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  • The Man Who Would Not be King

    We all know the stories about George Washington. He chopped down a cherry tree, but did not lie about it. He wore wooden teeth and handwrote rules of civility. But cherry trees and wooden teeth do not capture the actual Washington. His greatest legacy lies in resisting the lure of political power.

    The War for Independence presented several opportunities for Washington to usurp political power. In 1776 and 1777, Washington received virtually unlimited authority to wage war against the British, but promptly returned these extensive grants when the crises ended. After the war, many suggested Washington claim formal political power—perhaps even become America’s first king. Washington rejected the idea of becoming king as inappropriate and dishonorable. He fought the war for the sake of the American Republic, not for his personal self-aggrandizement.

    The behavior of successful generals after a war has tremendous influence on the future of a country. History contains more stories of successful generals who become kings and dictators than of successful generals who become retired generals. But Washington refused to jeopardize the survival of the young republic.

    In his farewell orders to his soldiers on November 2, 1783, he defended the new republic and admonished his men to cultivate the civil virtues necessary to its preservation. The republic is indispensible to citizens’ happiness, Washington explained, and the soldiers’ future happiness depends upon how they reentered their communities. The life of a private citizen was not ignoble. Civil society required a different set of virtues from those necessary in warfare:  the virtues of “economy, prudence and industry” are as necessary in civil society as “valor, perseverance and enterprise” are on the battlefield.  The adventurous among them may seek their fortunes out West.  But no matter where his men settled, they ought to “prove themselves not less virtuous and useful as Citizens, than they have been persevering and victorious solders.”

    Having dismissed his men and admonished them to embrace civil virtues fit for a republic, Washington voluntarily resigned his military commission weeks later on December 23, 1783 saying:  “Happy in the confirmation of our Independence and Sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable Nation, I resign with satisfaction the Appointment I accepted with diffidence.” Washington continues “having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”

    Washington voluntarily stepped down from power again, this time after serving two terms as President, prompting King George III to proclaim Washington to have ”the greatest character of the age.” As he admonished his troops, so too would Washington “add his best endeavors to those of his worthy fellow Citizens towards effecting these great and valuable purposes on which our very existence as a nation so materially depends.” For “unless the principles of the federal government were properly supported and the powers of the union increased, the honor, dignity, and justice of the nation would be lost forever.” George Washington is the man who refused to be king—more than once.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to The Man Who Would Not be King

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      "Washington voluntarily stepped down from power [...], this time after serving two terms as President, prompting King George III to proclaim Washington to have ”the greatest character of the age.” As he admonished his troops, so too would Washington “add his best endeavors to those of his worthy fellow Citizens towards effecting these great and valuable purposes on which our very existence as a nation so materially depends.” For “unless the principles of the federal government were properly supported and the powers of the union increased, the honor, dignity, and justice of the nation would be lost forever.” George Washington is the man who refused to be king—more than once."

      Washington is second to only Jesus in my book as being a true advocate of the human individual. He was a truly great man. Many times, we ask, "What would Regan do,” when it comes to conservatism. I think the better test and the better question would be "what would Washington do?"

      Washington would not have installed an EPA, a Dept of Ed, a Dept of Transportation, a permanent war department and a standing army, a Dept of Energy, a FCC, a DHS and so on and so on. With Washington, we would not need to spend precious billions of dollars on government oversight. The federal government would be open and transparent – not secretive und untrusting as it is today. With Washington, we would not be shopping for wars and entangling ourselves in other countries business just to keep the military complex alive. With Washington, we would not have the DC we have now, nor would federal employees be greasing their pockets in the greedy manner they are today. We would not need nearly 3 million people working for the government. With Washington budgets would be tight and small – deficit spending would be done as a necessity and then paid back as soon as possible. Washington would not have run massive debts like those that we run today. He certainly would not have spent our children’s and grand children’s future into the ground. The federal workforce, as small as it would be naturally be, would have high regards for the people they serve rather than see themselves as a higher class. They would see themselves as servants.

      Washington was the ultimate public servant and gave of himself so that this nation could get past its infancy to become strong. He was an astute businessman and could have done a lot better in the private sector. Nearly all in government could take a lesson from Washington and become true public servants. If it is status, wealth and power they seek, they could go to the private sector where those should be found.

