This is not to say that other factors—culture, environment, economics, social and political conditions—don’t matter. Today we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Later, in 1777, Washington’s defeats at Brandywine and Germantown, coupled with the loss of the de facto rebel capital of Philadelphia, led directly to the Conway Cabal and a real challenge to his authority as commander-in-chief. Successful generalship, however, involves much more than tactical know how. His success in whipping his raw troops into shape around Boston resulted in more grumbling in the ranks than praise. The officers calmed down and soon cast aside any notion of rising up against the republic they had played so central a part in bringing into existgence. ML: Newburgh. The rage militaire, or popular passion for arms, was already in retreat among the patriot populace by early 1776. Mark Edward Lender is Professor Emeritus of History at Kean University, Union, New Jersey, and he now spends his time as a full-time writer and historian (with breaks for travel and keeping up with very active grandsons). African Americans in the Revolutionary War. He served as a model of resistance, the truly virtuous Revolutionary who would not go down without a serious fight. Washington conceived the idea when others were talking about retreating to the Philadelphia area—and still other patriots were just giving up on the cause. ML: “What would have happened?” This gets an easy answer: “Nothing good.” Look at all of the examples of Washington making the decisive decision, rallying “the masses” (that is, his army and then a broad spectrum of patriots), and bringing the range of skills he possessed to the patriot cause. Learn more about how George Washington dealt with a brewing coup within his own ranks. Just be better than the other guy—and in the end Washington was better than Howe, Clinton, and Cornwallis. Grinin uses the term “historical figure” rather than Great Man, and he spells out the circumstances under which a “historical figure” can emerge. Franklin’s assumption that the patriot populace would have come out in droves after such a crushing defeat indicates his attachment to anti-standing army ideology. In March 1783, with the army encamped at Newburgh, New York, awaiting word on a final peace treaty, resentments among the officers over congressional bad faith and neglect of financial settlements threatened to boil over. In sum, Washington accepted military reality for what it was, and he worked hard to construct that kind of Europeanized force with reluctant assistance from most anti-standing army delegates in Congress. On December 23, 1783, he resigned his military commission. FREE Shipping on orders over $25.00. As such, the “available man” was now emerging as the “indispensable” leader, a necessary step along the road to becoming a heroic “historical figure.”. One of the best statements in this regard came from a young infantry captain: He would be happy, he wrote home, to see Congress relieve any officer other than “his Excellency.” If Congress knew the bond the army had forged with its commander-in-chief, he concluded, no one ever would have thought to replace Washington with Horatio Gates. This location was close to the small town of Newburgh that hugged the western shore of the Hudson River, about sixty miles north of New York City. Report Reply. 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial HighwayMount Vernon, Virginia 22121. What about John Hancock, the wealthy Massachusetts patriot with a smattering of militia experience who was then serving as the president (glorified secretary) of the Continental Congress? Washington had sense enough to listen to Rochambeau and seize the moment to march south to trap Cornwallis. As the number of soldiers under Washington’s command declined over time, those who committed to long-term service learned to appreciate the importance of the kind of rigorous training and discipline that would bring about military victory. In other words, by his actions, Washington would bend the historical forces of his times away from inhibiting monarchical regimes to more liberating republican (some might say democratic) political and social systems. Washington was clearly established as the embodiment of the patriot cause. Everyone who holds public authority exercises their power through the kingship of Christ. JKM: As commander in chief, Washington brought his military experience, his knowledge of logistics and administration, and his humility to the battlefield. From the mansion to lush gardens and grounds, intriguing museum galleries, immersive programs, and the distillery and gristmill. The Trenton counter-attack was something no one else could have done. The Indispensable Man. Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization. In 1775, no one, not even Washington, could predict whether he would succeed, let alone become a “great person,” a “historical figure” of enduring consequence. With no power of taxation and foreign loans (mostly from France) drying up, the delegates could do almost nothing to relieve the mounting tension. So let’s assume hypothetically that Washington did not survive an early engagement. Read historian Mark Lender's response to the question whether General George Washington was the indispensable man of the American Revolution. But GMT insists that in key situations Great Men (and now we would say Great Women) can take charge and decisively shape events. Was there anyone else? We don't accept government funding and rely upon private contributions to help preserve George Washington's home and legacy. Washington was a leader who did not have to do or have everything done for his personal benefit. Washington saw the opportunity and seized it. Washington’s commitment to something greater than himself set him on a course toward becoming a “great person” for all time. As such, the “available man” was now emerging as the “indispensable” leader, a necessary step along the road to becoming a heroic “historical figure.”