Nathanael Greene: A Short Biography

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Contemporary conviction slates General Nathanael Greene as a component within George Washington's military array of tools. However, such a characterization drastically understates Greene's true importance to the American Revolution. Greene's uncanny list of accomplishments is both alarming and incredible: his steadfast leadership helped carry a budding nation's hopes of liberty when it was most needed in northern and southern campaigns, a poignant relationship with George Washington serviced for the good of all democracy seekers, and Greene's uncanny ability to make the most of what little resources he had made the difference in a war that was decided by a collection of small victories. Moreover, his omnipresent vitality and patriotic nature matches the likes of Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Washington and other founding fathers. However, historical lore doesn't encompass Nathanael Greene within such company and preferential entitlement. Somehow he has been forgotten in the pages of history, and although his accomplishments are well documented, widespread knowledge of his significance and impact during the American Revolution is largely unknown. Nathanael Greene's numerous accomplishments and unwavering commitment to the foundation of the United States are indispensable to the emergence of American democracy and its perseverance in the years following the Revolutionary War. Therefore, a definitive study of Greene is necessary and imperative to understanding America's most innovative general of the Revolution .

Times of war are meddling upon the human character; associated adversity forces some men to crumble while others to perform. During war, fear cannot be hidden and the likes of strong characters often tumble in its wake. Leadership is required to dilute this "weakness" of war in a soldier. Nathanael Greene was a man of such ability. He could reconcile the masses of men for the sole purpose of operating as an effective military unit. Greene was a natural born leader, a brilliant strategist and tactician, and above all possessed military innovativeness that turned the tide of the American Revolution . However, the amusing fact is that nothing in Greene's upbringing angled him towards choosing a career in the military. He grew up in an upper class Rhode Island Quaker family and although wealthy, Greene and his brothers were instilled with strong work ethics and a sense of humility. But Greene's enterprising personality clashed with such indoctrination. This led to an often confrontational relationship with his father in which Greene sought to break free from the bonds of Quakerism. Greene's father mandated a Quaker only education in his sons. They were not allowed to learn anything outside of this strict curriculum. Greene had this to say about his education in his diary, "I lament the want of a liberal education; I feel the mist [of] ignorance to surround me ." Thus against his father's wishes, Greene became a voracious reader. With knowledge that there was a world outside of his Rhode Island forge and Quaker religion, he began to delve into an extensive variety of subject matter. This pursuit of knowledge further advanced Greene's understanding of himself, the world, and what he was capable of within it. With every book that he read he became more and more ambitious growing out of the stringent mold his father sought to create.

However, by the time Greene was in his mid twenties he was still attempting to find a place in society. At this point he had a semi-successful business but his interests lay elsewhere. After all, he was becoming what he feared most: his father. Even armed with the self-taught knowledge that he'd acquired himself, Greene was finding it difficult to attenuate his ambitious appetite for life. Later in adulthood Greene wrote this about his younger mindset, "Early, very early, when I should have been in pursuit of Knowledge, I was digging into the Bowels of the...
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