February 22, 2019
Today we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. Of all the great men of the revolutionary era to whom we owe our freedom, Washington’s greatness was the rarest and the most needed. At this remove in time, it is also the hardest to comprehend.This article is a must-read, in my estimation. https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2019/02/remembering-the-indispensable-man-9.php
Take, for example, Washington’s contribution to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Washington’s mere presence lent the undertaking and its handiwork the legitimacy that resulted in success. The convention’s first order of business was the election of a presiding officer. Washington was the delegates’ unanimous choice.
Presiding over the convention during that fateful summer, Washington said virtually nothing. In his excellent book on Washington, Richard Brookhiser notes: "The esteem in which Washington was held affected his fellow delegates first of all…Washington did not wield the power he possessed by speaking. Apart from his lecture on secrecy, Washington did not address the Convention between the first day and the last.”
The esteem in which he was held by his fellow citizens was similarly crucial to the implementation of the Constitution during his presidency. In 1790 Rhode Island became the thirteenth state to ratify the Constitution. To mark the occasion, President Washington made a ceremonial visit to Newport when Congress recessed in August. Newport welcomed Washington with open arms. In Newport on August 18, according to James Thomas Flexner, Washington "completely fatigued the company” by briskly walking, fortified by the wine and punch served in four different houses along his route, from nine in the morning until one in the afternoon.
In anticipation of Washington’s visit to Newport, the members of America’s oldest Jewish congregation prepared a letter welcoming Washington for presentation to him at a public event on the morning of August 18. The letter was authorized by the congregation’s board and signed by its president, Moses Seixas. It is Washington’s magnificent letter responding to Seixas that that has become famous as one of the classic statements of religious toleration in America.
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