Washington’s Revolution: The Making of America’s First Leader
Washington’s Revolution by Robert Middlekauff is primarily a reflection of Washington’s evolution. Without fanfare or exaggeration, Middlekauff depicts the moments of Washington’s mental, physical, and social turns of character; from a surveyor, soldier, and Virginian tobacco farmer, to Commander-in-Chief and military administrator, he argues that these experiences and the historical milieu of their occurrences give rise to Washington as a socially conscious leader and extraordinary general.
In the face of Congress’ weak central authority, Washington’s administration of resources (i.e., payment, recruitment, pensions, wagons, etc.) assume paramount importance throughout campaigning on the East Coast; his is not the glorious battle in New York for which he longed, but the long, unending dredge of dispatching letter after letter to Congress, begging for the wherewithal to keep a disintegrating Continental Army from tearing into pieces, or, worse yet, revolting. The American conception of civil supremacy persists not due to Congress, but to Washington’s vision of independence. Middlekauff’s portrayal of Washington’s response to the Newburgh uprising in March 1873, for instance, conveys Washington’s appreciation of his troops, their voice, and its power.
Middlekauf’s preoccupation with a colonial rebellion, however, severely curtails the scale and scope of his book. The Imperial crisis exacerbates both the colonial rebellion, as well as the social revolution, transforming 1776 into a world historical event (i.e., Lafayette’s handing Washington the Bastille key). Washington’s revolution is, thus, our revolution.
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