tv The Presidency George Washingtons Farewell Address CSPAN November 9, 2022 9:35pm-11:00pm EST
i want to welcome me too this conversation about george washington's farewell address. on september 19, 1796 george washington announced to the world he would not seek reelection to the presidency. his letter to friends and citizens offer some of the much thorough, thoughtful and inspiring advice has ever been given to the american people. in more than a few genuine warnings were included there as well. the hopes and fears remained with us as a nation are now discussing this now 225 year old document. much of what we debate and discuss in 21st century america politics is addressed here in one form or another. in recognition of this document we brought together an incredible lineup of talented scholars to reflect on the relevance of the farewell address today. we were joined by jon avalon author, columnist, senior political analyst, is the
author of books including the one we will discuss tonight washington's farewell a new book on abraham lincoln coming out next february. his work is going to be important to our conversation here tonight as were the work of lindsey stravinsky. she is presidential cabinet, history senior fellow at southern methodist university. in the lecture of media and public affairs at george washington university she's also a fellow at the international. she's the author of the award-winning book the cabinet george washington and the creation of an american institution. i was when the leading scholars of american history author of more than a dozen books else has been awarded the pulitzer prize for founding brothers the revolutionary generation and the national book award for america stinks, his biography of thomas jefferson and most recent book, the cause, the
american revolution that discontent comes out tomorrow. all of our guests are great friends of mount vernon. were so pleased to be able to offer signed copies of their books. look for links in the chat that can help you find those and of course please feel free to visit us anytime at mount vernon.org. welcome. >> hey. thanks for having us. >> are here to discuss a really important document in american history. i guess the farewell address. i give the tiny little preview of what it is just imagine someone coming into the conversation right now, what is the formal address john will turn to you first, what is the text? >> it is america's original >> scripture. it is most widely printed completely declaration of independence. it was the sum total of wisdom
that george washington accumulated and a life of war and peace as president that he put down first with james mattis and alexander hamilton as a warning to his friends and fellow citizens which is how he addressed it, about the forces he felt could derail the democratic experiment going forward. it's one of the most relevant document you can imagine. even though it fell out of favor for a time, i think when it is read today it is a stark warning about the dangers of what we call hyper- partisanship, excessive debt, foreign wars, foreign interference in our elections and also suggest some of the liberty some the things we can draw upon to avoid the straps. that unity of morality and virtue. the importance of fiscal discipline and political moderation.
>> they turn to you, lindsay, george washington create a text john mentioned there were other authors, can you tell us a little bit about the years leading up to this. this is a moment he decides not to be present any longer. as a great scholar of washington's presidency set the page of those last months or days in the washington presidency as he's thinking this address appeared cocksure. i did not want to stand for second term at all. he had wanted to be in office for a couple of years and hightail it as soon he could they did not really like being president he had to be away from home has so much stress and pressure he knew every step to establish a precedent for this to come after him.
he did not like criticism he was wearing his reputation met he would be damaged by a poor choice. we also had a real commitment to the importance of being an office. felt very strongly the american people the election of peaceful transfer of power had to be practiced and cultivated. he was determined to try to oversee that. early in 1796 they had a conversation about the process rolling shared a series of
drafts of the next two months until september washington then published his paper in september to reach the maximum number of people to make it clear he was speaking to the people not to congress or different branch of government too. >> will be spending most of that's our time talking about the text itself. what can you tell me, what would you add about the origins of what led up to the creation of this document you might want to share about washington before 1796? >> i would venture to guess john and the modern presidency no president in the american's who did not want to be president more than george bush. not on a second term he did not want a first term. and when he was going up to
that in york he said he felt like a prisoner going to jail. and he really meant it. almost half have to do with mount vernon. that was where he wanted to be. he really did. all of the views of the presidency are shaped by it 20th century significance. washington did not regard the presidency as the capstone of his career. when he was she did not have to do. the great thing he did was win the war. i think that is true of all four of the presidents, the first floor. adam's great thing this before the revolution to bring it into meaning. jeffersons was the declaration.
madisons was the constitution and the federalist papers. all of them did not think about the presidency is the great moment in their lives. washington was aficionado of residence. even before that and newburgh refusing to become dictator annapolis where the capitol was the surrender of his commission george the third is that it can't be if the depth does that he be the greatest man in the world. well he did and for that moment at least he was. jefferson writes about this right after. i think jefferson actually wrote some of washington's speech i can't prove that. but jefferson says one man saved us from the fate that
befalls most republics. there thinking cromwell, subsequently they can think of napoleon, we can think of now, we can think of castro a variety of who never run away from office. those that might still be alive in american politics. but the president is ratified as a constitutional amendment in 1951 i believe. the real president all leaders, no matter how indispensable are disposable. you do not die in office like
a monarch. the dominant thing we need to remember is this was not ever delivered as an address. now both of our commentators already know that but we have not mentioned it. it was not a speech was an open letter to the american people that first appeared in a philadelphia paper and then i think a new hampshire paper gives that the farewell address. but that initial reaction to the address is oh my god, he cannot leave us. it was like the father saying to the children, you are on your own then. and that was a trauma.
