Peter R. Henriques
Peter R. Henriques
First and Always: A New Portrait of George Washington presents a series of cogent essays that enrich and increase understanding of America’s most important statesman. Sympathetic to its subject and recognizing George Washington’s indispensable contributions to the establishment of the United States of America First and Always does not shirk the historian’s duty to gaze without blinking at Washington’s traits and decisions while probing beneath a heroic figure’s public mask of extraordinary virtue.
The introduction, “Why George Washington Matters” argues that without George Washington the America we know would not have come into being.
Chapter 1 - “Matchless: The Leadership of George Washington” examines how ten factors – good fortune, physicality, ambition, determination, passion, courage, toughness, a realistic philosophy, multiple talents, and character – overlapped and blended to create a remarkable leader.
Chapter 2 - “Complicated, Very Complicated: George Washington’s Controversial Relationship with His Mother, Mary Ball Washington” illuminates the critical early influence a complicated and needy woman exerted on her son. While very different in crucial respects, the two were surprisingly similar.
Chapter 3 - “I Cannot Tell A Lie”: Myths about George Washington that Should be Discarded” focuses on various falsehoods, some beloved and well-known and others more obscure, that cloud our understanding of the man.
Chapter 4 - “Unfortunate: The Asgill Affair and George Washington’s Self-Created Dilemma” chronicles an unlikely and morbid event following the surrender at Yorktown. In 1782, Washington proposed to execute an innocent man and might have done so but for unlikely occurrences.
Chapter 5 - “Fractured Friendships: George Washington’s Break with Five Famous Virginians” examines how Washington came to sever ties with George Mason, Edmund Randolph, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. This scrutiny offers insights into Washington’s character and the crucial issues facing the nation, both at home and abroad.
Chapter 6 - “Lives of Their Own: A Closer Look at Some of George Washington’s Enslaved Workers” profiles Christopher Sheels, William “Billy” Lee, Ona Judge, Hercules Posey, Sambo Anderson, Charlotte, and Caroline Branham. While portraying slavery’s horrors, they also reveal many interesting facts that do not fit well with the traditional view of slavery.
Chapter 7 - “A Sad Postscript to a Remarkable Public Career: George Washington and the Quasi-War with France” explains how, in the period immediately after his presidency, Washington served once again as Commander-in-Chief of the American forces. This episode revealed Washington as a partisan Federalist and poised him for an unseemly dispute with President Adams over the General’s choice for his second in command: Alexander Hamilton.
Chapter 8 - “What Makes George Washington Tick” employs the insights of psychoanalyst Carl Jung to analyze Washington’s motivations, including the “shadow self” that hungered for public acclaim while he could still revel in it.
The Appendix - “The Wisdom of George Washington” offers readers many of Washington’s still- relevant observations about human nature, politics, and living life.