In a recent article titled “George Washington’s Constitutional Morality,” Samuel Gregg explores the views of the first President on the founding principles and guiding influences of the United States. Gregg identifies three key elements of Washington’s political wishes for the new nation:
Washington identified a distinct set of ideas that he thought should shape what he and others called an “Empire of Liberty”—classical republicanism, eighteenth-century English and Scottish Enlightenment thought, and “above all” Revelation.
Washington, like many of the Founders, had a great deal of admiration for Greek and Roman philosophers and statesmen. In drawing from “Greco-Roman concepts of morality,” he emphasized the importance of good citizenship and virtue in public service. Comments Gregg:
The prevalence of civic virtue among politicians and citizens doesn’t of course guarantee society’s liberty. Nonetheless, Washington clearly doubted whether a republic awash in vice could endure.