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George Washington

Date de naissance: 22. février 1732
Date de décès: 14. décembre 1799

George Washington , né le 22 février 1732 à Pope's Creek et mort le 14 décembre 1799 à Mount Vernon , est un homme d'État américain, chef d’État-major de l’Armée continentale pendant la guerre d’indépendance entre 1775 et 1783 et premier président des États-Unis, en fonction de 1789 à 1797.

Washington est l'un des planteurs les plus riches de la région avec son domaine de Mount Vernon. Grâce à sa participation à la guerre de Sept Ans qui se déroule entre 1756 et 1763, il devient rapidement célèbre des deux côtés de l'Atlantique et s'intéresse aux questions politiques. Son engagement dans la révolution américaine ainsi que sa réputation le portent au poste de commandant des troupes américaines, qu'il organise et mène à la victoire finale, avec l'aide des Français, sur la métropole britannique. Après le conflit, il participe à la rédaction de la Constitution des États-Unis et fait l’unanimité lors de la première élection présidentielle. Pendant ses deux mandats, George Washington montre ses qualités d'administrateur habile, malgré les difficultés internes et les conflits en Europe. Il a laissé son empreinte sur les institutions du pays et sur l’histoire des États-Unis.

Considéré comme l'un des Pères fondateurs des États-Unis par les Américains, George Washington a fait l'objet de nombreux hommages depuis la fin du XVIIIe siècle : son nom a été donné à la capitale des États-Unis, à un État du nord-ouest de l'Union, ainsi qu'à de nombreux sites et monuments. Son effigie figure depuis 1932 sur la pièce de 25 cents ainsi que sur le billet d'un dollar. Wikipedia

Citations George Washington

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„Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.“

—  George Washington

1790s, Farewell Address (1796)
Contexte: Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.
The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize.

„A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.“

—  George Washington

A further quote sometimes purported to be from a speech to Congress, January 7, 1790 purportedly in the Boston Independent Chronicle, January 14, 1790, this is actually a corruption of a statement made in his first State of the Union Address, relating to the need for maintaining governmental troops and military preparedness:
:: A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.
The proper establishment of the troops which may be deemed indispensable will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be made respecting it it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support of the officers and soldiers with a due regard to economy.
Misattributed, Spurious attributions

„It is better to be alone than in bad company.“

—  George Washington

Letter to his niece, Harriet Washington (30 October 1791)
1790s
Variante: It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

„Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.“

—  George Washington

1790s, Farewell Address (1796)
Contexte: Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and 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. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its Virtue?

„What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror.“

—  George Washington

Letter to John Jay (15 August 1786) http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/constitution/1784/jay2.html
1780s
Contexte: If you tell the Legislatures they have violated the treaty of peace and invaded the prerogatives of the confederacy they will laugh in your face. What then is to be done? Things cannot go on in the same train forever. It is much to be feared, as you observe, that the better kind of people being disgusted with the circumstances will have their minds prepared for any revolution whatever. We are apt to run from one extreme into another. To anticipate & prevent disasterous contingencies would be the part of wisdom & patriotism.
What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking, thence to acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable & tremendous! What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal & falacious! Would to God that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend.
Retired as I am from the world, I frankly acknowledge I cannot feel myself an unconcerned spectator. Yet having happily assisted in bringing the ship into port & having been fairly discharged; it is not my business to embark again on a sea of troubles. Nor could it be expected that my sentiments and opinions would have much weight on the minds of my Countrymen — they have been neglected, tho' given as a last legacy in the most solemn manner. I had then perhaps some claims to public attention. I consider myself as having none at present.

„There might, Gentlemen, be an impropriety in my taking notice, in this Address to you, of an anonymous production — but the manner in which that performance has been introduced to the Army — the effect it was intended to have, together with some other circumstances, will amply justify my observations on the tendency of that Writing.“

—  George Washington

1780s, The Newburgh Address (1783)
Contexte: There might, Gentlemen, be an impropriety in my taking notice, in this Address to you, of an anonymous production — but the manner in which that performance has been introduced to the Army — the effect it was intended to have, together with some other circumstances, will amply justify my observations on the tendency of that Writing. With respect to the advice given by the Author — to suspect the Man, who shall recommend moderate measures and longer forbearance — I spurn it — as every Man, who regards that liberty, & reveres that Justice for which we contend, undoubtedly must — for if Men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind; reason is of no use to us — the freedom of Speech may be taken away — and, dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter.

