The Significance of ——
Washington A Life
By Ron Chernow
——- To Me
(Not a Book Review. Just, what it meant to me.)
Somehow this book led me to see Washington as something like a train in that he appeared as a solid unstoppable force with a matching unstoppable appeal: an appeal not enhanced due to some charismatic oral theatrics. Maybe his appeal was even more so because while being non-commutative with words he seemed to always communicate with his stare. The shear power emitted by even a motionless train has a large stare factor: it moves you the veiwer. An additional component of the train analogy becomes more focused when the tracks are considered. Tracks are preplanned but there are two and the two may differ upon close inspection even as they lead to the same final destinations. Washington might not have preplanned his life’s journey but there seems to be little doubt that somehow it was planned. Also, close inspection of his tracks reveals opposing characteristics which are always tied together to perform the needed task which have benefited our nation.
Looking back, then, on what I have read has made it easy to think of Washington moving through life as a force with a preplanned direction not of his making. Just as easy is a picture of him being fitted with separate rails: one representing ways to personal choices and the other of struggles and unwanted demands. As mentioned he was able to bind these rails to remain functional.
As a young man he got direction from a not so understanding mother and since his father passed away early then along side of his mother was a looked up to brother. He cared for them both but with a different incentive for each.
Through all his life he had great personal emotional losses but each was accompanied with materialistic gain.
His desire or want to be a successful planter was only possible at the time by using people as slaves but he did not wish for them to be slaves.
Even though he had emotional doubts about slavery and understood the wrongness and the economic futility of it all he despised a slave that failed to give him full effort.
During his life he felt emotional attraction to other men’s wives and allowed the attraction to lead to amorous communication but in reality he maintained full and respectful obedience to his own wife plus respect for the men and they for him.
As a military man it is harder to see him as having two rails in his objectivity but he led with two separate modes. There was one mode where he seemed to plan and re-plan and to open all the planning up to include others inputs to the extent that it could appear to be a process toward delaying action but when action and supreme activity was demanded he was swift and confident as a warrior.
Always he avoided showing any desire to be selected as the leader of his country and since it always was given to him anyway then we will never know what his reaction would have been had he been denied it. I suspect he would have had great personal disappointment.
As a leader he had the ability to have strong personal love and attachment to his fellow-men but he was steadfast in not letting that influence the assignments he would choose for them. The separate rails had to fit the goal.
He was as comfortable dancing in the ballrooms as he was in the opposite scenes of battlefields.
So with any of his life’s travels he moved in a solid direction upon rails that served the same function but had much different composition.
One last observation using separate rails is that one rail representing ownership of things such as land, farm implements and slaves was always his in abundance but the other rail representing actual cash funds was always broke. He had to borrow money to travel to New York to become our president and he had to borrow money to come home at last to Mount Vernon.
He moved through life as a force under control but few lives of accomplishment have been lived which seem to have been protected by so many unknown forces.