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home : community : community July 7, 2022

2/19/2022 7:47:00 AM
Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Jennifer Baker
Vesuvius Furnace Chapter, DAR


Where would we be as a nation without George Washington?

Complied by Jennifer Baker, DAR Vesuvius Furnace

While there are a great many things about him that are questionable and even vile, George Washington led our nation through a fierce war that in many ways was the civil war of its time. After the war ended, he put our fledgling nation on a path to economic growth and prosperity.

“Washington was a great strategic leader who was very good at seeing the big picture and playing the long game,” says Adrienne Harrison, PhD, senior historian at Battlefield Leadership and a former assistant professor of American History at the US Military Academy. “But tactically, he was terrible, and he never got better as the war went on.”

Like many great leaders, Washington was an excellent judge of character. This strength proved invaluable to winning the war. “He was very good at assembling a ‘military family’ around himself,” Harrison says. “His advisors, subordinates, staff officers, commanders…they were all intelligent and experienced. Some were rivals who wanted his job, but Washington recognized they had skills and experience he didn’t.” Washington valued input and colleagues who would argue against him. In that way, he was like Abraham Lincoln who famously assembled a “cabinet of rivals.” During councils of war, Washington would propose ideas and then let his staff pick those ideas apart.

Unanimously elected twice, President Washington established many crucial presidential precedents. George Washington helped shape the office's future role and powers, as well as set both formal and informal precedents for future presidents. Washington believed that it was necessary to strike a delicate balance between making the presidency powerful enough to function effectively in a national government, while also avoiding any image of establishing a monarchy or dictatorship. In the process, President Washington significantly influenced the path for the presidency moving forward, setting standards in all aspects, including political power, military practice, and economic policy.

Some facts about our first President:

  1. President Washington never lived in Washington, DC. No capital was designated until the Residence Act of 1790. While he oversaw construction, he did not live there. 
  2. George Washington established the tradition of a cabinet of advisors. Originally this consisted of 4 men: Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of War Henry Knox, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph.
  3. Washington signed into law the first copyright law in 1790.
  4. Washington set precedents for the social life of the President
  5. The first Thanksgiving Proclamation was issued by President Washington
  6. President Washington personally led troops into the field to stop the Whiskey Rebellion
  7. Washington vetoed only two bills while President. The first bill that Washington vetoed was the Apportionment Bill of April 5, 1792 which aimed at providing guidelines for the number of congressional representatives based on the results of 1790 census. On February 28, 1797 (shortly before leaving office), Washington vetoed a bill aimed at cutting the size and cost of the military.
  8. President Washington delivered an important address on religious tolerance at a Rhode Island synagogue
  9. Washington’s second inaugural address is the shortest ever delivered. On March 4, 1793, clocked in at less than two minutes and was only 135 words in length.
  10. Washington’s Farewell Address is one of the most celebrated speeches in American history.

It is unfortunately true, as it was of many of our Founding Fathers, that George Washington was a slave owner. As a young Virginia planter, Washington accepted slavery without apparent concern. But after the Revolutionary War, he began to feel burdened by his personal entanglement with slavery and uneasy about slavery’s effect on the nation. When he drafted his will at age 67, Washington included a provision that would free the 123 enslaved people he owned outright. Washington's decision to free the enslaved people he could, marked the culmination of two decades of introspection and inner conflict, as his views on slavery changed gradually but dramatically.

George Washington had complicated relationships with Native Americans. He was born into a world in which native peoples were still major players in the Americas, despite having suffered through three centuries of European diseases, dispossession, and warfare. Throughout his life, Washington negotiated with and served alongside Native peoples, fought against others, and sought their land for his own prosperity. His actions on behalf of the British government and later the United States affected Native peoples in often tragic ways. As commander-in-chief, Washington instructed armed forces to attack native nations allied with the British or who resisted American expansion.

Washington is widely considered a hero and the father of our country. He was a man of many faults and many good deeds. Washington hated partisanship and political parties, he tolerated dissent, vicious attacks on his reputation and name, and a divisive press—all in the interest of freedom. There is no documentation that suggests that Washington ever sought to use his office for personal empowerment or gain. He did his best to support and promote the country that he worked so hard to create.

You are invited to join the Catawba Valley SAR and the Jacob Forney DAR as they celebrate the 290th birthday of George Washington at the Lincoln Cultural Center this Sunday February 20th at 2:00 pm. One may attend in their best 18th Century finery, or if you prefer in modern attire. We will be asking for donations to offset the cost of the function and venue. We hope everyone can attend. RSVP to  lennon_0102@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 



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