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There are many individuals in American History, whom we as Americans regard for their courage and audacity in shaping our nation. We learn in our history classes the great accomplishments of our founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Ben Franklin. One other great founding father and our First President, George Washington was one whom we learned much about. We learn in school that he is as a prime example of leadership, citizenship, and overall individual achievement for his many contributions to our nation's earliest struggles. But although we are taught that George Washington was this man of great disposition, no man is without his flaws. Many scholars have sought to enlighten individuals to these cracks in the Nation's perspective of our first president. The following composition will give an analysis of literature that shows George Washington was in consistent regarding his views on slavery. Although Washington is well-known for his many political accomplishments little is spoken about his views regarding slavery. George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. Despite losing his father at a juvenile age, 11, Lawrence his half-brother, 14 years older, quickly took over as a surrogate father figure to all of his younger siblings. Washington's mother, Mary, became very protecting after the death of her husband (Georges father), Augustine. She kept George from enlisting in the British Navy contrary to the wishes of older brother, Lawrence. George lived with his older brother from the time he was about 15 and attended school in Virginia and never went to college. He was very good at mathematics which was quite suitable to his later occupation as a surveyor. In 1752, Lawrence also passed away his cause of death was tuberculosis. This was also the first year of military service for Washington who joined the Virginia Militia (to honor the wishes of his deceased brother). At the age of 23 years old Washington would become commander of the Virginia Regiment, ( Ellis, Joseph J, His Excellency, 24) although his men both more experienced and senior sought after him as their leader. His character and patriotism led directly to his selection as Commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Army. As commander-in-chief George led his army to a number of very important victories to include the capture of Boston with few defeats such as the trouncing of New York City. George lost many battles, with only one surrender, he continuously and persistently fought the British with unrelenting tactics he conspired the general strategy of the war. He oversaw the training and the organization of the army. Being unanimously elected upon Washington began his first term as President in 1789. He went on to serve for a second term ending his presidency in 1796. All that being said George Washington sounds like a stand up guy and that is why many Americans consider him to be a hero, but there are limits to the stories that are told. During the early times in American society, it was not uncommon or taboo for individuals to have slaves. Many wealthy whites have slaves in their household. Even some of our founding fathers had slaves. Thomas Jefferson is one such politician who is known for the number of slaves he had as well the illegitimate children he produced with some of these slaves. Benjamin Franklin also had slaves but after a change in views regarding slavery he freed his slaves and became a great fighter in the abolitionist movement. Franklin made his views publicly known when he became the president of the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. Like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington claimed that he was against slavery and was for the freeing of slaves when in fact his actions were quite the opposite. Although there is not much literature in regards to Washington and his feelings regarding slavery. After the war, there was written dialog between him and abolitionist Marquis De Lafayette about buying land were freed slaves would be able to settle. This would have been a movement to try to get other slaveholders to free their human property. This was not said to have been accomplished. "Washington quit buying more slaves and stopped selling those he had unless they agreed."(Bordewich, Fergus M. Washington the making of the American Capital, 59) Although in public, Washington may have portrayed the character of an individual who was for abolishment of slavery that was a fallacy. One such indiscretion was when he chose to use slaves as disposable bodies in war. In the 1760's, during his tenure as the Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, he devised a scheme of employing, enlisting, and arming slaves in the army. He pledged to them that if they were to survive the war that they would be granted their freedom. By falsely persuading blacks to enlist in the army, Washington positioned himself with not having to contract to free these slaves because he knew that surviving the war would not happen for them. If slaves were to be lost on the front lines of war he would not have to be troubled in regards of freeing them. Using slaves as pawn in the war would not be the only time Washington we use tact to avoid freeing slaves. Later in history, Washington again would have to come face-to-face with dealing with slavery. While enduring a stay at the temporary capital in 1790, Philadelphia, Washington was faced with the Pennsylvania's emancipation law which posed the same problem for him as any other slave owner. The law stated that any out-of-state slave who remained in Pennsylvania for more than 6 months automatically became free, apart from those owned by members of congress. To prevent himself from being subjected to this law Washington again devised a plan. He ordered his secretary, Lear, to see that each of his slaves was temporarily rotated out of Pennsylvania before the expiration of the legal time limit. Lear was to lie