An American Legacy

On September 19, 1796, as the end of his second term approached, George Washington published a farewell address—a series of prescient warnings for a young nation learning to stand on its own two feet.1 In the address, Washington foresaw the danger of two powerful political parties, or the “alternate domination” of one party over the other, as Republicans and Federalists developed into vicious adversaries. He cautioned against the accumulation of the national debt “ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.” And he implored Americans to resist factionalism. With the North pitted against the South and the East against the West, he reminded citizens that they were all, by “birth or choice,” ...

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