Time’s rip tides have taken George Washington a great distance from us now. They have stolen from our national collective memory his vital contributions to our constitutional republic. Without George Washington, America would not exist. Washington was known as the indispensable man, the dominate figure in three of the most critical opening scenes in the story of America: The Revolutionary War, The Constitutional Convention and our first National Administration.

He was as he appears in artist Gilbert Stuart’s unfinished portrait of him: remote, aloof, complex. The quiet reluctant leader, a man with locked lips, as if keeping a secret, possessing the charismatic mystique of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Standing erect and tall, George Washington is our transcendent American icon who embodies leadership and vision. He loathed partisanship. His political instincts were “balanced center” and his political party was the American people. Washington was an utterly selfless statesman.

For most Americans, Washington is one man divided into two parts. We see him as a general, heroically leading a rag tag continental army of upstart underdogs, out numbered and out gunned, by the “most powerful and efficient machine for waging war,” according to biographer Joseph H. Ellis. And, He was the first President of a new American nation. Washington was much more than a successful general, a national hero and our first president. He was a man of powerful virtue.

“Government is not reason. It is not
eloquence. It is a force; like fire, a
troublesome servant and fearful master.
Never for a moment should it be left
To irresponsible action.”
                  - George Washington