to slaves, if necessary to end or their compliance. Washington was quoted as saying, "I wish to have it accomplished under the pretext that may deceive both them and the public." (Borewich, Fergus M. Washington the making of the American Capital, 117) Washington would consistently during his life make attempts to differ the freeing of his slaves. Throughout his life, Washington showed his reluctance to free his slaves. Although as previously stated he never actually gave a stance on slavery, his actions regarding slavery showed that he was not against it. In one official act on the issue of slavery he signed the first Fugitive Slave Law, which was passed by Congress in February 1793. This law made it a federal crime to assist a fleeing of slave and empowered a master or his hired slave catcher to seize a fugitive and take them before a magistrate. (Borewich, Fergus M. Washington the making of the American Capital, 127) So in essence he signed a law punishing those who disagreed with slavery so much that they wouldnt assist slaves in getting their freedom. Even after his tenure as president, George Washington used state funds to continue to cling to the slaves he claimed he would eventually free. His debt increasingly swamped revenue after retirement making it exceedingly difficult to maintain valuables and properties at Mt. Vernon. "Washington's obsession with control meant deferring emancipation until assured that his own financial independence was secure." (Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency, 259) His fretfulness towards emancipation of slavery was more based on his own economic security vice moral values. He occupied in excess of twice as many slaves to labor at hand making slavery an inefficient labor system ill-suited for the evolving vocation of farming as machinery was taking the place of manual labor. And regardless of what could have been seen as a selfish act, Washington still refused to free his slaves, even until his and his wife's dying day. Washington made a final attempt in freeing is slaves by placing it in his will, but even then it was not without strict limitations. Washington was aware that his will would be made public so he used as a way to speak to the nation regarding slavery. In his Last Will and Testament, Washington finally freed his slaves, upon the death of Martha. In his Will, Washington writes, "Upon the decease of my wife, it is my Will and desire that all the slaves which I hold in my own right, shall receive their freedom." (Ellis, Joseph J, His Excellency, 263). Washington refrained from releasing his slaves immediately, because he realized that many of his slaves had married dower slaves, who could not be freed until the death of Martha. (Ellis, Joseph J, His Excellency, 166) Washington did not want to separate husband from wife, mother from child. He also feared that some freed slaves who had family that were dower slaves would help them to escape. By waiting until both he and Martha were passed away, both Washington's slaves and the dower slaves could be released at the same time. Washington provided in his Will instruction for the care of elderly and infirm that wanted to stay slaves for their own securities were to be kept fed by his heirs while they are alive. Youths without parents were to become indentured slaves and cared for until the age of twenty-five, taught how to read and write, and properly prepared for the lives after slavery. Washington bluntly added that, "I do more over most pointedly and most solemnly enjoin it upon my executor ...this clause respecting slaves, be religiously fulfilled, without evasion, neglect, or delay." (Bordewich, Fergus M, Washington the Making of the American Capital, 236) Though it took him until his death to free his slaves, Washington made sure that they would be given opportunities to survive on their own, even if it meant costing his heirs a lot of money. During the final years of his life George Washington, did have a change of heart and began to want to loosen his grip on his slaves. He was quoted in his change on his stance on slavery: "I have another motive which makes me earnestly wish for an accomplishment of these things, it is indeed a more powerful than all the rest, namely to liberate a certain species of property which I possess to my own feelings." (Ellis, Joseph J, His Excellency, 257). Here is the first clear statement of his intention to free, not to sell his slaves; in effect to liberate his bondsman as well as his conscience. Two years before Washington death he wrote "I wish from my soul that the Legislature of this State could see the policy of a gradual Abolishment of slavery it would prevt. much further mischief." (Bordewich, Fergus M, Washington the Making of the Making Capital, 236) It can reasonably be concluded that Washington's failure to speak out publicly against slavery until late in his life was a character flaw. Had he not have been so selfish I would agree with most of America in saying that yes he was a hero. It takes a special kind of person to say out loud what they believe in, and stay true to it. There were plenty of instances where he could have given his slaves to freedom but instead he chose to keep them in captivity. Although credit should be given for his change in attitude during the last few years of his life, and also in ensuring his slaves would be freed after his death. I think it only natural that we look at some individuals for all the good that they have done and for the great contributions that they have made to our society. But it may be that we are disillusioned by what we are taught as children that we assume these people don't have any faults. Maybe knowing these great men had faults helps to see them as more human. Minus the character flaw George Washington was still one of the framers of American society.
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George Washington: Flaws and All
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George Washington: Flaws And All

