The Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation 1 - RR144C6
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It would be possible to have a very, very rewarding course just on American autobiographies. And American biographies, because some of the stories of the men of this period are very interesting. The autobiography of James Monroe for example is very revealing, it gives us an insight into the one real liberal of that era, and the mistakes that he fell into, and the embarrassing circumstances because of his liberalism. It would give us a dramatic insight into a very great Christian, Patrick Henry, and into many other remarkable men in that era.
We are however going to confine ourselves to one man, because great as Monroe and Patrick Henry was, very important, and we saw last night how without him the United States would’ve been a small nation along the eastern seaboard, had he not sent troops out under Rogers, to capture Vincennes, and to break at the critical point when it was apparent that the Americans were going to win, the British power in the Midwest, so the Midwest fell to the young countries, instead of being part of Canada. Patrick Henry’s role was very important. Very important also was the role of George Mason. A very remarkable man, Gunston Hall to me is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Because the character of the man, the very earnest faith and the love of his home comes through. He rarely went more than a few miles from home, was very unhappy when he had to go and sit as legislator, the furthest he ever went was to Philadelphia for the Constitutional convention. He was very definitely a home-body. And his public papers are very, very, interesting because they show this so clearly and they show the habits of the day. His marriage for example again, late in life, how carefully they took care of every contingency. Now here he was a widower, marrying a woman in her late forties, and both of them very fond of each other, and yet they worked out a most detailed marriage contract, to take care of every contingency. Of all his children by his first marriage, what part of the estate would be rightfully hers upon his death. If despite their age, should they have children, what provisions would be taken for the children. And so and so forth, all spelled out. Now this, let me add, was in terms of a very definitely biblical provision. In the Bible the dowry was the accepted method of marriage whereby the groom gave the equivalent, we know from Biblical sources, of three years’ work. Wages. To the bride as her dowry, he could not call it his money thereafter; if he used it he used it on interest. A modern equivalent to that now used by some is to take an insurance out for that amount as a protection for the wife and the children. If he mistreated his wife and there was a divorce, that became her money. This kept men on the straight and narrow path, when they had so much money invested in the marriage. As a matter of fact, under Hebrew law, if the marriage contract were lost, the husband and wife had to--- or if it were destroyed in a fire--- husband and wife had to separate until it could be re-written. And this was adopted by the Americans. It’s amazing how very, very closely they followed Biblical and ancient Hebraic practices. Well, a great deal could be said as I said about George Mason, and many another person. [00:43:54]
But George Washington was the person who both by his...
But George Washington was the person who both by his work by his character, by his commanding person, made this century possible. Without him it could not have been. He was a very remarkable man. In some respects he was the most illiterate of all the great figures, of that day. As a matter of fact Washington had had very little education compared to all the other great Americans of the period. He was a son to his father by a second marriage, and his father died when he was quite young, His elder brother inherited the estate, and George Washington was nothing but a poor relative working for his half-brother. As a result he did not have much education. And although later he gained a substantial estate, to the end of his life he was very self-conscious of the fact that he could not spell very well, and was not always sure of his grammar. For this reason to, towards the end of his life he began to go through all the letters he had written, because he kept copies of all the letters he wrote both as an individual and as an officer and as president, and rewrote them, with two things in mind, to correct the grammatical errors and misspellings he had made when he was writing hurriedly, and second, to eliminate anything he thought might be hurtful needlessly to any person. Now this was quite a job when you realize that he wrote 75,000 letters. One of the things that Washington did as a young man, because he had to educate himself, was to write a little book, I believe you can get a copy of it, Rules of Civility, at any bookstore at Mount Vernon, whereby every time he encountered some rule of goof manners, he would copy it down and memorize it. Moreover, he included in that book every rule which had to do with leadership. So the young George Washington was very self-consciously aiming at being a leader. Very emphatically, a leader. This is remarkable. Here he was a poor relative, very early having to go to work for a living as a surveyor, and a surveyor’s job in those days was not the easy job it is today because you went out into forest areas, worked in swamps, and when night came you slept where you were, you had no inn or motel to go to. But he saw himself and prepared himself for leadership. And a leader he was. [00:07:04]
He is very commonly compared in the literature of the...
