George Washington was a man of great personal honesty. The famous story about Washington chopping down the cherry tree, and admitting it to his father with the words, "I cannot tell a lie," perfectly illustrates the character of the Father of Our Country. In his Farewell Address, Washington, having served our country in war and peace, gave his advice that we as a nation should be bound by the same rules of honor and honesty that should bind individuals. He said: "I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs that honesty is always the best policy."
As part of his belief that our nation should practice honesty, Washington urged that our Government always be honorable in money matters. He urged our country to borrow as little money as necessary and to avoid piling up a big debt. He realized that emergencies, such as unavoidable wars, would require us to borrow from time to time; but he urged that these debts be paid off as rapidly as possible. Washington said that failure to do this means we will be making our children pay the debts we ourselves should pay. Here are his words from his Farewell Address:
"Avoid likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear."