Following are some selections from George Washington's farewell speech.
On party politics:
They serve to Organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force--to put in the
place of the delegated will of the Nation, the will of a party; often a small but artful and enterprizing
minority of the Community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public
Administration the Mirror of the ill concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the Organ of
consistent and wholesome plans digested by common councils and modefied by mutual interests. However
combinations or Associations of the above description may now & then answer popular ends, they are
likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and
unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the Power of the People, & to usurp for themselves the
reins of Government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
I have already intimated to you the danger of Parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of
them on Geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, & warn you in the
most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally.
This Spirit, unfortunately, is inseperable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the
human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controuled, or
repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party
dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a
frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders &
miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power
of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than
his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of
sight) the common &
continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and the duty of a wise People
to discourage and
It serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the
Community with ill founded Jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another,
foments occasionally riot & insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence & corruption, which find a
facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the
will of one country, are subjected to the policy and will of another.
There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the Administration of the
Government and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true--and in
Governments of a Monarchical cast patriotism may look with endulgence, if not with favour, upon the spirit
of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be
encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every
salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public
opinion, to mitigate & assuage it. A fire not to be quenched; it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its
bursting into a flame, lest instead of warming it should consume."