Horatio Gates went from congressionally mandated hero status related to Saratoga to losing disgracefully at the Battle of Camden in South Carolina during mid-August 1780. THE INDISPENSABLE MAN . Fortunately, Washington survived his first battles, even when he led out front, at least briefly, during the Princeton engagement in early January 1777. Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization. JKM: Benjamin Franklin was a talented politician and skilled diplomat but no expert on military matters. Posted by Adam Dibble at 6:00:00 AM . If there is such a thing as a true “historical moment,” this was Washington’s. In fact, Christ is the indispensable foundation for political life. And while historians have gone back and forth on Washington as the “Indispensable Man”—to use James Flexner’s term—most recent scholarship has seen the Virginian as central (if not “indispensable” ) to the patriot triumph. So maybe knowing when to act, and having luck enough for your enemies to give you an opening, is a version of “brilliance.”. The Continental commander in chief, they conclude, may have helped win a war but accomplished little else of lasting historical value or importance. Learn more about how George Washington dealt with a brewing coup within his own ranks. Details. Militia simply lacked the training and the ability to keep the field for long periods. On March 15, 1783, Washington called his mutinous officers to account in a tension filled meeting at the New Building (also called the Temple of Virtue) at the center of the New Windsor cantonment. Take a bucket and fill it with water, Put your hand in it up to the wrist, Pull it out and the hole that's remaining. Read this poem in other languages. He was the man on the spot and at the right time, and he rose to the occasion when there was no one else who could have done so. Still, Washington refused to give up. Was there anyone else? Then there was reality. No. At that point, British leaders back in England decided that they could suffer greater losses to imperial holdings if they kept trying to snuff out a rebellion that had become a world war. No other candidate–Charles Lee, Horatio Gates, and John Hancock among them– possessed the proper mix of qualities that confirmed Washington as the most “logical” choice of the “available” men. Get the latest updates as soon as they’re out. Washington conceived the idea when others were talking about retreating to the Philadelphia area—and still other patriots were just giving up on the cause. Washington saw the opportunity and seized it. On Andrew Roberts’s impressive new biography of Winston Churchill. Among them was General Charles Lee, who was ready to go to Congress in November 1776 and offer to take over command. Successful generalship, however, involves much more than tactical know how. Further, had there been so totally a crushing British victory in 1776, Washington would have come down to posterity as anything but an “indispensable” person in the making. One Day 2. His critics were numerous. Those 15,000 or so New England militia enthusiasts who poured forth during and after Lexington and Concord in April 1775 had mostly had their fill of the harshness of Continental service before the end of that year. But this goes back to a Great Man being able to recognize the “historical moment” and knowing when to act. All Rights Reserved. The Indispensable Man (by Saxon White Kessinger) Sometime when you're feeling important; Sometime when your ego 's in bloom; Sometime when you take it for granted, You're the best qualified in the room: Sometime when you feel that your going, Would leave an unfillable hole, Just follow these simple instructions, And see how they humble your soul. But GMT insists that in key situations Great Men (and now we would say Great Women) can take charge and decisively shape events. Washington had sense enough to listen to Rochambeau and seize the moment to march south to trap Cornwallis. By sheer force of character he created the Continental Army and held it together, under extremely adverse circumstances, for the eight years it took to win independence. Their faith was that Washington would become a great unifier, not a potential ego dominated destroyer of the people’s liberties. Are they just dragged through life controlled by the customs and beliefs of their times, or can their actions actually influence the course of events in their own times–and well beyond? No. The Washington Library is open to all researchers and scholars, by appointment only. Next up will be another project with Jim Martin looking at Benedict Arnold’s career as a British general. The fact remains that no organizational man would actually belong either to theory X or theory Y. asked May 30 '11 at 12:56. c_andrew ♦ 404 1 5 17. edited May 30 '11 at 12:58. One of the best statements in this regard came from a young infantry captain: He would be happy, he wrote home, to see Congress relieve any officer other than “his Excellency.” If Congress knew the bond the army had forged with its commander-in-chief, he concluded, no one ever would have thought to replace Washington with Horatio Gates. Given these choices, the cause would have been in serious trouble, even if the Continental army had not suffered the kind of overwhelming defeat suggested by Franklin. May 2009 ... [Show full abstract] man’s free will, he defined evil as an action of the relevant entity. Understanding the way he turned himself from an uneducated farmer into the Indispensable (yet imperfect) Man, is the only way to build a new generation of George Washingtons that can take on the extraordinary challenges that America is once again facing. Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization. So did other patriots including Signers such as Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Rush and the Massachusetts cousins John and Samuel Adams. By the thousands they did not re-enlist for service in 1776, despite desperate pleas from army recruiters to extend their enlistments for another six months. Spend the day with us! Referring to him as “His Excellency” was one matter, but making him a dictator would have completely undermined everything the Revolution was about in producing a freedom loving republic. Definitely ambitious, Gates had proved himself a worthy staff officer, but greatness in line command leadership was well beyond his capacities. Discover the Home of George and Martha Washington. “I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with,” he stated humbly. It looks quite the same as before. Angry at the prospect of being “turned adrift like old worn-out horses” (the words of soldier Joseph Plumb Martin) with the arrival of peace but without proper salary payments and civilian recognition of the army’s sacrifices, the officers began plotting to threaten Congress into coming up with long promised financial compensation–or else. Washington was no empty suit. Washington, however, refused to be cowed. By this time Lee was a prisoner of war, Gates had left for Baltimore pleading illness, and Greene had not yet come into his own as a general. Over the next few months Washington kept working to resolve a host of pressing problems before he traveled to Annapolis, Maryland, where Congress was then meeting.  "  In using the term "indispensable man" I'm taking it straight, NOT in the sense that this poem implies. Jump 4. In this line of thinking the patriot cause was too broad and popular for success to depend on any particular individual—or even on a particular army. Learn more about Washington's crossing of the Delaware River and the fateful battles of Trenton and Princeton. As Col. Lewis Nicola wrote, summarizing the sentiments of others, Washington should accept “the title of king, which I conceive would be attended with some material advantages,” such as properly providing at long last for the army’s fundamental needs. What Washington repeatedly did through eight long years of war was make enough brick without straw to keep the Revolution alive. This item: Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner Paperback $19.00. His most recent books are The War for American Independence (ABC-CLIO, 2016), and the award-winning Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016, with Garry Wheeler Stone). FREE Shipping on orders over $25.00. He called the officers back to their senses in what has been labeled the new nation’s “most dangerous hour.” Through soothing words, he reminded them of the purpose and meaning of their service, that liberty must triumph over tyranny, that any thought of a coup against Congress was unthinkable. 2 synonyms for George Washington: President Washington, Washington. No historian doubts that Washington was the Indispensable Man of the epoch. They do. Antonyms for Indispensable Man. But GMT insists that in key situations Great Men (and now we would say Great Women) can take charge and decisively shape events. His most significant challenge came in the form of a restive, mutinous minded army that had suffered from debilitating shortages for so many years. So let’s assume hypothetically that Washington did not survive an early engagement. JKM: On June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress “adopted” the New England rebel force that had General Thomas Gage’s British redcoats entrapped in Boston. Discover what made Washington "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen". Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Today we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of George Washington. In essence, attrition led to exhaustion, with Washington and his Continentals winning the day. Was it the experienced British officer and well-known eccentric Charles Lee, or perhaps self-serving Horatio Gates, the onetime British major who had been wounded during Braddock’s Monongahela defeat? He emotionally urged his officers not to blemish the record their common sacrifices had established. His decision to hold Fort Washington on Manhattan Island in late 1776 was disastrous, and Gates, Lee, and Washington’s own adjutant general, Joseph Reed of Pennsylvania, all had grave doubts about his performance. Without Washington at Newburgh, who would have stopped a disgruntled officer corps from disgracing itself—and forever endangering the American tradition of military subordination to civilian authority? This appointment made a great deal of practical political sense. As he put it, he wanted “a respectable army.” Most historians of the War for Independence now agree that the Continentals were “indispensable” for the eventual American victory. No. Washington was also a southerner, and Virginia was the largest colony, and appointing him commander-in-chief was way to cement the South to the cause. In many ways, he did not succeed at first. His success in whipping his raw troops into shape around Boston resulted in more grumbling in the ranks than praise. Learn more about Washington's 1781 Yorktown Campaign - the last major battle of the American Revolution. To qualify as a Great Man—or historical figure—an individual must be able to recognize and seize decisive moments; to act when no one else (even someone with talent) chose to step up; and at some point come to embody the spirit of “the masses.” Washington would seem a good test of GMT, and the theory a good way to test Washington’s “indispensability.” But until now no one has done either. But it had a major resurgence just before and during World War II as the public tried to explain the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. That he was a Virginian was also important. What about John Hancock, the wealthy Massachusetts patriot with a smattering of militia experience who was then serving as the president (glorified secretary) of the Continental Congress? At the times and places Washington acted, he was the only one who could have done so effectively. Email This BlogThis! indispensable definition: 1. The war, as it unfolded, allowed Washington to prove himself as a most worthy, indeed indispensable “historical figure.”