The Sons of the Revolution
42nd Triennial Williamsburg, VA Oct 1-4, 2015
The General Society Sons of the Revolution Honor General George Washington on his Birthday February 11, 1731
Congressman Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, a Revolutionary War comrade, famously eulogized Washington as:
First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting. . . .
Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. . . . Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.
Lee's words set the standard by which Washington's overwhelming reputation was impressed upon the American memory. Washington set many precedents for the national government and the presidency in particular.
As early as 1778 he was lauded as the "Father of His Country" and is often considered to be the most important of Founding Fathers of the United States. He has gained fame around the world as a quintessential example of a benevolent national founder. As Gordon Wood concludes, the greatest act in his life was his resignation as commander of the armies - an act that stunned aristocratic Europe.
Washington was long considered not just a military and revolutionary hero, but a man of great personal integrity, with a deeply held sense of duty, honor and patriotism. He was upheld as a shining example in schoolbooks and lessons: as courageous and farsighted, holding the Continental Army together through eight hard years of war and numerous privations, sometimes by sheer force of will; and as restrained: at war's end taking affront at the notion he should be King; and after two terms as President, stepping aside.
In 1790, Washington's close friend Benjamin Franklin died. In Franklin's will, he bequeathed Washington his walking cane, which Franklin received while serving as ambassador to France during the 1780s. Franklin spoke highly of Washington, even as a king, in his will: "My fine crab-tree walking stick, with a gold head curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend of mankind, General Washington. If it were a Sceptre, he has merited it, and would become it."
Washington was always the exemplar of republican virtue in America. He is seen more as a character model than war hero or founding father. One of Washington's greatest achievements, in terms of republican values, was refraining from taking more power than was due. He was conscientious of maintaining a good reputation by avoiding political intrigue. He had no interest in nepotism or cronyism, rejecting, for example, a military promotion during the war for his deserving cousin William Washington lest it be regarded as favoritism. Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The moderation and virtue of a single character probably prevented this Revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish".
Outreach Partnership With Friends Of Hermione
Twenty years ago a small group met together and discussed the idea of reconstructing an exact replica of L'Hermione, the French frigate that carried Lafayette to the American Revolution in 1780. As L'Hermione was reconstructed, the idea grew that she should sail to the USA - bringing to life the voyage made by Lafayette and reaffirming the historic relationship between the United States and France. L'Hermione's first voyage will take her across the Atlantic in 2015, stopping in ports from Yorktown to Boston, providing a series of fun, educational adventures capturing the spirit of Lafayette-self-determination, independence, freedom, and human rights-for millions of Americans. For more info on the project and the 2015 Voyage, please see http://www.hermione2015.com/