The Death of George Washington & the Warning He Left that Echoed Through the Centuries

American Minute with Bill Federer

In 1798, during a threatened “quasi-war” with France, President John Adams asked George Washington, who was retired at Mount Vernon, to serve once again.

Washington agreed, writing July 13, 1798:
“Satisfied … that you have … exhausted, to the last drop, the cup of reconciliation, we can, with pure hearts, appeal to Heaven for the justice of our cause;
and may confidently trust the final result to that kind Providence who has, heretofore … signally favored the people of these United States …
Feeling how incumbent it is upon every person … to contribute at all times to his country’s welfare, and especially in a moment like the present, when everything we hold dear and sacred is so seriously threatened, I have finally determined to accept the commission of Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States.”
Washington’s willingness to defend America played a part in preventing open war with France.
The next year, at the age of 67, Washington was riding horseback through his Mount Vernon farm in the cold snow for several hours.
The next morning it developed into “acute laryngitis” and the doctors were called in.
“Following the science” of the day, the doctors responed by bleeding him heavily four times, a process of cutting one’s arm to let the “bad blood” out.
They also had him gargle with a mixture of molasses, vinegar and butter.
Washington said:
“Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go,”
and
“I should have been glad, had it pleased God, to die a little easier, but I doubt not it is for my good.”
Washington, at about eleven o’clock in the evening, uttered his last words:
“Father of mercies, take me unto thyself,” and “tis well.”
Despite the doctors’ best efforts, former President George Washington died December 14, 1799.
On Washington’s tomb at Mount Vernon is engraved:
“I am the Resurrection and the Life; sayeth the Lord. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”
The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., which is 555 feet tall, has engraved on its metal cap the Latin phrase “Laus Deo,” which means “Praise be to God.”
President Washington wrote to Bishop John Carroll, March 15, 1790:
“May the members of your society in America, animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity, and still conducting themselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity.”
French officer Marquis de Lafayette, who had fought in the Revolution, was considered almost as an adopted son of General George Washington.
After the war, he returned to France and helped found in 1788 the French abolitionist “Society of the Friends of the Blacks.” (Société des amis des Noirs or Amis des noirs)
When some tried to discourage Lafayette, he replied:
“If it be a wild scheme, I had rather be mad in this way, than to be thought wise in the other task.”
Washington encouraged Lafayette, April 5, 1783:
“The scheme … which you propose as a precedent, to encourage the emancipation of the black people of this Country from that state of Bondage in which. they are held, is a striking evidence of the benevolence of your Heart. I shall be happy to join you in so laudable a work.”
Washington sought to follow Lafayette’s example, which aligned with the growing anti-slavery influence of Baptists, Methodists and Quakers.
In the last six years of his life, Washington attempted to take four of the farms on his plantation and make them into rental properties, thus transitioning away from slavery.
On May 10, 1786, George Washington wrote from Mount Vernon to Marquis de Lafayette:
“Your late purchase of an estate in the colony of Cayenne, with a view of emancipating the slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity.
Would to God a like spirit would diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country.”
Though most founding fathers did not own slaves, of those that did, George Washington set a bold example in his Will by freeing his mulatto man William:
“And to my Mulatto man William (calling himself William Lee) I give immediate freedom …
I allow him an annuity of thirty dollars during his natural life … & this I give him as a testimony of my sense of his attachment to me, and for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War.”
Washington’s Will also made provision that elderly and sick slaves be supported by his estate in perpetuity.
His Will also granted freedom to the rest of his slaves upon the death of his wife, Martha, but she freed them early the year after Washington died.
Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, received contributions from George Washington, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and other founding fathers.
Allen delivered a eulogy of Washington in Philadelphia, December 29, 1799:
“Our father and friend is taken from us–he whom the nations honored is ‘seen of men no more.’ We, my friends, have particular cause to bemoan our loss. To us he has been the sympathizing friend and tender father.
He has watched over us, and viewed our degraded and afflicted state with compassion and pity– his heart was not insensible to our sufferings. He whose wisdom the nations revered thought we had a right to liberty.
Unbiased by the popular opinion of the state in which is the memorable Mount Vernon — he dared to do his duty, and wipe off the only stain with which man could ever reproach him …
… He who ventured his life in battles … whose shield the ‘Lord of hosts’ was, did not fight for that liberty which he desired to withhold from others — the bread of oppression was not sweet to his taste, and he ‘let the oppressed go free’ — he ‘undid every burden’ — he provided lands and comfortable accommodations for them when he kept this ‘acceptable fast to the Lord’ — that those who had been slaves might rejoice in the day of their deliverance.
… If he who broke the yoke of British burdens ‘from off the neck of the people’ of this land, and was hailed his country’s deliverer, by what name shall we call him who secretly and almost unknown emancipated his ‘bondmen and bondwomen’ — became to them a father, and gave them an inheritance!
Deeds like these are not common. He did not let ‘his right hand know what his left hand did’ — but he who ‘sees in secret will openly reward’ such acts of beneficence.
… The name of Washington will live when the sculptured marble and statue of bronze shall be crumbled into dust–for it is the decree of the eternal God that ‘the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance’ …
And here let me entreat you always to bear in mind the affectionate farewell advice of the great Washington — ‘to love your country — to obey its laws — to seek its peace — and to keep yourselves from attachment to any foreign nation’ …
May a double portion of his spirit rest on all the officers of the government in the United States, and all that say my Father, my Father — the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof, which is the whole of the American people.”
George Washington had led the Continental Army to victory, giving the United States independence from the empire of the most powerful globalist leader in the world — the King of Great Britain.
Benjamin Franklin served as an ambassador of the new United States.
While attending a dinner of foreign dignitaries at Versailles, France, the minister of Great Britain proposed a toast to King George III, likening him to the sun.
The French minister, in like kind, proposed a toast to King Louis XVI, comparing him with the moon.
Franklin stood up and toasted:
“George Washington, Commander of the American armies, who, like Joshua of old, commanded the sun and the moon to stand still, and they obeyed him.”
Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention, where a republican government was created, making the people the king.
