February 22, 2016

George Washington Birthday

"Never a deeply religious man, at least in the traditional Christian sense of the term, Washington thought of God as a distant, impersonal force, the presumed well-spring for what he called destiny or providence. Whether or not there was a hereafter, or a heaven where one's soul lived on, struck him as one of those unfathomable mysteries that Christian theologians wasted much ink and energy trying to resolve.  The only certain form of persistence was in the memory of succeeding generations, a secular rather than sacred version of immortality, which Washington was determined to influence and, if possible, control as completely as he had controlled the Continental army.  Most of the prominent leaders of the revolutionary generation recognized that they were making history, and took care to preserve their correspondence and edit their memoirs with an eye on posterity's judgment.  But none of them, including such assiduous memorialists as Franklin, Jefferson, and John Adams, were as earnest in courting posterity as Washington."    - Joseph J. Ellis, His Excellency, Alfred A. Knopf Publishing, 2004. p. 151