nobody thought he was ever going to retire. fate presumed he would win elections until he died. and again he could not wait to get back to the place where you are sitting, kevin. >> jim reference something you write about this in your book, this is not the first bit of advice washington shared a widely with the nation. could you tell us a little bit about washington back in 1783 in how we also his guidance of the nation. >> that was originally called his farewell address. >> i did not know that is that true? >> yes. that is a true story. what is fascinating about that is first of all there's continuity. with the power of the gesture
itself the simple act of voluntarily relinquishing power itself was they were referring to jefferson and an epilogue to my book i think it's perfectly crystallizes washington throughout his career. jefferson said the virtue of a single character probably prevented this regulation from enclosed azimuth other has been by a subversion it was intended to establish. and certainly there were some of the stakes in 1783 as well. the normal course of events was the military leader would displace the tyrant and then become a tyrant himself. so, talk about the prevalence of ancient roman and greek precedent on this young republic, this was a real step
he took. he was a voluntarily relinquishing power it was completely genuine. the advice he gives in 1783 is very similar albeit subsequently seek through the prism of fights he saw as president and the fights over the ratification of the treaty in america's foreign policy. basically says first of all this is not a time of celebration. now we need to establish the republican show the world we can establish republic on a scale never before seen, right? among other things it was wisdom a democracy could not exist. it would never work in a country as big as the 13 colonies. one is about the need for national unity. in fighting with cottonelle congress all throughout the war. cannot find a sense of resolve her focus on the common good.
did not want to levy to support the troops. with a sense of unity and think as citizens. i think one of the important points is independence and freedom can be sort of a state of nature. liberty requires responsibility. excuse me i'm just finishing at lincoln book right now. that is what washington said in the 1783 address. and again in 1796. >> one of the things i can do tonight and hopefully can start this now is bring up a few of the short quotations people can pull out of the farewell address. >> this one i would like to bring up because as we were discussing if you read down to the bottom that refers to the
method is given this kind of advice before. this interest in warning of a parting friend. possibly have no personal motive at this council. this was the way he begins his right after i can't read the exact phrase he has a few paragraphs and then he said here perhaps i should stop. but then he goes on many, many paragraphs longer to give some serious advice to the american people. when you see phrases like this, a disinterested morning how does it sit with washington as leader and president of you as he really did see himself as president for all of the american people. at least for the american
people really wanted to represent them regardless of their partisan identity was. that might be out little rose glassing the situation. there is bias he by the end of his presidency what she did not necessarily want to admit. he felt like certain sides of been more critical of him domestic rebellions things like about. but he wanted to see himself as above those things. he did with a political president we had for sure. and his leading office leaves and more creative to do that. had he still been in office there is no way people would have been disinterested they would've been for a third term. but by leaving office he had put himself in that elevated position give out advice and
claim to be disinterested even if some -- what is really fast and about the reception to this farewell address is people who are inclined to think well of him saw it as disinterested as he had intended. those were inclined to see him as a more political actor thought it was very political. >> disinterested warnings of a parting friend how do you read that guidance? >> i agree with what was just said print limiter try to on that a little bit. political parties the founders as a group including washington all regarded political parties as evil vultures that were floating to the political atmosphere. jefferson even claimed if i have to go to heaven as a third-party i prefer not to go at all.
washington believed and said i think john adams is the only other president. and so and washington's second term, now political scientists think the creation of political parties is one of the major contributions they made but because it disciplines dissent and the possibility of opposition which is a good thing. washington and adams let's stick with washington was incapable of thinking a political parties anything other than an evil intrusion. he could not see himself as the head of a party. and so you might think he's in an actor is him he is a classical figure in that. i would build on something
again. the aurora, you look up and textbooks they will say the opposing party that comes into existence is called the democratic republican party. wrong. it's not called the democratic republican party it is called the republican party buried the word democrat and democracy as an epitaph in the h century it means mob rules. democratic republican does not come until 1860 with monroe. it is tricky because that party morphs into the democratic party. it's even worse that the federals morphed and it's really tricky. but the aurora is the 18th century, john, you might comment on this, fox news.
and when they publish the forged documents, forged british documents claiming washington throughout the war was really a trader he was trying to be of benedict arnold but got feet to the punch by benedict arnold. this was just off the top stuff. and actually, among the people commenting on his farewell address was thomas paine he hated him because he didn't think washington got them out of france fast enough. he said we must all devoutly pray for his imminent death. and so the criticism he was a getting too. >> it's pretty funny by the way he was famously an atheist. >> that is true he was. you mean pain not washington. the level of partisanship in
the 1790s is comparable to what we are facing in washington now, okay? the press there were no rules for the press. all the news fit to print. now, washington stands firmly against that whole thing. he thanks of you have any problems you can vote me out of the next election. but the level of partisanship in the newspapers in the 1790s is scatological. in washington really cannot understand that. he does not understand it. only think he is hurt by it. i think he survives the french and indian war. he should have been killed when he was a young man. he should've been killed several times. he was not even a wounded but they wounded him in his second term they really got him.
he could not wait to get out of there. i know we want to move into the discussion of his attitude towards political partisanship in the context is what i described in the specific legislation it really explodes on with the jay treaty. and his defense of that. i will shut up on this after this i promise you. the word is republic and that means things of the public. the public is different from the people. the people are usually misinformed in their opinions that is the reason democracy is not a positive term. the function of the reader is to act in the public interest even when it is unpopular. adams carries this to an extreme. he is the guy who defends the
british troops in the boston massacre. he was thought of what eyes do is unpopular it must be right. could have won the election of 18 or by going to worth of france and he refused to do it in the alley said it was the proudest thing he ever did. but the public is a big word here. washington internalize that. one of the reasons the senate has a six-year term is supposedly to make them more likely to vote in the long term interest of the public it's the most partisan portion of the government now. i will shut up but public, public, public he represents them. >> he mentioned the aurora and i know you wanted to say something very quick so one quick thing i want to sort of highlights when joe was talking about how personally wounded washington was that
was really quite intentional on the part of the newspaper editors. the editor of the aurora would deliver three copies of his newspaper every day to the front steps of the president's house. even though washington is not a subscriber. he did so intentionally to get under washington skin. we know it works because he rants and raves about in cabinet and jefferson took careful notes. this political warfare in the partisan or wound they were trying to inflict was quite intentional. >> let's get a taste of washington on parties and we can further explore this. this is some of his own language and there's much more of it in the address space only to distract the public councils and the public administration agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms kindles the animosity of one party against another. occasionally write an insurrection pit opens the door to foreign influence and corruption which finds a facilitated access to the
government itself through the channel of party passions. joy want to push back assembly language therapy. >> leave it up for a second period i think if you have to pick the nut craft that's ripped from the headlines today this to be particulate -- make it agitates the community with ill-founded falsities. occasionally write an insurrection opens the door of foreign influence. we just had a right and insurrection which was partisan in its nature this calendar year that resulted in the worst attack on the capitol since work 1812. it was fueled by misinformation and disinformation channeled through partisan media and exacerbated by party figures who put party over country. they kindled the animosity of one party against another based on a light. perpetrated by the then
president. but amplified through partisan media. and also amplified via social media by some foreign actors who sought interest in dividing america against itself. it is all there, folks, right there. george washington warned us, he predicted us. especially when another phrase from the farewell address act like a pretended patriots, really acted like they are more patriotic than anybody else which itself washington essays ascending its national unity or if they fed into that stuff that washington warned against, they are part of the problem. let's not pull any punches about that. washington made a very explicit warning we just live through evidence of. so we could not be more relevant and that is precisely why we need to be listening to washington's farewell address now, today. we are falling into the traps he warned us about almost 250 years ago. >> john quickly and the most
recently brought the farewell address, when did they stop making it mandatory to read the farewell address is the full congress, both houses are just the senate? >> the senate still reads it every year. yes it does. >> how ironic. [laughter] >> i would argue the house is more partisan than the senate although it is kind of a jump ball. what he thought you're going to say in the wake of the civil war, teaching the farewell address, memorizing it is part of the court public school curriculum. it is foremost in people's mind it's easier to memorize 270 towards gettysburg address and it's in the wake of world war i for a lot of interesting reasons it sort of begins to fade. and then the original america first movement of the isolationist and the one run
up to world war ii by adopting the farewell address i think fundamentally creates a misimpression it's an isolationist document and its read from an american nazi rally in madison square garden will get to that later. >> will get the foreign policy soon. lindsey can you take us back to the 18th century and some of this language. john gives us a great way it speaks the 21st century. how would this have been read in september 1796? as you said there's an election just around the corner. >> yes i think as john alluded to at the very beginning, this was an intensely partisan will meet think about the challenges we are facing today in terms of misinformation and disinformation. party structures, nativism, fears about foreign interference all the things except they have not done it before. as joe talked about their
students of history and knew it failed. let's not forget the constitution is actually the country's second chance. this government was already in the second chance at getting it right. such intense fear at this time that one misstep would lead to the nation's undoing. washington shared that fear, adams shared that fear during the debate joe mentioned, adams wrote in this letter back to abigail in the civil war was coming or maybe the constitution would last another ten years. that is really in the vibe of this moment. one of the things i think washington highlights in this party section of his farewell address is that the party animosity and the intensity of that spirit can lead up to
similarities. yes we might have differences. most regional differences in sectional differences we have much more in common as americans as we do as federalists or republicans. that is a lesson we really need to learn. >> just for second, i think we need to recover the historical context of the 18th century for listeners and viewers find she is doing right now, okay? i'm building on her book with this remark, if you read article two of the constitution of the united states, i will bet you cannot tell me what the president can do. the definition of the presidency is not shaped by the constitution. it is shaped by washington's only administration. that's why always voted from his number one president. even ahead of lincoln he creates the republic that lincoln saves.
but, the average american in the 1780 her own life without a three hour horse ride. the mentality was local not continental or national. this would underlay a perception that was strong. created a national government before our nation. and so that one historian called the consultation is a roof without walls. so washington is the embodiment of a nation that does not exist. it's one of the reasons that he goes on a trip in this first two years to visit all of the states. and i believe somebody's got a book out on that right now.
that's what we need to remember is the united states in the 1780s and 90 -- by the way jefferson would go to his grave believing we are still confederacy and not a nation. washington is an attempt to create it's one of the reasons why in the address itself he keeps trying to insert a paragraph on a national university in hamilton keeps think what in heavens name does does this have to do with the document? he keeps saying you've got to put it in and ends up like two sentences. he wants to create an institution where americans from all kinds of different states and sections can come together and interact,
intermarry, and i don't think george washington university makes that yet. the first institution that does that is a west point which comes to an existence in 1803. >> actually washington is proposing and helps purchase some land for which is where the vice president lives. that idea dies and you are right hamilton is back and forth on it. that is where most of it goes. if you look at the original farewell which they have the new york public library can literally cut-and-paste that section. >> john, if you look at that last address to congress it is almost fdr. you do know what i mean? >> j edgar hoover's not a good thing. [laughter] >> i am sorry.
[laughter] >> i'm sorry go on. >> you have to get beyond that. you know what i'm saying? it's a vision very close to what john quincy adams will have as president. and it is a vision of a nationstate that makes domestic and foreign policy in the robust way. and in that washington is a member of a very small minority in the nation. and anybody that opposes can lay onto his position because he is attempting to re-create the monarchy and of course jefferson is the main guy that is doing this behind the scenes. malone has spent 50 years writing about jefferson and said jefferson the 17 '90s i don't really understand what he is doing. it's been 50 years we don't
understand what is doing. what he's doing is lying it is a treasonable. he is stabbing washington in the back. i might be wrong, kevin tell me, i have often said to students and i hope i was right, jefferson wrote to martha when he became president he was close to mount vernon, can i come see you? she never answered i don't think. she said that washington said i never want that man on my property. >> is right after washington's death in particular martha has a very powerful statement for jefferson. let me bring up a little more at language here were going to talk about union quite a bit. it is all through this address the word union appears so much he will think you are reading for abraham lincoln. it's all through this address unity and union which
constitutes is also known due to the word now jumps out at me. it's the edifice for the real independence for your tranquility at home of peace abroad of safety, of prosperity and the very liberty you so highly prized. this statement of union is powerful. again is not the only chunk of address that touches on this. john what you think? >> this is a core it's little bit when joe is describing washington is a willing the creation of a nation. it's very conscious of the fact he is creating a national character to the example of his character, the decisions he makes as a present which sets the precedence for the american government. but it is a hard sell because
everybody thanks of themselves as a virginian first or a new yorker first or south carolinian first. washington is trying to say all the time that no, this works because of the federal government. it's the guarantor of your liberty you are not safe from strife. you do not do so they have property rights unless we have a strong central government. even the first constitutional convention does not mention political parties. does mention journals was like to point out but it is not mention political parties. so people show up to new york, they do the bill of rights they are representing their constituency not political parties that is a later invention that is discussed and i'm sure will come up again. washington is constantly trying to say with all of our differences are nothing if we cannot focus on what unites us and what divides us.
