Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Father of my country, a father


In the last seven years or so, I have developed a keen appreciation of the Founding Fathers. My reading has turned them from pale icons in a high school textbook to vivid three-dimensional men, both flawed and great, who together --but not easily--created one of the marvels of the world.

A series on the American Revolution culminates with a program on the final battle at Yorktown. The way they re-enacted what they called "the end game" actually brought tears to my eyes, imagining how Washington might have felt after six more than arduous years, years with more failures than gains. And now, on October 19th, 1781, final victory and vindication.

What I do not remember, but must have read, is that his triumph was gored by a terrible loss. He and Martha had no children together, but he stepfathered her remaining daughter and son from her first marriage. Two children had died earlier. Her daughter Martha died as a young adult, of epilepsy, which left only the young man Jackie. He pressed George all during the revolution to let him fight, but was always refused. Finally, before Yorktown, Washington relented and brought him with him to the battle. Jackie contracted typhus there and died, less than a month after Cornwallis gave over his sword.


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1 comment:

USMaleSF said...

It's completely unrealistic to imagine that a man who lived 200 years ago would be able to take in our current culture, nevertheless I can't help but wonder what he'd think to know that our current political issues include whether two men can marry and whether a Mohammadan temple should be built where Mohammadans killed 3000 Americans or whether the President should take an American State to court for trying to deal with an invasion from Mexico that the Federal branch refuses to admit.

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