He is very commonly compared in the literature of the day by the preachers of the day, to Joshua, who led the children of Israel into the promised land. Over and over and over again you find this comparison. He and his wife wrote a long epic poem, the conquest of Canaan, in which he tells the story of Joshua and the conquest of Jericho and so on, and throughout he is comparing the chosen of Israel to the colonies, and remember when they originally began there were 12. Colonies. And so tribes. And then thirteen later. But there were thirteen tribes really with the thirteen tribes of Levi. And Washington as a great Joshua. I’ll just read a few words of one such sermon, by Ezra Stiles a great Calvinist of the day, preached before the general assembly of the state of Connecticut, and Governor Jonathan Trumbull, convened at Hartford, May 8th 1783. And so he speaks thus:
“Never was the profession of arms used with more glory, or in a better cause, since the days of JOSHUA the son of Nun. O WASHINGTON! How do I love thy name! How have I often adored and blessed thy God, for creating and forming thee the great ornament of human kind! Upheld and protected by the Omni-potent, by the Lord of Hosts, thou hast been sustained and carried through one of the most arduous and most important wars in all history. The world and posterity will, with admiration, contemplate thy deliberate, cool, and stable judgment, thy virtues, thy valour and heroic achievements, as far surpassing those of a CYRUS, whom the world loved and adored.”
And skipping over, he speaks of our beloved generalissimo, then
“…beloved, enshielded and blessed by the great Melchisidec, the king of righteousness as well as peace, thou hast triumphed gloriously…. And now that our warfare is ended, do thou, o man of God,
greatly beloved of the Most High, permit a humble minister of the blessed Jesus, who, though at a distance, has vigilantly accompanied thee through every stage of thy military progress, has watched thine every movement and danger with an heart-felt anxiety and solicitude; and who, with the most sincere and fervent wishes for thy safety and success, has not ceased day nor night to pray for thee, and to commend thee and thy army to God…. rest and flourish.”
And then it says:
“May a crown of universal love and gratitude, of universal admiration, and of the universal reverence and honor of thy saved country, rest and flourish upon the head of its Veteran General and glorious defender; until, by the divine Jesus, whom thou hast loved and adored, and of whose holy religion thou art not ashamed, thou shall be translated from a world of war, to a world of peace, liberty, and eternal Triumph!”
Now that’s how they felt about him. Yet the irony of the fact is that today there are few Americans who do more than vilify. That supposedly he died of syphilis, I guess it’s from teachers and professors. It is all manufactured. That he was the father of many bastard children, that he was a rascal, a scoundrel- a book was written a few years ago on George Washington’s expense account, the point of which yes he didn’t take any salary for all his years of service during the war, but “look at his expense account. He would charge twelve thousand dollars just for the feeding of his horse overnight.” But never a word there about the fact that this was in continental dollars, that were so worthless that the expression “Not worth a continental” had originated. And twelve thousand dollars was sometimes not worth more than a few cents. This obvious fact is never cited in the book. [00:11:11]
Yet the book was reviewed in magazines and newspaper...
