Today I celebrated the birthday of George Washington by reading somewhat randomly selected excerpts from his writings. Here is a passage from a letter to the Secretary of State, on February 10, 1799, in the last year of Washington’s life.

I am not surprised that some Members of the Ho. of Representatives should dis-relish your Report. It contains remarks, and speaks truths which they are desirous should be unknown to the People. I wish the parts which were left out, had been retained. The crisis, in my opinion, calls loudly for plain dealing; that the Citizens at large may be well informed, and decide, with respect to public measures, upon a thorough knowledge of facts. Concealment is a species of mis-information; and misrepresentation and false alarms found the ground work of opposition. The plan of wch. is, to keep the People as much as possible in ignorance and terror; for it is believed by themselves, that a perfect understanding of our real situation, in regard to our foreign relations would be a death blow to their consequence and struggles; and for that reason, have always something on foot to disquiet the public mind.

The full letter is available online at http://etext.virginia.edu/washington/fitzpatrick/ by searching on the text.