No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of man more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consents of so many distinguished communities from which the events resulted cannot be compared with the means by which most governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the same seems to presage. The reflections arising out of the present crisis have forced themselves strongly upon my mind. You will join me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government are more auspiciously commenced.
In his Farewell Address, Washington contends in part:
(1) For the promotion of institutions of learning;
(2) for cherishing the public credit;
(3) for the observance of good faith and justice toward all nations....
At no point in his administration does Washington appear in grander proportions than when he enunciates his ideas in regard to the foreign policy of the government:
Observe good faith and justice toward all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all; religion and morality enjoin this conduct. Can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.
* * * * *
We are met to testify our regard for him whose name is intimately blended with whatever belongs most essentially to the prosperity, the liberty, the free institutions, and the renown of our country. That name was a power to rally a nation in the hour of thick-thronging public disasters and calamities; that name shone amid the storm of war, a beacon light to cheer and guide the country’s friends; its flame, too, like a meteor, to repel her foes. That name in the days of peace was a loadstone, attracting to itself a whole people’s confidence, a whole people’s love, and the whole world’s respect; that name, descending with all time, spread over the whole earth, and uttered in all the languages belonging to the tribes and races of men, will forever be pronounced with affectionate gratitude by everyone in whose breast there shall arise an aspiration for human rights and human liberty.
Washington stands at the commencement of a new era, as well as at the head of the New World. A century from the birth of Washington has changed the world. The country of Washington has been the theater on which a great part of that change has been wrought, and Washington himself a principal agent by which it has been accomplished. His age and his country are equally full of wonders, and of both he is the chief.