“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” ( Luke 6:26 )
As we approach the end of President Bush’s second term in office, I thought it might be interesting to examine our first President’s second term in office. Surprisingly, there are similarities. The man who, in 1775, upon entering Philadelphia to attend the Second Continental Congress, was met with 500 horsemen. a marching band and companies of foot soldiers – the man who, in a ‘poem’ written by a Rhode Island representative was called “Virginia’s hero” – the man who was twice elected unanimously to the Presidency (not to mention his prior unanimous election as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental army) – became the man who, during his second term as President, was attacked from both foreign and domestic camps and by a critical press for his stand concerning a foreign war, the man who was embroiled in Congressional and public discord over difficult treaty negotiations with England, the man whose own cabinet members turned against him in sabotage and treason. Before he finally left office, authors Michael and Jana Novak tell us in their book Washington’s God, the formerly beloved father of our country was actually accused of behaving as a monarch. (Note: Along these lines, by the way, in May of 1782 [about 7 months after the final major victory at the Battle of Yorktown] it was actually proposed to Washington, by one of his colonels, that he become king of the United States! Washington was horrified. Yet, before all was said and done, he was accused of that very thing which he found so abhorrent.)
Maybe it’s just me, but some of this sounds familiar.
After the war’s end, Washington wanted to retire. He very much wanted to retire! In a letter written to a former colleague, in February of 1784, Washington expressed these sentiments: ” I feel now, however, as I conceive a wearied Traveller must do, who, after treading many a painful step, with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the Goal…and from his House top is looking back…tracing…the Meanders by which he escaped the quicksands and Mires…” (The Writings of George Washington) Little did he know that he wasn’t even close to being done with his travels in public life. Ahead lay yet more ‘quicksands and Mires’. Of a different sort, maybe, but ‘quicksands and Mires’ nontheless.
Please return for the details in Part 2 of ” You’re Only Halfway Home, General…”