George Washington

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The Impact of Washington on
the Course of the Revolution

The Study of History
Section 3 Danielle Mann Professor Pastor December 20, 2010

In 1776, the colonialists of the thirteen colonies of Great Britain and it’s king rose up to protest against absolute rule. After the colonists rebelled and declared independence, a war erupted as King George III wished to crush the “rebellion” leading up to the War of Independence or most commonly referred to as the Revolutionary War. The War of the American Revolution was a time of patriotism, nationalism, and an era of combat and battle. A primary figure from this time period was the Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Continental Army, George Washington. Washington’s leadership role in the American Revolution was extremely successful and without his military strategies, the continental army would not have been victorious.

In this paper, I will examine the strengths and weaknesses of George Washington as man, a general, and as the first president of a new nation. It will describe why Washington was the perfect “candidate” to lead the Continental army. It will also describe his military tactics, strategies, and accomplishments during the Revolution. Lastly, I will compare and contrast his strengths to his weaknesses and conclude that no one else was better suited for this role than Washington.

Before the Revolutionary War, Washington was already on his way to becoming a great leader. While he lived at Mount Vernon with his brother Lawrence, Washington learned through observation and study that he could put himself on an equal plane with those he admired. In adolescence, he underwent a metamorphosis from a callow youth into a more polished young man who could easily and comfortably fit into the world of planter aristocracy and was able to interact more easily and confidently with those who exercised considerable political power1. Washington became a well-educated young man without stepping foot into a school or university. This showed his ambition and determination in becoming noticed in the community.

In 1753, his opportunity for military experience arrived so he joined the military to fight the French in the French and Indian War.Washington went to Virginia’s capital at the time, Williamsburg, to volunteer. Lieutenant Robert Dinwiddie, the royal governor of Virginia saw qualities that he liked in Washington while some public officials thought that Washington was too inexperienced for such military combat and position2. Dinwiddie’s instructions for Washington were for him to be a diplomat and spy on the French. While doing so, Washington encountered French soldiers who subtly told Washington that the French would eventually attack Virginia. Washington immediately returned to Virginia and warned Dinwiddie about this upcoming attack. After hearing this Dinwiddie asked Washington to quickly create a proposal of how to repel the French. Only twenty-four hours later, the twenty-one year old Washington prepared a remarkably lucid draft.3

It is remarkable to see a man of such inexperience to lead an army at the Forks of Ohio. One might see Washington as brilliant while others might see his impulsive actions as foolish. For example, after creating his plan to defeat the French, he lead a surprise attack on a French army lead by French commander Sieur de Jumonville. Even with Washington’s army outnumbered, he was able to defeat Jumonville’s army. Although he managed to destroy the army, he went against Dinwiddie’s orders. He was not commanded to open fire against the French army since he was not the commander of the Virginia...
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