Greatness of George Washington Gordon S. Wood This piece explored avenues related to personal preference and morality; it questioned what a good president meant in the 18th century. I also think this essay is a lot about his character and what made him different than other political powerheads. In the beginning he starts off by stating that even with the great president Washington was, he was voted third in favorite overall president; beaten out by Lincoln and FDR. Washington was known to be a great man focused on his behavior and prided himself on his conscious need to be a gentleman. He lived his life by the book of gentility” not that of the military. This may be what people’s complaint of Washington was “he was a man of reason who resisted the passions most likely to afflict great men, that is, ambition and avarice. ” In this story Gordon talked about when Washington gave up his sword in 1783 to congress to retired to Mount Vernon. Completely separating him from any legislation and politics. “This was a highly symbolic act. ” With Washington’s reputation with being just a “great” noblemen and his past history with leading troops in success of the American Revolution he was unanimously electing into office in 1789. As president he continued to try and play the role he thought circumstances demanded” Washington was extremely focused on his reputation. This diligent behavior benefited in his influence that founded presidency as we know it. Dent 2 Washington was a child of the enlightenment which meant that he believed that he could create himself. He was not from money or power or knowledge. Nor did he think any of those things created a great man. He remained “profoundly respectful of formal education” and was genially “enlightened by religion. ” Washington idealized and emulated a man named Cincinnatus.
Cincinnatus was an early Roman hero who immediately resigned from military leadership as soon as the crisis was over to retire to his farm. Washington showed pride in the way he created himself, a selfless well-mannered nobleman. Yet this led to the anxiety and constant worry on how his actions will be portrayed by the people. Everything that Washington did was diligently self-consciously cultivated. He was very earnest in formality for what formal behavior should be. Washington’s enlightenment is now more commonly known as cultivation and civilization.
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This piece shows the weaknesses and strengths of George Washington and tries to sway a characteristic moral on presidency. Obviously all of the essays we read are bias and rightfully so, I am just not sure I buy into all of it. Yes, George Washington was a very prestigious man who did many great things for the American revolution as well as forming the fundamentals of our presidency, but to be voted number one would only be if you neglected to address his lack in confidence and that he cared more about what people would think of him and correctly reacting to issues rather then what the best possible reaction would be.
I think that this is where Washington falls short slightly. He seemed to have obsessive compulsive tendencies, was extremely egotistical and had high anxiety for failure or ill response to his actions. These attributes made him look like a weak man and I cannot agree with wood that our greatness Dent 3 president was weak. I do wish that men today had more of his morality and standard for what a good man should be, but that’s here nor there in terms of the greatest American president.