Monday, February 22, 2010

Washington Reflections After Presidents' Day

Another Presidents' Day has ended; to celebrate, I reread Flexner's excellent biography of George Washington. I came away, as I had earlier, with profound gratitude that Washington had been the father of our country, that no other could have so served. It grates on my sensibilities that Jefferson is usually more widely extolled, his intellect, his tastes, his "hatred" of slavery, etc., etc. But delve more deeply and you will find that Washington, despite few years of formal education, had a far-ranging and practical mentality, a continuing eye and attention to the rectitude of his character, and little inclination to stoop to the petty political posturings and calumnies which Jefferson routinely employed, even against Washington who had trusted and promoted him. Jefferson did NOT free his slaves, but Washington did, some before his death, the rest in his will.

An always amazing aspect of Washington's character was his constant consciousness of how his every act as President would create precedent; he continually strove to do what he considered in the nation's future interest. History has validated his judgments and actions for the most part.

Many, when polled, no longer list Washington as one of the best Presidents of the United States.
That is a great oversight: he was the best.

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