American Elephants


Now They’re Going After George Washington! by The Elephant's Child

Activists are demanding of the Mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser, that she change anything in her city that is related to George Washington, (Father of our Country) be removed, torn down, re-named etc. because George Washington, our acclaimed first president, once owned slaves. Whether this demand includes changing the name of the city is unknown, but it does include the Washington monument. The demands to tear it down were a little confused when the size and location were pointed out, but there you go. The fact that destroying it would not change history in any way, apparently was not part of the discussion. This is so dumb. According to the records, he  actually opposed slavery. He sold off part of the Mt. Vernon estate to other farmers, because he didn’t want to be a plantation owner.

It’s becoming fairly clear that those out demanding major changes are usually completely unfamiliar with the people they are denigrating, and with their history. We have gone into the false teeth thing, with several posts attempting to discover what George Washington really looked like, as the most familiar image is the one on the one dollar bill. That engraving was based on the portrait by Gilbert Stuart which emphasized the distortions caused by his false and poorly fitting teeth. Washington did not take to Gilbert Stuart and Stuart was offended. The life mask by Jean Antoine Houdon suggests that Washington was fairly good looking. He was tall, about 6’2″, and most verbal descriptions from the time suggest a “roman” or more prominent nose. He spent most of his life in the saddle, so would have been tanned and weathered.

With all the George Washington statues under attack, perhaps it’s a good time to recommend another book. Richard Brookheiser has written biographies of many of our founding fathers, and his highly praised biography of Washington is only 168 pages. There’s some useful supplementary material as well. He has also written biographies of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Lincoln, John Marshall, and Governuer Morris. and the Adams family. John Adams, not the TV Adams Family


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