PSAT Reading Practice Test 36: Historical Document
Questions 1-9 refer to the following information.
Excerpt from George Washington's "Farewell Address to the United States of America," 1796.
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens)
the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience
prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.
But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very
05influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign
nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only
on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots
who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious,
while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial
relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already
formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe
has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she
15must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our
concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in
the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her
friendships or enmities.
Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course.
20If we remain one people under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we
may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as
will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when
belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly
hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided
25by justice, shall counsel.
Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign
ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our
peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?
It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign
30world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable
of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public
than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those
engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and
would be unwise to extend them.
35Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive
posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.