When we began our weekly All Fairfax Reads musings on our first president, library staff wondered if there would be enough material to sustain a column. Reading His Excellency: George Washington, the 2007 All Fairfax Reads
selection by Joseph J. Ellis, convinced us otherwise.
Over the weeks, we’ve discussed the myths surrounding the man, Washington’s military expertise; his attitude toward slavery; his relationship with the Indians; his hands-off approach to the Constitutional Convention; his refusal to be named “king”; and his close relationships with other founding fathers such as Alexander Hamilton and companions, such as Billy Lee, a slave he freed at his death. And more.
In Ellis’ introduction to the biography, the author writes:
“It seemed to me that Benjamin Franklin was wiser than Washington; Alexander Hamilton was more brilliant; John Adams was better read; Thomas Jefferson was more intellectually sophisticated; James Madison was more intellectually astute. Yet each and all of these prominent figures acknowledged that Washington was their unquestioned superior.”
You can hear Ellis explain why at the final All Fairfax Reads event on Thursday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall at the Center for the Arts on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University. We hope to see you there.
And, if you have any suggestions for the 2008 All Fairfax Reads selection, let us know.