Sunday, February 27, 2011

His Excellency: George Washington

I just finished a book on George Washington.   I have a good friend, who like me, is a great lover of history.  We have swapped books back and forth.  This one I got from him and had every intention of reading last year.  I finally got around to it the past month and finished it in the month of Washington's birthday. How fitting.

Joseph J. Ellis authors this book delving into the man that was George Washington.  I've read on Washington before and so knew many of the facts and have read many of the opinions on him, but this was a little different in the fact that this author really seemed to have a keen knack for laying out the life of this somewhat, aloof, 'Father of our Country'.

The book begins explaining his early life, his marriage to Martha Custis and then his role during the French and Indian War, showing the part he played and how that part so prepared him for the role that would be his future.  He was what you could call  a pioneer; in his deep care and passion for this land we now live in.  Eventually, it shows his progression from English thought to that of NEW thought; that of a NEW country in its inception.  From early on in his life, he exuded a 'larger than life' image.  While others thought that, (or many of them) he seemed to think that of himself.  However, not in a prideful, arrogant way (although you have to really read about him to understand this) but a superior way.  It takes a special person to exude superiority yet not arrogance.  (at least not the pride and arrogance WE think of)  One of the ways I think this came across was that Washington was always and ever watchful of what others thought of him.  This led him to asses every decision, weigh his words, deeds and actions all in light of posterity--and what they would remember him as.  How posterity remembered him was VERY important even to the point of playing a role, it would seem.

Even though Washington never seemed to desire or seek out the roles that he ended up fulfilling, it almost seemed that each role was destined to be 'the one' for this man.  While he did not outwardly seek these roles, he seemed to settle in to them just as though he had planned all along to fill them.  He did not like what we'd call constructive criticism, and it seemed to me that he strived so much to do 'just the right thing' so he could avoid that very thing.

I found it easy to read, thought provoking and it broadened my view of Colonial America.  I will say it refreshed my angst,  to read of the frustrations & difficulties the colonists had with England and the lengths they went in order to break free from its tyranny.  Seems like in America we aren't too far from that once again,  Who would've thought tyranny of government  (big, HUGE government) and excessive taxation would one day rule the people of the land once again.