Yet the book was reviewed in magazines and newspaper stories written about it all over the country. He has been viciously maligned. Moreover he has been treated as though he were some kind of stupid character, and a drunkard. Actually, not only was he a very able military leader, but he was a farsighted statesman. I mentioned his vision in regards to Virginia, but his intent was more than Virginia. The sight of Washington D.C. was chosen by George Washington. It was to be the local, the capital of the new Government. Why there in particular? Was it because it was close to home? Not at all. Washington, a long time before they invented the word Geo politician, was a geopolitican to rival any that world has produced. The reason why he wanted the capital there was that he felt first of all it is the logical point for the opening of the west. The easiest route to the west is not over the mountains as in other states but right through the gap. The easiest way to the west. But more important, he recognized from the trouble that had ensued in the articles of confederation and in the founding of the republic, the constitutional convention, that a deep rift was forming between the slaves and none slave states. Now Washington was anti slave, and he freed incidentally, all his slaves. He didn’t go around talking about abolition, Jefferson did. Jefferson did not free his slaves, Washington did. Washington was not a man to talk, partly because he was self-conscious about his lack of education. But he was the wisest head we had at that time. He and Patrick Henry were farthest seeing men in the country. But Washington recognized that the country was split unless in some way it was brought together in a strategic manner. And he knew the answer. In his work as a surveyor he had recognized the vast coal deposits in Virginia, in what is now West Virginia. It was a long time after Washington that the country woke up to that. But Washington knew they were there, he had spoken about them, and he felt that the logical place to build a capital is right near those coal deposits. The capital should not be a prettified city like Versailles or London with a lot of governmental buildings; it should be an industrial city. [00:13:53]
It should be the heart of this country as far as manufacturi...
It should be the heart of this country as far as manufacturing is concerned. In other words, The capital should be where the action is. And his feeling was, “There is no better place for industry to grow than in this local. You have a magnificent port available; you have the coal deposits nearby. Here industry can grow and this can be the world’s greatest manufacturing center. This will bind the North and the South. The raw materials of the south can be developed in what is really a part of the south, and if industry grows up here, then free labor will prosper in this area, and the south will see that slavery is not as productive. And slavery will gradually disappear. Now Washington’s vision was tremendous. If the country had followed George Washington at this point history would’ve been totally different. There would been no war in 1860 following. There would’ve been a tremendous industrial development in a way that we have not seen, a far more logical and economic one. But the men who followed Washington were not the practical men that Washington was, they were more--- and some of them were fine men--- the egg head variety. As a result they worked to make Washington D.C. a monument of marvel and beautiful buildings. After the manner of Versailles. And Jefferson self-consciously imitated Versailles in the building of Washington D.C. And Washington’s idea died with him. And that was a disaster for this country; in fact very few people in the country are aware of his thinking in this regard. And that is tragic. Washington was a remarkable man of tremendous vision. Washington very early had to discipline himself, after all it does require a certain amount of self-discipline to be a kind of hired hand in your half-brothers house doesn’t it. And especially when he has all the money and you have nothing, and you are dependent on him for the very clothes on your back. Washington learned to keep his tongue and his council. [00:16:20]
Very early too, he learned to control his temper, and...
Very early too, he learned to control his temper, and Washington had a fiery temper. In fact Washington was afraid of his own temper. He lost it on one occasion when the troops fled in the face of England. And he completely lost his head, he swore at them, he was ready to strike them down and when they kept running he was so bitterly discouraged he turned his horse towards the enemy and was ready to ride right into the enemy ranks and die alone rather than retreat. But some of his officers grabbed the horses reigns and pulled him back. That was the one occasion when he publicly lost his temper. He was afraid of his temper. And so he controlled it. Very, very carefully. Washington was self-conscious about his lack of education, and so he spoke very little in public, because he was self-conscious among the other leaders of the various colonies. He was also slow to speak because he had learned over the years from observing that people very seldom take advice, and you can only get into trouble giving people advice. A good example of this, I think a very delightful one, which I have always enjoyed: A cousin of Washington wrote to George about a possible marriage in the family of an in-law, a widow. And they felt that she had fallen in love with the wrong person, and wouldn’t George, now the senior member of the family, the most important member or the most significant, write to this woman and discuss this, and give her some advice. And tell her she was making a bad mistake. Well George wrote back, and this letter I think is very characteristic of the man, you get a flavor of George Washington in this letter.
