No, George Washington Wasn’t a “Liberal”

One of the left’s favorite ways to discredit modern conservatism’s connection to America’s founding philosophy is finding inventive ways to claim historical figures were just as left-wing as they are — which is about as ineffective as it is absurdly inaccurate.

The meme to the left borrows a quote from America’s first president, the venerated George Washington.

“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government,” the quote reads. “I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.”

Taken out of context, it’s almost easy to see how the connection can be made. There’s only one problem: the word “liberal” as we think of it today had nearly the opposite meaning 200 years ago.

Classical liberalism, that is, the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, Adam Smith, and virtually all the 18th century philosophers that shaped America’s founding promoted everything the modern left is against — free markets and small government among them.

If anything, classical liberalism was succeeded by modern day libertarianism. Even in contemporary political science study, the word liberalism is used almost interchangeably with libertarianism, capitalism, and similar liberty-minded schools of thought.

~ Facts Not Memes

Most Popular

These content links are provided by Both and the web site upon which the links are displayed may receive compensation when readers click on these links. Some of the content you are redirected to may be sponsored content. View our privacy policy here.

To learn how you can use to drive visitors to your content or add this service to your site, please contact us at [email protected].

Family-Friendly Content

Website owners select the type of content that appears in our units. However, if you would like to ensure that always displays family-friendly content on this device, regardless of what site you are on, check the option below. Learn More