Democratic republics never engage in war willingly. Wars are never popular for long. More often than not their wars are the result of a direct provocation or threat.
Tyrannies, by contrast, wage war to obfuscate the misery of their exploited citizenry.
So it was with GW's War.
War, by definition, is a large scale, expensive and violent conflict. Whereby two sides of the conflict spend their available resources killing people and breaking the civilian's will to fight. It is never pretty. Although, the end result of a war can be glorious.
There are times when Wars are justified and need to be waged. Someone needs to lead the nation and the military.
So it was with GW's War.
About one third of the citizenry thought GW's War needed to be waged, one third did not think the war was necessary and were in fact vehemently against it, the other third were indifferent to the whole concept.
GW was a lousy speaker and had trouble rallying the citizenry.
Few nations supported GW's War as allies.
Some in Congress who had voted for the war, later changed their minds. As GW's War dragged on, they began to withhold funding. Because of this, American soldiers suffered through incredible hardships, very cold winters, and a constant lack of food and proper military equipment.
GW lost many more battles than he won. In fact on a win / loss basis, he is the worst commander in American History.
Yet, he is fondly remembered because he stood resolute and defeated the finest military machine on the planet.
GW won by attrition, the longest declared war in American history.
GW's War started with a Declaration of War, so noble and so well written that few see it for what it is:
"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
The Declaration of Independence (War) ends with the following sentence:
"And for the support of this Declaration, with firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." Signed....
There were 56 signers, who by that act, declared war on the most powerful country in their world, the British Empire. They committed treason against King George III. The penalty, if caught, was death by hanging or worse.
The most famous of these men were John Hancock, Ben Franklin, Samuel and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
Roger Sherman of Connecticut was the only signer of all four of our founding Documents.
Those of you not familiar with this document might not realize that Patrick Henry, George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were not among the signers.
The demographics of the signers were as follows: Benjamin Franklin was the oldest at seventy, 18 were under forty and 3 were in their twenties. John Hancock was the richest. Of the 56, twenty-four were lawyers and judges. Almost all were men of substantial property. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers. The remaining 12 were ministers, doctors and politicians. These were sober men. They were not wild-eyed fanatics nor dreamy elitist "intellectuals". They sought taxation with representation. Honor and principal drove these men. Two went on to become Presidents and both died on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the signing.
What happened to the less famous signers? All became the objects of a vicious manhunt by the British. Rush Limbaugh, Sr. wrote a famous speech detailing the incredible sacrifices made by these patriots. The speech makes wonderful Fourth of July reading, but one story stands out for me.
The final obscure signer, the man who epitomizes American courage, was Abraham Clark of New Jersey. The British captured two of his sons holding them captive on the infamous prison hulks in New York Harbor. The British offered to release his sons if he recanted his signing of the Declaration of Independence. His answer: "No."
Commander in Chief, General GW ended his public career with his farewell address:
"Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
"Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers."
- Geo. Washington.
On the 232nd Anniversary of our founding we would do well to remember that we do not honor GW and the Founding Fathers because they achieved personal perfection.
We honor them because of their steadfast belief that Free Men with the guidance of a Supreme Being could achieve Humanity's best form of governance.
We should also recognize that we are still trying to achieve the profound standard of humanity that Thomas Jefferson set forth in his second paragraph:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident:
"That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."
GW and The Founding Fathers recognized that personal perfection is for another venue.