Saturday, October 26, 2013

Possible Source of Error of Date

Over the course of extensive research regarding President Washington's Farewell Address, the erroneous assignment of 17th September as the date of its issuance has been an inescapable annoyance: How can so many make such a mistake on something as important in American history and the preservation of the Union as The Founding Father's final words to the American people and posterity on how to conduct the affairs of government?

The answer may be an artifact in the collection of George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 2 Letterbook 24 - Image 251. Although it was written with exceptionally fine penmanship --presumably by a professional scribe for archival purposes-- it was not by the hand of our first president but, it is clearly dated 17th September 1796.

Still, the fact remains that, on 19th September 1896, in observance of the Centenary of this monumental event in our nations history, the predominant newspaper in our nation's capital specifically reported about the matter of the date and should have put to rest any and all uncertainties about it then and there.

What remains a mystery is how it went undetected for so long by so many but, at least now, a viable source of which this error be attributed has been discovered.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Message to U.S. State Department Historian


RE: George Washington’s Farewell Address, Incorrect Date

Greetings Fellow-Citizens:

In the course of my ongoing research related to my George Washington Farewell Address Revivification & Preservation Project, it has just now come to my attention the the State Department has not been immune to the widespread problem of listing the incorrect date, September 17, which just so happens to be Constitution Day. That is understandable because, for just over 100 years, since the traditional reading on the floor of the U.S. Senate became an annual event, the version that the senators had been reading from contained more errors than just the date until I brought it to the attention of that body's historian.

Ironically, my review of the Congressional Globe and Record for readings prior to 1896 revealed that they had been using a correct version. In addition, The Evening Star --then the preeminent newspaper in the nation's capital-- on the day of the Centenary, reported the date as being the 19th. Any and all confusion between George Washington’s Farewell Address Day and Constitution Day should have been stopped dead in its tracks then and there.

For the State Department to have it wrong is an embarrassment! I can understand the Germans making the mistake --BUT AT LEAST THEY HAD IT TRANSLATED-- but our own department that represents our nation to the rest of the world? Really now! I know it may sound petty but, something as important as President Washington's final words to the American people and posterity should be absolutely perfect.

This recent finding reminded me of the need to have the Farewell Address of The Father of Our Country translated into as many languages as possible so that the people of other nations can read and appreciate the principles, vision, and greatness of Washington, THE MAN. The most briefest of readings will reveal that the conduct of "Washington," the U.S. Government "Establishment," differs dramatically from the directions left to US by His Excellency and has drifted far off course of our original path. (click here to review what U.S. Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission Director General, Sol Bloom had to say about the path!)

With that in mind, please consider this a formal request for the State Department to undertake such project as part of an enhanced online exhibit of the Farewell Address.

I am but an ordinary citizen who is deeply concerned for the future of his country and I do not expect my opinion to influence or carry much weight with anybody in the federal government. However, my research has uncovered the opinions of many whowithout a doubt, should. They can be found by following this link. Please note that, unlike the event in 1862 when it was read before a Joint Session of Congress, my proposed event includes a recall of our own ambassadors to be present in the chamber as well as an invitation for foreign ambassadors to attend and participate in conferences and debates.

I will close with one of my favorite passages from the address;
The way I read it is that His Excellency said that if our leaders strictly adhere to The Constitution and maintain the highest level of integrity, other nations may wish follow if we lead-by-example rather than try to "teach democracy" by way of military occupation or monetary finagling -- senseless misadventures that all been doomed to failure. Besides it's not democracy -- it's republicanism! I trust you agree.

Thank you for your attention.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Be it resolved that the Senate and House of Representatives;

Resolved, That the two Houses of Congress will assemble in the Hall of the House of Representatives on an hour to be fixed and announced by the Joint Committee on the 22nd February or 19th September --whichever is sooner-- and that in the presence of the members of both Houses there assembled the Farewell Address of President George Washington be pronounced by the President of the Senate pro tempore (or his appointee) and that the Speaker of the House of Representatives be requested to invite the President and ex-Presidents of the United States, the Heads of the several Departments, the Justices of the Supreme Court and Members of the Federal Judiciary, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Governors of the several States, Territories, Possessions, etc., the representatives of foreign governments accredited to our own, and that the Secretary of State shall require all US ambassadors abroad to be connected via teleconference.

Resolved, That the proceedings of the day, including the Farewell Address, be published in pamphlet form in a manner suited to the dignity of the occasion and widely circulated among the American people and that audio and video recordings be made available on the Internet.

Resolved, That the President of the United States, Commander in Chief of the Armed Services, be requested to direct that orders be issued for the reading of the Farewell Address, or suitable parts of it, be read aloud on that day, wherever practicable, at the head of the armies, on board ships and aircraft of war, as well as military bases, hospitals, etc.