      What the District of Columbia has become is the antithesis of what Washington stood for. It hurts to have his name associated with that greedy power seeking, corrupt and self-serving mass it has become. I cannot tell you every time I hear "Washington makes another grab for power with . . . " it makes my stomach turn – and I would not be surprised that he himself must be turning in his grave nearly constantly. DC has turned over the table on all of what Washington built. I hope one day we hear headlines like “Washington relinquished control of education back to the states.” Because that would be, what he would do.

      "Washington voluntarily stepped down from power [...], this time after serving two terms as President, prompting King George III to proclaim Washington to have ”the greatest character of the age.” As he admonished his troops, so too would Washington “add his best endeavors to those of his worthy fellow Citizens towards effecting these great and valuable purposes on which our very existence as a nation so materially depends.” For “unless the principles of the federal government were properly supported and the powers of the union increased, the honor, dignity, and justice of the nation would be lost forever.” George Washington is the man who refused to be king—more than once."

      Washington is second to only Jesus in my book as being a true advocate of the human individual. He was a truly great man. Many times, we ask, "What would Regan do,” when it comes to conservatism. I think the better test and the better question would be "what would Washington do?"

      Washington would not have installed an EPA, a Dept of Ed, a Dept of Transportation, a permanent war department and a standing army, a Dept of Energy, a FCC, a DHS and so on and so on. With Washington, we would not need to spend precious billions of dollars on government oversight. The federal government would be open and transparent – not secretive und untrusting as it is today. With Washington, we would not be shopping for wars and entangling ourselves in other countries business just to keep the military complex alive. With Washington, we would not have the DC we have now, nor would federal employees be greasing their pockets in the greedy manner they are today. We would not need nearly 3 million people working for the government. With Washington budgets would be tight and small – deficit spending would be done as a necessity and then paid back as soon as possible. Washington would not have run massive debts like those that we run today. He certainly would not have spent our children’s and grand children’s future into the ground. The federal workforce, as small as it would be naturally be, would have high regards for the people they serve rather than see themselves as a higher class. They would see themselves as servants.

      Washington was the ultimate public servant and gave of himself so that this nation could get past its infancy to become strong. He was an astute businessman and could have done a lot better in the private sector. Nearly all in government could take a lesson from Washington and become true public servants. If it is status, wealth and power they seek, they could go to the private sector where those should be found.

      What the District of Columbia has become is the antithesis of what Washington stood for. It hurts to have his name associated with that greedy power seeking, corrupt and self-serving mass it has become. I cannot tell you every time I hear "Washington makes another grab for power with . . . " it makes my stomach turn – and I would not be surprised that he himself must be turning in his grave nearly constantly. DC has turned over the table on all of what Washington built. I hope one day we hear headlines like “Washington relinquished control of education back to the states.” Because that would be, what he would do.

    2. LibertyAtStake, Alex says:

      Nice contrast to the unconstitutional power grabs now in progress at FCC, HHS, and EPA (those being the ones we know about so far).

      http://libertyatstake.blogspot.com
      "Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

    3. European Conservativ says:

      At the least, Mr Washington demostrated his good taste – he knew that proclaiming himself a "king" would be a farce as he was not of a proper lineage.

    4. Ken, Anchorage says:

      Thank you for your comment, George Colgrove. Merry Christmas to all! And the liberals want to make us forget our founding fathers and rewrite their history. Be sure to focus on their owning of slaves, growing hemp (in suport of pot being good), womanizing, drinking, and other personal weakenesses. Forget what the did to create the basis for our country. Also, be sure to forget Jesus Christ – he is irrelevant. Allah, Akbar, represents the new religion of choice of Obama and the liberals.

      Obama is the liberal messiah, who is leading us into a new era of "enlightenment." Dangerous rubbish. It is only through our people waking up, and with the assistance of divine providence, that we will make it through this. It may be impossible though – the producers now – private industry which produces useful things – is being overrun by the governement and its leeches. The money earned by private wage earners is being taken to support the more than 50% who produce nothing, which includes most government workers. Barney Frank wants to take the earnings of your lifetime through confiscatory estate taxes, which is "fair" becasue your children did not create the estate. About 46% of states are technically bankrupt or close to it. And the federal government has put us so far into debt that we and our children will never pay it off. And they continue to lie to us about it all.

      Bring back George Washington!!!!

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