Happy 287th Birthday, George Washington!
Happy 287th Birthday, George Washington!
Without George Washington, there is no United States of America. Today, we honor the man who was truly the Father of Our Country.
287 years ago today, George Washington was born. Despite an epic fake news moment by Katy Tur, Washington was a native Virginian.
Today, his beloved home, Mount Vernon, where he is buried, celebrated his life.
The Tribute at Washington's Tomb on his 287th birthday.
Posted by George Washington's Mount Vernon on Friday, February 22, 2019
George Washington did not seek to be “great.” He strove to be an example of good manners. But he possessed the capacity to inspire. And not just the men that served under him in the Continental Army. He earned the admiration of the other Founding Fathers and set the example that stunned the world – the ability to walk away from power.
And in death, Washington refused to become an idol. A crypt was built for his remains in the United States Capitol, and while Washington had said in his will that he wished to be buried at Mount Vernon, his widow Martha initially agreed. However, the delay in the contruction and the argument over the memorial meant that when the crypt was ready and Congress asked, the Washington family declined.
George Washington is the only man ever unanimously elected as president – twice. When he finally left public office, he left behind a farewell address that is still read in the Senate on his birthday every year. Washington’s words should be read by all of us today – because it sounds a warning for us over 200 years later.
I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
May we all take a moment to reflect on the words of our first president and one of the greatest men in American history on his 287th birthday. Thank you, President Washington. Happy birthday.
Featured image: George Washington, John Trumbull painting, 1790, Wikimedia Commons, public domain