Farewell Address George Washington
Washington had first prepared a farewell address to be delivered in 1792,
upon the conclusion of his first term as president. Having been convinced
to stand for a second term, he was unanimously re-elected. When he finally
issued this address in 1796, it was his last public work. After nearly fortyfive
years of service, he retired to Mount Vernon.
September 19, 1796
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, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
Excerpt from George Washington’s Farewell Address