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Lot 125

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An important and rare imprint, Washington's 1796 farewell at the close of his second term as President as it appeared on the front page the United States Chronicle for Thursday, Sept. 29, 1796 (Providence: B. Wheeler), 4pp. folio. A very early printing Washington's address, in which he declined to seek a third term as president, cautioned against foreign entanglements and warned of the dangers of party and sectionalism. "The Farewell Address is an affectionate and noble valedictory to the American people urging the necessity of keeping inviolate the union of the states, and warning against foreign intrigue and the fury of partisanship" (Grolier American Hundred, p. 60). The Dictionary of American History describes the address as "One of the world's remarkable documents." The Library of Congress, in a recent exhibit, called it: "One of the most important documents in American History" This is one of only two newspaper editions that feature the remarkable address on the front page. The text of the address was never delivered in public by Washington, but rather in the form of an open letter delivered to newspapers on Sept. 17, 1796. The first printed edition appeared in Philadelphia on September 19, in the American Daily Advertiser and was soon reprinted in papers throughout the United States. This particular edition is unusual as the front page, normally reserved for revenue-generating advertisements, is dedicated entirely to the address. A short preface introduces Washington's address apologetically, "the following highly interesting Communication was received on Thursday last after the Publication of our Paper -- we embrace the earliest Opportunity to present it to the Public." Titled here as "To the People of the United States.", Washington opens with his announcement not to seek a third term, establishing a precedent only broken by Franklin D. Roosevelt: "The period for a new election of a Citizen... to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant... it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made." Washington had intended to leave office after only one term and had had the text of his original farewell address composed by James Madison in 1792. However the split between Hamilton and Jefferson convinced Washington to remain in office. Four years later, Washington still feared the ramifications. Washington warned, in a text reworked by Alexander Hamilton before his own final revisions, a stirring rebuke of political parties: "All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; 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 of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests. However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, 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 themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion." Washington also cautioned the nation not to become entangled in alliances with the major European powers in light of the young country's military weakness at the time. The address extends through page two and into the third page and bears Washington's printed signature at the end. Why the printer chose to place the piece on the front page of the paper is unknown. It may have been partly due to the delay in publication noted in the paper's preface. As word spread of Washington's address as it appeared in other newspapers in New England, it's importance had become more apparent by the 29th of September hence meriting 'front page' coverage. This is an extremely rare example, ideal for display. Some light marginal wear and old folds, light foxing, else very good condition.

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March 30, 2011 11:00 AM EDT

Stamford, CT, US

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