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Those who have no interest in history …

 

GeorgeWashingtonAccording to George Santayana, those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

In 1796 Washington gave a farewell address to the nation. In a History of the American People, Paul Johnson summarizes Washington’s first point:

He pleads at length, and passionately, against ‘the baleful effects of the Spirit of Party.’

Differences, arguments, and debates there must be. But a common devotion to the Union, as the source of ‘your collective and individual happiness,’ is the very foundation of the state.

The fact that the people have ‘the power and right to establish Government’ presupposed ‘the duty of every individual to obey it.’ Hence, ‘all obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.’

This is a very strong statement of the moral obligations of all citizens to comply with the decisions of duly constituted government, enforcing the laws constitutionally enacted by Congress. It was a solemn reminder by Washington, as the result of eight years’ experience as chief executive, that America was a country under the rule of law.

You can read it at the Our Documents website.

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