On September 19, 1796, readers of the American Daily Advertiser were greeted with perhaps the most famous letter in American history. That letter was titled The Address of Gen. Washington to the People of America on His Declining the Presidency of the United States.
It was immediately reprinted in newspapers throughout the country. Within days, all Americans had read the letter — a letter now known simply as “Washington’s Farewell Address.”
The letter was remarkable for its time, not simply for the ideals and principles it conveyed, but mostly because of the news it conveyed.
George Washington warrants our honor and gratitude
As far as those living in North America at that time were concerned, George Washington was their most important and significant public figure. Without Washington, they wouldn’t have a country.
Though many today disregard, downplay, or ignore Washington’s significance, no one at that time doubted or questioned the irrefutable fact that George Washington was indispensable to the birth, survival, and success of the United States of America.
And now he was retiring.
And this time, it was clear he meant it.
The United States of America without George Washington at the helm?
It was unthinkable.
Fortunately for the people of the United States, though George Washington the man retired in 1797 and passed into eternity in 1799, “George Washington” the example and inspiration survived.
Indeed, for most of America’s history, the American people — regardless of race, color, gender, economic status, political persuasion, background, or any other such consideration — honored the memory and legacy of Washington.