In 1796, on this day George Washington's Farewell Address was published in David Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser. During the development of this valedictory statement he had taken out his frustrations with his political legacy by challenging the author Alexander Hamilton to run for office and serve as his successor as republican king.
Republican KingOnly ever intending to serve a single term of office he had charged James Madison with writing the original statement during the summer of 1792. After authoring a ringing declaration of republicanism, the Cabinet convinced Washington to stay on. But during his second term, Madison had gone the other way, emerging not only as a partisan figure but the de facto opposition leader to Washington's policies. Four years later, Washington was determined to go, now choosing Hamilton as the man to set out his valedictory statement, which he originally planned to deliver as a speech to the Congress.
Starting with Madison's four year old draft, Hamilton began to craft a fresh statement but two major issues immediately emerged, the perception that Washington was "standing down" due to the stinging criticism of Jay's Treaty and secondly, the larger issue of nation-building. To embue the infant republic with a fuller sense of national identity, Washington conceived two pet projects, a waterway system for the capital, and a National University. Even though he had developed an excellent understanding of the President, having served him for twenty years and acted as his Chief of Staff during the War of Independence, Hamilton could not truly grasp the grandure of the vision, nor share Washington's passion. Because even though their service in the Continental Army had demonstrably accelerated the sense of identity, Washingon perceived the important aspect of his legacy far more keenly than Hamilton.
By now Washington was seeking to establish national symbols because he could forsee the emergence of sectional and partisan divisions. Ultimately though, he was that symbol of unity, the rallying pojnt, and this frustrating exercise had unmistakeably revealed that he needed a like-minded succesor, a republican king, which of course just had to be Alexander Hamilton.