Through Washington’s Eyes: A Biographical Exegesis of Washington’s Farewell Remarks Pertaining to Religion and Morality


The United States of America is at a tipping point. Politics seem to become more and more schismatic with each passing year. Each gavel strike of the Supreme Court appears to upset one group or another. Questions of morals have been shifting constantly and debates are reaching new levels of polarized aggression. At the foundation of these contentions is the fundamental and divisive debate over the church-state relationship. As with most political arguments, there is a tendency to focus on what is legally viable rather than what is beneficially applicable. In other words, rather than seeking the healthiest expression of church-state relations, opposing sides seem to simply jockey for extreme positions with the result being less of a wholesome balance and more of a never-ending pendulum swing of slander, harm, and discontent. Much of this argument, as it specifically pertains to legislating church-state relations, focuses on the original intent of the founding fathers. As such, it makes sense to consider seriously the position of those key revolutionary players. In the formative years of the United States, in which many men and women of the period have been canonized in a sort of secular sainthood, when the original documents were being drawn up and redacted, President and General George Washington was considered to be “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Of all American figures, perhaps none is more important and highly regarded than he. Even more, perhaps no literary work better encapsulates his wisdom than his Farewell Address. As the culmination of his experience, these were his parting words of love and warning to future generations of Americans. In his Farewell Address, President George Washington cautioned future generations of Americans that religion and morality are inextricably linked to the well-being of the USA; modern Americans would do well to heed his warning. To accurately capture the nuance of his message, why he said it, what he said, and what it means for modern Americans must all be considered. The result of this study captures the depth, value, and wisdom of Washington’s forewarning. Americans should take seriously the implications of removing religion and morality from personal and public life.

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