Important Speeches and Documents in the Formation of America: George Washington

Historian Ben Martin begins his Important Speeches and Documents in the Formation of America series with George Washington.

Today we begin a new program for 2020, called ‘Important Speeches and Documents of the American Founding.’  This new program will include one presentation each month, from January through December of 2020.  Each program will be focused on a major figure, such as George Washington, The Father of our Country, or Abraham Lincoln, The Father of our 2nd Founding; or a major event, such as the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Ratification, or Slavery.

In each of these presentations, we will discuss some of the important Speeches and Documents produced by the principal player(s) in conjunction with or in the furtherance of the significant events of that period.  By so focusing our presentations, we will be better able to know the significant events, and the thoughts, words, and actions of those who helped to influence or affect those events and more importantly to understand why they were important then are still important to us today.

This is how we become American Patriots or better American Patriots.  A Patriot is defined as a person who loves their country.  James Wilson, an important Founder who signed both the Declaration and Constitution and later became a Justice on the 1st U.S. Supreme Court, famously said words to the effect – before something can become an object of your head, it must first become an object of your heart.  In other words, one must truly know something before he can truly love it.

The vast majority of Americans are rational and open-minded, and when they are able to better know the amazing Founding Heritage we have been given, when that Heritage becomes a prominent object of their mind, it will, without fail, soon become a prominent object of their heart, and they will become a true American Patriot.  Another important benefit of this knowledge and understanding of our Founding Heritage, most eloquently spoken by James Madison, our 4th President, most famously known as the Father of our Constitution, goes like this – ‘A well-instructed people alone, can be permanently a free people.’  Do not we all want to be a ‘permanently free people!?!’

This 1st Month’s Presentation in this Program of Important Speeches and Documents of the American Founding is focused on George Washington, The Father of Our Country!  It begins a series of 3 Presentations focused on him.  This 1st Presentation involves Washington accepting the Commission of the 2nd Continental Congress to become the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, sometimes reduced to the acronym of CINC, on 16 June 1775.  Next, comes General Washington’s 2 July 1776, inspirational remarks to his troops before the great battle of Long Island.

Though that great battle ended as a great American defeat; the British could have captured or destroyed the entire American Army.  That would have ended the war then and there, but Washington had a different vision.  Toward that vision, he exercised great leadership, and with the help of Divine Providence, they miraculously escaped without losing one soldier.

Eventually, Washington led his drastically diminished and desperately disheartened Army down through New Jersey, with the British Army in hot pursuit, and again he miraculously escaped their grasp, this time by furtively crossing the Delaware River.  In late December when there is much despair among his troops, and ‘The Glorious Cause’ seems all but lost, he inspires Thomas Paine to write the 1st Section of ‘The Crisis’ which Washington uses to stir his troops, and, under his leadership, to utterly defeat the Hessians in the Battle of Trenton, on 26 Dec.

Just before 1776 ends, Washington has to again inspire his soldiers to re-enlist and once more cross the Delaware River to fight the fortuitous battle of Princeton.  Again, under his incredible leadership, the Continental Army wins an incredible victory, which drives the British Forces out of New Jersey and back into New York City.  These two victories in 10 days, dramatically raise the esprit de corps of the Continental Army and the entire country, volunteers flock to him to enlist and swell the ranks of the American Forces.

As we all now know, Washington and the Continental Army go on to win the Revolutionary War and firmly establish America’s place in the world, the principles of Liberty in our Declaration of Independence, and our remarkable republican form of government with the US Constitution.  But without Washington’s outstanding courage, the strength of character, and inspirational leadership, at such critical times, all would have been lost in the 1st Battle or 1st year, and America would have been but a fleeting idea and a mere footnote in the annals of history.

Listen to Ben’s first episode of Important Speeches and Documents in the Formation of America here.

Links:

Washington accepts commission: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-01-02-0001

Washington addresses troops before the Battle of Long Island: https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/quotes/article/the-time-is-now-near-at-hand-which-must-probably-determine-whether-americans-are-to-be-freemen-or-slaves-whether-they-are-to-have-any-property-they-can-call-their-own-whether-their-houses-and-farms-are-to-be-pillaged-and-destroyed-and-themselves-consigned/

Thomas Paine: Crisis No. 1: http://libertyonline.hypermall.com/Paine/Crisis/Crisis-1.html

Washington asking for re-enlistment at Trenton:  https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/quotes/article/my-brave-fellows-you-have-done-all-i-asked-you-to-do-and-more-than-can-be-reasonably-expected-but-your-country-is-at-stake-your-wives-your-houses-and-all-that-you-hold-dear-you-have-worn-yourselves-out-with-fatigues-and-hardships-but-we-know-not-how-to-sp/

 

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