Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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September 19th
Washington’s Farewell Address
In a world still ruled by kings, President George Washington’s decision to not seek a third term clearly signaled that the United States would be governed by the people, not any ruler-for-life. Washington’s Farewell Address – really an open letter to the American people – appeared in newspapers on September 19, 1796. The president reminded his fellow citizens that national strength rests on the pillars of private morality, especially religion. The word he used to describe those pillars of American democracy is not “optional” or “desirable” or “helpful”; it is “indispensable.”

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ’Tis substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
American History Parade
1676
In an uprising by some Virginia colonists, Nathaniel Bacon burns Jamestown.

1777
Patriot forces withstand a British attack in the First Battle of Saratoga, New York.

1796
George Washington’s Farewell Address is published.

1881
President James Garfield dies of wounds suffered during a July 2 shooting.

1960
Chubby Checker’s recording of “The Twist,” which gave birth to a popular dance, hits the top of the music charts.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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