One historian has recently suggested that the strain of isolationist thought in Bolingbroke’s writings was an important European source for Washington’s Farewell Address and its warning against foreign entanglements.  Particularly meaningful to Washington was the statement of English aloofness contained in the Patriot King.

Other Nations must watch over every motion of their neighbors; penetrate, if they can, every design; foresee every minute event; and take part by some engagement or other in almost every conjecture that arises.  But as we cannot be easily, nor suddenly attacked, and we ought not to aim at any acquisition of territory on the continent, it may be our interest to watch the secret workings of the several councils abroad; to advise and warn; to abet and oppose, but it never can be our true interest easily and officiously to enter into action, much less into engagements that imply action and expense.


Bolingbroke may have been a nationalist preoccupied with patriotic service, but his nation was not expansionist or interventionist.  His Tory realism might encourage wars at sea to protect England’s interests, but it did not seek to spread any moral attitude or political ideology, as seventeenth-century Commonwealthmen had sought to do; it did not seek to intervene on the continent in the name of liberalism and freedom as nineteenth-century liberals sought to do. ~Isaac Kramnick, Bolingbroke & His Circle

Come home, America–and come back to Bolingbroke.