Washington, the Indispensable Man of the Revolution

Poor George Washington. His birthday, spontaneously celebrated since the Revolution and formally declared a holiday in 1879, has slowly morphed into the insipid Presidents Day you’ll hear about today.

George Washington, the “indispensable man” of the Revolution who was rightly extolled for being “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” has now been lumped together with the likes of James Buchanan, Jimmy Carter, Franklin Pierce and John Tyler.

It gets worse. Washington’s good name and great legacy are now shamelessly invoked to justify positions that he would never have envisaged.

In a Time Magazine special edition on George Washington currently in newsstands, historian Joseph Ellis matter-of-factly remarks: “He began the political tradition that produced a Union victory in the Civil War, the Federal Reserve Board, Social Security, Medicare and, more recently, Obamacare.”

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