Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Leader Like No Other

He is called The Father of Our Country. Everybody knows the image of his face that was memorialized on the dollar bill, and everybody knows he was America’s first president. Most people know he was a general in the Revolutionary War and that he led colonial troops to victory over the British. But beyond that, few people know anything about George Washington, so with today being his 280th birthday, here are a few facts.

Though Washington was not born poor, he was also not born into the elite like most people assume. He was 11 years old when his father died, and in his young adulthood he worked as a land surveyor.

Some 20 years before the Revolutionary War, Washington fought heroically for the British in the French and Indian War.

Based on his role as a brigadier general in the Monongahela Expedition of 1758, he is considered a major player in the founding of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Throughout the Revolutionary War his troops were greatly outnumbered and underequipped, and experienced defeat more often than triumph. But his intelligence, especially as manifested in his knack for trickery and espionage, led the way to ultimate victory. His crossing of the Delaware River is a classic example of him outwitting the enemy in the face of imminent disaster.

Washington became the nation’s first president after a unanimous vote of the electoral college in 1789. He was so revered that many wanted him to be king, and he probably would have kept getting re-elected for as long as he sought re-election. However, after finishing his second term he chose not to run again, because he thought that one man holding executive power for a long time ran counter to America’s founding principles and was not in America’s best interests. This was an unprecedented abdication of power at the time, and its vivid example served to solidify the founding and put America’s limited-government experiment on the right course.

Modern day America-bashers like to denigrate Washington’s stature by pointing out that he owned slaves. However, of the Founding Fathers who owned slaves, Washington was the only one to free them. His will accomplished that (upon his wife’s death) and established means by which they were provided for and given educations so they could become self-sufficient.

In the interest of getting information “straight from the horse’s mouth,” here are some of the things he wrote and said during his time on earth:

The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army…We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, ’till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all…

There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation.

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.

True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation.

I am embarked on a wide ocean, boundless in its prospects, and in which, perhaps, no safe harbor is to be found.

Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.

I look forward, with a kind of political faith, to scenes of national happiness, which have not heretofore been offered for the fruition of the most favored nations. The natural, political, and moral circumstances of our nascent empire justify the anticipation.

I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event of one’s life, the foundation of happiness or misery.

’Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.

Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.

My manner of living is plain, a glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always ready, and such as will be content to partake of that are always welcome.

A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.

Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence.


Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi John, Washington would be so unhappy at what is happening to our country now. I get so discouraged... Don't know what to do!

Hope you and your family are all doing fine. We're leaving soon on a trip to Arkansas. Then we're going to West VA in March... Busy times for us!!!

Please consider dropping your Word Verification. It's unreadable and I don't have time to mess with it... Thanks so much.

Barb said...

Hi John, Now I'm sure you were a history major! Such an interesting post. This should hang in every politician's office as a reminder: "Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder."

The Elephant's Child said...

Hi, I followed you home. This is fascinating reading and much of it ia completely new to me. Thank you. I certainly don't agree with him on all counts, but it adds a little depth to my admittedly limited knowledge of your first President. Thank you.

jabblog said...

Very interesting! It's odd that those who denigrate Washington for owning slaves don't seem to criticise the black slave-owners.

I believe he was a man ahead of his time.