Hitting the Books with Gary Thorne: “Washington’s Farewell”

We are back with the third season of Hitting the Books. I say “we” because without the help of Olivia Witherite producing and Pete Kerzel editing, Hitting the Books would not happen.

And none of our work would matter if you, the reader/viewers weren’t there. So thanks to all and I hope this year’s books spark an interest to read on.

The selections are mine, sometimes suggested by others, but I do the reading and writing.

Again this year we will have guests to discuss their favorite books. My thanks to all who have joined Hitting the Books in the past.

Washington Farewell Cover.JPGWe lead off with a book that stunned me in its timeliness, “Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations” by John Avlon. The content of Washington’s farewell speech is forever timely, but perhaps not so more than now.

The founding fathers’ amazing ability to understand what they had undertaken in creating a nation and what it would take to keep that nation alive has always fascinated me. Never has that amazement been more than in reading this book and Washington’s speech.

Walter Russell Mead, in a review of the book in Foreign Affairs, succinctly stated:

“Washington’s Farewell Address called for amity between native-born and immigrant citizens, counseled constant vigilance against the dangers of foreign meddling in the U.S. political process, and warned against the corrosive effects of habitual partisan rancor on the institutions that make democracy work.’‘

Washington said, “partisan impulses needed to be restrained by a wise and vigilant citizenry” or risk the opportunity for demagogues to invade.

Sound timely? That speech was written 222 years ago.

Washington saw a vigilant citizenry only if a liberal education was available to all. The education he never had was what he wished for future generations.

How the speech came to be, the assistance of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, and the use of the speech to bolster so many political positions over the years is all here between the covers.

So prescient were innumerable sections of the speech that I found myself returning to pages again and again, thinking to myself, “How could he have known?”

This book and this speech harken to all Americans who wish to understand how deeply the father of his country cared about the survival of the new nation and how the dangers he foresaw are always lurking.

“The heirs of Jefferson and Madison would be the Democratic-Republicans, the heirs of Hamilton and Adams would be the Federalists. But the heirs of Washington would be all Americans.” ― John P. Avlon

Gary Thorne is the play-by-play voice of the Orioles on MASN, and the 2018 season is his 12th with the club and 33nd covering Major League Baseball. His blog will appear regularly throughout the season. The Orioles and Sarasota County, for the seventh consecutive year, have partnered on the Big League Reader Program, which rewarded kids who read three books in February with tickets to a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium in March. An estimated 180 children participated last year.

* Hitting the Books with Gary Thorne. © Copyright 2018 Gary F. Thorne. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gary F. Thorne and MASNsports.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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