George Washington's Farewell Address of 1796.
address reflects George Washington's views on religion
and politics. Washington felt that religion and morality
were the mainstays of political prosperity, as well
as private and public happiness. In a respnse to an
apparent belief of the time that morality could be maintained
without religion, George Washington speaks with the
voice of caution; warning the nation that morality could
not prevail without the presence of religion among its
people. For Washington, religion and morality were to
be respected and cherished.
Lewis Roca Rothgerber
Religious Institutions Group
* * *
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 the 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.
Washington's Farewell Address (1796), in Standard English
Classics (C.R. Gaton ed.)