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.
at 4:25 PM