Tag Archives: Washington

True Leadership

sacrifice for a worthy cause

The irony that on the Ides of March… where the original western tyrant was dispatched, the world’s greatest republican (notice the small ‘r’) proved beyond any doubt his fidelity to that cause.  George Washington addressed the Newburgh conspirators on March 15, 1783.  At a pivotal moment, when our vulnerable government dangled by string following the unlikely victory in the Revolution, Washington shined brightest.

 

Gates had to yield the floor

Officers in the Continental army furious over not being paid… during years of fighting the Revolution were threatening mutiny and possibly a coup d’etat.  Officers loyal to Horatio Gates planned a meeting to formalize their mutinous intention of replacing Washington with the dastardly Gates.  Washington requested to attend the meeting, then surprised Gates (who had opened the meeting) by requesting to speak.  The tiny building was dimly lit, smoky, and crowded as Washington took the floor; the faces of his men were expressionless.  Washington fumbled with his prepared address, starting, stopping, tripping on his words in the dim candlelight.  After a few attempts at beginning, he paused, “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”

Not a dry eye in the house

The impassioned speech that followedwas really unnecessary.  Washington’s sincere request reminded every officer in that room how selfish they had all been.  No amount of money, treasure, or property could replace what they had won, together.  Eventually, Congress granted the officers some of the pay owed them, but the Revolution had been saved by a true leader that night in a tiny cabin in Newburgh, New York.

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On the Press

President-Elect Trump continues his war on the free pressclearly what he seeks is capitulation and endorsement from America’s media.  No doubt, he envies Putin’s veneration from the docile Russian press.

Only those who approve

Only those who approve

Not only does power corrupt, it causes us to forget our most basic principles…  Jefferson said to Washington in 1792:

The virtuous will not fear a free press

The virtuous will not fear a free press

“No government ought to be without censors, and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defense. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth whether in religion, law or politics. I think it as honorable to the government neither to know nor notice its sycophants or censors, as it would be undignified and criminal to pamper the former and persecute the latter.”

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Most Unfortunate Demise

The circumstances surrounding the death of George Washington… confuse and mislead scholars and novices alike.  Misinformation is purported as fact and sold to the general public, only confusing the matter further.  Washington died of a sore throat– illustrates the limitations of 18th century medicine and how his death could have been prevented.  Washington was bled to death by his doctors– implies that common medical practices in 1799(five pints were taken)  were responsible and that his death would have been prevented by modern medicine.  Lost in all the speculation is the ailment that actually killed Washington.

 

In 1997, Dr. W. McKenzie Wallenborn of the University of Virginia School of Medicine performed an analysis of Washington’s symptoms and the course of his illness.  His results show that far from a simple sore throat or lamentable bleeding, Washington’s demise was caused by an acute infection his doctors were ill-equipped to handle.  He observed:

More than a sore throat

More than a sore throat

“I think that it is very reasonable and possible to make a determination of the disease process that was the cause of George Washington’s death. He had acute epiglottitis (supraglottitis) which is a severe, rapidly progressing infection of the epiglottis and surrounding tissues that may be quickly fatal because of sudden respiratory (airway) obstruction by the inflamed structures.”

Too much blood James!

Too much blood James!

An affliction that can be fatal by modern standards… Washington’s team of physicians: Dr. James Craik, Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick, an Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown, had little or any options in treating their esteemed friend.

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Problem with Popular Politics

The common assumption is that the Founders… disliked popular politics because they were elitists, even aristocratic.  Many Americans grow old believing that the Founding generation opposed popular voting because it didn’t trust working people; going so far as to consider the masses as undereducated sheep.  This overly-simplistic analysis makes for spirited dinner conversation, but couldn’t be further from the truth.  As with most interpretations in history, the true story is more complicated. 

Not common money-changers

Not common money-changers

The Enlightenment ideal of the “disinterested gentleman”… has since been misinterpreted as elitism.  According to enlightened principles, the ideal political leader has removed himself from the intrigues of financial dealings- “disinterested” himself from wage earning to achieve an impartial state of mind.  The Founders were worried that a government controlled by men still worried about acquiring fortune could be used to that end.  Entry into public service was almost always accompanied by a retirement from business, this was considered by the Founders as the proper code of conduct.  Typically, this was accomplished by men who could afford such a radical change.  It was not always attainable, but it was a standard the Founders strove to reach.