Rationale behind the above:

Several years ago, this writer met then-West Virginia State Senator Clark Barnes and engaged him in a most cordial conversation. Hence, it was assumed he would be a valuable ally in his cause to restore our Founding Father's final words to the American people and posterity to the highest level of national prominence and their rightful place in the hearts and souls of our fellow citizens.

This draft resolution --based on extensive research-- was composed and hand-delivered (along with supporting documentation which has been replaced with hyperlinks in this enhanced version) to his local office in Elkins, WV.  It's hard to think of a better way to start than to bring all those in positions of power in the U.S. Government together for a formal reading followed up with thorough public discussions, conferences, and debates throughout the United States as well as the world. 

Astonishingly, no answer of either acceptance or rejection was ever forthcoming. Copies were later sent to then-Congresswoman, now Senator, Shelley Moore Capito who DID answer. She advised that she forwarded copies to him. Still, no response. Sure, an appeal could've been made to Senator Byrd directly but nothing a single concerned citizen could conceive of writing could ever carry as much weight as a --hopefully unanimous-- resolution from his own State Senate. He was selected by this writer to do the honors because of his being a well-known champion of The Constitution as well as the fact that, on the occasion when this writer went to the Senate gallery to witness the traditional annual reading after his having facilitated its correction and granting of his request for a special exception to the long-standing, strictly-enforced "no-reading materials-in-the-gallery" rule. Although he was very disappointed that it was read before a nearly empty chamber, he could not help but notice Sen. Byrd reading along attentively from the text because, obviously, it meant something to him.

It is suspected that most people who pose in front of the American flag inside government buildings surrounded by barricades and phalanxes of armed guards in the District of Columbia think His Excellency's Farewell Address was a place where postal letter-carriers would deliver his mail -- else they consider it some useless antiquity that has no place in present day affairs of government and international diplomacy.  That argument can readily be refuted by an editorial in The Evening Star --then the preeminent newspaper in our nation's capital-- dated September 19, 1896 . It read: 
 ``It might reasonably be supposed that the lapse of years and the social and industrial revolutions that have taken place since the physical Washington ceased to be would have brought so much of change in our institutions as would make the valedictory of the first president antiquated and useless; as a matter of fact, the words of the nation's father are as easily applicable today as they were a century ago." 
That statement rings as true today as it did then and as it will 500 years from now and to eternity...

Proposed draft:



Whereas; The Founding Father and first president of the United States, His Excellency: the Most Honorable GEORGE WASHINGTON, in his Farewell Address of 19th September 1796 to the People of the same, did humbly “offer to (our) solemn contemplation, and recommend(ed) to (our) frequent review, some sentiments which (were) the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear(ed) to (him) all important to the permanency of (our) felicity as a people” and, with heart-rending humility, did “flatter” himself by wishing that those “counsels of an old and affectionate friend” would “now and then recur” to “be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good”; and

Whereas; the Constitution of West Virginia (3-20) declares that, “Free government and the blessings of liberty can be preserved to any people only by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” and

Whereas; On April 30, 1789, George Washington, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, took his oath of office as the first President of the United States. “As the first of everything, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent, it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.”

Whereas; no single document more clearly expresses and defines the fundamental principles of the Founding Fathers regarding the conduct and preservation of American republican government as eloquently and explicitly than the Farewell Address of President George Washington; and

Whereas; the Honorable John Marshall, 4th Chief Justice of the United States, declared; “This interesting paper contains precepts to which the American statesman cannot too frequently recur.” and,

Whereas; Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, in his own equally brilliant Farewell Address, declared that “the lessons contained in this invaluable legacy of Washington to his countrymen should be cherished in the heart of every citizen ... his paternal counsels would seem to be not merely the offspring of wisdom and foresight, but the voice of prophecy, foretelling events and warning us of the evil to come.” and,

Whereas; not since 1862, when Sen. Andrew Johnson declared, “In view of the perilous condition of the country, we think the time has arrived when we should recur back to the days, the times, and the doings of Washington and the patriots of the Revolution, who founded the government under which we live,” have President Washington’s  timeless words of admonition to the People of the United States been subjected to a  formal pronouncement before both Houses of Congress, the Heads of all Branches and Departments of the government and NEVER with either the sitting or former presidents of the United States and representatives of foreign governments in attendance. And NEVER over airwaves and the internet in a manner so that it be subjected to intensive scrutiny and discussion by mass-media broadcasters, journalists, educators, students, and citizens worldwide; and

Whereas; the Honorable Melville Weston Fuller, 8th Chief Justice of the United States, declared before a Joint Session of Congress that, “If we turn to this remarkable document and compare the line of conduct therein recommended with the course of events during the century—the advice given with the results of experience—we are amazed at the wonderful sagacity and precision with which it lays down the general principles through whose application the safety and prosperity of the Republic have been secured.” and

