In 1796, George Washington graciously refused an invitation to accept a third term as America’s first president. In September of that year, he delivered an openly public letter to the people of the United States published in many periodicals as a speech. This written speech consisted of three main themes, and became known as his “farewell address.” The first mentioned was his concern for the growth in sectionalism, different political factions that were seemingly exploding throughout the country.
Towards the final years of the 1700’s, life in the budding American states was simultaneously full of excitement as well as fear; the fear of uncertainty. Basically the division line was entitled Federalists vs. Democratic Republicans. The federalists, fathered by Alexander Hamilton, proposed a central banking system as well as strong centralized economic development strategy based primarily on manufacturing. Coincidently, George Washington himself was a “Hamiltonian” at heart, accepting considerable assistance from Hamilton in the very writing of the document in discussion here. The Thomas Jefferson-led Democratic Republicans favored a simplified government and the preservation of a farming mentality. To Washington, this developing separation of philosophy platforms was of paramount importance to understand and appease.
Second of his list was the minimizing or complete avoidance of the United States becoming overly enveloped in foreign affairs. Again the sectionalist’ attitudes clashed concerning this issue. The Federalists favored relations with Britain, while the Republicans believed in taking a more French-sided stance in keeping with the Treaty of Alliance signed in February of 1798. This was an agreement signed by leaders of the US and France to provide indefinite mutual support against possible British attacks.
The third point of weight in Washington’s farewell address was his belief that political longevity and success were and would remain the result of an equation based on variables of human morality and religious conviction. Washington, who died in 1799, and this special address to the nation of young Americans, would be remembered as the origin of a philosophy that would in many ways be seen as the standard of American Republicanism.
From 1797 until 1817, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison took on the massive responsibility of running the Earth’s greatest country as presidents respectively. Washington set into motion the chartering of The First Bank of the United States in 1791. When President Jefferson refused to renew the 20 year charter in 1811, tensions with British lenders sparked the onset of The War of 1812. This war, having increased the national debt three-fold, served as a catalyst for the rechartering of The Bank of the United States which eventually merged with Chase Bank to form Chase Manhattan Bank in 1955. This shows that, even for presidents, the true power of society lies not only within the total assets of the country itself, but in the desires of its passionate people. It seems like the only natural progression available for a newly developing society: centralized banking, core economic planning, and the provisions of homeland security.
With the obvious modern issues of overdeveloped interests in foreign nations, it is easy to understand part of what may have driven the opponents of the Hamiltonian philosophy. It is notable that after the Washington warning of alien entanglement, the United States did not enter into any other military alliances until the formation of NATO in 1949. Washington may or may not have been a psychic; either way his words and decisions seemed to have provided the right overall direction for his child: The United States.