosen as the Army's Commander-in-Chief, unanimously chosen as President of the Constitutional Convention, and unanimously chosen as the first U.S. President.
After having the Declaration of Independence read to his troops, General Washington ordered chaplains placed in each regiment, stating:
"The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country."
General Washington stated at Valley Forge, May 2, 1778:
"To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to laud the more distinguished Character of Christian."
To the Delaware Indian Chiefs who brought three youths to be trained in American schools, General Washington stated, May 12, 1779:
"You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ."
As recorded in The Writings of George Washington (March 10, 1778, 11:83-84, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1934), record George Washington's order:
"At a General Court Marshall whereof Colo. Tupper was President...Lieutt. Enslin of Colo. Malcom's Regiment tried for attempting to commit sodomy, with John Monhort a soldier;
Secondly, For Perjury in swearing to false Accounts, found guilty of the charges exhibited against him, being breaches of 5th. Article 18th Section of the Articles of War and do sentence him to be dismiss'd the service with Infamy.
His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Liett. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return."
In his Farewell Address, 1796, Washington stated:
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.
In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness."
"And you will, by the dignity of your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind, had this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining."
-- George Washington, The Newburgh Address, 1783