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George Washington's Farewell Address of 1796 a Lesson on Public Virtue Grounded in Personal Piety

President Trump is giving his farewell speech today.

At this moment in our history, I commend for your reading George Washington's Farewell Address in 1796. The nation wanted him to run for a third term. He declined.

In this address to the young nation, Washington models the virtues of true patriotism. He talks about humility, gratitude, providence, wisdom, freedom, unity, obedience, integrity, justice, benevolence, and honesty.

He also talks about the evils of malice, rage, jealousy, selfish ambition, despotism, partiality, favoritism, pride, belligerence, intimidation, deceit, and debt.

He makes it clear all morality is grounded in religion. In context, that is not any religion but specifically the Christian faith. For example in this quote.

“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.”

I love the address for many reasons including his mastery of the English language, logic, reason, and persuasion. If given in our day, many Americans would be lost for a lack of vocabulary. Others would not endure it for lack of discipline. You will find no short talking points. We are an impoverished nation.

The “greatness of American is found in the greatness of God and his revealed will in Scripture when honored and followed by the likes of George Washington. That is what made America great. The loss of such humility and obedience has led to its dismal shame and exponential decline.

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