George Washington (1732-1799) remains one of the important founding fathers of the United States of America. He accomplished a lot on many fronts during his days, leading to many victories and the eventual independence of the United States of America. More than being the first present of the United States, George Washington stands out as a unique personality with rare leadership qualities. His naturally acquired military skills, cautionary approach to political matters made him stand out above his contemporaries like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. Washington’s success came from his ability to work towards the unity of a people for a common goal, a virtue that helped him lead successful military campaigns and to keep the people away from the divisive politics.
Washington had little formal training his childhood as opposed to his two elder brothers who were sent to London to study and acquire military skills. Augustine Washington (1694-1743), George Washington’s father had a farm in Pope’s Creek, Virginia where he did large scale farming. Out of the proceeds from the plantations, the father managed to send the eldest sons to London for training. Unfortunately, the father died when George Washington was only 11 years old. His father’s death could have contributed to the irregular school attendance at the time. However, he seemed to have acquired geography and surveying skills in the field. His formal education may have ended when he was only 15 years old, after training by both the local church and Williams the schoolmaster.
Washington’s military prowess grew as he served on the battlefield. In 1752, Washington was appointed to lead to Virginia militia without prior military experience. He successfully led the militia through the French and Indian Wars. He was later promoted to lead all Virginia’s militia forces after which he resigned his commission and returned to his Mount Vernon farm. With time, he became concerned with the increased tax burden imposed by the British on the American colonies, prompting him to push for independence. He participated in the First Continental Conference convened in Philadelphia in 1774. The conference set the pace for the beginning of the American Revolution. George Washington was appointed to be the commander in chief of the Continental Army.
Unlike other military strategists, Washington proved to be a better general on the battlefield. Due to his lack of formal military training, he lacked the battlefield genius when tackling the opponents. The Continental Army he led were not better equipped with the latest artillery and skills in comparison to the British Army at the time. Washington’s troops were not well-trained for battle, they lacked enough food, ammunition and other important supplies during the battle. His main strength was in the ability to keep the colonial army together despite the challenges they faced. He encouraged them to keep hope alive for the sake of all Americans.
He did not have practical experience in maneuvering large military formations during the battle. He also did not have experience in using large artilleries and the ability for large supplies. His only experience came from the previous leading of the Virginia militia during the French and India Wars. Understanding his abilities in the battlefield, his method entailed the use of a smaller number of soldiers in a frontier war system. Due to the disadvantages in place, his troops won a few battles; however, he was able to courageously keep his military together to avoid disintegration and eventual defeat by the British Army. He took a step at a go while figuring out how to outmaneuver the British Army. Washington successfully led the Trenton-Princeton Campaign and Battle of Yorktown to emerge victorious in the Revolutionary War in 1781.
Flexibility was a virtue that helped Washington plan for the defeat of the British Army. The whole world was amazed at the defeat of the well-trained British army with better supplies. Washington’s ability to retreat and plan battles according to given circumstances made him emerge victoriously. This was unlike his opponents who were better military strategists who stuck to the military plans. He believed on occasional victories in order to win public support than to have a full blown open field battle. He knew that an open field engagement with the British Army would be fatal to his side. Therefore, he retreated most of the ties to find the best approach to the battles.
The ability to give up was a rare trait that made Washington stands out among the rest. Earlier, after the successful campaign as the commander of the Virginia militia forces, he resigned his commission in order to settle back at his plantations. Again, after the defeat of the British Army under his command, he resented himself before the Congress in Annapolis, Maryland to resign his commission. After his achievements, he felt it was time to resign from all public service in order to concentrate on Mount Vernon, his home. Who could relinquish such power after becoming a national hero? He had already won people’s hearts and could simply crown himself king. Instead, he did the opposite, something that won him international recognition.
Washington’s firmness on the constitutional framework made him stand out above his peers of the time. As much as he wanted to lead a quiet life after retirement from public life, he distressed about the disintegration of the confederation. Articles of Confederation had been created to allow for better management of the economic and social affairs of the American people. However, the union seemed weak, leading to the inability to collect enough revenue to run the economic affairs. The Confederation Conference made up of learned people like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton failed to take the proper lead. In 1785, he wrote a letter to James Madison proposing serious constitutional changes to the articles in places. He knew what needed to be done for the benefit and growth of the American people.
In 1787, Washington traveled to Philadelphia to attend a convention organized to make changes on the Articles of Confederation. In that convention, he was elected to lead the comprehensives constitutional changes in order to establish the proper rule of the country. He was not a good orator and spoke very little, even during the constitutional change conference. However, he was able to deliver another constitution within four months. He also took part in mobilizing for its support because many people opposed it. After its ratification, Washington decided to retire again from the public assignments. However, his self-imposed retirement did not take long because he was unanimously elected to be the first president of the United States of America.
Washington was the first American President, going into the office without any prior civil administration experience, something he admitted during his inaugural speech. Contrary to this, he worked with experienced people like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton in his administration to ensure that systems of governance were in place. His ability to consult experts before making decisions was an advantage that led to the establishment of efficient systems that helped in setting the ground for economic growth.
Fairness and integrity were some of his basic principles of the presidential administration. He proved that a resident could execute his powers without corruption. According to Alden, he never approached issues with bias, allowing people to air their views before making a decision. His integrity could rarely be matched by the people who worked with him during his two terms in office. However, he worked closely with different professionals like Alexander Hamilton to ensure that economic issues like the debt crisis were dealt with. Other than that, he spent his second term working towards creating foreign affairs policies that could favor trade for the Americans.
George Washington had rare natural leadership abilities that made him stand out during his time. Despite lack of formal training on military and civil administration, he excelled in both. He had the foresight of what was important for the American people, and he tirelessly worked to set systems that could make it work. He never liked partisan politics and favored listening to all parties in order to find a way forward. All the professionals in his cabinet disagreed on many issues; however, he avoided divisions and worked towards creating unity without bias. He set a record with on which all US presidents can be judged.
Alden, John, R. George Washington, a Biography, Louisiana State University Press, 1996.
Brown, Richard. “The Founding Fathers of 1776 and 1787: A Collective View”, The William
and Mary Quarterly. 33(3): 465–480, 1976.
 Richard Brown, The Founding Fathers of 1776 and 1787: A Collective View (The William and Mary Quarterly. 33(3), 1976), 465–480.
John Alden, George Washington, a Biography (Louisiana State University Press, 1996), 101.