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              There are many individuals in American History, whom we as Americans regard for their courage and audacity in shaping our nation. We learn in our history classes the great accomplishments of our founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Ben Franklin. One other great founding father and our First President, George Washington was one whom we learned much about. We learn in school that he is as a prime example of leadership, citizenship, and overall individual achievement for his many contributions to our nation's earliest struggles. But although we are taught that George Washington was this man of great disposition, no man is without his flaws. Many scholars have sought to enlighten individuals to these cracks in the Nation's perspective of our first president. The following composition will give an analysis of literature that shows George Washington was in consistent regarding his views on slavery. Although Washington is well-known for his many political accomplishments little is spoken about his views regarding slavery.
             
              George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. Despite losing his father at a juvenile age, 11, Lawrence his half-brother, 14 years older, quickly took over as a surrogate father figure to all of his younger siblings. Washington's mother, Mary, became very protecting after the death of her husband (Georges father), Augustine. She kept George from enlisting in the British Navy contrary to the wishes of older brother, Lawrence. George lived with his older brother from the time he was about 15 and attended school in Virginia and never went to college. He was very good at mathematics which was quite suitable to his later occupation as a surveyor. In 1752, Lawrence also passed away his cause of death was tuberculosis. This was also the first year of military service for Washington who joined the Virginia Militia (to honor the wishes of his deceased brother). At the age of 23 years old Washington would become commander of the Virginia Regiment, ( Ellis, Joseph J, His Excellency, 24) although his men both more experienced and senior sought after him as their leader. His character and patriotism led directly to his selection as Commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Army. As commander-in-chief George led his army to a number of very important victories to include the capture of Boston with few defeats such as the trouncing of New York City. George lost many battles, with only one surrender, he continuously and persistently fought the British with unrelenting tactics he conspired the general strategy of the war. He oversaw the training and the organization of the army. Being unanimously elected upon Washington began his first term as President in 1789. He went on to serve for a second term ending his presidency in 1796. All that being said George Washington sounds like a stand up guy and that is why many Americans consider him to be a hero, but there are limits to the stories that are told.
             
              During the early times in American society, it was not uncommon or taboo for individuals to have slaves. Many wealthy whites have slaves in their household. Even some of our founding fathers had slaves. Thomas Jefferson is one such politician who is known for the number of slaves he had as well the illegitimate children he produced with some of these slaves. Benjamin Franklin also had slaves but after a change in views regarding slavery he freed his slaves and became a great fighter in the abolitionist movement. Franklin made his views publicly known when he became the president of the Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. Like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington claimed that he was against slavery and was for the freeing of slaves when in fact his actions were quite the opposite.
             
              Although there is not much literature in regards to Washington and his feelings regarding slavery. After the war, there was written dialog between him and abolitionist Marquis De Lafayette about buying land were freed slaves would be able to settle. This would have been a movement to try to get other slaveholders to free their human property. This was not said to have been accomplished. "Washington quit buying more slaves and stopped selling those he had unless they agreed. "(Bordewich, Fergus M. Washington the making of the American Capital, 59)
             
              Although in public, Washington may have portrayed the character of an individual who was for abolishment of slavery that was a fallacy. One such indiscretion was when he chose to use slaves as disposable bodies in war. In the 1760's, during his tenure as the Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, he devised a scheme of employing, enlisting, and arming slaves in the army. He pledged to them that if they were to survive the war that they would be granted their freedom. By falsely persuading blacks to enlist in the army, Washington positioned himself with not having to contract to free these slaves because he knew that surviving the war would not happen for them. If slaves were to be lost on the front lines of war he would not have to be troubled in regards of freeing them. Using slaves as pawn in the war would not be the only time Washington we use tact to avoid freeing slaves.
             
              Later in history, Washington again would have to come face-to-face with dealing with slavery. While enduring a stay at the temporary capital in 1790, Philadelphia, Washington was faced with the Pennsylvania's emancipation law which posed the same problem for him as any other slave owner. The law stated that any out-of-state slave who remained in Pennsylvania for more than 6 months automatically became free, apart from those owned by members of congress. To prevent himself from being subjected to this law Washington again devised a plan. He ordered his secretary, Lear, to see that each of his slaves was temporarily rotated out of Pennsylvania before the expiration of the legal time limit. Lear was to lie to slaves, if necessary to end or their compliance. Washington was quoted as saying, "I wish to have it accomplished under the pretext that may deceive both them and the public. " (Borewich, Fergus M. Washington the making of the American Capital, 117) Washington would consistently during his life make attempts to differ the freeing of his slaves.
             
