Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Greatness of George Washington

                    I feel strongly that I should write an article about George Washington.  I have already written several articles about him concerning the facts of his life.  These facts can be found here or here.  

                    I want to write about the greatness of the man, and yet I lack the words to truly describe him.  George Washington performed many great acts of achievement, but he remained humble and willing to serve his country.  He possessed great wealth but was willing to walk and work with common men.  He was a great leader but was willing to listen to counsel from his subordinates.   He controlled the army whose officers would have made him king, but he went before Congress to resign his military commission and return to private life.  He seemed to always put the good of the army and/or the good of the country before his own personal needs and desires.  What caused this man to be as he was?

                    I believe that George Washington could have been one of "noble and great" men seen in vision by Abraham.  "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
                    "And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said:  These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me:  Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born."  (See Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:22-23.)

                    What kind of rulers did God include in this statement?  Was God referring only to spiritual leaders or did He include George Washington and other Founders?  Latter-day revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith included the following information:  "According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
                    "That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
                    "Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
                    "And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood."  (See Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80; italics added.)

                    Ancient prophets were told that the American continents were the "promised land" and had been kept in reserve and unknown to the people in the Old World until God determined that time was right.  God also proclaimed that this land would be free of kings and would remain free only to people who were righteous and followed Jesus Christ.  (See the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ.)  God said that He "raised up" "wise men" to write the Constitution of the United States.  The fact is that the Constitution would not have been written if the Americans had not won the Revolutionary War!  I strongly believe that God performed miracles and helped Washington and his army to win that war in order that a free nation could be established in America!

                    One of Washington's officers, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, spoke for most, if not all, Americans at the time when he proclaimed Washington to be:  "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

                    How did Washington come to hold such an honored place in the hearts of Americans?  The people loved him because of his character and his leadership; they loved him because of his integrity and character.  He was a great leader who helped to shape the new nation that became the United States of AmericaWashington did this in three very important ways:  1) He was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  He kept the army together - a major accomplishment in and of itself - and led it for eight long years before winning American independence from Great Britain - the greatest military power on earth at the time.  2) He served as president of the convention that wrote the Declaration of Independence.  Because of the love and respect that the delegates had for Washington, he was instrumental in keeping the convention together long enough to finish the Constitution. 3) Because the people trusted Washington, they agreed to ratify the Constitution and then they elected Washington to be the first President of the United States.  They had enough faith in his integrity to give him great power, and he honored that faith by serving his nation well and by setting numerous precedents for those who came after him.  He was very mindful of the precedents he was setting and was determined that they should be appropriate and proper.

                    Washington's character and integrity probably stemmed from his childhood and the teachings of his parents about honesty, integrity, responsibility, and work.  His mother or a teacher might have suggested that he copy the following rules of behavior in his notebook.  The rules are written in his own spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
                    Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.
                    Use no Reproachfull Language against any one, neither Curse nor Revile.
                    Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Deck't, if your Shoes fit well, if your Skokings Sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.
                    While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.
                    Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.
                    It's unbecoming to Stoop much to ones Meat Keep your Fingers clean & when foul wipe them on a Corner of your Table Napkin.  (See article by Philander D. Chase in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 21, p 92.)

                    Washington's character was probably formed by his faith in God, his humility and willingness to kneel in prayer to ask for guidance and then attribute his success to that Supreme Being.  The following quote shows his tremendous desire and determination to do what was right before God and for future Americans. 

                    The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves…  the fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army - our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission…  We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die.  (General orders to the Continental Army, July 2, 1776, as quoted in World Book, p 105)

                    I truly do believe that George Washington was one of the greatest men to ever live.  I believe that he acted under inspiration from God when he led his rag tag army to victory and independence.  I believe that he continued to listen to inspiration from God in the Constitutional Convention and as President of the United States.  George Washington was a truly great man!

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