With all the historical kudos that George Washington gets, it may be hard to realize that he is generally underestimated as one of the founding fathers. People talk about Thomas Jefferson being the Renaissance Man genius, Benjamin Franklin being the philosopher-scientist, James Madison being the genius behind the Constitution and Alexander Hamilton being the genius behind the financial systems that took the U.S. from a provencial backwater to the most powerful economy in the world.
But what about ol’ George? Among the founding fathers themselves, the position and importance of George Washington was not disputed. His contributions in the war effort and as the first President of the United States are well worth praise.
But the singular act that sets Washington apart from other “revolutionary generals” such as Fidel Castro or Josef Stalin or Mao, is that when his revolution was accomplished, George did not succumb to the considerable temptation to take singular and total control of the country. Instead, he followed the model of Cincinnatus and said to the fledgeling country “Let this great democratic experiment progress.” Such an act of selflessness is rare under such circumstances, perhaps even unheard of.
Given the choice between “King George the First” and “Gentleman farmer” George chose the latter.
This country would never have become what it is today had he taken the former choice.
Thank you George Washington. And Happy Birthday.