very early in the debate of the constitution you see so many we still see today it's a debate about largely urban folks thank you for the strong central government to unite the nation given certain powers and primarily rural folks saying that a threat to our way of life. that is a continuity in american debate because the constitutional convention through today. i think a washington clearly on the side of a strong central government and empathizing there's a balance to be struck this is not all on one side of the ledger. the primary mission the primary project is emphasizing the creation of a nation. >> your thoughts on washington's union and unity in this address? >> elect to build off of what john said. the union and the constitution. what he's saying is we cannot
have liberty without having strong central government. this is again an incredibly irrelevant subtext for the 24th century especially 2021. the goal was to have her roles and have the recognition of authority, have obedience to the rule of law. you do not just good to have a free-for-all of whatever it is you want to do. as a modern society you are supposed to stop for red lights. we except to preserve more of the liberties, the freedom of more american people. obviously they don't have cars in 1796 when he was writing this. the context is true is part of a free society you have to accept certain limitations. this is sort of irrelevant coming on the fields of the risk of a rebellion which
wraps up prior to this address. in which he says there is a constitutionally mandated way in which one can air your grievances. one can speak or redress for the things you don't like, the measures you think are inappropriate. but unless the constitution has changed obedience to the constitution is the true way to being an american. >> let me ask you to address one specific and washington spent quite a bit of time on his discussion of union and unity that's regional he talks about the north, he talks about the south, could you help people what is he saying when he looked at north, south and west? what set original concern of his? >> the obvious issue is the threat of civil war in the underlying issue is slavery. later in the program you want
to say wish there was one thing he did talk about at the farewell address that he didn't. but, he said to jefferson i think this was even before he was president, if ever is a war between the north and south the need to know i will be with the north. i think jefferson repeats it, he sends his kids they're not his kids to columbia rather than william and mary. he becomes a kind of trojan horse in the middle of virginia the other thing is the west. the first farewell address the
louisiana purchase mammoths and all of that kind of thing we begin with the largest trust fund that any has ever enjoyed. mostly concerned with the atlantic. maybe john and lindsay can disagree with meat we can play this out as an argument, washington's definition of american exceptionalism is exactly the opposite of what most contemporary things think american exceptionalism is. in the contemporary view we saw after he won the war us the russians are gone we can make the world a safer
democracy because we have the model that works everywhere. washington said our motto was distinctive and unique and exceptional. that means and don't expect it to work in france. the french revolution is probably going to say it. when i was doing the book tour of my biography of washington for everyone wants to know washington will say about iraq. and i said he did not know where iraq was. later when they pressed me say how did we become written? [laughter] and explain that one to me. i am pressing for foreign policy maybe you do not want to do that yet. >> he believes that's a future
for the next 100 years. >> the great rule of conduct is extending our commercial relation we have formed an engagement with them be fulfilled with perfect good faith, this is washington at the end of his presidency. is this how foreign policy across the years? >> i think for the most part he did. he did not want to be beholding to any one nation. he recognized the line to the country for support, for economic support especially at a time when france and great britain were essentially
having a second 100 year, they are costly in each other's throat. their counseling throwing others into the mix. the best weight was not get too close to any one side. for example in 1793 when france declared war on great britain the united states and france did have treaties on the book. they had a treaty of commerce left over from the revolutionary war. and they decided that jefferson's encouragement to interpret the treaty of defense as a defensive treaty it says in france in the united states were bound to one another if they were attacked by their enemies meeting great britain of course. but, france was at the former they were not attacked and there for the united states was not obligated to come to francis assistance bit which was convenient because the
united states didn't have a way to lend it. the concept has bound these two global superpowers was i think his main goal for the majority of his presidency trying to not get too close or having too intense of a relationship with either. >> it's one of my favorite moments he praises washington to maine train net neutrality and insist no one else could have done it that always jumps out at me. , john this foreign relations statement washington has here can you talk about the legacy of that? take us in the past the 18th , 19th, 20th century. >> sure. first of all the statement of neutrality between france and britain is self revolutionary. washington is really fixated on the fact we have a strategic asset that is in unlike any other. i joke in my book it's a
version of what will rogers used to say is america got the two best presidents the atlantic and pacific ocean. we are insulated from the chaos of continental europe for them and killing each other for centuries. that is a strategic asset paper tickly at the time when distance really inoculates us. and so he says look, there's no way were going be a satellite of another nation we need to be an independent nation. he also says we need at least 20 years he says in the farewell address to build their own strength economic and then we can start making our own decisions rooted in our sense of interest and justice. we are not an isolationist estate we do not have criminal alliances with other nations were not going to be a satellite of anyone else are not going to get dragged into a foreign war. that would be a huge mistake for who we are now as a young nation that needs to build up strength. and it would squander our greatest strategic advantage
which is her geographic isolation. this plays out to the 19th century and is considered sacred. it is easily enforced by the distance, by the fact the world is not -- you cannot attack america very easily albeit it has happened, so we were thoroughly isolated. who is abraham's private secretary and secretary of state said america's foreign-policy can be summed up in two words the golden rule in the monroe doctrine. that basically says work on instead of your business, do not come in our sphere of influence. but, there are temptations to empire. he saying we are republic not an empire. that is a four foundation father wisdom. late 19th century that starts to get strange.
