Washington`s Farewell Address Analysis

Washington`sFarewell Address Analysis

GeorgeWashington is a legend of his own time that stood as a symbol ofnational unity, before there was ever a nation. Right from the onsetof the revolution to his final days in office as the president of theUnited States, he held the hopes of the nation. Washington’sfarewell address stands as an enduring model of a rhetorical actionin history. The speech has more than often received praise for hisuse of distance imagery, and gained recognition for its complexityand brilliance. Washington was brilliant in the way he engaged hisphilosophy to neutralize those that criticized him, with the speechacting as a metaphorical hybrid responding to a complex situation. Assuch, this essay acts as an analysis of Washington’s farewellspeech discussing the different aspects that allowed him to unify hisaudience.

Analysisof the Farewell Speech

Asan overview of the speech, it should be noted that it allowedWashington to unite his audience bending them to his personality,setting forth a national identity, making the public beneficiaries ofhis public service, and putting up the revolutionary native thatensured the union had been safeguarded and preservation of theconstitution. The speech does constrain the power of the presidency.Setting the office apart from the monarchy, and reassured the peoplethat a chief executive could actually be operational in theconfinements of a democracy. Therefore, the speech played the vitalrole of announcing the nation’s stability and functions as thefirst steps taken by the young nation (Hostetler, 2002)

Campbelland Jamieson (1990) argued that the role of presidential rhetoricsuch Washington’s farewell speech is rather significant especiallyconsidering the uniqueness of the office. Therefore, presidents holdthe capacity to influence the public dialogues, which allowsWashington to shape an identity for the American people. This isfacilitated by means of public communication acting as the primaryvehicle of presidential influence. As such, Washington is able tocreate some form of participatory governance allowing citizens tohave a voice in public dialogue consequently, permit the citizens tobe part of the progress of democracy. Some of the important aspectsof his speech are as discussed below.

ThePreservation of the Union

Preservationof the Union takes center stage of the farewell speech, whereby,Washington insists its preservation is the key to the Americannationhood. As such, Washington is keen to warn against thesectionalism warning the American citizens it acts as a destroyer ofthe common interest held by the nation. Ties binding the union andthe constitution ensuring the different parts stood as one must beprotected as kept as a sacred, thus, the people should have patrioticpride at the national level as Americans above any other intereststhat come at the local level inform of discriminations (Waldman andStephanopoulos, 2003).

Dangersthat come with Factions

Washingtonin his address warns of the baneful consequences of the spirit ofparty. This stood as one of the most recognized recommendationalongside the warning of establishing permanent coalitions. However,it should be noted that in his reference to a party, Washington meantgroups that were established for their own good damaging the commongood enjoyed by others. As such, Washington warned of individuals whowould divide the nation to ensure their own political power.

Religionand Morality

Washingtonin address expressed the notion that in any self-governing nation,bring together public opinion calls for the clarification of formalinstitutions of both civic and educational institutions. As such, helaid emphasis on religion and morality as major aspects influencingpolitical prosperity, thus, they are indispensible supporters topolitical success (Waldman and Stephanopoulos, 2003).

Americaand the World

ConsideringAmerica at the time was a new nation, Washington realized the nationrequired guiding principle on how it would relate to the rest of theworld. Thus, in the farewell address Washington call for America toobserve good faith and justice towards all other nations. The UnitedStates was to set itself as an example of a nation whose people areguided by an exalted justice and compassion. Washington put forth arecommendation as a rule of conduct that the US should perusecommercial relations with different nations and have minimal aspossible political connections. Notably, Washington did not call forhis nation to be in seclusion from the rest of the world but ratherappealed against political alliances and related permanent alliances.In addition, he recommended that the nation should stir toestablishing itself in a position that defies external threats,defending its neutrality, where it will either choose peace or warbased on interests guided by justice (Hostetler, 2002).


Washingtonin his farewell address gives the American people what can beconsidered a list of things that might act as factors threatening theliberty of the American people, that is, regional factions, differentideological factions, power seekers, foreign interests and debts, andboth political and commercial foreign alliances as threats facing theUnited States. Therefore, Washington considered it his duty to warnthe American people of the dangers that lay ahead, and whenever thethings he warned come to pass it is the duty of all Americans tolisten to his communication.


Campbell,K. K. &amp Jamieson, K. H. (1990). Deedsdone in words: Presidential rhetoric and genres ofgovernance.Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Hostetler,M. J. (2002). Washington`s farewell address: Distance as bane andblessing. Rhetoric &amp Public Affairs,5(3),393-407.

Waldman,M., &amp Stephanopoulos, G. (2003). My Fellow Americans: The MostImportant Speeches Of America`s Presidents, From George WashingtonTo George W. Bush (Book.

Related Posts

© All Right Reserved