A.P. U.S. History
11 August 2013
His Excellency George Washington
His Excellency George Washington, written by Joseph J. Ellis, provides us a look at one of the most influential men in American history. However, instead of looking at the monumental titan as most did, Ellis wrote about the man behind the monument; his successes, failures and desires that few if any have written about before. While not as formal sounding to the reader with many questions and out of the way comments by the author based on opinion instead of fact, like on page 194 where in comment about Washington saying ‘formal etiquette of the levees combined with Washington’s natural dignity (or was it his aloofness?) to create….’ with the content in the parentheses being his own. This statement of his was neither followed up by any fact nor further discussion entirely which is necessary in these situations. Or is it? Ellis spent his book not focusing on the monolith but on the man, dating back to before the French and Indian war where Washington started to receive recognition for his services, to his death in 1799.
Ellis looked past all the brass and silver of his success in the public and thoroughly explored his private and personal life. Ellis painted Washington as a man who focused intently on his bottom line, as seen on page 165 where Ellis describes that the main reason for Washington wanting to get rid of his slaves was not for moral reasons but for economic reasons, as the slaves were no longer worth the investment. Ellis harped on the fact that only 3 letters of correspondence survived between George and Martha Washington (page 42), which was one of the few times he released his emotions considering his natural stone exterior. Ellis also put considerable effort in to focusing on his home in Mount Vernon which was a centerpiece in Washington’s life. His life was changed forever by his wife Martha who, even though they originally married for economic...
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