2/19/17

Today is the 285th birthday of George Washington. “First in war; first in peace; and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
It is impossible to know the fullness of what Washington gave America. First of all, he declined the Presidency. He began his Presidency April 30, 1789, after having presided over the Constitutional Convention. He declined to run for a 3rd term, and in so doing, set an example that lasted until 1940 when, in the midst of World War II,  Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a 3rd term.
Prior to the new republic, Washington led British-American troops in the French and Indian Wars, and at the Battle of Monongahela had two horses shot out from under him as he crisscrossed the battlefield, inspiring his men. Later in the War for Independence, Washington served as Commanding General. Though he gave other Generals leave from time to time, Washington remained with his men in the snow and cold in the winters of 1777-83. Presiding over the Constitutional Convention, Washington gave us the Republican system of government. He also gave us the Cabinet system, still in use. He gave us the first national bank.
He was so inspiring a character that he was unanimously elected President. Yet like all the rest of us, Washington had flaws.  Among them, as a Virginia Plantation owner (and wealthiest man in the country), Washington owned slaves.
When I was a child, we did not celebrate Presidents’ Day. We had two holidays: Washington’s birthday and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which came eight days apart. Commercial interests motivated the change. Washington and Lincoln have been generally agreed as our two greatest Presidents.
Lincoln had many great accomplishments in his one term. First and most important, he freed the slaves AND kept the country from splitting. Other significant achievements were founding the National Parks, beginning the land grant universities, (such as Oho State), laying a railroad across the continent, and giving land grants to farmers who would farm the quarter section given them. Neither Washington nor Lincoln was a bully. Neither was a braggart. Neither tried to browbeat the press, though both were often criticized. Both were honorable men. So may it be, that their traits may continue in all President!