Many look to George Washington for the great things he accomplished in his lifetime. Winning the War for American Independence, being the first president, and shaping the way the Constitution was written and how the federal government was formed are all attributable to him. However, from his youth, he was a man whose focus on the little details in his life predicted his behavior in grander situations as they were presented to him.
Washington memorized the Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation when he was a boy. He not only memorized them; he internalized them to the point that he did not have to think about whether he was following them. They became second nature to him. He strove for personal betterment. As a result, people knew him for being equitable and evenhanded.
With this emphasis on personal character early in his life, it comes as no surprise that Washington was fair in larger matters in higher positions. This reputation was one reason that he was chosen as the president of both the Constitutional Convention and the United States. He let these principles flood every part of his actions, to the point where they caused him to consider the plight of his slaves. While this was not an issue with many of the other Founding Fathers, he became bothered about the treatment that his slaves received. He cared for the old and sick, and provided good housing for all of them. His will set them free upon the death of his wife. No one escaped his pursuit of fairness and decency. It has been said that perhaps slavery would have not become the issue it did if Washington, never failing to rise to the call of duty, had lived long enough to deal with it.
The restraint Washington learne...
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...he opinions of the minds around him, and moved forward, relying on the methodical reading and preparation in his life.
Napoleon was a much better general than Washington. Which one had a more lasting impact on the course of the world though? Napoleon was known for being impatient and selfish. As his empire grew, he started to get greedy, pushed too hard, and ultimately was defeated, losing the empire. Washington’s life is the reverse. He failed many times, but learned from his mistakes, displaying restraint, attention to detail, and equity to those around him. In the end, his final battle was won and a new country was formed.
Randall, Willard Sterne. George Washington:A Life. Henry Holt & Company, Inc. New
Abshire, David. The Character of George Washington. http://www.thepresidency.org/pubs/dmaCharacterofGWessay.htm. 23 April 2003.
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