Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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The Father of His Country

Washington was a tenth-generation Virginian, an athlete and person of considerable presence, a man's man. He was the Father of his Country, he was rich and could have anything he wanted. He more or less started the French and Indian War. He had then defeated the mighty British empire copying the native tribes in guerilla warfare, then renouncing any and all personal reward for it. It must have then been supremely satisfying to have this acknowledged by the King of England, himself. But this is plainly what he wanted and he wanted it badly enough to renounce all praise for it, against the opposition of most of the Virginia grandees. He had suggested and supervised the first and best Constitution in the western world. He had been handed a blank slate for the duties and responsibilities as President, and neither Patrick Henry nor the Lees nor Thomas Jefferson dared deny him his right to it. He was indeed the Father of His Country, and he knew it. Not even the Virginia grandees had the courage to thwart his minimal demands. He was even a slaveholder who freed his own slaves, at least to the extent it was useful to have more credentials.

So to save face, they gave him his very minimal suggestions for a workable Constitution. And don't you know, it proved to be a better plan for being contested. Patrick Henry deserves more credit than he gets. And so does the Civil War. Any plan which can, almost by itself, defeat those silly amendments, and those preposterous theories of some foreign dictators, deserves its full measure of praise.

Originally published: Monday, August 12, 2019; most-recently modified: Thursday, August 29, 2019