Sept. 19, 1796: President Washington announced he would not seek a third term and would retire instead. In his farewell address — one of the most important declarations in American history — Washington urged Americans to avoid permanent alliances with other nations, and to remain unified despite their sharp differences on the issues.
Washington actually never delivered his farewell address before any audience; it was sent to newspapers around the country.
Washington's decision was extraordinary: In the history of western civilization there were few, if any instances of a leader voluntarily stepping down. Washington's farewell address was never actually spoken — but given to newspapers.
Sept. 19, 1881: Ten weeks after being shot, James Garfield died. He was the 20th president, and served just six months in office. Vice President Chester Arthur was sworn in the next day. Garfield was the second of four presidents who were assassinated in office. Lincoln (1865), McKinley (1901), and Kennedy (1963) were the others.
Quote of the Day
"Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty." — George Washington
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The latent sexism of the male marriage proposal
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Bush vs. Clinton in 2016 is the perfect way to make millennials hate politics even more
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- This judge is the reason we're still fighting over net neutrality
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The lessons of Japan's latest recession
Subscribe to the Week