Whereas; The Evening Star editorial (the leading newspaper in our nation’s capital in 1896), in observing the centenary stated that, “That remarkable document should at all times be deeply interesting to every true American . . . It should be read and reread and thoroughly understood by every being who prides himself upon lawful possession of the title of American Citizen.” and

Whereas; U.S. Constitution Sesquicentennial Commission Director General, the Honorable Sol Bloom, declared that, “Among the many valuable state papers of the Nation two are most intimately connected with the Constitution. These are The Declaration of Independence, which opened the way for it, and Washington’s Farewell Address on keeping in the path.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Dennis Chavez declared that, “Every citizen of the United States should consider it a duty to read Washington’s Farewell Address.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Herbert O’Conor declared that, “It remains one of the outstanding utterances of American History and shall ever be a fitting reminder of our duty to abide by the lessons of the past. Furthermore, the efflux of time has served to emphasize its soundness, foresight and judgment. It’s re-reading makes us even more proud of American Citizenship.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey declared that, “Every American should study 
this memorable message. It gives one a renewed sense of pride in our republic. It 
arouses the wholesome and creative emotions of patriotism and love of country.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater declared that, “In these days, when the troubles 
of the mind and the conscience are multiplying, as we tend to turn more to the material 
and less to the spiritual for the solutions to them, it is correct that Americans pause to 
remember their basic sources of strength—these sources are carefully outlined in the 
documents left us by those wise men who, thru God, created our republic—it will 
forever be a source of pride that it fell my lot to read to my colleagues & thru them, The 
American people, The inspiring and thought provoking Farewell message of George 
Washington on this (day).” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Frank Church declared that, “The wisdom contained in the 
Farewell Address is ageless; the admonitions remain as valid as the circumstances 
which then prevailed. To the degree those circumstances have changed, we must 
measure the advice of George Washington against the living facts of our own times.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Frank Moss declared that, “His words of counsel and admonition 
retain their vigor and wisdom today after a century and a half have changed our 
republic and the world to ways undreamed in Washington’s time.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph declared that, “Today has been a truly 
significant one for me! It is my understanding that this remembered event gave to me 
the real privilege of being the second West Virginian serving in the United States 
Senate to have read Washington’s Farewell Address… I shall never forget the words 
‘Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to 
concentrate your affections’ in the Address. They are so meaningful!” and

Whereas; Senator Randolph set a record for the longest time of delivery (1 hour, 8
minutes) which, after the passage of fifty-five years, remains unbroken due to his
savoring every word” because “They are so meaningful!” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Mike Mansfield, in commending Sen. Randolph for his “excellent 
and outstanding rendition,” declared that, “I think it is appropriate at this time to recall 
that during the darkest hours of the American Revolution the Father of our Country 
said; ‘Give me but a banner to plant upon the hills of West Augusta—’ which, if I
may interpolate, is now the State of West Virginia— ‘and I shall gather around me 
those men who will set this bleeding nation free.’ George Washington … said that
midst its green and quiet hills was the very essence of freedom itself.” 1; and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Gordon Allott declared that Sen. Randolph’s “rendition reminded 
me what a great intellect fathered our country and that perhaps in this latter time we 
have tended to confuse great intellectual ability with mere mental acrobatics or 
gymnastics. There is a great difference. I only wish that hundreds more could have 
heard the rendition given by the distinguished Senator from West Virginia.” 2; and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Jack Miller declared that, “I wish that more Members of Congress
down through the years, including present Members of Congress, had heeded these
words…” 3; and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Glenn Beall, Jr. declared that, “The words of George Washington 
show his unusual perceptiveness and his feeling for the enduring nature of the 
government that he helped to form.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen declared that, “A different era and a different 
nation, but human emotions remain constant. In the relations of men to each other, the 
sagacious words of this great patriot live on with rare import and substance.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Vance Hartke declared that, “It is a remarkable document that has a constant thread of a true American; a true believer in peace and progress. As we 
begin our new century it is my hope that we renew the Spirit of Washington for a world 
of peace and liberty for all time.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Walter Huddleston declared that, “…the profound admonitions of 
our first president, the wisdom of which is just as certain today as when originally 
delivered.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Paul Trible declared that, “I pray that the spirit of ardent 
patriotism, joyous adventure, and religious zeal that marked the life and words of 
George Washington will live again in our land.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Terry Sanford declared that, “President Washington’s thoughts 
about the young and fragile republic clearly mark his concerns for our nation. They 
come today as fresh and compelling as they were when he wrote them. It is remarkable 
that George Washington had the vision that is still appropriate two hundred years 
later… that faith and vision our country still needs.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Chuck Robb declared that, “While the prose may be somewhat 
dated, the wisdom is timeless, and I only regret that we’re not more disposed to heed it 
today than were our forebears.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Harris Wofford declared that, “What a falling off there has been 
since the standard of thought, writing and action Washington set! May his words 
invoke the ‘better angels of our nature’ to help us revive and live up to those standards 
of service to the common good.” and

