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" If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. 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. "

Farewell Address to the People of the United States |

Editorial Notes

After two terms as President, on September 19, 1796 George Washington wrote an open letter to his “FRIENDS and FELLOW-CITIZENS” informing them that he would not seek a third term.   The letter was first printed in David C. Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser and was quickly reprinted nation-wide.  The address touched on many issues, including Washington’s perspectives on the Constitution and the successful continuation of a democratic nation. 

Farewell Address, 19 September 1796