Presidents' Day: George Washington’s Charge to a Nation
Presidents' Day was originally created in 1885 to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday. Today it is viewed as a day to honor all American Presidents.
Yet Presidents’ Day also celebrates a remarkable fact of our nation’s history that every American should be proud of: for 244 years, power has been transferred peacefully from one United States President to the next 44 times. This is not a power line determined by birth or military power, but by the people.
George Washington knew that as the first leader of our new nation he would have the opportunity to set a historic precedent for the Executive Office. And with the history of lifelong rulerships of kings back in England, Washington believed a president should not view the office as a lifelong appointment but rather as a term of service to one’s nation. So, after serving two terms as President of our early nation, he announced he would not seek a third term as president.
Because of George Washington’s example, the Twenty-Second Amendment establishing a two-term limit on the office of the President would eventually be added to the U.S. Constitution.
In September 1796, worn out by burdens of the presidency and attacks of political foes, George Washington announced his decision not to seek a third term. With the assistance of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Washington composed in a “Farewell Address” his political testament to the nation. Designed to inspire and guide future generations, the address also set forth Washington’s defense of his administration’s record and embodied a classic statement of Federalist doctrine.
In George Washington’s Farewell Address he said,
“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…”
Washington’s address included his carefully thought out counsel to the American people as they would ensure the success of the great American experiment.
He reminded them that religion and morality must remain the foundation and the fabric of our society.
“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.
“It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”
Since 1896, Washington’s Farewell Address has been read on the floor of the Senate by a United States Senator. This takes place close to Presidents' Day each year, on February 22, commemorating Washington’s birthday. The member selected to read the address alternates between political parties.
The 7,641 word speech serves as a powerful reminder to serve our nation as George Washington did - sacrificially and to unite on the foundational principles that birthed our nation.
We cannot forget Washington’s strong charge to us - to cherish religion and morality because it is upon those pillars that the security of our nation rests.
You can read Washington’s full Farewell Address here.
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I agree that our president isn't perfect BUT I have to say that I do stand with him because of the moral issues that he has stood up for. Pro Life is so important to me that I will forgive imperfections but I cannot tolerate Pro Choice getting my vote or endorsement. Yes, we do need to "Pray for the president and our country".
Yes, for too many years we Christians have tolerated mudslinging, disrespect and a spirit of judgment from within our midst, especially against those with whom we disagree, and especially against those whose actions we understand as condemned by scripture. Yet Roe of RoeV Wade was reached by love, not condemnation, by pro-lifers who reached out to her in love and compassion. We must once again reclaim the high road of true love for our "enemies", praying for their good, even when we strongly disagree with them. May we each grow in learning to respect and love especially those with whom we are in greatest disagreement, and to enter into gracious, patient dialog with them. John Rankin at TEII.org has been doing a great job at that, and would like to train others to do the same. He's even debated the Nat'l Or of Women's president, (and others at IVY league campuses and elsewhere) and gotten a favotable response from her along the lines of "I never felt so respected by someone with whom I have such substantial disagreements."
Vicky, I disagree with your assertion that Roe v. Wade was reached by compassionate pro lifers. If you read the story of Norma McCorvey, she was a young, frightened pregnant mom whose first two previous pregnancies ended up with those children being placed in the hands of her mother (1st pregnancy) and the father (2nd pregnancy). It was the third pregnancy that put McCorvey in the crosshairs of two very wicked women lawyers, namely Linda Coffey and Sarah Weddington. They weren't looking to help anyone but themselves, they were looking for a woman who wanted an abortion but did not have the means to obtain one. They wanted someone who would not head to another state for an abortion because that would void their case and end their 15 minutes of fame. They needed someone who would remain pregnant and in the State of Texas simply for their own selfish motives, they sold America a bloody bill of goods that has cost over 50 million American lives. This is more than all the wars we've ever engaged in combined. Now think about that. Do you really think that "love and mercy" had anything to do with it? I challenge anyone who believes that abortion is about compassion, to watch the process as a paid murderer dismembers a tiny child who fights for its very life in the one place that it should be safe, and that is the womb of its mother. Another note, McCorvey initially said that her third pregnancy, the one in question at the time of Roe v. Wade, was the result of rape, but years later she said she had invented the rape story in an attempt to make a stronger case for an abortion.
Norma eventually found Jesus Christ and exposed the two lawyers who used her as a pawn to bring this blight on America. Norma passed in 2017 and I believe that she is with our Lord Jesus.
Another interesting twist to her story, Norma never had an abortion.
Thanks so much for those details of our dear sister in Christ, Norma. I think you misunderstood my comment. I totally agree with you that Norma was used by wicked, selfish people. I meant that as far as I understand, God used compassionate pro-lifers who approached her with love, not condemnation, and that's how she came to faith. Love and mercy were not shown to her by those lawyers who just used her. I totally agree that abortion is not about compassion, love and mercy at all. Thanks again for clarifying Norma's story.
Nice reminder of our national heritage. Very, very sad that we have a president who doesn’t treat people with respect and decency as our Lord and Savior taught us. Pray for the president and our country.