Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A short paper about Washington

Washington’s Private Virtue
In the book, The Life of Washington, by Mason L. Weems, the author argues that the private virtues of Washington are the most important sources to shape Washington’s life and contribute to his accomplishment. Among these virtues, Weems particularly illustrates Washington’s courage, a characteristic that was essential in his entire life.

Weems believes that private life is always real life and reveals a person’s honest nature . It is true that people usually feel free to present their opinions and personalities in their private life than in public places. Thus, to observe person’s private life becomes the best place to understand his or her true nature. In the beginning several chapters, Weems provides many anecdotes of young Washington to illustrate his personality, which is consistent with Washington’s whole life. Once, young Washington cut down his father’s precious cherry-tree. Facing his father’s question, Washington conquered his fear and confessed his mistake. In this story, Weems not only shows Washington’s love of truth but his courage as well. Bing brave is an even more important characteristic because without bravely to perform an action, the virtue of love of truth will be in vain. In the last chapter of this book, while Washington was dying, what he expressed was “I am not afraid to die” . Fearing of death is human nature; Weems’ description here portrays a rarely brave feature of Washington. Indeed, in this book, Washington’s characteristic of courage is particularly important for understanding his life.

As a great man rather than a commoner, Washington’s courage was certainly significant in his public life and made huge influence and contribution to the country. Washington had successfully accomplished many military triumphs. Weems comments, “[Washington] abhors war; but, if war be necessary, to this end he bravely encounters it” . Military is always related to fighting, blood, terror, and death; all of them require a person act in bravery. Particularly, during the American Revolutionary War, the Americans had many severe disadvantages in comparison with the British, for example, poor trained of military. As Commander-in-Chief, Washington’s courageous personality became a spiritual power to encourage American officials and the soldiers to win the war.

Weems’ description of Washington’s political career further proves the importance of Washington’s personal courage. When the American Revolutionary War was over, Washington desired to return to his farm to have a peaceful family life. However, when he was officially notified that he was elected President of the United States, he accepted and set out for New York City . Weems points out that Washington did not wish to “come forward again to the cares and dangers of public life” . Despite his awareness of the dangers of the public life, his private virtues, including dutiful, patriotism, and also his courage led him to accept the duty of serving his country.
During his presidency, there were many difficulties in the new established country. The country had to combat many enemies, but it had only 600 regular troops along with eighty millions of dollars in debt. However, as Weems states, “Washington despaired not” . Although Weems does not directly use the words “courage” or “brave” to describe Washington, how can the president confront all these difficulties without the characteristic of courage?

In the book, Weems provides numerous details to portray a fascinating image of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. Washington possessed many private virtues such as wisdom, love for the truth, patriotism, and dutifulness; however, his characteristic of courage is particularly emphasized by the author. Without courage, Washington could neither fully perform his other virtues nor make such a great contribution to this country in his life.


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