“For my own part,” (writing to his cousin) “I never did, nor do I ever believe I ever shall give advice to a woman who is setting out on a matrimonial voyage. First, because I never could advise someone to marry without her own consent; and secondly because I know it is to no purpose to advise her to refrain, when she has obtained it. A woman very rarely asks opinion or requires advice on such an occasion, till her resolution is formed; and then it is with the hope and expectation of obtaining a sanction,” (In other words she only asks you to have you say, “You are doing the right thing.”) “not that she means to be governed by your disapprobation, that she applies. In a word, the plain English of the application can be summed up in these words: ‘I wish you to think as I do; but if unhappily you differ from me in opinion, my heart, I must confess, is fixed, and I have gone too far now to retract.’ If Mrs. Custis should ever suggest a thing of this kind to me,” (that is, that’s my advice.) “I will give her my opinion of the measure, not of the man, with candour, and to the following effect: “I never expected you would spend the residue of your days in widowhood; but in a matter so important, and so interesting to yourself, children, and connections, I wish you would make a prudent choice; to do which, many considerations are necessary; such as the family and connections of the man, his fortunes, (which is not the most essential in my eye,) the line of conduct he has observed, and the disposition and frame of his mind. You should consider what prospect there is of his proving kind and affectionate to you; just, generous, and attentive to your children, and how far his connections will be agreeable to you; for when they are formed, agreeable or not, the die being cast, your fate is fixed.” Thus far, and no further, I shall go in my opinion.” [00:20:32]
I’ve read all the published letters of Washington,...
I’ve read all the published letters of Washington, and only once have I ever found him breaking down and giving advice. And this was to his nephew Bushrod, who was studying law. He later became an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and he was having financial difficulties. And so George Washington wrote him a long letter, of advice, counseling him, saying that “I’m not prying into what you have been doing or what your problems are”, but giving him counsel to avoid vice, to avoid gambling, and always to be generous to be others, remembering always the estimation of the widows mite, and so on. In another letter, to another nephew, George S. Washington, there is a hint of advice, but no actual advice. Washington was not a man who said anything when it was going to be useless to talk. He didn’t waste words. But he could use words very powerfully, and this was one of the reasons why he was such an able commander. Those of you who have studied American History in the not too remote past may remember the Conway Cabal, when a group of officers and citizens, members of congress, formed a conspiracy to out Washington as commander, and replace him with General Gates, or someone else. Now, for the members of Congress to think along these lines was legitimate. But for Army officers, to conspire behind their commander’s back, to have him ousted, was not legitimate. One of the worst men in this conspiracy was Doctor Benjamin Rush. Well, one of the letters fell into the hands of Patrick Henry. And Patrick Henry immediately forwarded the letter to Washington and warned him of what was apparently going on. And he left it to Washington to act, but offered to give him any assistance whatsoever. Now this was something that could be very serious. How did Washington handle it? Well, he simply wrote a letter to Brigadier General Conway, as follows:
“The 9th of November, 1777. Sir, A letter which I received last night contained the following paragraph. In a letter from General Conway to General Gates, he says: ‘Heaven has been determined to save your country, or a weak general and bad councilors would have ruined it. I am, sir, your humble servant, George Washington.” [00:23:35]
That was all! Just one sentence out of the letter. Well, Conway began to sweat, and every other officer that was in the Cabal to sweat, wondering “How much does Washington know?” He just said that and said nothing more, and went on as though nothing had happened, they’d come around and make an occasion, everyone in the conspiracy to talk to him, to see what his attitude was like, and how much did he know, and he was just the same as always, but they felt more and more uncomfortable in his eyes, so every one of them came quickly in to confess and to say “well, I didn’t mean to, I didn’t take it seriously,” and so on, and the whole thing disappeared. Now if Washington had tried to prosecute the matter, they would have immediately said: “Well where’s your evidence? You don’t have enough evidence to convict us.” It would’ve been a legal matter you see. But since he did nothing but simply indicate I know what’s going on, they were busy imagining every kind of possible act he was going to take, and they fell apart. And that’s the kind of leadership he exercised. But most importantly, he never, at any point took it out upon any man that was involved in the Cabal. He knew their strengths and he knew their weaknesses. And he used every one of those men, both them and later on as the President he used some of them, wherever he thought they could do the most good. In other words, his thinking