George Washington, political prophet

On George Washington’s birthday, February 22, it is the custom in the United States Senate to read aloud his Farewell Address.   This year those words must have stung those who heard it, since Washington seemed to be describing with great precision the state of American politics.  It is as if the Father of Our Country took his children to the woodshed. [Read more...]

George Washington of Mt. Vernon

A fine tribute to the Father of Our Country and to his home–one of the most impressive attractions in the D.C. area–as preserved by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association:

As we celebrate our nation’s independence midway through a year of rabid presidential politics, it is refreshing to reflect upon our first president, the hero of America’s revolution and commander in chief upon our liberation from King George.

To say that they don’t make them like George Washington anymore is to insult understatement. But those who admire him have a duty, today of all days, to remember him before he is forgotten by younger generations who, through no fault of their own, have no sense of him. They haven’t been taught, and the shame of this belongs to all, with a few notable exceptions.

Among these is a handful of ladies (and no, copy editors, you may not change “ladies” to “women”) who strive daily to keep Washington’s name and legacy in the dimming lights of history. Unheralded and largely unknown, they deserve recognition for their valiant and extravagant efforts to preserve one of America’s most valuable assets, including the original ruminations of its greatest thinkers.

These would be the members of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, who volunteer their time and talents — and open their wallets — to maintain Washington’s home on the Potomac. . . .

Unbeknown to most visitors to Mount Vernon — and certainly the millions who don’t know it exists — Washington’s home was saved and is maintained without a penny of public funds. (Disclosure: I serve on the Mount Vernon advisory board, a collection of private citizens who meet twice a year to offer advice, which the ladies are utterly free to ignore.)The ladies’ association is a lesson in volunteerism worthy of its own chapter. The association was formed in 1853 by South Carolina native Ann Pamela Cunningham, whose mother had noticed a large, dilapidated house perched on a hill along the Potomac River and was outraged to learn it was Washington’s home. Inspired by her mother, Cunningham reached out to Southern women to raise funds to buy the estate and, in 1860, open it to the public, thus beginning a 152-year-old tradition.

Since then, more than 80 million have visited the house and grounds, which include an underground museum (so as not to mar the landscape), gardens, a slave burial ground, and the final resting place of George and Martha Washington. Even the opposite shore of the Potomac has been preserved so that visitors can enjoy the same view that Washington did.

The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, named for its most generous donor, is an overdue addition to Washington’s home. In a time of self-reverential politicians and presidential libraries erected as monuments to ego, it is odd, if also characteristic, that the first president had none. Just as he resisted becoming the nation’s first president, feeling himself unworthy, he would have found a library in his honor, indulging today’s vernacular, “over the top.”

via Kathleen Parker: The ladies of Mount Vernon have preserved Washington’s home – The Washington Post.

There is a useful new word:  “self-reverential”!  Washington was never that.  He was a truly great man who deserves our salute this July the 4th.

 

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation

From George Washington, 1789:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

GO. WASHINGTON.


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