Happy 277th Birthday Mr Washington

George Washington was and is, many things to many people.We all know or should know a lot of facts about him and along with Lincoln,we all should at least one book about him. So, what can one say that has not been said before and with doubtless, greater clarity and literary skill. Answer, probably nothing at all. I Think it wise to look back periodically at people such as George Washington, to revisit their era and refresh our minds  about what we really know about the first president.

As we know, he was a military leader, a planter, a surveyor as well as president. The first thing I take note of is that he was not, however, a politician. He would warn future generations about political parties among other things in his farewell address(more on that later).He married a wealthy widow, Martha Dandridge Custis, after a whirlwind courtship of less than on e month. Their marriage,which lasted 40 years, occurred at her home, known as The White House.

It is fashionable today to note that he was not a great military leader during the Revolution War( was almost captured once) but rather more of a lucky one. Probably, so it is said, without French assistance, he wold have lost. There is doubtless some truth there.I prefer to think of him as one who lead, one who inspired  and one who persevered against overwhelming odds.

He was a reluctant President, particularly so in the acceptance of a second term when he could have been king or emperor or whatever he chose. We owe him, among much else, for the term,”Mr President” when it could have easily have tilted towards a monarchical form of address.

He forcefully refused a third term and issued his famous farewell address, which actually was published as an open letter in the newspaper on September 19,1796( my birthday). What is even m,ore noteworthy is that it draws on a letter written but not published in 1792, when he almost retired.

Three main elements make up the address, one being the warning about political parties. He well foresaw the part factionalism would play in the future.He warned against entangling foreign alliances, a problem already developing in his day. Thirdly was a section on morality and  religion; from this I  will quote:

Whatever may be conceded to the influence of education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Truly, as Henry Lee said at his  funeral, that of all Americans, “he was first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

George Washington:1732-1799

George Washington:1732-1799


February 22, 2009 - Posted by | History | , , , , , ,


  1. Here, here! I’ve read close to a dozen books about him and get as giddy as a kid in a candy store every time I happen across a new one 🙂

    Comment by mikegothard | February 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. George is definitely The Man!

    Comment by tarheeltalker | February 23, 2009 | Reply

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