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Remembering the indispensable man


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Scott Johnson
February 22, 2016

Today is the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Of all the great men of the revolutionary era to whom we owe our freedom, Washington’s greatness was the rarest and the most needed. At this remove in time, it is also the hardest to comprehend.

Take, for example, Washington’s contribution to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Washington’s mere presence lent the undertaking and its handiwork the legitimacy that resulted in success. The convention’s first order of business was the election of a presiding officer. Washington was the delegates’ unanimous choice.

 

Presiding over the convention during that fateful summer, Washington said virtually nothing. In his excellent book on Washington, Richard Brookhiser notes: “The esteem in which Washington was held affected his fellow delegates first of all…Washington did not wield the power he possessed by speaking. Apart from his lecture on secrecy, Washington did not address the Convention between the first day and the last.”

 

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