Pretty much everyone who lives in American knows who George Washington is. George Washington bravely led our nation in war against Great Britain. He chaired the Constitutional Convention. He was the first president of the United States. After his death, his family gave all his journals and letters to Chief Justice John Marshall. Marshall used these documents to write the official biography of George Washington. It is an impressive five-volume set.
Not everyone had time to read a five-volume biography of George Washington. Aaron Bancroft took the five volume set and wrote his single volume biography of George Washington. This smaller edition was designed to enable the citizens of this country “to leave to their posterity a memorial of the man who was pre-eminently distinguished as a Soldier and Statesman.”
Typically after I read a biography, I write a short history of the individual who I just read about. The problem with writing a short history about George Washington is that so much is already known about the Father of our Country. Instead of writing a short biography, I thought I would write about an observation of the character of George Washington and then finish it off with a couple of quotes.
Life of George Washington – Observation:
As most people know, after the Revolutionary War, George Washington voluntarily relinquished his sword. Washington had just won a huge victory against the most powerful military in the world. George Washington could have easily maintained his position and became king of America. This is how things worked around the world. The military leader would become the next political leader. However, Washington was not interested in power, the most important thing to him was to get back to Mount Vernon.
When the nation was in a crisis, it was determined that there would be a convention in Philadelphia. The people in Virginia quickly nominated Washington to lead their state at this important meeting. Washington was not quick to accept. He did not think he was the most knowledgeable about the issues. However, Washington was convinced to attend and his presence gave the Constitutional Convention credence.
As Washington was reaching the end of his second term as President of the United States, there were many who were trying to persuade him to run for a third term. Washington put his foot down. He wanted to return to Mount Vernon.
Throughout his life, Washington did not seek power and fame. Instead, when he was called to serve, he simply did the best that he could do. People saw the humble attitude in Washington. This gave them the trust that they needed to raise Washington to positions of even greater authority. Washington could have very easily allowed power go to his head. However, had he done so, he probably would not have been so well respected as he is today.
Washington Speech after the Declaration of Independence was read to the Army:
In this book, you will see many speeches of George Washington. One of my favorite speeches comes as he is encouraging his troops. The nation had just declared independence and now these men are fighting for their country.
The time is now at hand, which must probably determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness, from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of a brave resistance or the most abject submission. We have to resolve to conquer, or to die. Our own, our country’s honor call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion; and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us then rely on the goodness of our cause, and on the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hand victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessing and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world, that a freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.
Washington’s Opinions of Good Government on the End of the Revolutionary War:
At the end of the Revolutionary War, Washington is preparing to relinquish his sword. Washington may not have been a politician, but that does not mean that he did not have any ideas on how the country should run. Washington was giving up his authority, but he wanted to make sure the nation knew that they now needed to establish a proper government.
There are four things which I humbly conceive are essential to the well-being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States, as an independent power.
1st. An indissoluble union of the States under one federal head.
2dly. A sacred regard to public justice.
3dly. The adoption of a proper peace establishment. And,
4thly. The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the United States, which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and, in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.
These are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our independency and national character must be supported. Liberty is the basis, and whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or overturn the structure, under whatever specious pretext he may attempt it, will merit the bitterest execration and the severest punishment which can be inflicted by his injured country.
Every man or woman who desires to serve this country in politics really should study the life of George Washington. They need to learn the character of Washington. Washington was the selfless leader who understood that in order to preserve his liberties, sometimes he had to sacrifice his liberties for the betterment of his fellow man. If politicians were just half as noble as Washington, this country would be in a much better position.