Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796

President George Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796.

This address reflects George Washington’s views on religion and politics. Washington felt that religion and morality were the mainstays of political prosperity, as well as private and public happiness. In a respnse to an apparent belief of the time that morality could be maintained without religion, George Washington speaks with the voice of caution; warning the nation that morality could not prevail without the presence of religion among its people. For Washington, religion and morality were to be respected and cherished.

Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Religious Institutions Group

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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.

George Washington’s Farewell Address (1796), in Standard English Classics (C.R. Gaton ed.)