Commerce & Patriotism – words of wisdom from George Washington

We have just celebrated a Glorious Fourth, the anniversary of the founding of our country. We celebrated with hot dogs, S’mores, chips, lemonade and beer, maybe even a few veggies to assuage our guilt. We joined friends for games, good company, good food, and fabulous fireworks. It was a great party weekend, with firecrackers going off well into the night.

As an old-fashioned American patriot who finds it difficult to sing the Star Spangled Banner without choking up, I also celebrate by contemplating the founding of this country, the incredibly difficult and bloody struggle of our War for Independence, and the courage and wisdom of our founding fathers as they laid out a form of government.

Perhaps the greatest of the founding fathers was George Washington. So I took some time today to look up some of his words to share with my readers. First, on the subject of commerce, he had this to say, from a letter to Benjamin Harrison on October 10, 1784:

“A people… who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue their advantages may achieve almost anything.�?

To me, this speaks to the spirit of entrepreneurship. With energy and an environment that encourages commerce, a person can do great things. And in this country, we have!

On trade, he said this in his Farewell Address, September 19, 1796:

“Harmony, liberal intercourse with all Nations, are recommended by policy, humanity and interest. But even our Commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of Commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with Powers so disposed; in order to give trade a stable course.�?

Sound like a recommendation for a stable economy – regulation by “gentle meansâ€??, “forcing nothingâ€??. Words of wisdom for Washington D.C.? Especially now as the pendulum is swinging from too little regulation to way too much?

In a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, dated June 19, 1788, he said this:

“I hope, some day or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world.�?

We have. Let’s not lose it!

Let me close with a couple more quotes from our first, and one of our greatest Presidents, George Washington, a man I greatly admire.

From his Annual Message, December 1793:

“If we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.�?

One more from his Farewell Address, September 19, 1796, words about Patriotism:

“Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.�?

Amen. Happy Birthday, America!

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