In The Shadow Of Greatness

Posted By on July 6, 2011

This past weekend I determined to take in some of the historic sites within driving distance of Richmond, Virginia. I revisited Yorktown – site of the culminating victory of the Revolutionary War, Jamestown – the first permanent English settlement in North America, Gettysburg – turning point of the American Civil War (The War of Northern Aggression) and finally, Mount Vernon – the home of George Washington and his “crowning” glory. At every site the shadows of greatness lingered. There were those of Lord Cornwallis, General Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and Alexander Hamilton at Yorktown. Next I experienced the military minds of Lee, Longstreet, Pickett, Meade, Chamberlain, Hancock and a host of others among the trees, fields, cemeteries and monuments of Gettysburg where the ghosts of the Federal Republic haunt us as all too mute witnesses against Meade’s stunning military victory. Finally, I strolled the grounds in the shadow of my greatest hero from American history, George Washington, on the grounds of his home and working masterpiece.

It had been eleven years since I last visited Mount Vernon and much has changed – for the better, while much remained the same. The grounds had been notably improved, more exhibits built and reenactors were in abundance (primarily due to being there on July 4th). All attested to the man who put his dreams and hopes into action. The mansion stands as an awesome testimony to his vision as an architect. His farms and their records as witness to his insight as a farmer. These records also shout of his greatness as a humanitarian in the treatment he afforded the slaves.¬† (Let’s argue this, please.) The more I learn of this man, the more his stature and character grow in my minds eye.

Starting this week I will begin a series of articles reviewing one of the most profound documents from American History, George Washington’s Farewell Address. By far this single document is the without match among the writings of the Founding Fathers. I believe if we would once again require our students to read and master this single document many things would change in American politics and government for the better. Please take the time to read this document found online at George Washington’s Farewell Address, and be prepared to discuss this with me in the coming articles.

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