was: “It’s not how they feel about me as an individual, it is what can they do for the country.” Some of them were actually appointed to high office when he became president. Washington understood people. He knew what they were and what they could do. And as a result, because he was above being personal, he could lead men. Washington believed that God alone could change man, human advice alone could not. But there was a human answer to man’s condition, law and order. And Washington believed strongly in this, and militarily this meant discipline. Washington sought to set an example for the men, as a Christian gentleman, and as a Christian officer, and have strong discipline. He was emphatic at all time of the need for chaplains, about the need of drills, about the need for taking the troops and making them into seasoned soldiers. We have no idea because the books give us a very inadequate picture, what a tremendous problem he had. His ability to impose discipline upon the soldiers was very limited. They were an army of volunteers for the most part, and they deserted readily and easily. As a matter of fact one historian has written and I quote:
“It is rather breathtaking now, after all the bunk about unanimous resistance that our school history choked down our young throats, to realize that perhaps 40% of the population of the colonies was flamingly pro-British. Let us pause for a moment for figures. The total population of America on the day that Washington took command of the army at Cambridge was approximately two million five hundred thousand. Let’s us say generously that at least half that total were women. This leaves 1,250,000 males. In the Revolution there was no age limit in the army, men from 16 to 60 fought side by side in the rebel army. Consequently. Consider the appalling child mortality which cut down most children before they reached 16. About 5 out of every 7 males were within the limits of a draft. That leaves perhaps 892,850 effective. But from this we must subtract the 40% who were loyalist. 535,700 men remain. Now we must remember the element that was neither loyalist nor patriot. We must remember the lukewarm, the neutral, who trembled between the two extremes. Vacantly waiting to see which side would win. When the war was over and America triumphed, these people claimed to have been as patriotic as the rest. But during those seven so harrowing years, these lukewarmers numbered about 25%, or over 300,000 of the male population. After all these eliminations, about 225,000 men remain as the potential military equivalent that Washington ought to have been able to rely upon. As things turned out he never once had an army of over 25,000. And most of the time, straggling and bedraggled, it numbered between 3,000 and 15,000. The 15,000 at Brandywine was the largest force Washington ever took into the field for a single engagement. It is hard to reconcile these cold facts with our pink and white American traditions of “the spirit of 1776”. – From “A Short History of the American Revolution” by John Hyde Preston. [00:28:56]
Now that’s a blunt fact...
Now that’s a blunt fact. I’m going to tell you a little more about these troops, in a little while. But when you talk about the Spirit of 1776, you had better think about Washington, most of all, and a handful of other men. Without him there would’ve been no United States. Years later Washington observed: “I think there is more wickedness, than ignorance, mixed in our councils.” He had a lively awareness of this from the beginning. He knew the sinfulness of man. He was one of the first Americans to speak out that liberty was in peril. As early as 1769, long before others saw any real threat, Washington was saying there was a danger. This was why the Fairfax Resolves came about in Fairfax county, in the courthouse at a meeting chaired, called, by George Washington. Now, we dealt with the Fairfax resolves this morning, to go on with Washington and the problem of the army. First of all one of the problems that the army faced was a horde of women. Prostitutes. Who followed the army wherever it went and there was nothing he could do to change it. When a battle was over, those women were there on the battlefield within a matter of seconds, stripping the British soldiers naked. Because there would be clothing on their backs that they could take and re-sell, there would be money in their pockets, they would have watches, they would have various things. This was a major problem for Washington. In fact after one battle, some of the British Troops had to be buried totally naked, having been stripped of everything they had, by these women. Moreover, his men were not only undisciplined, they were often cowardly. On July 18, 1755, in the French and Indian War he wrote to his mother that Americans had been attacked by a smaller force and had panicked, and had behaved with more cowardice than it is possible to conceive. Now Washington did not see this as an American sin, he knew it was a product of poor training. The troops that don’t know how to act in battle are going to be cowardly every time. And the trouble was that the Americans did not believe in any kind of military training and system. And this was for him a major problem. Men were unwilling to volunteer. If they would volunteer for a short span of time, it would be on the condition that when they volunteered they would get their pay in advance and would take a furlough of six weeks. [00:31:52]
So the minute they signed up you lost them, they took...
