Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

George Washington's Farewell Address: Did the U.S. Take His Advice?
Jon Bauer
American History
Time Frame:
2-3 days
Monroe Doctrine
Marshall Plan
Cold War

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

This activity incorporates the study of primary sources and cooperative learning.

  • The primary goal of this lesson is to teach 8th grade students the ideas Washington presented in his Farewell Address and the Monroe Doctrine.  This is material from the 8th grade curriculum. 
  • A secondary goal is to expose students to the Roosevelt Corollary, the Truman Doctrine, the Eisenhower Doctrine, and the Bush Doctrine, which is material that is not a part of the 8th grade curriculum. 
  • In relation to skills, this activity exposes students to the process of analyzing primary source documents, teaches them to see the context in which those documents were written and the subtext of the person writing the document, and encourages them to use specific information from the primary sources to back up their opinion regarding the central question.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

  • Kansas State Standard #4 – Societies experience continuity and change over time.
  • 4.1 – The student will recognize and evaluate continuity and change over time and its impact on individuals, institutions, communities, states and nations.
  • 4.2 – The student will analyze the context of continuity and change and the vehicles of reform drawing conclusions about past change and potential future change.
  • 4.3 – The student will investigate an example of continuity and/or change and connect that continuity and/or change to a contemporary issue


US History
3aW:  Describe and evaluate the evolution of United States domestic and foreign policies including the Cold War.
3aY:  Describe the changing character of American society and culture.
6N:  Predict the consequences that can occur when institutions fail to meet the needs of individuals and groups.
7A:  Distinguish between and analyze primary and secondary sources.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Video Clip explaining the “Bush Doctrine” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ed6ORug6rxI

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Excerpts from Washington’s Farewell Address, the Monroe Doctrine, the Roosevelt Corollary, the Truman Doctrine and the Eisenhower Doctrine (provided)
  • Primary sources adapted from www.milestonedocuments.com.

Full description of activity or assignment.

1)    Show students a picture of George Washington and ask the following question:  Do you think of Washington as a general, or as a President? 


  • Military – French and Indian War, crossed the Delaware and attacked at Trenton, Valley Forge, Battle of Yorktown
  • President – Established the National Bank, dealt with the Whisky Rebellion, willingly stepped down from power


2)    Hand out copies of Washington’s Farewell Address to the class.  Before reading the excerpt out loud, tell students to underline the advice that Washington is giving his country in this speech, and be prepared to pick out what you believe is his “best advice.”  Have students share their ideas.  Create a list that students can refer back to as the activity progresses.  Possible ideas to discuss are: 


  • Treat all countries with respect
  • Attempt to get along with all countries
  • Avoid buddying up to countries
  • Avoid constant conflict with countries
  • Concentrate on trading with countries
  • Stay out of Europe’s business
  • Use our isolation to our advantage
  • Avoid permanent alliances


Discuss the concepts of “context” and “subtext.”  What was the country like when Washington gave this speech?  What was the world like?  Is there something about Washington’s background that would lead him to giving this advice?


3)    Jigsaw


  • Introduce the central question:  Did the United States follow George Washington’s advice?
  • Create four groups and give each group one of the following primary sources:  Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt Corollary, Truman Doctrine, Eisenhower Doctrine
  • Have each group answer the central question from the perspective of their primary source document.  Encourage each group to answer the question by pulling specific material from the primary source that they are looking at.  You may want to have each group give a number from 1-10 as a way to quantify their answers (1 meaning they did not follow Washington’s advice at all, 10 meaning they followed Washington’s advice completely.)
  • As a class, refer to a timeline from 1796-1957.  Label 1823, 1904, 1947 and 1957 – the years of each of the four documents.  When groups are done, ask the following question:  What are some events we could fill in this timeline around 1823, 1904, 1947, and 1957?  (Civil War, WW I, WW II, etc.) 
  • Have each group share their answer to the central question.  Refer back to your list of ideas from Washington’s Farewell Address and the timeline, as needed.  You should address the context and subtext of each document.  You may have to provide this, since this is material that is typically not a part of 8th grade curriculum.
  • Finish with the following series of questions:  How long did the United States follow Washington’s advice?  Why do you think the U.S. stopped following his advice?  Was this a mistake?  Was this inevitable?


4)    Ask students the following question:  Are we following Washington’s advice today?  After discussing this question, watch the YouTube video and discuss the “Bush Doctrine.”  Was the “Bush Doctrine” inevitable?


5)    Assignment:  On butcher paper, have students complete a timeline from 1796-Present Day.  In groups of three, the three jobs could be 1) artist 2) writer 3) presenter.  Artists draw the pictures on the timeline, writers write the text on the timeline, and presenters are in charge of presenting material to the class.  Students must include the following two elements on their timeline: 


  • Students must draw a picture for each of the six ideas in the activity (Washington’s Farewell Address, the Monroe Doctrine, the Roosevelt Corollary, the Truman Doctrine, the Eisenhower Doctrine, and the Bush Doctrine.)
  • Students must use text to describe how the country’s views regarding Washington’s advice changed during this time.


