In his presidential Farewell Address of 1796, George Washington presented a series of maxims to guide the construction of a wise foreign policy. He believed, as did generations of his adherents, that if the United States stayed true to the principles he discussed, the country would eventually attain national greatness and international respectability. By focusing on the enduring influence of the Farewell Address on 19th-century Americans, and on their abiding devotion to Washington, Jeffrey Malanson brings the Address back into the spotlight for 21st-century listeners. When citizens gathered in town halls, city commons, and local churches to commemorate Washington, engagement with the Farewell Address was a cornerstone of their celebrations. This annual re-dedication to Washington's principles made the Farewell Address both a framework for the attainment of national happiness and prosperity, and a blueprint for national security.
Through its focus on the diplomatic, political, and cultural impacts of Washington's Farewell Address, Addressing America reasserts the fundamental importance of this critical document to the development of the United States in the first half of the 19th century.