So the minute they signed up you lost them, they took their pay and in some cases took off. In 1775, November 28 he wrote to Joseph Reed. About the problem of getting troops.
“Such a dearth of public spirit, and such a want of virtue, such stock-jobbing, and fertility in all the low arts to obtain advantage of one kind or another in this great change of military arrangement, I never saw before, and I pray God’s mercy that I may never be witness to again. What will be the end of these maneuvers is beyond my scan. I tremble at the prospect. We have been till this time, (Nov. 28) enlisting about three thousand five hundred men. To engage these, I have been obliged to allow furloughs as far as fifty men to a regiment, and the officers I persuaded indulge many more. The Connecticut troops will not be prevailed upon to stay longer than their term, saving those who’ve enlisted for the next campaign, and are mostly on furlough; and such a mercenary spirit pervades the whole, that I should not be surprised at any disaster that may happen. In short after the last of 6 months, our lines will be so weakened, that the minute men and militia must be called in to their defense. And these being under no kind of government themselves will destroy the little subordination I’ve been laboring to establish, and running into one evil whilst I am endeavoring to avoid another, but the less much be chosen. Could I have foreseen what I experienced and am likely to experience, no consideration upon earth should’ve induced me to accept this command.” [00:33:26]
I could go on and cite the problems, he would insist...
I could go on and cite the problems, he would insist upon strict discipline. If there was any looting, the men were to be lashed. If the name of the Lord was to be taken in vain, because Washington said “We want the favor of the Almighty.” there were to be 25 lashes. But whatever discipline was ordered, the officers would side with the men, to be popular with them, and instead of giving them the lash, they’d give them a little flick, 25 times, or ten times, whatever it was, and turn the whole act of discipline into a joke. And you can imagine what Washington’s fight was, so that he wrote on December 18th, 1776 to his brother John Augustine Washington:
“You can form no idea of the perplexity of my situation. No man I believe ever had a greater choice of difficulties, and less means to extricate himself from them. However, under a full persuasion of the justice of our cause, I cannot entertain an idea that it will finally sink, though it may remain some time under a cloud.”
To give you an idea of how poorly equipped the army was, when Mrs. Washington and some other women visited the camp one winter, the men had so little clothing they were in tatters, and it was an awkward situation as they were trying to rearrange the troops so that they could have enough clothed men out in front whose privates were not showing. That’s how near naked the troops were. Let me quote from the diary of Doctor Waldo, an army doctor. Here in the army quarters of 1776 and 77. And this was the winter before Valley Forge, so it was not the worst. Now, his diary is just made of little jottings, because his hands were so cold he could hardly write, and he was expressing his thought.
“It snows - I'm Sick - eat nothing - No Whiskey - No Forage - Lord - Lord - Lord. Cold and uncomfortable. Poor food, hard lodgings, fatigue, nasty clothes, nasty cookery, vomit half the time, smoked out of my senses, the Devil's in it - I can't Endure it – smoke and cold, hunger and filthiness, a pox on my bad luck. There comes a bowl of beef stew, full of burnt leaves and dirt. sickish enough to make a Hector spue - away with it Boys - I'll live like the Chameleon upon Air. Poh! Poh! cries Patience within me - you talk like a fool. There comes a Soldier, his bare feet are seen through' his worn out Shoes, his legs nearly naked from the tattered remains of an only pair of stockings, his Breeches not sufficient to cover his nakedness, his Shirt hanging in Strings, his hair disheveled, his face meager; his whole appearance pictures a person forsaken and discouraged. He comes, and cry’s with an air of wretchedness and despair, I am Sick, my feet lame, my legs are sore, my body covered with this tormenting Itch - and all the reward I shall get will be when it is over - "Poor Will is dead."“ [00:36:48]
Now that was the kind of army Washington had to deal...
