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Advisor

George Washington

probably does rank as the greatest of The Founders.

He's not regarded as anything near a great military strategist or tactician, or executive (Hamilton was the brains of both operations, at least administratively).

But he did have a remarkable- maybe even slightly overblown- sense of dignity and the propriety with which a gentleman should conduct himself. That made him a great leader, both as the major general of the Revolution and our first President.

Whether it was a matter of a sense of doing what a Great Man is supposed to do or one of personal reflection, he was the only Founder to leave a deed of manumission to free his slaves after his death. Jefferson might have, although he was so far in debt at the time of his death that his slaves were auctioned off.

And as far as establishing other major "norms", his personal refusal to serve as President for a third term (or as many as he'd liked) can't be overstated in regards to the direction of the country.

 

6 Replies
Advisor

Re: George Washington

https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/slavery/ten-facts-about-washington-slavery/

Looks like even the caretakers at Mt. Vernon have gone PC and are also relitigating that old, settled thing.

Advisor

Re: George Washington

Although the fact that he left no heirs probably made manumission an easier call.

Sorta like those old bachelor farmers who will leave a farm to their church- if somebody else hasn't managed to ingratiate themselves upon them first.

Advisor

Re: George Washington

Although sometimes Dennsion's hair looks just a little bit like George's.

Advisor

Re: George Washington

As far as the greatest leaders of wars for national independence, the Vietnamese General Giap looms large.

You don't need to like it to learn something from it.

Advisor

Re: George Washington

a lot to admire about George Washington, but the freeing of his slaves after his death was something that shows how much he feared the wrath of Martha Custiss Washington, and her family while he was alive.

Washington never had any children with Martha, possibly as a result of smallpox as a young man (Washington's fault then) or that Martha had a couple of kids with her first husband and was unable to have any more ( Martha's fault). Rumors were that George did dally with his slaves, and at least one nubile good looking slave woman was removed from their home and sold as Martha was jealous. So you can speculate on Washington's reasons and wonder.

And the Custiss side of the Washington union undoubtably was not pleased as the slaves came from Martha's sizeable dowry and not from Washington's modest means. Washington got his wealth the old fashioned way....the surveyor married the wealthiest woman in Virginia.

Not saying that George didn't do the right thing....just that his reasons and timing show some a lack of real courage in this instance, and that who knows what all went on with this request in his will.

Advisor

Re: George Washington

Mostly just about the value of "acting presidential" and the fact that sometimes forcing yourself to play the role can manifest itself in doing the right thing. Although I guess I won't go into contrasting the 18th Century code of chivalry vs. the present moment.