History: June 2004 Archives

On the Founding Fathers


A correspondent very graciously sent me a note with regard to yestereve's post of the excerpt from the biography of Washington. This lit a fire that is always at least slumbering under a pile of ash, and I thought I would share the response. There is nothing particularly profound or informative, but merely some surface impressions.

There was a time at which I believed all of the revisionist "stuff" about him [George Washington]--an incompetent leader, a cold and distant unfriendly man, a dullard. But as I have come to know him better (largely through trips to his house when I return to my "native land" as I call it, and through reading some of his own writing, I realize that were people to judge me by demeanor (which, of course they do all the time) I would be set with the same labels, and yet, I have to confess a certain amount of confusion about this. I am not deliberately cold nor distant, but someone who does not know me well will often discribe me as aloof and terrifying. (You can't even begin to imagine how funny this is without having seen me--I'm about as terrifying as a gerbil.) So I have felt a certain kinship in judgment.

Also, I find that as learn more about these Founding Fathers, while I still respect all for their sacrifice and commitment, I fine myself liking some better than others. I used to profoundly admire Jefferson, and as I study more, I find much less to like, while still a great deal to admire. I used not to care much for John Adams, but as I learn more, I realize that in some ways, he is a hero to me. The tender and caring relationship with Abagail; his ability to finally resume the friendship so long broken with Jefferson, his intergrity (he defended those accused in the Boston Massacre) and his commitment to the cause of liberty. Each of the fathers speaks to me a little differently as I learn more about them. And when I suspend judging them, I learn so much more from them.

Bookmark and Share

I cannot speak to the accuracy of the following account as I haven't read enough about Washington to verfiy it; however, it is the kind of thing I rather hope is true.

from George Washington: A Biography
Henry Cabot Lodge

He bore the suffering, which must have been intense, with his usual calm self-control, but as the afternoon wore on the keen distress and the difficulty of breathing made him restless. From time to time Mr. Lear tried to raise him and make his position easier. The General said, “I fear I fatigue you too much;” and again, on being assured to the contrary, “Well, it is a debt we must pay to each other, and I hope when you want aid of this kind you will find it.” He was courteous and thoughtful of others to the last, and told his servant, who had been standing all day in attendance upon him, to sit down.

This is the man reviled and maligned by Jefferson and torn apart by modern-day revisionists, truly one of the great admirable men of his time and in our history. We are ennobled even by the legends that surround him.

Bookmark and Share



About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the History category from June 2004.

History: September 2003 is the previous archive.

History: August 2004 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll