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  • Instruct students to read the text and identify areas where Washington is concerned about the future of the nation. What does Washington suggest the citizens of the nation do in order to maintain their new democratic nation? What four things does Washington say are “essential to the well being” of the nation?
  • Ask students to read lines 32-60, and write a summary of the passage in their own words. With eighteenth century glasses, ask students whether they agree or disagree with George Washington’s thoughts on how to move the nation forward? With modern lens, how accurate were Washington’s statements and/or assumptions about the first decades of the United States?
  • Throughout the document, Washington emphasizes how government can be improved along with society. How is this document reflective of the Enlightenment and its ideals? How could this document be compared with John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill” speech
  • Pair this primary source document with Washington’s Farewell Address from 1796. What are his main arguments in each of the documents? How does Washington’s perspective on the nation change from the period between these two documents?
  • What is Washington’s tone in this source? Is it hopeful? Worrisome? Ask students to support their answers with specific examples from the text.
  • After students have read the letter, ask them who the intended audience for the letter was. Although the letter was meant for all American citizens were women, African-Americans, and Native-Americans included? Would they be responsible for building the nation as well? If so, how?

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General George Washington penned this address, his longest public message during the war, to the Governors of the States but intended for all Americans. It was his first such address following the announcement of the preliminary peace treaty ending the American Revolution. In it, he promotes four pillars that he sees as essential to the well-being and success of the new nation. 

 

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