George Washington: American Dictator

Well…a Benevolent dictator

Few true benevolent dictators have existed throughout history. Many consider George Washington, the United States’ first president after the American Revolution, to be a benevolent dictator. Washington resigned his office after two four-year terms (he ran unopposed in 1789 and against John Adams in 1792), despite the fact that he certainly would have been re-elected, and probably re-elected again after that. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served four presidential terms during the Great Depression and World War II, has also been thought to have been a kind of benevolent dictator.

How did GW win the War of Independence?

Who would lead that army? In May 1775 – Washington represented Virginia at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. This was a gathering of the 13 colonies with representatives.John Adams proposed George Washington. It was a brilliant suggestion: a Virginian commander in chief leading Massachusetts volunteers would immediately transform the army into a truly national force. Even before the colonies declared war or independence, even before they constituted a nation, they would have in Washington a national leader. “He seems discrete and virtuous,” wrote another New Englander at the time, no harum-scarum, ranting swearing fellow, but sober, steady, and calm.” While delegates debated his nomination, Washington quietly absented himself. Finally, his unanimous selection as commander in chief was announced. “The liberties of America depend upon him,” wrote John Adams to his wife two days later.

1 significant George Washington moment

December 1776 was a desperate time for George Washington and the American Revolution. The ragtag Continental Army was encamped along the Pennsylvania shore of the Delaware River exhausted, demoralized and uncertain of its future.

The troubles had begun the previous August when British and Hessian troops invaded Long Island routing the colonial forces, forcing a desperate escape to the island of Manhattan. The British followed up their victory with an attack on Manhattan that compelled the Americans to again retreat, this time across the Hudson River to New Jersey.

The British followed in hot pursuit, chasing the Americans through New Jersey and by December had forced the Continental Army to abandon the state and cross the Delaware into Pennsylvania. With New Jersey in their firm control and Rhode Island successfully occupied, the British were confident that the Revolution had been crushed. The Continental Army appeared to be merely an annoyance soon to be swatted into oblivion like a bothersome bee at a picnic.

To compound Washington’s problems, the enlistments of the majority of the militias under his command were due to expire at the end of the month and the troops return to their homes. Washington had to do something and quickly.

His decision was to attack the British. The target was the Hessian-held town of Trenton just across the Delaware River.

During the night of December 25, Washington led his troops across the ice-swollen Delaware about 9 miles north of Trenton. The weather was horrendous and the river treacherous. Raging winds combined with snow, sleet and rain to produce almost impossible conditions. To add to the difficulties, a significant number of Washington’s force marched through the snow without shoes.

The next morning they attacked to the south, taking the Hessian garrison by surprise and over-running the town. After fierce fighting, and the loss of their commander, the Hessians surrendered.

Washington’s victory was complete but his situation precarious. The violent weather continued – making a strike towards Princeton problematic. Washington and his commanding officers decided to retrace their steps across the Delaware taking their Hessian prisoners with them.

The news of the American victory spread rapidly through the colonies reinvigorating the failing spirit of the Revolution. The battle’s outcome also gave Washington and his officers the confidence to mount another campaign. On December 30 they again crossed the Delaware, attacked and won another victory at Trenton on January 2, and then pushed on to Princeton defeating the British there on January 3.

Although not apparent at the time, these battles were a decisive turning point in the Revolution. The victories pulled the languishing Revolution out of the depths of despair, galvanized colonial support, shocked the British and convinced potential allies such as France, Holland and Spain, that the Continental Army was a force to be reckoned with.

Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_by_Emanuel_Leutze,_MMA-NYC,_1851

http://www.mountvernon.org/site/animated-washington/winter-patriots/

What is important to note about George Washington?

Washington lost more battles than he won! But it was his character, will, and his ability to rally his troops that made him the successful General he was

What became of George Washington?

He was recalled to become President of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. He presided over the creation of the American Constitution. He served 2 – 4year terms as 1st US President. He is regarded as the Father of the United States and was seen as a symbol of unity. He died of pneumonia at Mount Vernon in 1799.

Washington_Monument_Panorama

The Washington Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate George Washington, once commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first American president

washington city

The capital of the United States of America was changed to the newer built city known as Washington DC in honor of George Washington

George Washington: Benevolent Dictator?

George Washington was truly an inspiration to the American men. He was firm and decisive. In defeat he was calm and in victory he was modest. He refused a salary when he was first appointed believing that it was his duty and continued as commander in chief only until he felt his time had come. He was a man of the people. One event that signifies this more than any was in 1777, when British troops pushed the Continental Army out of Philadelphia (capital of colonies) and half the army deserted. It was a huge blow for the Americans. Some men remained with the training of German officer von Steuben along with Washington himself. His bravery and willingness to stay for the men is what made him a hero in soldier’s eyes.

For more information on George Washington be a good soldier and head on over here

http://www.mountvernon.org/

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2 thoughts on “George Washington: American Dictator

  1. I thought you were going to explore the fact that Washington had been a dictator during the Revolution (Congress vote to give him the equivalent powers of a dictator). So he was literally a dictator (not in a negative sense).

    And count me among one of those who thinks it a darn shame that he didn’t take the crown. Imagine if he had! No strong executive position (instead a constitutional monarchy) would of meant far less divisions, no civil war, (Robert E. Lee likely would of been King as he is one of the more direct descendants of Washington), and the irony is that Kings are more easily constrained to the limits of a Constitution (the Magna Carta has not been violated by a King in 1,000 years) whereas Presidents (or their Roman equivalent Consuls) constantly trample on the Constitution because they can claim to the be the “Vox Populi”, the voice of the people, and so they can retain legitimacy even when they are lawless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting point! thanks for your comment

      While I know the title is a little misleading, I serve to try and keep it factual. Although the Magna Carta point is quite true, it does not guarantee a monarchy obeying its law. I mean the UN serves to uphold peace in the world and preventing dictatorial rule as seen in the 20th Century but look at how effective that has been! Would a Magna Carta as such be any different? What was it that was preventing Kings from violating it that we have missed with our own leaders?

      Like

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