„On these occasions I consider how mankind may be connected like one great family in fraternal ties—I endulge a fond, perhaps an enthusiastic idea, that as the world is evidently much less barbarous than it has been, its melioration must still be progressive—that nations are becoming more humanized in their policy—that the subjects of ambition & causes for hostility are daily diminishing—and in fine, that the period is not very remote when the benefits of a liberal & free commerce will, pretty generally, succeed to the devastations & horrors of war.“

—  George Washington

“From George Washington to Lafayette, 15 August 1786,” Founders Online, National Archives http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/04-04-02-0200 Source: The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series, vol. 4, 2 April 1786 – 31 January 1787, ed. W. W. Abbot. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995, pp. 214–216. Page scan http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw2&fileName=gwpage013.db&recNum=157&tempFile=./temp/~ammem_fmyS&filecode=mgw&next_filecode=mgw&itemnum=1&ndocs=100 at American Memory (Library of Congress)
1780s
Contexte: Altho’ I pretend to no peculiar information respecting commercial affairs, nor any foresight into the scenes of futurity; yet as the member of an infant-empire, as a Philanthropist by character, and (if I may be allowed the expression) as a Citizen of the great republic of humanity at large; I cannot help turning my attention sometimes to this subject. I would be understood to mean, I cannot avoid reflecting with pleasure on the probable influence that commerce may here after have on human manners & society in general. On these occasions I consider how mankind may be connected like one great family in fraternal ties—I endulge a fond, perhaps an enthusiastic idea, that as the world is evidently much less barbarous than it has been, its melioration must still be progressive—that nations are becoming more humanized in their policy—that the subjects of ambition & causes for hostility are daily diminishing—and in fine, that the period is not very remote when the benefits of a liberal & free commerce will, pretty generally, succeed to the devastations & horrors of war.

„The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves“

—  George Washington

Address to the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island (27 August 1776)
1770s
Contexte: The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.

„It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more truly satisfied of this fact than I am.“

—  George Washington

Letter to the Reverend G. W. Snyder (24 October 1798) http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=WasFi36.xml&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=388&division=div1
1790s
Contexte: !-- Revd Sir I have your favor of the 17th instant before me; and my only motive to trouble you with the receipt of this letter, is to explain, and correct a mistake which I perceive the hurry in which I am obliged, often, to write letters, have led you into.
--> It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more truly satisfied of this fact than I am.
The idea that I meant to convey, was, that I did not believe that the Lodges of Free Masons in this Country had, as Societies, endeavoured to propagate the diabolical tenets of the first, or pernicious principles of the latter (if they are susceptible of seperation). That Individuals of them may have done it, or that the founder, or instrument employed to found, the Democratic Societies in the United States, may have had these objects; and actually had a seperation of the People from their Government in view, is too evident to be questioned. <!--
My occupations are such, that but little leisure is allowed me to read News Papers, or Books of any kind; the reading of letters, and preparing answers, absorb much of my time. With respect — I remain Revd Sir Your Most Obedt Hble Ser. Go: Washington

„If you tell the Legislatures they have violated the treaty of peace and invaded the prerogatives of the confederacy they will laugh in your face. What then is to be done? Things cannot go on in the same train forever.“

—  George Washington

Letter to John Jay (15 August 1786) http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/documents/constitution/1784/jay2.html
1780s
Contexte: If you tell the Legislatures they have violated the treaty of peace and invaded the prerogatives of the confederacy they will laugh in your face. What then is to be done? Things cannot go on in the same train forever. It is much to be feared, as you observe, that the better kind of people being disgusted with the circumstances will have their minds prepared for any revolution whatever. We are apt to run from one extreme into another. To anticipate & prevent disasterous contingencies would be the part of wisdom & patriotism.
What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking, thence to acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable & tremendous! What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal & falacious! Would to God that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend.
Retired as I am from the world, I frankly acknowledge I cannot feel myself an unconcerned spectator. Yet having happily assisted in bringing the ship into port & having been fairly discharged; it is not my business to embark again on a sea of troubles. Nor could it be expected that my sentiments and opinions would have much weight on the minds of my Countrymen — they have been neglected, tho' given as a last legacy in the most solemn manner. I had then perhaps some claims to public attention. I consider myself as having none at present.

