erik lundegaard

Squabbling Founders

“[George] Washington was a very good President, and an unhappy one. Distraught by growing factionalism within and outside his Administration, especially by the squabbling of Hamilton and Jefferson and the rise of a Jeffersonian opposition, he served another term only reluctantly. His second Inaugural Address was just a hundred and thirty-five words long; he said, more or less, Please, I’m doing my best. In 1796, in his enduringly eloquent Farewell Address (written by Madison and Hamilton), he cautioned the American people about party rancor: '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.' And then he went back to Mount Vernon. He freed his slaves in his will, possibly hoping that this, too, would set a precedent. It did not.”

--Jill Lepore in her article, “His Highness: George Washington scales new heights” in The New Yorker. Much recommended.


Posted at 07:19 AM on Sat. Feb 05, 2011 in category Politics, Quote of the Day  
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