the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

21 beginning in 1780 washington went on the offensive

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21 Beginning in 1780, Washington went on the offensive, claiming that the lack of support for the Continental Army was a direct consequence of the failure of the Continental Congress to impose its will on the states. “Certain I am,” he warned, “that unless Congress speaks in a more decisive tone; unless they are vested with powers by the several states competent to the great purpose of War…, that our Cause is lost…. I see one head gradually changing into thirteen.” Over and over he repeated the refrain that a confederation of sovereign states, almost by definition, lacked the unity of purpose necessary to win the war: “In a word, our measures are not under the influence and direction of one council, but thirteen, each of which is actuated by local views and politics.” As a result, “we have become a many-headed Monster, a heterogeneous Mass, that never will Nor can steer to the same point.” Though his own personal honor was obviously invested in the eventual triumph of American independence, he wanted it placed in the record that “if we fail for want of proper exertions in any of the State Governments, I trust the responsibility will fall where it ought, and that I shall stand justified to the Congress, to my Country, and to the World.” If a potent Congress and powerful army were, in fact, incompatible with the principles on which the American Revolution was based, then everyone needed to realize that the war could not be won, and all those principles would prove meaningless. 22 Despite his own personal preference for political unity vested in the Continental Congress, in 1777 Washington started writing a series of “Circular Letters to the States.” It had become obvious that the power of the purse now resided in the state governments, and if he wanted to lobby for longer enlistments and money to give his troops shirts and shoes, the governors and legislatures of the states were the proper
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place to direct his attention. Doing so was itself a statement about the increasingly diffuse political realities that the protracted conflict had created. The survival of the Continental Army was now dependent on persuading thirteen provinces, each of them divided into multiple counties and towns, to act together. 23 If there was any doubt in Washington’s mind whether the center was going to hold—and there was —there was no doubt in anyone’s mind about who was the one-man centerpiece of the American Revolution. Even before independence was declared, Washington had become the chief symbol of resistance to British rule. It helped that he looked the part. Biographers do not agree about his height. * But all concur that he was a full head taller than the average male of his time, a physical specimen at just over two hundred pounds, who was also reputed to be the finest horseman in Virginia. In his youth he had earned fame during the French and Indian War for surviving the massacre at the Monongahela in 1755, when the British army
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