the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

While a majority of delegates in the continental

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indeed, it had already started a month earlier at Lexington and Concord. While a majority of delegates in the Continental Congress continued to grope for a political solution to the crisis, Washington knew in his bones that none would be found. He left instructions with his plantation manager to remove his books and his wife, Martha (presumably not in that order), when British frigates came up the Potomac to burn Mount Vernon to the ground. Washington recognized from the start that he was risking everything he held dear by committing to American independence, and this over a year before Jefferson wrote the words that memorialized the patriotic pledge of “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” 25 And honor, in a way that is difficult for our modern minds to fully appreciate, animated his every thought and feeling. When he accepted the appointment as head of what soon would be called the Continental Army on June 16, 1775, he gave a speech making two points: he did not believe himself qualified for the position; and he would serve without pay. That evening he wrote his brother-in-law in the same vein: I am now embarked on a tempestuous Ocean from whense, perhaps no friendly harbor is to be found…. It is an honor I wished to avoid…. I can answer but for three things, a firm belief in the justice of our Cause—close attention to the prosecution of it—and the strictest integrity—If these cannot supply the places of Ability and Experience the cause will suffer & more than probably my character along with it, as reputation derives its principal support from success. 26 He demonstrated the same pattern of postured reticence on two subsequent occasions: when he agreed to chair the Constitutional Convention and when he accepted the office of president. The pattern suggests that he had a problem acknowledging his own ambitions, always insisting that the summons to serve originated outside his own soul. But the decision to head the American army was especially poignant, because he knew that the British army and navy, taken together, was the most formidable military power on the planet, and the prospects for American success were dubious at best. There was no question in his mind about the moral supremacy of the American cause, but he was at the core a rock-ribbed realist who realized that a fervent belief in the worthiness of a cause was no guarantee of its ultimate triumph. He was lashing his life and, even more psychologically important to him, his honor to a vessel that was sailing into uncharted and troubled waters. From the beginning, then, the war for Washington was an all-or-nothing wager. There were, to be sure, enormous political considerations at stake. He announced from the start that he regarded the Continental Army as subservient to civilian control, as embodied in the Continental Congress. This was done without much pondering, almost breezily, a decision that becomes significant only when one realizes that Julius Caesar, Oliver Cromwell, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Simon Bolívar never managed to make it.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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