by the time we get into the debate over world war one and i write about this in my book, it is really fascinating. the debate in getting involved in world war i is conducted in the league of nations a book by two biographers woodrow wilson and henry cabot lodge. both are arguing they are defending the washington tradition. he served with a little more authenticity saying we've never gotten involved in a continental fight, why would we start now? wilson is saying note the ideals of washington are at stake. and a lot once we do get involved in the first world war involves calling on washington's legacy. and then something really interesting happens. it happens fairly quickly all the sudden maybe it looks like washington was not this perfect profit. we can get involved in foreign wars, pretty short or do good
make the world safer democracy. so it takes washington down a peg. in a significant way. there is a backlash to involvement in the first world war. when the second world war comes about, you see a group called the america first committee. some were isolationists, but they use washington's farewell as a real avatar to be against the united states getting involved in the second world war. this hits an absurd assistance when they host a rally at madison square garden in new york city that functions as an american nazi party rally. there is a giant, giant poster, flag, billboard of george washington in the background. the keynote address to a settlement misappropriating the text of the farewell address. this is paid for by a foreign government. it shows we need to be careful
about misappropriations and washington warning about foreign influence in our policy that's one of the reasons to stay out of it. now you have a foreign government misappropriation of farewell address to argue against getting involved in a foreign war. so that by the way it backfires badly on them. but the legacy of the farewell address, really starts to fall away for a time as a result of that association. and the incorrect belief that it is an isolationist doctrine. it's not a song about a foreign policy of independence of not squandering our strength through false alliances we should not try to export democracy or get involved in foreign fights we should focus on strengthening ourselves. once we are strong and independent then we can make decisions based on her own national interests and it's different than isolationist.
>> joe, and dialogue have a long section on washington vision at large looking not just at the farewell address but his actions across all of time as commander-in-chief both times. what is your read on the foreign policy vision washington that you would share? >> there is a portion of his legacy that is no longer relevant. i hear john and it's not really isolationism, but i don't ever envisioned us. he did envision us as a world power. but i think his vision of us is a world power is close to it john quincy adams would say. we do not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.
but, i flossed my train of thought when you asked me again? foreign-policy isolationism. >> it seems to me another dimension to washington's legacy that is very much alive. there are different people who claim loyalty to it do not always agree on what it means we should do. that is the realistic tradition in american foreign policy. it has its origins in the dialogue in washington terms nations act solely on the basis of interest. you should not expect them to act on any other grounds whatsoever. in all since all trees are temporary because the interest might particular change. if you carried into contemporary american world, we care a lot about human rights but we are not going to war on that.
and i think the person that most embodies it in the mid and late 20th century is george kennan and his and doctrine of containment. what realism does well, you have to distinguish between what you can and should do and what you cannot and should not do. it cannot be an open ended foreign-policy. which regions our national security interest and which are not. at least in my humble opinion if you could somehow bring him out what do we do about iraq. it's involved. their graveyard for all western values is afghanistan
not look for scapegoats but let's try to figure out how to make this mistake in the first place. and i think, in some sense our own understanding of why britain makes the biggest mistake in its history but making war on the united states in 1775 -- 76. we could understand that now in a way we could not before. how does the recently arrived world power brimming with confidence certain of its military and economic supremacy step into a quagmire that is unwinnable and unnecessary? we should know about that. >> there is a lot i agree with
but let me just push back for debate sake. >> i saw a grimace on your face i knew you're going to push back. >> on two points. first of all what you're saying is exactly right it can be summed up in a number of different ways one is america's not a colonizing power. that does not mean we don't have interest as an independent nation but we are not a colonizing power. if you look at our involvement in world war i and world war ii that's another definition of american exceptionalism. we beat back people who were not simply disrupting the balance of power, but attacking free and allied nations. [inaudible] pre- >> not world war i, world war ii but not world war i3. >> world war i was a mistake. >> you and the commission can debate that but i'm not going to do that just yet. the only ground is cemetery to bury our dead.
yes in germany we have an air force base i won't go into that level of detail right now. what intrigues me is the case which does not occur under washington but if we are attacked, what do you do? how far do you extend that? how much does morocco apply? these are inference to parallels given what we've got with the apertures of the time and of course where it begins as were attacked on 9/11 it's an unprecedented situation washington could not have imagined. i don't know if he could have imagined americans attacking their own capitol that to separate important conversation. >> i think he very easily could have imagined pre- >> whiskey rebellion in the past. >> but just to finish foreign-policy, if you are attacked, then we responded. the problem is we responded with an open ended commitment
rather than a more realist -- we have a limited objective and then we are going to achieve that and get out. that is where the balance is dealing with the different geopolitical realities of the day versus 1796. : : : >> and the energy and all of the angst and the english was created by the event on september 11th, was diverted into an unnecessary war. >> iraq or afghanistan and they give dramatization between the two rated. >> erect was not containing their weapons in iraq had nothing to do with al qaeda
pretty. >> i agree with you on that pretty and i'm going to take you back to 1796. when a great conversation and i hope we have a time for a few audience questions i will keep you long but julie, and the scenes has a couple of audience questions that we want to come to. where was it written, when was it written and names that camacho and agility versus people as a writer but the when is interesting. >> aware his executive branch that was existing in philadelphia, pennsylvania. and, washington begins writing the farewell address at the end of his first term and he does not want have a second term and at that time, james medicine was
there and jefferson's way and all that. basically he is persuaded that the one thing the jefferson have to agree on is that washington is along the president of the civil war that we literally pointed away and shelf in a drawer and hamilton's secretary and in new york city but washington is making fun of him because jefferson hamilton informed the democratic of the republican party is this and he brings adams in our hamilton and and start to correspond with him. that is a primary collaboration and bring john j in at the very end, see sort of they performed an on-site edit with hamilton new york but the process of back-and-forth and the point is that they're doing a very good job of describing it and for my
book, which began before the play came out. i was delighted today of a song about it and they use actually some of the lines but they were that he designed it so that that hamilton would be delivering it has an washington would turn it into poetry. but the music and the spirit of the song is washington for the public delivery. >> importantly because among the whole string of partisan in his under pennsylvania, son of partisan paper, is a federalist paper canonically imparts because it has a congressional conduct but he chose a nonpartisan paper to publish it pretty. >> i always wondered why hamilton because washington had so many people that he trusted and can work with any of hamilton somehow was the very top of that list and can you
tell us about that anything that you would like to add to the story. >> washington sort of had this relationship with the department of secretary in office and i refer to this as washington certainly. [inaudible]. they didn't want to have certainly the trust in their writing abilities to the same degree and is frequently and thought out hand and addresses on these are moments during the presidency mask hamilton to draft this for him. one really important element is that washington insisted upon is that from the hamilton we first talked about it and march of 1776 and then washington essentially drafted and the first draft for medicine rated and he insisted that the final include several paragraphs and
it was basically a shot across e aisle because washington said the madison and jefferson would be critical of this address and somehow the address to garner more power to the executives and so by including this paragraph, he was basically saying, what will you do about a farewell address new participated in the drafting of the farewell address. this very intentional savvy and sure enough medicine was not publicly critical of it. >> briefly think that he picked hamilton is because hamilton had the most expensive and taking throughout the seven years of the war he was writing doses and when you read the general rivers blackened 1770s, and signed by washington but he did not write
it most was written by hamilton or one of his upgrades. he called at penn man braided is insecure about his own lack of education printed items went to harvard and washington with the war. that was his educational experience and then he was conscious of his own net lack of literacy and surrounded himself with people who were well educated and that was hamilton in the arms and that was the people. >> let's go to another audience question we had one from jim about some specific tear pretty how much of the policy driven by the fact that the spanish maintain control of louisiana territory the british on canada so we have talked about the ocean, keeping america away from foreign powers and yet, they
were there. it was to take it first specifics about the geopolitics. >> cultic first up. publishing is hard but what is it called the continental army. truly only the coast thinking continental he from the beginning. it begins at the mississippi. washington understood it as well. the declining european power they were like inverted this sense until you take over
predict his stage is the perfect european nation and a power because we know as soon as the demographic blankets and come they are on. and i don't think anybody could easily foresee the louisiana purchase. but this sense of manifestation before 1840, but it becomes a term and canada well, remember the time we are talking 7096, we thought we would get canada and then the war of 1812 were supposed to win canada and of course it did not work out that way but the continental vision and people sand like ehrenberg crazing on the record of it i think the consumption was that
florida and most of the west would eventually coming our way rated. >> what i think demography doing it rather than rule printed. >> so i think that has he said earlier, washington was of the lesson he understood in 1795, the treaty was saying that the americans accessing the mississippi river was a hundred which is a critical element and he has the ability to send the goods of the mountain ranges in philadelphia and desperately needed access to the water before they were trains and cars that kind of thing however, washington was realistic about the fact that things and friends were kind of running off of each other and regularly there were complaints of these individuals towards florida motherboard
goals, that had not happened yet predict so much of this policy was about getting to 100 because the get too close to britain and france will get annoyed in the southern border and maybe it will be more friendly self emancipated are individuals we get too close risk, the jealous and than that, the reverse of his religious this element of trying to hold all of these pieces together before the united states had these in recognizing that as great as we thought we were in 1796, this point we work still a relatively national power and very much subject to international superpowers in washington really understood that.
