Wednesday, January 28, 2009

His Excellency: George Washington

His Excellency: George Washington

Ellis, Joseph J.

Knitting Sticks: 4

George Washington is so much more that the white haired "Father of our Country". He was both self-controlled and hot tempered. He knew want and plenty. He spent too much and put himself on an austerity program. He was ambitious and humbly aware of his inadequacies. He was our first President and yet it was a job he neither wanted nor sought. In fact, just as an aside, in the times in which George Washington lived it was considered extremely bad manners and "form" to campaign for a publicly held job. Something to think about in this day and age.

I am sure that I had the same general view of George Washington that most people hold. He led the Continental Army during the War of Independence, he was our first President, he lived at Mt. Vernon, he was married to Martha (a paragon of virtue and patience). But if that is all that I ever knew about GW then I would be missing so much. He loved another woman but married Martha. He traveled extensively in the lands east of the Mississippi but he only traveled outside of the US once and that was on a trip to Barbados with his brother. He was the general who led the Continental army but his record of wins in battle was not as impressive as you would think. I am positive that most people in this country have no clue how close we came to never being this country, how desperate the situation was and how instrumental George Washington was in winning the war. He understood that if this new nation were to survive it needed to look westward to the vast uncharted lands that were now available not eastward to Europe. We had to be a new people not a model of the old. He was a slave owner who struggled with slavery. He realized that slavery must be eliminated in the US but did not free his own slaves until after his death. A man of contradictions who was loved when not in office and vilified by the press when serving. Does that sound like anyone else you know.

This bio is the first in my attempt to read through biographies of all the Presidents of the United States. It is in conjunction with the U.S.President's Reading Project which I found in my travels through the blogosphere.


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