John Avlon, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, discusses the first president’s momentous and prescient farewell address to the nation and how the address could help reunite America through the lessons rooted in Washington’s experience as described in his new book, Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations.
Once celebrated as civic scripture, more widely reprinted than the Declaration of Independence, Washington’s Farewell Address is now almost forgotten, says Avlon.
The President called for unity among “citizens by birth or choice,” advocated moderation, defended religious pluralism, proposed a foreign policy of independence (not isolation), and proposed that education is essential to democracy. He established the precedent for the peaceful transfer of power.
Michael Gerhardt, scholar-in-residence at the National Constitution Center, moderates.George Washington’s Farewell Address was a prophetic letter from a “parting friend” to his fellow citizens about the forces he feared could destroy our democracy: hyper-partisanship, excessive debt, and foreign wars.
Today’s show was edited by David Stotz. The host of We the People is Jeffrey Rosen.
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