Feb

7

 Chernow's Washington does much humanize the otherwise stone and mythical Washington. He had his heroic faults but they were tempered. Some anecdotes demonstrate, for instance, in an early run for Virginia legislature, he asked that his brother and friends be allowed to cast the first votes to start some momentum in his favor. Most elections Washington participated in ( Commander and Chief, Constitutional convention, two Presidency's) were won unanimously so hardly mattered.

He was a land speculator in the Ohio River Valley region and used his status as French and Indian War veteran to buy on the cheap. In later years, however, much of this land was sold or donated to care for his very extended family or pay his may travel expenses in his goal to visit every state, no small venture in those days. In a similar way he befitted from the choice along the Potomac for the new capital just 20 miles from Mt Vernon as land appreciated. Some of theses proceed were donated to found a university. Also, he suffered an almost constant flow of visitors, many complete strangers whom he graciously fed, housed and entertained at great personal expense. A gentleman/businessman he was very focused to keep Mt Vernon a profitable venture and once had the largest distillery in the country on his farm. But his many years away left him with debt and at the mercy of weather and the many trials of agriculture.

He was not oblivious to the fairer sex and more than a few romantic letters exist to Sally Fairfax, Elizabeth Powell and others. He often noted in his diary the number of ladies attending ceremonies in his honor, Charleston holding the record at over 300. But it is highly unlikely he ventured any further than harmless poetic odes, and was faithful to his wife Martha. Far from perfect he was, none the less, a perfect leader and many of the precedents he set in office still stand today.


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