The old joke about baseball in the District of Columbia was that Washington is “first in war, first in peace, and last in the league.” This slyly played off the age-old description of George Washington himself: “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

This year’s Nationals are running away with their division, so the joke finally feels dated. But George Washington himself remains a timeless hero who still deserves the full devotion of the American people.

First in war? “Through force of character and brilliant political leadership,” writes Heritage’s Matthew Spalding, “Washington transformed an underfunded militia into a capable force that, although never able to take the British army head-on, outwitted and defeated the mightiest military power in the world.” Spalding’s essay about Washington has just been reissued as part of The Heritage Foundation’s series on people who’ve shaped American political thought.

First in peace? “As our first President, Washington set the precedents that define what it means to be a constitutional executive. He was a strong, energetic President but always aware of the limits on his office; he deferred to authority when appropriate but aggressively defended his prerogatives when necessary.”

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