Contents

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p. xi

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xvii

Even during the genteel eighteenth century, George Washington managed to earn a reputation for standoffishness. Rather than shake hands, he preferred to bow from the waist; this habit caused his critics to suspect monarchical tendencies in the first president. The children who lived in Washington’s home were cowed into ...

Chronology

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pp. xix-xxi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-18

When that protean American Benjamin Franklin set about to make himself virtuous, he chose for his motto thoughts from Cicero, from a British liberal poet, and from the biblical Proverbs. “This my little Book [of virtues],” he wrote in his Autobiography, “had for its Motto these Lines . . . from Cicero. . . .from the Proverbs of Solomon . . .

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1 A Political Life of Washington

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pp. 19-61

As the year 1799 expired, the eighteenth-century American Enlightenment was dying—and so, coincidentally, was George Washington. On the evening of Friday, December 13, though he suspected the sore throat he had was “mortal,” Washington insisted on staying up to read the newspaper aloud to his secretary and family. Had ...

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2 Classical Republican Political Culture and Philosophy

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pp. 62-106

He made his reputation by leading an army, often outnumbered, to stunning victories. His soldiers came to believe in him so completely that they would do anything he asked of them, exploits that seemed impossible. He published ...

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3 British Liberalism, Revolution, Union, and Foreign Affairs

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pp. 107-134

The young George Washington fancied himself an English gentleman in the making. He hankered after a career in the British navy, referred to England as “home” (though he had never been there), risked life and limb in the French and Indian War defending the interests of George II, whom he called “the best of kings.” During ...

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4 Protestant Christianity, Providence, and the Republic

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pp. 135-172

From the time he took command of the Continental Army, George Washington was ringed with a religious halo in many minds, and his sainted image has been conscripted to serve an American civil religion ever since. A Revolutionary woodcut produced in 1778 at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, featured an angel carrying a picture of Washington and trumpeting the German words Das Landes Vater—“Father of the Country,” the first time that title was applied to him. Throughout ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 173-180

George Washington made a career of saying farewell; he was, as Garry Wills put it, a “virtuoso of resignations.”1 Paradoxically, Washington gained power by pushing it away. But by 1796 he had had his fill of ...

Appendix: A Selected Inventory of Washington’s Library

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pp. 181-184

Notes

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pp. 185-210

Bibliography

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pp. 211-219

Index

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pp. 221-226