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Handout D: George Washington, “Farewell Address”

George Washington, “Farewell Address,” 1796

Directions: Read the excerpt and write a 5-10 sentence paragraph addressing the questions below.

“Of 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 labour 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 . . . 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. ’Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”


  1. How does George Washington relate religion to self-government in the document?
  2. Is there a strong separation of church and state, or is religion encouraged in a republic? Explain your answer with evidence from the text.