The Myth of Washington’s Farewell Address

I get tired of having to correct this historical myth but I’ll try to do it again. In response to this post by Kevin on partisan politics (discussion thread is here), someone once again raised the argument that Washington and many of the Founding Fathers were “against parties.”

With regards to Washington, this is a myth — and an egregiously inaccurate one at that.

Here’s the response I posted on the comment board:

BTW, the idea that Washington at the end of his administration was “against parties” is a myth perpetrated by people grasping at straws to claim that partisan politics are somehow beyond the bounds of good discourse. Most people who claim this haven’t read Exhibit A of paranoid politics, the Farewell Address.

If you’ve ever read the actual Farewell Address, Washington was primarily against people joining that other party.

Washington was perfectly happy with his own party (he clearly was a Federalist by the end of his second term) and thought that everyone should join it, not the Democratic Republican party.

Despite popular myth, by the end of his second term, Washington is not necessarily against political parties, he was just against there being more than one of them.

This is one of those myths I get really tired of having to knock down. If people would just read the documents for themselves and learn a little bit about the time, they’d know what a ridiculous myth this is.