. Charles Lee believed he could rally all the populace into a true people’s army predicated on universal militia service. This poem has not been translated into any other language yet. The essay remains a key statement in poststructuralist approaches to literary studies. In fact, Christ is the indispensable foundation for political life. He had gained significant military experience in leading Virginia’s militia forces during the French and Indian War. He never wavered from viewing the American Revolution as an instrument of human liberation–at no point perfect in his own time (or even our own) but an ideal that the maturing American republic might someday achieve. In many ways, he did not succeed at first. View on timesmachine. ML: At its simplest, Great Man Theory (GMT) holds that in certain cases individuals can make a major difference in the direction of events. But you’ve brought up Trenton and Princeton, and here is where Washington as the Great Man or “historical figure” begins to emerge. He understood and fully absorbed the central objective–win the war. Those 15,000 or so New England militia enthusiasts who poured forth during and after Lexington and Concord in April 1775 had mostly had their fill of the harshness of Continental service before the end of that year. There simply isn’t any better example of Washington grasping the “favorable moment” than when he faced-down the so-called Newburgh Conspiracy. Final Destination 5. Amid his battlefield setbacks, he never lost sight of the essential need to keep his army alive because without some sort of functioning Continental force, the patriot cause was for all practical purposes dead. As an “available person” ready to assume high rank, Washington was also the one “logical person” prepared to take on the highest command post. 1 The author’s sharp sense of humor is often in evidence and warmly complements Churchill’s own. They depended on militia, which their republican ideology glorified as free citizens in arms—a force far superior (or so they thought) to regular troops. His critics were numerous. Our Digital Encyclopedia has all of the answers students and teachers need. Once his army survived Valley Forge and showed its mettle in combat at Monmouth in late June 1778, he remained in full command control for the rest of the war. But whatever the plans, Washington appeared uninvited at an officers’ meeting chaired by Gates. As he put it, he wanted “a respectable army.” Most historians of the War for Independence now agree that the Continentals were “indispensable” for the eventual American victory. Our Digital Encyclopedia has all of the answers students and teachers need. The indispensable man by Conrad Black. For Washington, based on his French and Indian War experience, the answer was simple. Posted by Adam Dibble at 6:00:00 AM . In a time of political, social, revolutionary flux and unrest—precisely the circumstances when a Great Man can make the biggest impact—Washington rebuilt the Continental Army virtually from scratch. The Revolution was fortunate that he did. All Rights Reserved. Learn more about Washington's 1781 Yorktown Campaign - the last major battle of the American Revolution. When the assembled officers murmured in surprise, he seized the moment and ad libbed: “Gentlemen, you must pardon me: I too have grown gray in your service and I too find myself going blind.” Yes, he was like them. ML: He almost didn’t survive them. That left attrition, or just picking away and wearing down the enemy over a period of time. Greatness for Washington, then, was not only because he came out, stayed out, and ultimately gained the laurels of victory in the War for Independence. © 2020 Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Perhaps a refusal to demobilize after the peace? The Indispensable Man (by Saxon White Kessinger) Sometime when you're feeling important; Sometime when your ego 's in bloom; Sometime when you take it for granted, You're the best qualified in the room: Sometime when you feel that your going, Would leave an unfillable hole, Just follow these simple instructions, And see how they humble your soul. Take a bucket and fill it with water, Put your hand in it up to the wrist, Pull it out and the hole that's remaining. Their faith was that Washington would become a great unifier, not a potential ego dominated destroyer of the people’s liberties. Washington somehow kept his army from disintegrating, even with serious line mutinies in 1780 and 1781, until invaluable French intervention and assistance resulted in the defeat and surrender of Charles, Lord Cornwallis’s army at Yorktown in October 1781. He was the man on the spot and at the right time, and he rose to the occasion when there was no one else who could have done so. Many of today’s academics would quickly deny this latter possibility. Fortunately, Washington survived his first battles, even when he led out front, at least briefly, during the Princeton engagement in early January 1777. An ambitious man will naturally, through hard work, climb the social ladder, whereas the unmotivated man will not improve his position: "the man who will get up will be helped up; and the man who will not get up will be allowed to stay down" (p557). The evacuation finally occurred in late November 1783 after the peace treaty between Britain and its former colonies had been officially signed. Washington had that instinct. Rationale. In 1777 he was once again outflanked at Brandywine (September) and outmaneuvered at Germantown (October). This item: Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner Paperback $19.00. Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Hand in hand with attrition was exhausting the British, or stretching out the war until Crown officials saw more advantage to quitting the contest than continuing the fight. Due Season 7. Maybe some sort of coup? Had he not done so, he likely never would have emerged as a “great man,” or more properly in today’s vocabulary a “great person.” Why? It has also been published in "Boots" in Spring 1993, in "The Country Courier" 1996, "Rhyme Time" in Winter 2000, and in "Golden Times" in August 2003. asked May 30 '11 at 12:56. c_andrew ♦ 404 1 5 17. edited May 30 '11 at 12:58. Like the famous Roman general Cincinnatus, he laid down his sword, hoping the people would continue with the difficult task of making the United States a truly worthy, freedom loving republic among the nations of the world. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. His most significant challenge came in the form of a restive, mutinous minded army that had suffered from debilitating shortages for so many years. Rather, today, he would be hissed and booed as a treasonous rebel upstart--sort of a Guy Fawkes type who had foolishly attempted to break free from a most benevolent British empire, JKM: Let’s start with some fundamental questions. In Stock. His decision to wait until the next morning allowed Washington to slip away and turn the tables on the British at Princeton. Are people just minor or major actors in the life drama of human history? The Indispensable Man HAROLD TAYLOR WEEKS From the December 2, 1961 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel "Each idea is essential to the divine purpose for which it is conceived" " There is no indispensable man. " The Washington Library is open to all researchers and scholars, by appointment only. He did so with grit and determination in strategic thinking and actions that overcame his tactical failures while wearing out the enemy’s will to continue the fight. West replied that, yes, he would. Washington, not yet viewed in 1776 as “indispensable” leader, understood what Franklin and other republican purists, those who believed the war could be won with a people’s army made up of highly patriotic short-term enlistees, did not. Ships … JKM: On June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress “adopted” the New England rebel force that had General Thomas Gage’s British redcoats entrapped in Boston. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow Paperback $12.99. He was no Oliver Cromwell or later revolutionary leaders turned dictators like Napoleon Bonaparte or Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong. Comments about There Is No Indispensable Man by Anonymous British. They had found military life to be extremely risky to their physical health and general well bring, especially given shortages of all kinds in regard to food, clothing, and other essentials. Washington knew he could not engage in a winner-take-all set piece battle. This is not to say that other factors—culture, environment, economics, social and political conditions—don’t matter. Related Posts: 1. Full text is not available on IEEE Xplore for these articles. Email This BlogThis! Spend the day with us! Details . By March 1783, the plot thickened into what we have come to call the Newburgh Conspiracy, a complex series of events with the objective of having Horatio Gates, second in command at Newburgh, replace Washington at the head of the army, which in turn would not lay down its arms when final peace terms were signed. Washington was already struggling to keep some semblance of a trained army in the field long before his Long Island debacle. At the times and places Washington acted, he was the only one who could have done so effectively. Early in 2018 he completed a fellowship at the Fred W. Smith National Library at Mount Vernon writing a new history of the Conway Cabal—which Lender insists was real. During the autumn of 1782, Washington began moving his army of about 7,500 soldiers–this number also included wives, consorts, and children–into its final winter campsite at New Windsor, New York. And is it possible that one person can have such a short- and long-term impact on human history? No. That he was a Virginian was also important. What followed at Morristown was another example of the same thing. David Milner (12/30/2015 5:04:00 AM) This is wrongly titled. We can say the same of the engagement at Princeton. Reality about the willingness of so many freehold farmers and tradespeople to pour forth suddenly was wishful thinking at best. Not a subscriber to JSH-Online? SEARCH THE BLOG. What are your thoughts on this week’s Poetic Flow? How so? A winner also has to be lucky—no less a figure than Napoleon said as much. Congressional delegates had selected well in appointing Washington their commander in chief. theory-of-history aristotle logic. Discover what made Washington "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen". JKM: Benjamin Franklin, as already noted, didn’t think it would have been a serious a blow to the rebellion had the Continental army been severely defeated or destroyed in 1776. However, Lee made the mistake of being captured by the British while lingering in New Jersey during mid-December 1776, even as he plotted to take over command from Washington. Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization. There’s no indispensable man. He had the stamina, courage, and determination to persist and endure in his military actions to help bring into being a less tyrannical world. It looks quite the same as before. Is a measure of how you will be missed. In this line of thinking the patriot cause was too broad and popular for success to depend on any particular individual—or even on a particular army. No doubt his presence at the head of the Continental army would encourage other colonies to the south of New England to get involved in supporting the rebellion. Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization. Then there was Second Trenton when Cornwallis decided to hold off on a probably-decisive evening attack. Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization. Log in to read this article. About the Author. Or possibly even the Northern Department commander, the gentleman patrician Philip Schuyler? For them, he had become the embodiment of Revolutionary service and sacrifice, the “indispensable” leader around whom to rally, except during those times when camp and living conditions were so horrible that line mutinies broke out and threatened the army’s continued existence. But he was the “available man” and even the “logical man.” He had more practical military experience than other colonials and most in Congress knew as much. Anonymous circulars—although probably authored by Major John Armstrong, an aide to Major General Horatio Gates—called for protests and hinted at more. We don't accept government funding and rely upon private contributions to help preserve George Washington's home and legacy. One of the Greatest Gifts 6. Learn more. Why Did George Washington Join the Revolution? All Rights Reserved. Many also resented Washington’s demands regarding rigorous training and discipline. Washington was also a southerner, and Virginia was the largest colony, and appointing him commander-in-chief was way to cement the South to the cause. Seeds. It was no secret that these rebel enthusiasts under arms operated more like a semi-organized mob than a well-organized army. Referring to him as “His Excellency” was one matter, but making him a dictator would have completely undermined everything the Revolution was about in producing a freedom loving republic. As at Newburgh, time and again over the course of the war Washington had acted. With emotions running high, at least some officers contemplated direct action against Congress. Saxon White Kessinger is a member (and past president) of Gem State Writers’ League and a member of Idaho Writers’ League. There were alternative choices. Learn more about Washington's crossing of the Delaware River and the fateful battles of Trenton and Princeton. 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