Now that was the kind of army Washington had to deal with at the time, three, four, five thousand men like that. In fact, one writer of the period, perhaps I shouldn’t cite this, described the American army, and ridiculing it as “barefooted, barelegged, and almost bareassed.” So when you see the pretty pictures of the Continental pictures, they give the ideal, not the reality. Men with frozen feet and legs were regularly undergoing amputation. The sad fact was it was often as not because there were no boots. Let me read a summary of the problem as given by Preston.
“When Anthony Wayne pleaded for some of the shoes that were stored at York, the clothier General of Congress wrote that it was impossible to send them, because the Congress had neglected to vote on their distribution. A few weeks later Richard Peters refused Wayne a much needed supply of bayonets that was lying unused at Redding, because he did not wish to be accused to partiality to any one officer, and he had just sent Wayne a shipment of coats. These coats had been part of one those authorized thieveries known as contract jobs, and shrank beyond recognition the first time they got wet. Wayne wrote that the sight of his poor soldiers, lousie and disease-ridden, and gaunt from hunger, distorted the mind that dwelt on such a horror. His letters to Peters pleading for material are full of the grim humor that the colonists had with grief and despair. He wrote: on one occasion for God sake give us. If you cannot give us anything else, give us linen, that we may be enabled the poor worthy fellows from the vermin, which are devouring them and which has emaciated and reduced numbers exactly to answer the description of Shakespeare’s apothecary. Some hundreds we have thought prudent to deposit six feet under the ground, who died of the disorder produced by want of clothing.”
In other words, they froze to death. Now that was the kind of army that Washington was leading. When they were at Valley Forge, in such low straits that the only way the army could survive, because nothing was being given to them, was to go out and rob, to thieve some provisions from Americans, who were selling to the British. Washington gave the order, and his conscience was deeply troubled, because he was afraid that it would set a bad example for the others. [00:39:26]
That’s how conscientious he was...
That’s how conscientious he was. But what happened? Little by little, this man, by his dedication, by his patience, by his insistence on discipline, wielded those men, and officers, into a hard seasoned fighting force. Yes, without much clothing on their backs and with a coarse kind of equipment, but a disciplined fighting force. Instead of being the unruly men they had once been, making a mockery out of discipline, they reached a point where the slightest word of disapproval could break any dissident movement among the officers and men. They hung on every word. They were literally ready to die for him. The Army represented not only a military achievement on Washington’s part, but an educational and a moral, a religious achievement. Remember his insistence on chaplains. And on education.
This was why when the war was over, and there was a great deal of bitterness over the conduct of the states, the army was ready instead of disbanding to march and take over the government. Their bitterness was intense. They had worked hard all those years as soldiers. They had gone hungry, they had lost their toes, and their feet, or their hands, and now were the politicians going to deal in this way with the country? Washington called a meeting. It was all it took to break any thought of military seizure in the United States. He read a prepared statement. Before he did, he fumbled around, looking for his glasses, since he normally wasn’t reading, and he apologized to the men because he was searching his pockets for his glasses case, and he said “Gentlemen,” as he found his glasses and put them on, “I have grown old in my countries service. And I am not bound to destroy it now.” He broke the rebellion with those words. This is why there was no question in anyone’s mind, when the constitution was formed, who the first president would be. Because the country was Washington’s product. He more than any other man created the United States. It was his dedication. There were great majorities that wanted it, but when the chips were down, some of them became loyalists, many of them became neutrals, and those who were for it were all for somebody else fighting, and sticking his neck out, but it was Washington who heroically from beginning to end prosecuted that war. It is a fearful thing, that he is not given the position that is due to him. There was a time when all schoolchildren learned that George Washington was first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen. Now he is vilified, treated as though he were an atheist, a man who fasted every lord’s day. And avoided receiving friends and violating the Sabbath that way unless out of necessity. There is more we can say about Washington, but our time is up. Suffice it to say that in his farewell address, he warned the country against the belief that there could be morality without religion. Theological order, in other words he held, must proceed moral and political order. And so he said:
“We must above all else, strengthen those institutions which further learning.” And so, emphatically he said: “promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge.” Now when he said that, the only kind of school that George Washington knew was a Christian School. [00:43:54]