Washington Was Man of Firsts

Reprinted from The SPOTLIGHT, February 15, 1988
Exclusive to the Spotlight
by John Tiffany

He was a man of destiny. He was a small boy who drew animals and birds in the margins of his copybook. He was an adventurous and quick-learning youth, a vigorous and immensely vital soldier, a statesman whose resources of patience and conciliation were as vast as his vision. Many of George Washington’s experiences seem curiously fated. Time and time again he miraculously emerged unscathed from disease and battle in which others about him lost their lives.

The man who was to be “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen” was born on February 22, 1732, a fourth-generation Anglo-American and a member of Virginia’s landed gentry. In this bicentennial year of the U.S. Constitution, it is well to remember that without Washington there would surely never have been a ratified Constitution of the United States; indeed, there would almost certainly never have been a Constitution to ratify.

The great man had already shown keen interest in closer cooperation among the states when, in 1785, delegates from Virginia and Maryland met in Alexandria, Virginia for negotiations regarding the navigation of Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River. Washington, who owned about 30,000 acres of Western lands, hoped that improved navigation of the Potomac would give easier access to the West for Americans.

This led to a convention at Annapolis, Maryland in September, 1786 to study the problems of interstate commerce in general- which in turn led to the Philadelphia conference of 1787 that created the U.S. Constitution.

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