“Nor am I less pursuaded, that you will agree with me in opinion, that there is nothing, which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of Science and Literature. Knowledge is in every Country the surest basis of public happiness. In one, in which the measures of Government recieve their impression so immediately from the sense of the Community as in our’s, it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free Constitution it contributes in various ways: By convincing those, who are entrusted with the public administration, that every valuable end of Government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people: And by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of Society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness, cherishing the first, avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy, but temperate vigilence against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.”

In a time of increasing willful ignorance, flat-out denial of science, in the US and elsewhere, and a distinct misunderstanding of civics in the US, it seems to worthwhile, on the 228th anniversary of the first State of the Union address, to recall some of the words that George Washington delivered on that winter’s day day in New York in 1790.

Text of the address available at https://www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-sources/state-of-the-union-address

Presidential portrait of George Washington borrowed from https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/biography/

 

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