George Washington Almost A Saint

Chapter One

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four


President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton and those that preceded them in the Presidency may have never been known today by us if it hadn’t been for one man. That man is George Washington, the first President of the United States of America.

To many of us today George Washington represents the steadfast fighting spirit of the American Revolutionary War. However in his own day he was probably the most influential formative agent of the new American republic government and its leadership. Thomas Jefferson once said “One man outweighs them all in influence over the people”. [1]

If he had not portrayed himself in the various ways and means that he did during those early years when the United States were being shaped and developed, it is likely that we would not know the land we know today as the United States of America, nor would our Government bear the images and responsibilities that it currently does.

George Washington’s Virginia was a world in which wealth, power and family connections defined one’s status.[2] As a very young boy Washington had no wealth, power or family connections. George admired and studied the manners of his eldest brother Lawrence. Lawrence had studied in England and had returned to Virginia as an elegant gentleman when George was only six years old.[3] As he grew up he watched others who had been born into aristocracy. His studious and analytical mind processed their lives into patterns of thought and behavior that he could imitate and project from his own quality of life.

He was very much concerned with appearance and image, yet His good judgment of character definitely helped him in becoming a respected husband, farmer, military leader and eventually the man we have come to know as the founding father of these United States     

George Washington was the only President to ever be elected with a unanimous vote from the Electoral College. Both terms that he served from 1789 – 1797 were initiated with a unanimous vote. No one else was seriously considered in either election. 

His first inauguration was held in New York City on April 30, 1789. He added the words “so help me God” to the end of the oath of office setting the tradition for every succeeding president thereafter. This addition to the oath of office was probably a genuine emotional response to the core feelings of Washington as he accepted the new responsibility of the presidency.

Washington was not in a hurry to accept and simultaneously formulate the character and position of a prototype leadership role that was not at all common in the global culture of his day. He realized that if such a title and office were to be perpetuated into the future, it would require a very solid foundation of diplomacy, morality and practice.

The newly elected president illustrated his journey to his first inauguration in New York in a letter that implied that he was on his way to his own execution. In a diary entry dated April 16, 1789 he wrote; “About ten o’clock I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York”.[4]

He obviously feared the public’s expectations of the Presidential office that had not yet been thoroughly defined or previously inhabited at the time he was being placed into it.. Other States or colonies had installed “presidents” of their territories and dominions, but those positions were often fairly benign and yielded very little effect on very small groups of people that lived within their borders.

[1] Freidel, Frank Our Country’s Presidents (Washington DC, National Geographic Society, 1981) p.20

[2] Friedman, Adam George Washington: Founding Father (Arts & Entertainment, 2008) DVD

[3] Gedacht, Daniel C. George Washington: Leader of a New Nation (New York, Rosen Publishing Group, 2004) p.9

[4] Rhodehamel, John Washington Writings (New York, Library of America, 1997)   p.730

Central Institute for American Historical Studies
P.O. Box 750491
Dayton, Ohio 45475