Senate Democrats

Washington’s Farewell Address

One of the Senate’s prevailing traditions is the annual reading of President George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address by a current member of the U.S. Senate. Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey once wrote that every American should study this memorable message. “It gives one a renewed sense of pride in our republic,” said Humphrey. “It arouses the wholesome and creative emotions of patriotism and love of country.”

In recognition of Washington’s birthday, the Senate selects a member, alternating parties, to read the 7,641-word statement on the floor. According to the Senate Historical Office:

“This tradition began in 1862, but did not become an annual event until 1893. Since 1900, the reading of the address has been followed by the Senator inscribing his or her name along with brief remarks in a leather-bound book maintained by the Secretary of the Senate. Early entries in the notebook were typically brief explanations of the practice, accompanied by signature and date. Often, several entries appeared on a single page. In more recent years, entries have grown more elaborate and have included personal stories or comments on contemporary politics and policy.”

This year Democratic Senator Roland Burris will deliver the memorable speech at 2pm ET.