Friday, September 30, 2011

George Washington, Englishman

From a review in the Wall Street Journal of Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow (Penguin Press, 2010) by Andrew Roberts, author of Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West.

"The adjective that best describes Washington's personality and instincts, ironically enough, is 'English.' He had a fair complexion that sunburnt easily; he bought his clothes and most other goods from London merchants; he never affirmed the divinity of Jesus Christ but actively supported his local Anglican churches; he rebuilt Mount Vernon (named after an English admiral) on classically English architectural principles; he was phlegmatic and disliked overfamiliarity; he even played cricket during the dark days of Valley Forge. Mr. Chernow ascribes his break with Britain to the moronic refusal of the British authorities to grant Washington a regular army commission. 'His hostility to the mother country,' Mr. Chernow writes, 'was a case of thwarted love.' (Though he hints that it might also have involved greed, since Britain was threatening to curtail the distinctly dodgy Ohio land speculation that was enriching Washington in the mid-1770s.)

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