City Journal Winter 2016

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Myron Magnet
When George Washington Became Great « Back to Story

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They should make a movie out this article alone! I would go watch it.

More of our countrymen need to know the true history of this country and not the propaganda written in our current history books.
Thank you for writing this. It is wonderful to read of the tremendous efforts and bravery that lead to the world's greatest nation.
Why Washington is Washington and Obama is Obama.
When I saw Myron's name on this piece I knew it would be entertaining.

Didn't learn much new here since Washington is my greatest hero and I've read every bio, watched every History Channel piece, spent weeks in Alexandria learning of the greatest American who ever lived.

But Magnet's writings on our founding fathers are not to be missed. My personal favorite essay was his CJ piece on John Jay. You should go back into the archives and read it--scintillating.

If Myron Magnet does enough of these mini-profiles of our founding fathers to make either a textbook or a coffee-table book, I will buy it. My vision for such a book would include a large number of illustrations of the National Geographic model--historic artists' depictions of people and events alongside current photos of historic places, artifacts and documents.

It seems you have much of the work already done, Mr. Magnet. I eagerly await the result, to guide the education of my own young children.
It is cautionary that it only took 38,000 voters to elect Washington.

Comparing our first four Presidents to our last four scarcely makes the case for universal suffrage, since less than 2% of the populace sufficed to elect Adams, Jefferson and Monroe as well.
The best recounting of this period I've ever read. Looking forward to the next installment.

"Washington willingly relinquished power (more than once), making him the greatest man who ever walked this Earth. His God was an ideal, not himself."

At the end of the Revolution, King George III asked one of his counselors what Washington was going to do now. The counselor explained that Washington was resigning his position, relinquishing all power, and returning to private life. King George supposedly replied, "Then by God, sir, he is the greatest man in the world."

And as other historians have pointed out, it is surprising how much authority the Framers provided in our system for the office of chief executive...except that everyone at the time knew that Washington would of course be the first president. Absent Washington, we can only wonder how the presidency would have been defined in the Constitution.

As Eisenhower pointed out, Washington at the end of his life could have stated without fear of contradiction that all of his public responsibilities had been fully discharged. Indeed.
What great writing! As a practicing historian I have the greatest respect for people like Mr. Magnet, who can draw you into the story so effectively. One of the most effectual qualities of Washington was his understanding that as long as he could keep the army together, the Revolution would live, even if they lost cities and territory. The British never quite understood that.
Wow, never have been a history enthusiast, but the telling of this was great and kept me interested througout. I will be looking forward to the next installment and will look back at your archives as well.

Excellent, anyone who has the "gift" of making HISTORY LIVE like Myron Magnet has here can help immensely turn this country around.
Children are readily able to learn the grisly parts and understand the fight to create the greatest country ever..but they need to know all sides of a story, not fairy tales! America ns are starved for reality and must learn the TRUTH!Thank you--I too will be waiting for MORE!...and this will be shared with children and young grandchildren as a booklet, on rich paper, which they can read together!!!
Fantastic play-by-play description for the American spirit.
Timeless lessons. Thank you. I wish I was taught history this way as a child!
A great re-telling, but leaving out the story of the brave Marylanders during Washington's Brooklyn retreat.
From time to time, I've read of George Washington and am continually amazed at his courage and leadership, when there was no guarantee of freedom, that in fact, it was truly, "VIctory or Death." I saddened to say that too many have mentally signed a "Declaration of Dependence" and reject the America that was delivered to us by Washington and the brave men that served and fought so valiantly under him. I am confident and have faith that a country so divinely founded will resurrect and throw off the shackles of an oppressive government very similar to the one in power at the the time of our revolution and reestablish the freedom and liberty that tyrants despise.
Sadly, most of today's high-schoolers know little more than his name -- none of his role in making the USA.
My patrilineal 4th Great Grandfather and his brother both joined Washington's army just before the Battle of Trenton, joining his army from their nearby town of Eaton while both were still young men of 21 and 16. Their father was a loyalist, and fled shortly thereafter. I've never understood what motivated them to rebel against their father and King, but reading this, I now understand how the combination of Paine's exhortation to stand now so that, "my child may have peace" with Washington's proffering them choice in the matter must have appealed to their young minds as that debate raged within their home. Both survived Trenton and the winter at Valley Forge, and founded families of their own. Their children did know peace, and in part due to their service I've grown up in a free nation. Thank you for explaining this in such a profound manner and helping me develop an even deeper respect for Washington, Paine, my own ancestors, and the principles upon which this nation was founded.
Washington was a brilliant, charismatic commander whose leadership was essential to the American cause. But it should be remembered that that leadership was worthless without the indomitable courage and resilience of the "ordinary" men he was privileged to lead. One of the weakness of contemporary American Christianity is the substitution of hagiography for biography when it comes to the founding fathers. Honest eyes will see them as human heroes many of whom were men of "faith," but not in the present day Evangelical or Fundamentalist sense (Washington, for example, was noted for his refusal to take Communion.) Proof-texting, City on the Hill, America the New Jerusalem eyes will see them as washed in the blood, perfect plaster saints who would no doubt vote Republican today.
Thank you for the beautiful and almost lyrically written article about our greatest leader and indispensable first President. I've read many accounts of this remarkable turning point. This one is best.
A well written article. Nothing with which to disagree. I personally feel Washington's true greatness lies not in his military victories or the fact that he was commander-in-chief of a victorious army. He had adulation and great power as the winning general. Yet, for the first time in history, a commander in such a position GAVE IT All AWAY. That's greatness!
A wonderful telling! God bless George Washington. What a life, and what wondrous evidence of the providential hand of God directing the affairs of man. A reminder of our sure hope - that God can make good men GREAT, and that a good and great God is with and for us.
Another wonderful piece, which makes the City Journal such a brilliant resource on the WEB.
Outstanding, I'll check back often for the second installment.
A fine write-up. Thanks.

I'll be sharing this.
Have been interested in your magazine foe several years, including its English as well as its translation. Thanks for the article. I linked it. And Happy Washington's Birthday!
awesome to contemplate both a great man and president against a backdrop of the current transient executive branch debris.
Washington willingly relinquished power (more than once), making him the greatest man who ever walked this Earth. His God was an ideal, not himself.

The Leadership Secrets of George Washington

Biographer Ron Chernow says America's first president understood a stubborn truth: People 'don't need to like you—much less love you—but they need to respect you.'

Ron CHernow's biography on GW deservedly won a Pultizer Prize in 2010.
Highly recommend it.
Terrific piece. The Washington you describe is such a far cry from how most Americans apprehend him now. Would that we will not entirely lose our heritage. Washington serves as a genuine hero. I hope this is widely read.
Wonderful retelling of one of the greatest stories in the history of the world. Who in our country today would act with such courage and inspire the same? Sadly, no one in politics and few in command of the armed forces- though many of our soldiers have.
Why, why, why can this history not be taught in this country? It is the story of the willful consent of the governed to do the hard work needed to live in liberty.
Mr. Magnet, this piece a soul-stirring masterpiece.
jerry boris 215-563-1991
OR 215-563-1991