I hear often that George Washington said he did not want political parties after he left. I've had trouble finding a source for this. Also, since democracy was so young, wouldn't the idea of political parties still be a new concept?

  • Is there something wrong with the question to cause the down votes?
    – Goose
    Sep 12, 2016 at 4:06
  • 4
    The question itself is OK, but you should add a link to the claim. "I hear often" doesn't make it notable. Sep 12, 2016 at 8:21
  • 3
    Democracy young? Democracy is literally thousands of years old... 25 centuries ago the Greek had a more democratic democracy than the US until they gave voting rights to women.
    – Bakuriu
    Sep 14, 2016 at 15:21
  • @Bakuriu but was there political parties before George Washington's time? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy claims no.
    – Goose
    Sep 14, 2016 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


[I went to add some notable references to the question and was led straight to the answer.]

In Washington's Farewell Address, 1796, he warned of obstructions that:

put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.


Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This isn't just my quick interpretation. In an opinion piece, Robert Alexander wrote for CNN:

In his farewell address, George Washington warned of the "continual mischiefs of the spirit of party" making it the "interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it." In other words, he cautioned against the dangers of political parties.

Read the whole speech for more.

p.s. Democracy wasn't an American invention and it wasn't young in Washington's day. Even American democracy wasn't young by 1796.


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