George Washington sits in on a session of Congress, 2014. He writes a quick postcard to his wife. What does it say?
Hold on kids, this post is going to go in a few directions.
My son is a political science / history major and is taking a class in Early American History. We were talking at dinner about his report on Madison and the War of 1812, when he mentioned that a classmate was doing a report on the role of Masonic beliefs in the founding of the nation. And I brought up the point that the Washington monument was very Masonic in design, which was fitting due to Washington’s Masonic bent. And my mind went down a really weird path and I turned to my husband (who is a big UFO fanatic) and said “Have you ever seen the Masonic painting with George Washington and the UFO”?
(And even he had to admit that it didn’t even remotely look like a saucer. I love the show Ancient Aliens, btw. It takes thinking out of the box to a whole new level)
As early as 1800, Washington was becoming more of a legend that a real person, which makes most of what we learn in school a bit one sided until you reach college. Howard Zinn and the revisionists have at least given us a chance to look at the person beyond the mythos of the “The Father of our Country”. The fact of the matter was that when our country was founded, if you weren’t a white male landowner, you had no voice in the social and political realm, and if you weren’t white, you were considered less than human. Washington’s beliefs were pretty much in line with the norms of his day, and he was a Southern landowner who had slaves. And as much as we praise good ol’ Martha Washington, the thought of her voting or serving in office would have been rather appalling to the first President.
(I also think that Mr. Washington’s alleged “I don’t want to be President” was, to paraphrase Shakespeare, a case of “the man doth protest too much”. His ego was pretty damn big)
Back to the assignment. Here’s what I think he’d write to Martha back in Mount Vernon.
Just sat in on a meeting of our Congress. I was surprised to see women, Indians and free Negroes as elected Congressmen. Looks like our 13 States certainly expanded over the years; there’s quite a few more Senators! Still arguing over the same things though.