The Farewell Address "'Tis Our True Policy To Steer Clear Of Permanent Alliances, With Any Portion Of The Foreign World"

George Washington

"'Tis Our True Policy To Steer Clear Of Permanent Alliances, With Any Portion Of The Foreign World"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In his final presidential address Washington describes various problems facing the new democratic government. In domestic affairs, he warns against the possible despotism of a militant two-party system; he warns against the insidious tendency of one governmental department to encroach upon another and thereby exceed its rightful sphere; he calls governmental support of religion and morality indispensable to political prosperity; he states the necessity of supporting institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge; he cautions against the accumulation of an excessive national debt. In foreign affairs, he advises: "Observe good faith and justice toward all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all." To this end America must not invoke sympathy for some favorite nation; "the great rule of conduct" is to cultivate commercial relations but to shun political connections. He cautions:

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote, relation.–Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. . . . 'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world. . . . Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectably defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.