History : Dec 2015-Jan 2016
78 DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 A loving family man and an avid farmer, America’s most celebrated citizen devoted his life to the relentless demands of forging the nation. Sometimes appearing a reluctant hero, Washington could rarely retire to the simple peaceful pleasures he seems to have craved. FOUNDING FATHER F irst in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” That famous description of George Washington by his friend and fellow patriot Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee is probably still the best summation of the man who, over a hard but resolute lifetime, became the savior of a war and the father of a country. Washington’s earliest ambitions, though, aimed more at the prosaic than the glorious. He probably imagined nothing better than following in the footsteps of his father, Augustine, who had been an ambitious Virginia planter and merchant. Augustine was hardly a major player in the hierarchical world of the aristocracy, but he was nonetheless a bona fide member of the gentry. George was the eldest son of Augustine’s second wife, Mary, who was not, and at no point aspired to be gentry.