Washington was highly reluctant to entangle the United States in the affairs of other nations, even ignoring allies’ pleas for help securing liberty.

For example, when the French overthrew the chains of monarchy in their quest for democracy, Washington refused to help. And when Britain subsequently declared war on France, Washington again stayed away.

Washington’s decision was motivated by his unashamed desire to protect America’s self-interest—another war with Great Britain would be too costly and was unlikely to result in a clean American victory. Washington famously asked in his farewell address, “Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any [other nation], entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of … ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?”

When Washington did involve the United States in conflict, he made sure it was of direct benefit to the nation. When Haitian slaves revolted in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, Washington lent aid to the French.