 

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Most Unfortunate Demise

The circumstances surrounding the death of George Washington… confuse and mislead scholars and novices alike.  Misinformation is purported as fact and sold to the general public, only confusing the matter further.  Washington died of a sore throat– illustrates the limitations of 18th century medicine and how his death could have been prevented.  Washington was bled to death by his doctors– implies that common medical practices in 1799(five pints were taken)  were responsible and that his death would have been prevented by modern medicine.  Lost in all the speculation is the ailment that actually killed Washington.

 

In 1997, Dr. W. McKenzie Wallenborn of the University of Virginia School of Medicine performed an analysis of Washington’s symptoms and the course of his illness.  His results show that far from a simple sore throat or lamentable bleeding, Washington’s demise was caused by an acute infection his doctors were ill-equipped to handle.  He observed:

More than a sore throat

More than a sore throat

“I think that it is very reasonable and possible to make a determination of the disease process that was the cause of George Washington’s death. He had acute epiglottitis (supraglottitis) which is a severe, rapidly progressing infection of the epiglottis and surrounding tissues that may be quickly fatal because of sudden respiratory (airway) obstruction by the inflamed structures.”

Too much blood James!

Too much blood James!

An affliction that can be fatal by modern standards… Washington’s team of physicians: Dr. James Craik, Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick, an Dr. Gustavus Richard Brown, had little or any options in treating their esteemed friend.

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Howe to Prolong a War

The British defeat at Saratoga…in October of 1777 was clearly the turning point of the Revolutionary War.  The surrender of an entire British army finally brought the French recognition and aid the Americans desperately needed.  The defeat also put tremendous pressure on the administration of Lord North and its failing war policies.  What is often overlooked is how close the war came to ending following Burgoyne’s surrender.  Just days before Saratoga, Washington’s army had launched a surprise attack on Sir William Howe’s army near the sleepy village of Germantown, Penna.  Two crushing defeats, nearly on top of one another, would have surely spelled the end of  the North ministry.  His replacement would have pursued resolution.

 

Fighting an increasingly unpopular war

The British forces and Germantown never expected… Washington’s bold stroke.  Just three weeks earlier, the redcoats routed the Americans at Brandywine, the largest battle of the war.  British commander Sir William Howe was not expecting an attack as his forces rested on the outskirts of Germantown.  The battle that occurred on October 4, 1777 could have helped end the Revolution…..The British survived:

British stubbornly defend the Chew House

  • Fog blanketed much of the field that morning, obscuring vital marching routes and confusing commanders on both sides.
  • Washington’s plans were complex, too complex for his poorly trained army.  His forces had to advance 16 miles on a night march in four separate columns.  Orders were confused, troops became lost, and the attacks were not coordinated.
  • At a pivotal moment early in the fighting, General Howe personally rallied his retreating troops, and was nearly killed by American artillery.
  • Significant confusion led to a destructive round of friendly fire, which forced Washington’s men to disengage at the British center.
  • British reinforcements were able to exploit the American disorder and drive the Continentals from the field.

Washington’s audacity at Germantown… attacking a numerically superior foe, just weeks after suffering a serious defeat, did not go unnoticed in Europe.  The French were every bit as impressed by Washington’s near victory in Pennsylvania, as they were by the British surrender in New York.

Washington’s nemesis

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Weekly History News Roundup

Ancient city found in Mexican jungleMayan ruins much larger than first thought

 

Mummies were made before the Pharaohs…  New evidence shows the practice 6,000 years ago

 

Historic sites destroyed in Iraq violence… ISIS group brags about the destruction

 

George Washington biopic in productiontroubles studio pushes forward with “raw” film about the Father of our country

 

Brady’s death ruled a homicide… 33 years after he was wounded in Reagan assassination attempt

 

Stirring old ghosts

Stirring old ghosts

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