George Washington, Farewell Address, 19 September 1796
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Avoid Foreign Intrigue
A passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils . . . infusing into one the enmities of the other. . . . It gives to ambitious, corrupted or deluded citizens . . . facility to 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.
As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public Councils! . . .
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence . . . the jealously of a free people to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. Real Patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests . . .
Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectably defensive posture. . . . ’Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another . . . it must pay with a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept . . .
In offering to you, my Countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression, I could wish . . . to warn against the mischiefs of foreign Intrigue.