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The Americanism of Washington by Henry Van Dyke
page 2 of 22 (09%)
pinnacled in remote grandeur, like a sphinx poised upon a volcanic peak,
isolated and mysterious. That altitudinous figure still dominates the
cloudy landscapes of the after-dinner orator; but the frigid, academic
mind has turned away from it, and looking through the fog of criticism
has descried another Washington, not really an American, not amazingly a
hero, but a very decent English country gentleman, honorable,
courageous, good, shrewd, slow, and above all immensely lucky.

Now here are two of the things often said about Washington which need,
if I mistake not, to be unsaid: first, that he was a solitary and
inexplicable phenomenon of greatness; and second, that he was not an

Solitude, indeed, is the last quality that an intelligent student of his
career would ascribe to him. Dignified and reserved he was, undoubtedly;
and as this manner was natural to him, he won more true friends by
using it than if he had disguised himself in a forced familiarity and
worn his heart upon his sleeve. But from first to last he was a man who
did his work in the bonds of companionship, who trusted his comrades in
the great enterprise even though they were not his intimates, and who
neither sought nor occupied a lonely eminence of unshared glory. He was
not of the jealous race of those who

"Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne";

nor of the temper of George III., who chose his ministers for their
vacuous compliancy. Washington was surrounded by men of similar though
not of equal strength--Franklin, Hamilton, Knox, Greene, the Adamses,
Jefferson, Madison. He stands in history not as a lonely pinnacle like
Mount Shasta, elevated above the plain
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