Birthday Tribute: President George Washington

(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

This week we honor the life of George Washington, (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799, age 67), 1st President of the United States, Christian, colonial leader, military general, Founding Father of the United States, land surveyor, husband to Martha, step-father of two.

As Commander-in-Chief of during the Revolutionary War (War for Independence) he was a popular and charismatic leader. After the defeat of the British, some desired that he become king, but he refused based on his preference that the U.S. be subject to self-rule, not a monarchy; and retired to his beloved plantation, Mount Vernon. Because of this, Britain’s King George III called him “the greatest character of the age,” and is perhaps one of the greatest throughout human history.

George Washington was called back to national public service when he was elected the nation’s first president, but refused to run for a third term even though he was likely to have succeeded. He is credited with being the initial inspiration for the 22nd Amendment (ratified in 1951) which set a two term limit for the president. He was the only prominent Founding Father to include a provision in his will that his slaves would be set free upon his death (although some, like John Adams, owned none), and he foresaw slavery as a threat to the Union.

Selected Quotations

Stained glass window depicting George Washington kneeling in prayer, Capitol Prayer Room, Washington DC (Wikipedia)

Stained glass window depicting George Washington kneeling in prayer, Capitol Prayer Room, Washington DC (Wikipedia)

Unhappy it is though to reflect, that a brother’s sword has been sheathed in a brother’s breast, and that, the once happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched with blood, or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?

Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.

Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.

The general hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.

Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.

Example, whether it be good or bad, has a powerful influence.

It may be laid down, as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it…

Portrait of George Washingtion by Rembrandt Peale in the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco CA (Wikimedia)

Portrait of George Washingtion by Rembrandt Peale in the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco CA (Wikimedia)

Democratical states must always feel before they can see: it is this that makes their governments slow, but the people will be right at last.

My manner of living is plain. I do not mean to be put out of it. A glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always ready; and such as will be content to partake of them are always welcome.

Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.

It is infinitely better to have a few good men than many indifferent ones.

For the sake of humanity, it is devoutly to be wished that the manly employment of agriculture, and the humanizing benefit of commerce, would supersede the waste of war and the rage of conquest; that the swords might be turned into ploughshares, the spears into pruning-hooks, and, as the Scriptures express it, “the nations learn war no more.”

Cherry Blossoms in front of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C., USA circa 2006 (Andrew Bossi - Wikimedia)

Cherry Blossoms in front of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C., USA circa 2006 (Andrew Bossi – Wikimedia)

I had rather be in my grave than in my present situation, I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world; and yet they charge me with wanting to be a king.

Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.

The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.

The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.

… reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.

Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

‘Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world

There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation.

Source: White House, Wikiquotes, Wikipedia. Spelling and punctuation changed to conform to modern standards.

Revised

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