The Greatest Man in History
July 4th Santa Barbara, California, USA
One of my favorite founding fathers stories, has
to do with King George, and Thomas Jefferson, two men who did
not like each other.
King George asked Jefferson, " What will your General Washington
do, now that he as won?".
Jefferson replied, " Well, he will go back to his farm." to
which the king quipped,
"If he does that, he will be the greatest man in history."
Of course, General Washington did indeed go back to his farm,
after his service, for two terms, as President. He was not
anxious to be president, and he had to be talked into serving a
second term. He flatly declined a third term, because he thought
it would be bad for the country. He felt that it was important
that some one else serve, so that the country, did not become
dependent on any single individual.
He agreed to serve a second term, only because no other
candidate was acceptable to the two factions. The Federalists, as
represented by Alexander Hamilton, and the States Rights
advocates, as represented by Jefferson. At the end of
Washington's first term, these two factions threatened to tear
the country apart. Washington, and others, realized that it was
only his stature that kept the nation together, and moving
Washington was one of the least educated, and least
accomplished, of the founding fathers. No one has ever referred
to Washington as a deep thinker, or a great intellect. At the
beginning of the revolution, he wasn't even much of a solider,
never having lead men into battle. And yet, surrounded by the
geniuses of his time, Hamilton, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams,
Madison, Monroe, and others; ... they all, without exception,
wanted him, begged him, to lead them.
At the end of the revolution, George Washington was immensely
popular, even revered, throughout the states. He was in complete
control of the army, which adored him. It would of been an
extremely easy thing for him to declare himself King. In fact, a
lot of his countrymen, and a lot of senior officers in the army,
wanted him to do just that. The fact that he did not fall prey
to this ambition, says a lot about the man's character.
We owe George Washington a lot more then most Americans realize,
and King George may well have been right, George Washington, may
well be, the greatest man in history.