Washington's Farewell Address: 1796
Page 1:  Plan for retirement

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not
far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is
to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct
expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being
considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.  I beg you, at the same time, to do
me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the
considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the
tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your
future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that
the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have
been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your
desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was
not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my
inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to
you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the
unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination
incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for
my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.
The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the
discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and
administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not
unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in
the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of
years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome.
Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the
consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not
forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not
permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for
the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me;
and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and
persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these
services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under
circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances
sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of
success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the
efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall
carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the
choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free
Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every
department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States,
under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this
blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every
nation which is yet a stranger to it.
Page 2: On Unity
Page 1: Retirement
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