We cannot improve on history by blindly revering any individual, document, or event. We can learn a lot from the Founders, both from what they got right AND from what they got wrong. And we can do better than they did.
Tag Archives | George Washington
The American was voted the winner in a contest run by the National Army Museum to identify the country's most outstanding military opponent. He was one of a shortlist of five leaders who topped a public poll and on Saturday was selected as the ultimate winner by an audience of around 70 guests at a special event at the museum, in Chelsea, west London. In second place was Michael Collins, the Irish leader, ahead of Napoleon Bonaparte, Erwin Rommel and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. At the event, each contender had their case made by a historian giving a 40 minute presentation. The audience, who had paid to attend the day, then voted in a secret ballot after all five presentations had been made. Dr Stephen Brumwell, who had championed Washington, said: "As British officers conceded, he was a worthy opponent."
Via the Des Moines Register, has the essence of America ever been better embodied by a single pocket-size object than in the case of the appearance of George Washington’s visage in this McDonald’s McNugget, sold on eBay with the proceeds going to an Iowa bible camp?
Lauren Davis on io9 discusses U.S. Capitol designer William Thornton’s half-baked plan to bring George Washington back from the dead. Thornton’s idea was not enacted, but who knows what the future holds — in the decades to come, George Washington’s cadaver and Hitler’s brain may yet sit in a cafe somewhere sharing a conversation:
… Read the rest
George Washington may have been America’s first president, but was he nearly America’s first zombie-in-chief? If William Thornton, physician and designer of the US Capitol, had had his way, Washington’s body would have been subjected a scientific experiment designed to bring the deceased former president back to life.
Washington’s body was not buried immediately after his death. The president may not have feared death, but he did fear being buried alive. Before he died, he commanded his secretary, Tobias Lear, to make sure that he would not be entombed less than three days after he died. In accordance with Washington’s wishes, his body was put on ice until it could be moved to the family vault.
In the buildup to the 2012 elections, we can anticipate candidates attempting to appropriate inaccurate depictions of the legacies of the Founding Fathers. But when it comes to real history, pound for pound, and in any fight between Jefferson and Washington, I’d put my money on Ben Franklin.
In one recent article posted to disinfo.com, and the attendant readers’ comments particularly grabbed my imagination: “Dancing at the Memorial of a Slave Owner“, an examination of the events following the arrest of five persons for dancing near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Of course the real importance of the article bears upon the current state of civil rights and free speech in the United States, not on Mr. Jefferson’s personal stance on slavery. The impression the piece left with me was a reinforced sense of America as a declining cultural as well as economic and military power, clinging desperately onto past imagined glories in a viciously ironic way that presents a tragi-comic contrast with the soaring notions of liberty articulated by Jefferson himself.… Read the rest
The following is another chapter from my disinformation book, 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know: Volume 2, published in 2004. For more on me go to The Memory Hole or follow me @RussKick on Twitter.
We typically imagine George Washington to be as pure as driven snow, a demigod who won the Revolutionary War, then assumed the mantle of President to flawlessly lead a fledgling country.
The reality is vastly different. Besides being borderline incompetent on the battlefield (during the first four years of the Revolution, he lost every major engagement), the man who could not tell a lie started the tradition of presidential corruption.
The whistle was blown by the Clerk of Congress — writing under the nom de plume “A Calm Observer” — in the Philadelphia Aurora, a muckraking anti-federalist newspaper founded, edited, and published by Benjamin Franklin’s grandson. In 1795, the Aurora published the Clerk’s detailed breakdown of how much loot Washington had taken from the Treasury beyond his Constitutionally-sanctioned $25,000 annual salary.… Read the rest
The Atlantic goes through U.S. history president-by-president and breaks down the peak wealth of each. Barack Obama’s $5 million fortune is relatively paltry, making him the poorest of our last ten presidents. The all-time richest? Either JFK or George Washington, who was worth $525 million in today’s dollars:
His Virginia plantation, “Mount Vernon,” consisted of five separate farms on 8,000 acres of prime farmland, run by over 300 slaves. His wife, Martha Washington, inherited significant property from her father. Washington made significantly more than subsequent presidents: his salary was two percent of the total U.S. budget in 1789.