American Elephants

Tired of Today’s Politics? Here’s the Politics of 1787. by The Elephant's Child
May 20, 2010, 7:30 am
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Politics | Tags: , ,


Washington’s unanimous election as president was preordained.  He was the only person in the country who automatically commanded the allegiance of all the people.  He was probably the only American who possessed the dignity, patience, restraint, and reputation for republican virtue that the untried but potentially powerful office of the presidency needed at the outset.

Washington, with his tall, imposing figure, Roman nose, and stern thin-lipped face, was already at age fifty-eight an internationally famous hero — not so much for his military exploits during the Revolutionary War as for his character.  At one point during the war he could probably have become a king or a dictator, as some wanted, but he resisted their blandishments.  Washington always respected civilian superiority over the army, and at the moment of military victory in 1783 he had unconditionally surrendered his sword to Congress.  He promised not to take “any share in public business hereafter” and, like the Roman conqueror Cincinnatus, had returned to his farm.  The self-conscious retirement from public life had electrified the world.  All previous victorious generals in modern times — Cromwell, William of Orange, Marlborough — had sought political rewards commensurate with their military achievements.  But not Washington.  He seemed to epitomize public virtue and the proper character of a republican leader.

*Empire of Liberty” A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815

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