Thursday, October 22, 2009

Genius of George Washington Notes

Polls of historians: Greatest Presidents

Changing based on new evidence: Acting as an historian
Tueting used to not include George: Not an innovator
Now: Crucial role more important than brilliance
Military role
Civilian dominance over military
Strong Constitution
Cabinet system
Oversaw groundwork of Republic (Hamilton’s plan)
Two term tradition

Theories of driving force in history:

Great Man Theory
Economic (Beard/Marx)
Great men arise to defend/react against economics
Ideas (Morgan)
Men thrust into prominence by the great events of history (examples)

Washington challenges Economic/Ideas: “The Indispensable Man”
Any other man – does it fail?

Great Man Theory often used in early history teaching: Role models of patriotism/leadership to follow: ICONS
History designed to build patriotism/character: Sarver and the Ride of Paul Revere
Paul Revere's Ride
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Many more stanzas

Concord Hymn by Ralph Waldo Emerson

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We place with joy a votive stone,
That memory may their deeds redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

O Thou who made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free, --
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raised to them and Thee.

Founding fathers as DEMIGODS

Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Franklin, Washington.

In 1960s, ICONOCLASTS begin to challenge historical interpretation: The Founders were simply greedy men looking to preserve their wealth (roots in turn of the Century Beard’s writing). Jefferson: Sally Hemmings.

Same thing tried for Washington (Claims on Oprah) Mumps issue.
Why historians doubt it


Force of personality
Manners/politness (does not make enemies like most)
Etiquette book
High moral standards
Cherry Tree
Dollar across Potomac (also size/athleticism)
Inspires confidence:
Valley Forge
Congress: Would he be CASHIERED?

Big picture management:
Promotes skilled subordinates; (Hamilton, Knox, etc. in War) (Cabinet in peace)
Aaron Burr and personal correspondence
Other leaders showing that style: Ronald Reagan
Contrast with micromanagement: Disease of the brilliant (Clinton)
Makes others want to please him
Makes subordinates give 110%

Understands war
Wins few battles
Winning war more important than winning battles
Logistics: Understands cost to Britain; waits them out
Used later by Longstreet (Prep for Lee lecture)
Viet Cong
Iraqi insurgents?
Learns from trap in New York

Does not suffer from INFORMATIONAL PARALYSIS (disease of the brilliant)
“A good decision implemented in a timely matter is better than a perfect decision implemented too late.”

Needs morale boost: Crosses Delaware

Decisive window: Cornwallis not goal. Parliament is.
(Viet Cong with Tet)
(Iraqis in November 2008?)
De Grasse
Compare to Last of the Mohicans
Combat engineers/mortars
Hamilton: Preserve political viability

War won: Supremacy of civilian leadership
CINCINNATUS? Could have been King: Went back to Mount Vernon. Order of Cincinnatus
As we will see, trusted by Americans (First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of His Countrymen)
Note the frequent classical reference in the American Revolution; result of current education system.

INDISPENSIBLE MAN? Don’t forget Ben.

Franklin’s contribution to victory
Foreign diplomacy; darling of Paris salons; Celebrity dating to sway public opinion; negotiated peace treaty

French Alliance
Motive: Revenge NOT love of liberty/Limit English power
First smuggling arms
After Saratoga: Open entry
Spain and Netherlands pile on (motivations for both)
Venn diagram possibility on test

Peace of Paris, 1783
Negotiation and Maneuvering
Tensions in the Alliance
Britain splits the Alliance
1) U.S. Independent
2) Western boundary at the Mississippi
3) Fishing rights off Canada
4) Americans would pay debts, reimburse Tories

1 comment:

Questions? Comments? Bueller? Bueller?