„It is much to be lamented that each State, long ’ere this, has not hunted them down as the pests of Society, & the greatest enemies we have, to the happiness of America.“

—  George Washington

George Washington to Joseph Reed, 12 December 1778 http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-18-02-0452, Founders Online, National Archives. Source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 18, 1 November 1778 – 14 January 1779, ed. Edward G. Lengel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, pp. 396–398. Page images http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw4&fileName=gwpage054.db&recNum=1004 at American Memory (Library of Congress)
1770s
Contexte: It gives me very sincere pleasure to find that there is likely to be a coalition of the Whigs in your State (a few only excepted) and that the Assembly of it, are so well disposed to second your endeavors in bringing those murderers of our cause—the Monopolizers—forestallers—& Engrossers—to condign punishment. It is much to be lamented that each State, long ’ere this, has not hunted them down as the pests of Society, & the greatest enemies we have, to the happiness of America. I would to God that one of the most attrocious in each State was hung in Gibbets, up on a gallows five times as high as the one prepared by Haman—No punishment, in my opinion, is too great for the Man, who can build “his greatness upon his Country’s ruin.”

„The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.“

—  George Washington

Letter to Brigadier-General Nelson, 20 August 1778, in Ford's Writings of George Washington (1890), vol. VII, p. 161. Part of this is often attached to a fragment of a letter to John Armstrong of 11 March 1782; it is also often prefaced with the spurious "governing without God" sentence, as this 1867 example from Henry Wilson (Testimonies of American Statesmen and Jurists to the Truths of Christianity) shows:
It is impossible to govern the world without God. It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits and humbly implore his protection and favor. I am sure there never was a people who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency which was so often manifested during the revolution; or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of Him, who is alone able to protect them. He must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.
1770s
Contexte: It is not a little pleasing, nor less wonderful to contemplate, that after two years' manoeuvring and undergoing the strangest vicissitudes, that perhaps ever attended any one contest since the creation, both armies are brought back to the very point they set out from, and that which was the offending party in the beginning is now reduced to the use of the spade and pickaxe for defence. The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. But it will be time enough for me to turn preacher, when my present appointment ceases…

„Know my good friend that no distance can keep anxious lovers long asunder, and that the wonders of former ages may be revived in this“

—  George Washington

But alas! will you not remark that amidst all the wonders recorded in holy writ no instance can be produced where a young Woman from real inclination has prefered an old man — This is so much against me that I shall not be able I fear to contest the prize with you — yet, under the encouragement you have given me I shall enter the list for so inestimable a jewell.
Letter to the Marquis de Lafayette (30 September 1779)
1770s

„The Marquis de Lafayette is extremely solicitous of having a command equal to his rank.“

—  George Washington

Letter to the Continental Congress (1 November 1777), as quoted in Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States Vol. 23, Issue 2 (1835), p. 665 https://books.google.com/books?id=3_lEAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA665
1770s
Contexte: The Marquis de Lafayette is extremely solicitous of having a command equal to his rank. I do not know in what light Congress will view the matter, but it appears to me, from a consideration of his illustrious and important connexions, the attachment which he has manifested for our cause, and the consequences which his return in disgust might produce, that it will be advisable to gratify him in his wishes; and the more so, as several gentlemen from France, who came over under some assurances, have gone back disappointed in their expectations. His conduct with respect to them stands in a favorable point of view; having interested himself to remove their uneasiness, and urged the impropriety of their making any unfavorable representations upon their arrival at home; and in all his letters he has placed our affairs in the best situation he' could. Besides, he is sensible; discreet in his manners; has made great proficiency in our language; and, from the disposition he discovered at the battle of Brandywine, possesses a large share of bravery and military ardor.

„To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole is indispensable.“

—  George Washington

1790s, Farewell Address (1796)
Contexte: To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions, which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of Government better calculated than your former for an intimate Union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns.

„I die hard but am not afraid to go.“

—  George Washington

I believed from my first attack that I should not survive it — my breath cannot last long.
The first sentence here is sometimes presented as being his last statement before dying, but they are reported as part of the fuller statement, and as being said in the afternoon prior to his death in Life of Washington (1859) by Washington Irving, and his actual last words are stated to have been those reported by Tobias Lear below.
1790s

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