Have groups present their timelines upon completion.


George Washington – Farewell Address (1796)



“Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all….It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the…example of a people always guided by an exalted justice….


In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent and inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated.  The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.  It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection….


The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible….Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation.  Hence, she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns….


Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course….


Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation?  Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?  Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?


It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world….”



Cultivate – build


Enlightened – educated


Exalted – distinguished


Inveterate – deep-rooted


Antipathies – dislike


Amicable – friendly


Indulges – caters


Habitual – constant


Animosity – dislike


James Monroe – Seventh Annual Message to Congress - Monroe Doctrine (1823)


“…the occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers…


In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to do so.  It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we…make preparation for our defense….We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.  With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere.  But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.


Our policy in regard to Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers…


…It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties to themselves, in hope that other powers will pursue the same course.”



Henceforth – hereafter


Comport – agree


Menaced – bothered


Candor – honesty


Amicable – friendly


Interposition – intrusion


Manifestation – demonstration


Disposition – attitude


Agitated – bothered


Theodore Roosevelt – Annual Message to Congress – Roosevelt Corollary (1904)



“It is not true that the United States feels any land hunger or entertains any projects as regards the other nations of the Western Hemisphere save such as are for their welfare.  All that this country desires is to see the neighboring countries stable, orderly, and prosperous.  Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship….Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power….Our interests and those of our southern neighbors are in reality identical….While they thus obey the primary laws of civilized society they may rest assured that they will be treated by us in a spirit of cordial and helpful sympathy.


In asserting the Monroe Doctrine, in taking such steps as we have taken in regard to Cuba, Venezuela, and Panama, and in endeavoring to circumscribe the theater of war in the Far East, and to secure the open door in China, we have acted in our own interest as well as in the interest of humanity at large….What form the action shall take must depend upon the circumstances of the case; that is, upon the degree of the atrocity and upon our power to remedy it….”



Impotence – incompetence


Adherence – following

Harry S. Truman – Speech Before a Joint Session of Congress – Truman Doctrine (1947)



“…At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life.  The choice is too often not a free one.


One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.


The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority.  It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.


I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.


I believe that we must assist free people to work out their own destinies in their own way.


I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes….


I therefore ask the Congress to provide authority for assistance to Greece and Turkey in the amount of $400,000,000 for the period ending June 30, 1948….


I would not recommend it except that the alternative is much more serious.  The United States contributed $341,000,000,000 toward winning World War II.  This is an investment in world freedom and world peace.


The assistance I am recommending for Greece and Turkey amount to little more than 1 tenth of 1 percent of this investment.  It is only common sense that we should safeguard this investment and make sure that it was not in vain.”




Oppression – harassment


Suppression – control


Subjugation – enslavement

Dwight D. Eisenhower – Speech to Congress – Eisenhower Doctrine (1957)



“It is nothing new for the President and the Congress to join to recognize that the national integrity of other free nations is directly related to our own security.


We have joined to create and support the security system of the United Nations.  We have reinforced the collective security system of the United Nations by a series of collective defense arrangements.  Today we have security treaties with 42 other nations which recognize that our peace and security are intertwined…


The action which I propose would have the following features.


It would, first of all, authorize the United States to cooperate with and assist any nation or group of nations in the general area of the Middle East in the development of economic strength dedicated to the maintenance of national independence.


It would, in the second place, authorize the Executive to undertake in the same region programs of military assistance and cooperation with any nation or group of nations with desires such aid.


It would, in the third place, authorize such assistance and cooperation to include the employment of the armed forces of the United States to secure and protect the territorial integrity and political independence of such nations, requesting such aid, against overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by International Communism….


In the situation now existing, the greatest risk, as is often the case, is that ambitious despots may miscalculate.  If power hungry Communists should either falsely or correctly estimate that the Middle East is inadequately defended, they might be tempted to use open measures of armed attack.  If so, that would start a chain of circumstances which would almost surely involve the United States in military action.  In am convinced that the best insurance against this dangerous contingency is to make clear now our readiness to cooperate fully and freely with our friends of the Middle East…”




Integrity – stability


Overt - obvious


Despots – tyrants


Contingency - possibility

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

The following rubric will be used to assess the timelines:









Pictures clearly convey the meaning for all six events

Pictures clearly convey the meaning of at least four events

Pictures clearly convey the meaning of at least two events

Pictures do not clearly convey the meanings of the events


Text clearly and creatively describes the change that took place between each of the events

Text clearly describes the change that took place between most events

Text begins to describe the change that took place between the events

Text does not describe the change that took place between the events


The timeline is easy to understand and obvious care was taken on every detail

The timeline is understandable

The timeline is difficult to understand

The information on the timeline does not match up with the information presented in class