Annual Reading of George Washington’s Farewell Address to the Senate of the United States of America

George Washington delivered his Farewell Address to area newspapers 19 Sep 1796. Actually, Washington did not deliver this address in person because with his wooden teeth, it was difficult for him to speak in public at best. So this final speech was printed in the newspapers for the public to read.

This address was read before Congress for the first time on 22 Feb 1862 as a morale booster in the dark days of the Civil War. In 1896, it was decided that the address should be read annually before the Senate on Washington’s birthday. Since the date change and the holiday change–where we celebrate birthdays for Washington and Lincoln both on President’s Day–the 25 Feb 2008 session of the Senate, today, included the reading of the speech.

As I listened live today on C-SPAN, I couldn’t help but wish that Washington were here to read it himself–wooden teeth and all. It really is a drag to hear something read aloud by one who has not practiced and who is unfamiliar with the patterns of speech in the piece. We needed the teleprompter to show the words to us, the listening audience, so the stumbles of the reader would not distract us from the full meaning of the words.

Washington’s Farewell Address cautioned the American people and their Congressional representatives to walk carefully in democracy. “Friends, and fellow citizens,” he began,

“…deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and preserving, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal.

If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans, by which they were affected…

…as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free constitution which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; and its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these states, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it. Washington’s Farewell Address

There are some surprises in his words. And the Senate lacked a quorum today to accept the reading and enter it in the record. Runners had to summon these representatives of liberty to their duty. The Father of our Country was a well educated man with a full vocabulary and you might enjoy reading what he felt impressed to tell us about the government he served and the country he loved.

Rutherford County Tennessee Pioneers Born Before 1800

In Commemoration of Rutherford County Tennessee Bicentennial, 1803-2003, Susan G. Daniel compiled Rutherford County Tennessee Pioneers–Born Before 1800. 2003. Available from the Rutherford County Historical Society, PO Box 906, Murfreesboro TN 37133-0906.

This is one of those “identify every person you can” books which I love. For no source is too obscure to check for additional names. I get very nervous when I have searched at length and begin to draw conclusions based on who I find in the records–and then a new book, like this one, appears with someone else with the same surname who is not yet accounted for. You’ve read these words,”this is the only man in the records old enough to be the father.” […therefore, he must be the father.] Not necessarily…

Entry 2720 states: Claiborne Howse/House b. Oct 6, 1774 in Brunswick Co VA m (1) Dec 23 1799 in Brunswick Co VA, Mary/Polly Ledbetter, b Mar 15, 1782 in Brunswick Co VA, daughter of Isaac Ledbetter, Sen. and Jane Johnson of Brunswick Co VA. Mary/Polly was sister to Isaac Ledbetter, Jr. of Rutherford Co. Claiborne House m (2) Mar 4 1823 in Rutherford Co Susan/Susannah Hutton b 1790 in VA. He was listed on the 1820 and 1830 census for Rutherford Co and he and Susannah were living in Wilkinson Crossroads District (7th) on the 1850 census Rutherford Co census.

Not all entries are this detailed, some just reference a tax list or a census or a cemetery listing. Taken all together, there is an extensive amount of research represented in these pages.

I am currently making a collection of these directory-type publications and I will share a bibliography with you in a few months. In the meantime, as often as I can, I will bring these new resources to your attention. What a great time it is to trace a family tree! Your favorite genealogist (still hip-deep in snow), Arlene Eakle

PS I’m speaking at Minnesota State University, Moorhead MN, 28 Oct 2008 for the Minnesota Heritage Education Commission. Watch my speaking schedule for program topics–still to be selected.

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