              Throughout his life, Washington showed his reluctance to free his slaves. Although as previously stated he never actually gave a stance on slavery, his actions regarding slavery showed that he was not against it. In one official act on the issue of slavery he signed the first Fugitive Slave Law, which was passed by Congress in February 1793. This law made it a federal crime to assist a fleeing of slave and empowered a master or his hired slave catcher to seize a fugitive and take them before a magistrate. (Borewich, Fergus M. Washington the making of the American Capital, 127) So in essence he signed a law punishing those who disagreed with slavery so much that they wouldnt assist slaves in getting their freedom.
             
              Even after his tenure as president, George Washington used state funds to continue to cling to the slaves he claimed he would eventually free. His debt increasingly swamped revenue after retirement making it exceedingly difficult to maintain valuables and properties at Mt. Vernon. "Washington's obsession with control meant deferring emancipation until assured that his own financial independence was secure. " (Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency, 259) His fretfulness towards emancipation of slavery was more based on his own economic security vice moral values. He occupied in excess of twice as many slaves to labor at hand making slavery an inefficient labor system ill-suited for the evolving vocation of farming as machinery was taking the place of manual labor. And regardless of what could have been seen as a selfish act, Washington still refused to free his slaves, even until his and his wife's dying day.
             
              Washington made a final attempt in freeing is slaves by placing it in his will, but even then it was not without strict limitations. Washington was aware that his will would be made public so he used as a way to speak to the nation regarding slavery. In his Last Will and Testament, Washington finally freed his slaves, upon the death of Martha. In his Will, Washington writes, "Upon the decease of my wife, it is my Will and desire that all the slaves which I hold in my own right, shall receive their freedom. " (Ellis, Joseph J, His Excellency, 263). Washington refrained from releasing his slaves immediately, because he realized that many of his slaves had married dower slaves, who could not be freed until the death of Martha. (Ellis, Joseph J, His Excellency, 166) Washington did not want to separate husband from wife, mother from child. He also feared that some freed slaves who had family that were dower slaves would help them to escape. By waiting until both he and Martha were passed away, both Washington's slaves and the dower slaves could be released at the same time.
             
              Washington provided in his Will instruction for the care of elderly and infirm that wanted to stay slaves for their own securities were to be kept fed by his heirs while they are alive. Youths without parents were to become indentured slaves and cared for until the age of twenty-five, taught how to read and write, and properly prepared for the lives after slavery. Washington bluntly added that, "I do more over most pointedly and most solemnly enjoin it upon my executor . . . this clause respecting slaves, be religiously fulfilled, without evasion, neglect, or delay. " (Bordewich, Fergus M, Washington the Making of the American Capital, 236) Though it took him until his death to free his slaves, Washington made sure that they would be given opportunities to survive on their own, even if it meant costing his heirs a lot of money.
             
              During the final years of his life George Washington, did have a change of heart and began to want to loosen his grip on his slaves. He was quoted in his change on his stance on slavery: "I have another motive which makes me earnestly wish for an accomplishment of these things, it is indeed a more powerful than all the rest, namely to liberate a certain species of property which I possess to my own feelings. " (Ellis, Joseph J, His Excellency, 257). Here is the first clear statement of his intention to free, not to sell his slaves; in effect to liberate his bondsman as well as his conscience. Two years before Washington death he wrote "I wish from my soul that the Legislature of this State could see the policy of a gradual Abolishment of slavery it would prevt. much further mischief. " (Bordewich, Fergus M, Washington the Making of the Making Capital, 236)
             
              It can reasonably be concluded that Washington's failure to speak out publicly against slavery until late in his life was a character flaw. Had he not have been so selfish I would agree with most of America in saying that yes he was a hero. It takes a special kind of person to say out loud what they believe in, and stay true to it. There were plenty of instances where he could have given his slaves to freedom but instead he chose to keep them in captivity. Although credit should be given for his change in attitude during the last few years of his life, and also in ensuring his slaves would be freed after his death. I think it only natural that we look at some individuals for all the good that they have done and for the great contributions that they have made to our society. But it may be that we are disillusioned by what we are taught as children that we assume these people don't have any faults. Maybe knowing these great men had faults helps to see them as more human. Minus the character flaw George Washington was still one of the framers of American society.
George Washington Essay 
1. Bordewich, Fergus M. Washington: The Making of the American Capital. HarperCollins Publisher, 2008.

2. Colbert, David. Eyewitness to America: 500 Years of America in the Words of Those Who Saw It Happen. New York. Pantheon Books, 1997.

3. Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency George Washington. New York. Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.

4. McCullough, David. 1776. New York. Simon & Schuster, 2005.

5. Stevenson, Jay PhD and Budman, Matthew. The Complete Idiots Guide to American Heroes. New York. Alpha Books, 1999.
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