Washington chose to only serve two terms as President, setting an example for subsequent Presidents.
Poet Robert Frost wrote:
“I often say of George Washington that he was one of the few men in the whole history of the world who was not carried away by power.”
Major General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, who served with Washington in the Revolution, was asked by Congress to write a eulogy for his former brother-in-arms.
Lee described Washington as:
“First in war — first in peace — and first in the hearts of his countrymen …
He was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life; pious, just, humane, temperate and sincere;
uniform, dignified and commanding, his example was as edifying to all around him, as were the effects of that example lasting.”
Three years before his death, Washington delivered his Farewell Address, September 19, 1796, in which he warned of the dangers of the emerging deep-state politics:
“In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as
matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for
characterizing Parties …
One of the expedients of Party to acquire influence … is to misrepresent the opinions … You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations …
… And of fatal tendency … to put, in the place of the delegated will of the Nation, the will of a party; — often a small but artful and enterprising minority …
They are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the Power of the People and to usurp for the themselves the reins of Government;
destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion …
… One method of assault may be to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown … where the Government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction … the danger of Parties.”
Washington added that Party rivalry will bring division which will be followed by despotism:
“Let me now … warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of Party … having its roots in the strongest passions of the human mind …
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to Party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism …
… But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.
The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual … [who] turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty …”
Washington added that “Party passions” will result in politicians accepting bribes from foreign countries to betray America’s interests:
“Ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.–It opens the
doors to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the Government itself through the channels of party passions.
Thus the policy and the will of one country, are subjected to the policy and will of another …
… Thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective Constitutional spheres; avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another.
The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.”
Washington continued his prediction that ambitious politicians would concentrate power as a transient “instrument of good” which would result in the “permanent evil” of destroying free government:
“Love of power, and proneness to abuse it … predominates the human heart …
But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.
The precedent (of usurpation) must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield …
… Ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens … betray, or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity: gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption or infatuation …
tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion …
Real Patriots, who may resist the intrigues … are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.”
Less than 40 years after Washington’s death, President Andrew Jackson remarked in his Farewell Address, 1837:
“Washington … seemed to be … the voice of prophecy, foretelling events and warning us of the evil to come …
There have always been those amongst us who wish to enlarge the powers of the General Government … to overstep the boundaries marked out for it by the Constitution …
Government … passed from the hands of the many to the hands of the few, and this organized money power from its secret conclave would have dictated the choice of your highest officers and compelled you to make peace or war, as best suited their own wishes …”
Jackson ended:
“You have no longer any cause to fear danger from abroad …
It is from within, among yourselves — from cupidity (excessive desire), from corruption, from disappointed ambition and inordinate thirst for power — that factions will be formed and liberty endangered.”
Lincoln warned, January 27, 1838:
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad.
If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
McGuffey’s Eclectic Sixth Reader, 1907, included a quote from Lyman Beecher, whose daughter, Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin:
“While most nations trace their origin to barbarians, the foundations of our nation were laid by civilized men, by Christians …
Imperfect as they were, the world before had not seen their like, nor will it soon, we fear, behold their like again … To ridicule them is national suicide.”
Ayn Rand wrote in “Foreign Policy Drains U.S. of Main Weapon” (The Los Angeles Times, September 9, 1962):
“There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism — by vote.
It is merely the difference between murder and suicide.”
Arnold Toynbee wrote a 12-volume Study Of History (1934-1961) examining the rise, flowering, and decline of 26 civilizations.
In Change and Habit: The Challenge Of Our Time (1966), he predicted if the United States and the Soviet Union could not maintain world order China would become the major global power.
Toynbee wrote:
“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.”
Pulitzer Prize winning historians Will and Ariel Durant wrote:
“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt stated October 28, 1940:
“We guard against the forces of anti-Christian aggression, which may attack us from without, and the forces of ignorance and fear which may corrupt us from within.”
General Douglas MacArthur stated July 25, 1951:
“It is not of any external threat that I concern myself but rather of insidious forces working from within which have already so drastically altered the character of our free institutions …
We must unite in … the moral courage and spiritual leadership to preserve inviolate that mighty bulwark of all freedom, our Christian faith.”
J. Edgar Hoover stated:
“The communist threat from without must not blind us to the communist threat from within.
The latter is reaching into the very heart of America through its espionage agents and a cunning, defiant, and lawless communist party, which is fanatically dedicated to the Marxist cause of world enslavement and destruction of the foundations of our republic.”
David Horowitz, an author who had previously been a 1960s radical Marxist, wrote in the Jewish World Review, September 6, 2001:
“‘Social justice’ … protesters are the Fifth Column vanguards envisaged by Weatherman, declaring war on the Empire and plotting to tear down its walls from within.”
Daniel Webster stated:
“Hold on … to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands … for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”
Webster ended his 1802 speech in Massachusetts:
“We live under the only government that ever existed which was framed by the unrestrained and deliberate consultations of the people …
Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years, cannot be expected to happen often …
Such a government, once gone, might leave a void, to be filled, for ages, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism.”

Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.