Whereas; U.S. Senator Dirk Kempthorne declared that, “The fact that his words were 
written as a guiding light for the future of this nation makes the actual moment of 
delivery of the speech timeless... as citizens we must never lose our exposure and 
connection to the principles of our Founding Father. The fact that Madison, Hamilton, 
and Jay all contributed to this speech reflects the sentiments of this group of dedicated 

Whereas; author Michael A. Genovese declared that, “The Farewell Address is
considered one of the most important state papers in American presidential history.” 4;

Whereas; President George W. Bush declared that, “Ignorance of American history and 
civics weakens our sense of citizenship… We love our country, and we must teach our 
children to do the same. And when we do, they will carry on our heritage of freedom 
into the future.” and

Whereas; in consideration of the above, the West Virginia State Senate is hereby,

Requesting that The Honorable Robert C. Byrd introduce a Joint Resolution in the United States Senate and for the House of Representatives as (top of page)

unlinked sources:

1 Congressional Record – Senate – February 22, 1962 – pg. 2822
2 ibid
3 ibid
4 “Encyclopedia of the American Presidency” - pg. 476


It is unlikely that there is anyone in the United States of America who would dispute the significance of George Washington's role in the war for independence, its founding as a constitutional republic, and his most reluctant service of two terms as their first president. Therefore, one would think that the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association (the organization which has long been engaged in preserving both his home and his legacy) and the Library of Congress would be the definitive gold-standard source for information and educational tools with regard to his presidential Farewell Address -- the most important document to have ever come from his hand.

Astonishingly, that is not the case.

The stark absence of attention commensurate with its importance, as opposed to an object of intense focus and brightest illumination of the Farewell Address, is a matter worthy of investigation and should be corrected. This writer has already reached out to Mount Vernon with regard to it's non-observance on 19th September and has yet to receive a response. Attempt will be made to contact the Library of Congress to address the deficiency but, considering the many layers and divisions of such a bureaucracy, the probability of locating the ideal contact is uncertain.

The Library of Congress Teachers Guide, like so many, has the incorrect date. It directs educators to a copy of a manuscript of the Farewell Address written by someone else and, although it may have some value as an artifact fine penmanship, it offers nothing that can't be found elsewhere. Wouldn't it be easier just to have it directed to the text? I will suggest they link to the Victor Hugo Paltsits book used as reference by those who prepared the intro at The Papers of George Washington page Lesson 3 - Group 4 does touch upon it but in a very limited capacity. The very last item at the bottom of the page is perhaps the best and most appropriate assignment:

Research how later generations have viewed Washington's Farewell Address.

A search at Mount Vernon's web site using keywords "farewell address" yields a link to page of the text at their site but, surprisingly, it was not at the top of the list. Their encyclopedia does have an entry for Alexander Hamilton but there is no mention of his having been called upon by His Excellency to provide assistance with editing the final draft. They even offer this book for sale, Washington's Farewell to His Officers, but none about his, by far more important, farewell to ``Friends, & Fellow-Citizens" and posterity.

(click on image to enlarge)

Well, it's easy to see that one book is missing from its space but I'm pretty certain it's not the one in question here for, as a matter of routine on several occasions over the past twenty years, I have made the rounds in the shops in the National Archives, Library of Congress (which is where I think I took that picture), U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, etc. they, like, NEVER have any copies of President Washington's Farewell Address in inventory. And it's not like it's like its not in print, for same publisher has it in print and is available online and, wouldn't you know it--not only to they have the date wrong, they even say that it was delivered to assembled Members of Congress. Oh well, another item to add to my to-do list.  My guess is, is that it's the Declaration of Independence that's missing.

Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, in his own brilliant Farewell Address, declared that;
the lessons contained in this invaluable legacy of Washington to his countrymen should be cherished in the heart of every citizen ... his paternal counsels would seem to be not merely the offspring of wisdom and foresight, but the voice of prophecy, foretelling events and warning us of the evil to come."
By contrast when this writer reached out to the folks at The Hermitage expressing his enthusiasm for the farewell addresses of both presidents establishment his Andrew Jackson Farewell Address Revivification and Preservation Project as well, he received an immediate response from Howard J. Kittell, their President and CEO.

Somewhere, the American people have lost their way. If our republic is to prosper and survive as a nation promoting peace, freedom, and justice, it is imperative that we return to our roots and firmly reestablish the principles of The Founding Father himself --as well as those of the man whose memory is disgraced in mockery by the Federal Reserve Bank by its use of his visage on their $20 private central-banknotes-- as the standard of governance.

One would think both of these entities would have a world-class online exhibit to feature the most indispensable document in the legacy of The Indispensable Man.