This dissertation argues that George Washington's Farewell Address established the foundational principles of U.S. foreign policy and was the central text through which citizens of the Early Republic came to understand the connections between the nation's domestic and foreign ambitions. In the eyes of most Americans, the Declaration of Independence affirmed their ideals and the Constitution established their government, but it was Washington's principles that would ensure the nation's maturation into a world power. The Address became deeply embedded in the popular consciousness through annual readings on Washington's birthday, frequent discussion of its principles in the press, and as an integral component of the civic education of the nation's youth. Ordinary Americans far removed from the nation's capital and from complicated debates over particular foreign policies and their implications could still express an informed opinion on the wisdom of those policies based on their understanding of the Farewell. "Addressing America" goes beyond this popular story to illuminate how the Farewell shaped the fundamental disagreement over the conduct of U.S. foreign policy from 1796 to 1852. When Washington issued his valedictory he intended it as a flexible and pragmatic statement of the general principles that should guide the construction of foreign policies aimed at protecting American interests. An essential part of Washington's wisdom was the recognition that the nation's interests would change over time, and thus so too would its foreign policies. Five years later, incoming President Thomas Jefferson summarized his approach to foreign policy in his inaugural address of 1801 by promising "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." This phrase was universally seen as an allusion to the Farewell Address and it immediately entered the popular lexicon as a way of pithily describing the nation's core foreign policy principles. Over time "entangling alliances with none" became associated directly with Washington. More than just a case of misattribution, the linking of this phrase to the Farewell permanently altered the meaning of the Address for most Americans; instead of a flexible statement of general principles, it became a rigid prescription for a permanent foreign policy of virtual isolation from the rest of the world. In the fifty years after Jefferson's inaugural, the overarching narrative of American foreign policy is the conflict between these competing interpretations of the Farewell Address and how these differences in principle produced a varied understanding of both U.S. foreign policy and America's place in the world. This dissertation is the first work of historical scholarship to conduct a sustained examination of the ways that Washington's Farewell Address was understood over time by early Americans and how it fundamentally shaped their view of the United States and its place in the world.