The story of George Washington explains what made America great. It inspires and teaches young people how to succeed and be good Americans.
This may explain why those who hate America and everything it stands for don’t want the story of George Washington to be told. In 1968, a Democratic President and super-majority in Congress eliminated Washington’s Birthday on February 22 as National Holiday. They replaced it with “President’s Day”, a day with no significance other than to give government employees another three day weekend.
This happened when the United States was on the verge of decisively winning the “Cold War”. In early 1968, the Communist “Tet Offensive” had failed in Vietnam and the Viet Cong were in shambles. Communist Russia was facing open rebellion in Czechoslavakia and resistance in its other Eastern Europe “satellites”. Communist China was a mess. Its “Great Leap Forward” between 1958 and 1962 caused mass starvation. Chairman Mao” was feuding with Communist Russia and starting a near civil war in China known as the “Cultural Revolution”. To prevent the United States and other western countries from exploiting their weaknesses, Communist regimes in Russia, China, and Cuba intensified their campaigns of “ideological subversion” or “psychological warfare” against us. This included the recruitment, training, and influencing of college students in the United States.
In 1968, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated. The non-violent Civil Rights and peace movements were taken over by radicals who advocated riots, arson, bombs, bank robberies and the murder of police officers in the name of “Black Power”, “Black Liberation” and “Bring the War Home”.
When the violence produced the election of Richard Nixon in November of 1968, these radicals changed their tactics. They quietly took jobs in schools, colleges, libraries, newspapers, TV networks, and in Hollywood studios. Their new goal was to slowly change the culture of America. They succeeded. After 50 years, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are now both comletely removed from our February calendars. Washington and Lincoln and nearly everything they said and did are erased from our national memory. Only a handful of Americans know this story of George Washington.
George Washington grew up with poverty and hardship. However, he used the freedom and “boundless opportunity” of America to become rich through work, study, planning, and discipline.
George Washington was 11 years old when his father died. Most of his father’s property went to the children of his father’s first wife. Washington quit school to work the small farm left to his mother, so his mother could care for his younger sister and three younger brothers.
At age 15, Washington made himself an apprentice to a land surveyor. Washington knew that selling wilderness land to farmers was the most profitable business in Virginia, and becoming a land surveyor was the only way a poor man could get into it.
To learn this profession, Washington worked for nearly two years without pay on long and dangerous trips, hundreds of miles into the wilderness.
George Washington also agreed with Benjamin Franklin that a good marriage was as important to success as learning a useful occupation. Benjamin Franklin often said an unmarried adult was as “incomplete” as “the odd half of a pair of scissors”.
Finding a good wife was not easy for a young man in colonial America. There was a “scarcity of women”. Many women died in childbirth. Few men in America died in wars as they did in Europe. More men than women made the long and dangerous sea voyage to America. Most young women in America were very selective about whom they chose to marry. For that reason, responsible young men like Washington put as much planning and preparation into “courting”, finding and marrying a suitable woman, as they did learning a trade and building a career.
Washington did far more than read books to give himself the equivalent of a college education. He also read, observed, and practiced how to dress, dance, have perfect table manners, and make interesting dinner conversation. Because of this, George Washington was regularly invited to dinners and dances in the homes of the richest and most influential families in Virginia.
As a result, Washington was appointed to command his local, part-time militia company at age 20, even though he had no military training or experience. . Washington overcame that by intensely reading books, learning from others, and practicing with his volunteers.
In 1754, at age 22, Washington and his 160 men were ordered to chase French soldiers away from a wilderness area now known as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This started an eight-year war with France.
George Washington was a brave and capable commander. He wanted a career as a British Army officer. However, he was denied promotion simply because he was born in America. As a “mere colonial”, Washington lacked family and political connections in England.
Washington resigned from the British Army at age 26. One year later, he married Martha Custis, a wealthy widow with business skills and experience. During the next 10 years, George and Martha expanded their farms. They also started many successful businesses that included fishing fleets, flour mills, cloth and whisky production.
During this time, Washington also began to resent British taxes and laws that put unfair burdens on his businesses, and gave unfair advantages to political insiders in England. When Americans in Boston rebelled against those same laws and taxes, Washington supported them. In 1775, the Continental Congress put Washington in command of its new Continental Army.
Later that year, the British Governor of Virginia offered freedom to black slaves who volunteered to fight for the British. Thousands did so, including including several slaves belonging to George Washington. This profoundly affected Washington. After the war, Washington supported laws and provisions in the Constitution to limit and gradually end slavery. Washington freed his own slaves when he died and made them financially independent.
George Washington was a brilliant military commander because he didn’t act like one. Unlike the British commanders whom he defeated, Washington systematically asked for and considered the opinions of his younger officers and ordinary soldiers before making major decisions.
Washington stayed loyal to the principles he fought for. Washington’s soldiers often got fed up Congress and urged Washington to take over the government. Each time, Washington stopped them.
After the war, the thirteen newly independent Americans states almost ruined the economy by taxing goods brought in from other states. George Washington fixed this problem by calling for changes to the Articles of Confederation that became our Constitution of 1787.
When Washington was urged to run for a third term as President in 1796, he stepped down and began the practice of eight year term limits for President.
At his funeral, George Washington was praised for being “First in war. First in peace. First in the hearts of his countrymen”.
When I taught U.S. history at a local college, I was appalled to learn that none of my incoming freshmen learned any of this in high school, and that none of these facts were even mentioned in our college textbook.
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TAG LINE: Seth Grossman is a Somers Point attorney and executive director of LibertyAndProsperity.com. It holds breakfast discussions 9:30 am every Saturday at the Shore Diner in Egg Harbor Township by Parkway Exit 36. Seth Grossman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org