Founding Brothers

Explain the three things, in Ellis' view, Washington had in mind when he composed the Farewell Address.

From chapter 4.

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours
Best Answer

According to Ellis, Washington left advice for how the nation should stay strong in the Farewell Address, which pushed for national unity and independence from Europe. Ellis highlights three main factors of the statement that he believes many modern historians overlook simply because these factors were considered common knowledge in the 1700s. First, Washington’s reputation rested not on his ability to wield power, but on his ability to surrender it. In 1783, he appeared before Congress to resign his position as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, after quelling an officer’s rebellion which would have catapulted into an “American Caesar" had he not opposed it. His initial rejection of that power ironically ensured that he was the proper person to wield it.

Second, Washington proved during the war that it was not the number of victories that mattered, but the ground one maintained. Keeping the Continental Army intact despite its losses is what ultimately ran Britain down. His political theories followed the same strategy - in order to survive, the country needed time more than easy victories and successes.

Third, in order to sustain national unity, the United States needed to stay out of foreign affairs. This isolationist policy was not philosophical, but practical. As proven by the Proclamation of Neutrality (1793), Washington knew that the United States was not strong enough to survive another war. Instead, he believed the country needed to turn westward, to find physical wealth there. Peace was essential to this plan.