>> remember most thought the detailed and you just regard up continent at the time and the whole delay of washington's second term is related to treating the fact that jefferson matters in basically because washington from washington, they say it means that are really setting with the english. so they played that game to great effect and then the french revolutionary and part of his deal was other sweaty aspect to sign bill in louisiana the destabilization. there were a lot of foster that in the time. and ultimately, even jefferson realized that there was a big deal and they got wind of the fact that that he was about to get his head cut off and he retired to jamaica, long island
pretty. >> and married the governor's daughter pretty. >> correct. list talk about another topic and we do have an audience question coming in to help us explore that and asking about george washington's last testament in a different kind, or something to this table addressed with particular respect you and this is what i was suggesting may not export but enough. >> i explicitly say in my book is that his platform was considered a farewell address by all means if he hasn't, he should look at, to washington's discarded, certainly by contemporary perspective, the farewell address assignment on
the issues now washington, is in his last long testament which could be considered the ultimate farewell address takes the decided if an unusual founding father steps and of his life upon martha's death predict so there is a million different reasons why this is insufficient emotionally unsatisfying by contemporary perspectives all of which are so obviously don't even need to be discussed and it is core contradiction to the promise of america that said, the washington knows he's going to be public and there is a lot of things that he doesn't do say the dynamic that a lot of people are looking.
this was intended to be in written to be a publican a lot of drama around the drafting and they don't do this, they don't report their slaves upon the death but washington was making it very clear statement to the country so 100 percent i believe in arguing my book that i can and should be considered the dakota where slavery is finally addressed by washington. >> i wish we had a part of this and told his leaders and americans, that he intended to free his slaves. easily dead and at that moment try to follow his is not easy, he is committed to freeing his slaves once he can get money off the sale of us western lands but
he cannot get that sold and so he keeps forging in until 99, he does not finally commit any can only free his slaves beyond which are slightly less we can prove that but i think that martha's reluctant to see the slaves rebar because neural intermarried in the plantation. i would think that washington is the greatest leader in american history i think the slavery is marcus original sin and racism is its enduring toxic residue. i'm still living with it and was there a chance to ended in a land the road to extension. before the numbers became
impossible pretty quiet tragedy but a great one pretty. >> aspirated most effectively moved it from that direction, washington. he fell as a leader on this issue and that is a heckuva scanner to apply and agree in the sense that they know, the perspectives gives us an enormous advantage of the hill washington in the slavery was a contradiction to the values of the market revolution. he said that in a new bed and what he kept saying was that we have to wait, he's wait until 18 away because that's one of the slave trade will and and so in some sense, i would like to to
have said i would like to the constitution to exit public were not going to put in the deeps date self now but the core principles in this publican allow this to exist forever the house cannot stand divided, and a method minister he is to use that phrase in 1778 in this were lincoln got it. >> so gordon reed has said that he thought the george washington was concerned that if he filled out about slavery during his lifetime, he was terrible harm and divisiveness that is true, i don't know but that is certainly what he thought. that is what he didn't say anything during his lifetime the bill was certainly more than
some people dead and it was less than others did and so i think that in some ways it is a little bit not taking the easy road out because it wasn't but it also was not really taking the stand because of the labor and time while he was still alive so i think that the way i see it is it was more than nothing but it certainly wasn't much pretty. >> let's remember that we begin with the union and in the commitment to the union and if you the question of slavery and away, you risk that in this thing he was most terrified of and would gotta keep it off the national agenda until at some point in time we can really basis squarely and until the republic is sufficiently stable to survive the debate. >> i'll ask each of you a question.
we wanted you to close on this point, take away for you and also john, why would you want the people to continue to read the farewell address now 225 years later was a take away for you. >> washington warned us about the forces that is stored the democratic republic and document contained all the wisdom of his life and it is a prophetic document and in particular, is warnings against hyper partisanship, or success of death for death or domestic politics are chris from the headlines of today. and i had to pick one of those that i would argue that washington is most concerned about and we should be most concerned about, hyper barn and bipartisanship putting party over the country is in the forces of today and is risking the success of our republic.
>> why should people continue to turn in this document now pretty. >> i would agree with what he said i would add one element to this foreign policy issue is that washington lord against allowing motions for the nations to color our ideas is our fellow americans and encounter our ability to see him as a united nation and i think that it talks about an interesting point that p partisan identity your foreign-policy identity, to make us forget what we have in common to make us forget our common side and instead the differences so it's really just looking for the divisions and instead look for the things that we have the brightest together. to have both of my colleagues here have done a good job, so i can echo their views and as a
teacher, for 44 years, through students these days don't think anything happened before they were born. and because of the document would be so alien to them i want them to understand it like the a foreign country and learning to think and speak a different language in the language that washington speaks is further reasons john legend, desperately needed are absent from the center of american politics especially the congressional and presidential level. in the public interest is something that nobody understands now. to even suggest that your highest priority is made they are not qualified to serve. washington would never neither would any of the other four presidents i mentioned earlier, they would never run for public
office in the current climate. they went regarded as prostitution. >> comparing to where we weren't where we are looking back and learning something is the future. >> thank you so much, this is been a great conversation and i have learned a lot is an important document and thank you for having so many people out there better understand it and on behalf of mount vernon, thank you so much for joining us here tonight we have seen you
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