Inventing George Washington: America's Founder, in Myth and Memory

Inventing George Washington: America's Founder, in Myth and Memory

Edward G. Lengel

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0061662585

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“Lengel’s Washington is the archetypal American soldier—an amateur citizen in arms who struggles to learn an unfamiliar and demanding craft on the job....Outstanding.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Glorious Struggle

Editor-in-Chief of the Washington Papers Project  Edward G. Lengel delivers an entertaining and erudite history of America's Founding Father. In Inventing George Washington, a captivating counterpart to Lengel’s General George Washington: A Military Life, the historian looks at Washington’s life and writings, at the creation of his mythos, and at what his legacy means for our nation and ourselves.




















he had purchased a priceless item at a bargain price—and he would cheerfully pay you for the pleasure of self-deceit. The dealer needed only to play along. Spring’s talents, moreover, were perfectly tailored to the task of separating fools from their money. Quick and inventive, ideas came to him easily. He also spoke with a charming English accent—which customers automatically associated with refinement and integrity—and although he was utterly unscrupulous, his likeable manners made him an

Washington’s alleged public swoon over the Bible at his own inauguration six days earlier? Would Washington absentmindedly have added the words to his oath when the representatives had debated and then decided to strike out the words from their own oath just a few days earlier? Or would he have done so as a deliberate challenge to Congress over the place of religion in public life just as he entered office? And if so, why did Congress ignore him?48 In sum, any attempt to prove that Washington

compromise in pursuit of profit and popularity, Flexner enjoyed the celebrity treatment meted out to him during shooting, and wisely kept his mouth shut. Once Sally disappears from the scene, however, the miniseries loses momentum. Barry Bostwick is a serviceable George, handsome and amiable if not charismatic, but generally predictable. Martha, portrayed by former teen star Patty Duke, appears tiny, dumpy, and insignificant by his side. Their courtship, in keeping with Flexner’s own view, is

John Augustine Washington’s wife, Hannah Bushrod Washington. Ford moved to Mount Vernon in 1802 and was a well-known figure in Alexandria until his death in the mid-nineteenth century.10 Bryant’s revelation about George Washington’s secret past, which became public in 1996, attracted tremendous media interest. She appeared on television as the guest of honor on Today, Frontline, the History Channel, and MSNBC, and was interviewed and described approvingly by Newsweek, the New York Times, the

gestures, and impassioned imprecations to God and country.12 President John Adams carefully orchestrated the official acts of mourning with proclamations and black armbands, and Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee’s funeral oration to Congress—“first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen”—was a masterly tribute to the man and his accomplishments. The Freemasons of Alexandria, Virginia, conducted Washington’s funeral with dignified pomp. Most Americans, however, paid their

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