Tuesday, March 11, 2014

George Washington: A True Gentleman

From Under the Gables:
George Washington with the Marquis de Lafayette (center) and Lt. Col. Tench Tilghman, Washington's aide-de-camp, at Yorktown, by Charles Willson Peale, 1784. Washington looked upon Lafayette as a son, and the French republican was instrumental in convincing Washington that slavery was an injustice that was inimical to the principles of the new American republic.  

For about four months in 2013, I read books about George Washington and also biographies of Martha Washington. Most notable was Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. Based on the release of thousands of papers of Washington's, Chernow's book is a realistic and detailed portrait of the Commander of the Continental Army that led a rag-tag army to victory in the War of Independence and became our first President.

In his 2006 book Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, historian Gordon S. Wood devotes an early chapter to Washington, titled "The Greatness of George Washington." Wood's assessment  is grounded on Washington's decision to resign from his army command at the end of the war--an action whose humility shocked the world. He also cites how Washington became increasingly repulsed by slavery and freed those slaves he owned upon his death, and praises Washington's ability to act as the first President with a vision of what he must bequeath to a future America, beyond the political demands of the moment.

Underlying the actions and vision, however, is a monumental strength of character that explains how he became the natural choice of his contemporaries to lead the Continental Army and to become the new republic's first President. (Read more.)
Another point of view, HERE. Share

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