. John Adams, in his June 15 nomination speech, addressed Washington’s “independent fortune” and “excellent universal Character,” the kind of true “Gentleman” who could “unite the cordial Exertions of all the Colonies better than any other Person in the Union.”. Comparison of Theories X and Y: Both theories have certain assumptions about human nature. As the war was ending, the king asked the well-known American born painter Benjamin West, then living in England, whether Washington would give up the power that was his as commander in chief and go peacefully home. Washington, in Lee’s words, was “a decisive Blunderer.” Washington’s trusted aide de camp, Pennsylvanian Joseph Reed, had already turned against him, and so too did the ever ambitious Horatio Gates, the so-called “hero of Saratoga” who in late 1777 was at the center of the Conway Cabal, a complicated plot to oust Washington in favor of naming Gates commander in chief. This location was close to the small town of Newburgh that hugged the western shore of the Hudson River, about sixty miles north of New York City. One of the Greatest Gifts 6. They had found military life to be extremely risky to their physical health and general well bring, especially given shortages of all kinds in regard to food, clothing, and other essentials. We don't accept government funding and rely upon private contributions to help preserve George Washington's home and legacy. By Joseph J. Ellis. His men lauded his performance in combat, and Washington’s allies used his popularity to rout the general’s political critics. Traditional military truisms hold that being lucky, with or without providence, and being better than the other guy, are the keys to success in war—and Washington was a perfect example. He was also beginning to capture the public imagination—the spirit of “the masses”—as the only really unifying figure the patriot cause could point to at the time. Anonymous circulars—although probably authored by Major John Armstrong, an aide to Major General Horatio Gates—called for protests and hinted at more. With no power of taxation and foreign loans (mostly from France) drying up, the delegates could do almost nothing to relieve the mounting tension. Washington advanced into New Jersey against the advice of many patriots. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow Paperback $12.99. SEARCH THE BLOG. Charles Lee believed he could rally all the populace into a true people’s army predicated on universal militia service. We don't accept government funding and rely upon private contributions to help preserve George Washington's home and legacy. He fancied himself looking especially dashing in a military uniform, but he would have been lost in the fundamental art of command. Details . Why Did George Washington Join the Revolution? JKM: When Washington arrived at Cambridge, Massachusetts, in early July 1775, he was appalled. With emotions running high, at least some officers contemplated direct action against Congress. Later that year he foolishly lost some 3,000 soldiers he had charged with defending Fort Washington near the northern end of Manhattan Island. Was there any other comparable leader? Then, of course, there was Yorktown. Washington: The Indispensable Man: The Illustrated Edition (The Illustrated Editions) was written by a person known as the author and has been written in sufficient quantity malicious of interesting books with a lot of Invention Washington: The Indispensable Man: The Illustrated Edition (The Illustrated Editions) was one of popular books. There this Continental force watched and waited for the British to remove the remainder of their troops from Manhattan and environs. Because he appreciated the big picture, Washington proved to be an outstanding commander, thereby putting himself in position for consideration as an invaluable “historical figure.”. The full range of historical evidence calls into question this kind of narrowly focused historical interpretation. In 1777 he was once again outflanked at Brandywine (September) and outmaneuvered at Germantown (October). If Washington wasn’t a Great Man yet, he was a logical and available man. It took all of Washington’s considerable political acumen to rally his friends and fend off his critics. Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Given the options, he was by far the best choice among Lee, Gates, Hancock, and Schuyler. There was no one else capable of acting at the key moment. Even Washington, in his acceptance speech on June 16, was not sure what he could accomplish. 1 The author’s sharp sense of humor is often in evidence and warmly complements Churchill’s own. The essay later became part of the book by the same name. Critically important is strategic vision, at which Washington excelled. However, Lee made the mistake of being captured by the British while lingering in New Jersey during mid-December 1776, even as he plotted to take over command from Washington. Maybe some sort of coup? Franklin’s assumption that the patriot populace would have come out in droves after such a crushing defeat indicates his attachment to anti-standing army ideology. African Americans in the Revolutionary War. GMT has had an uneven history with partisans defending and denouncing it on various grounds. Comments about There Is No Indispensable Man by Anonymous British. JKM: Benjamin Franklin, as already noted, didn’t think it would have been a serious a blow to the rebellion had the Continental army been severely defeated or destroyed in 1776. Horatio Gates, Charles Lee, and Richard Montgomery all had served with the British army in various capacities before the Revolution—and all would serve in the Continental Army. Spend the day with us! We don't accept government funding and rely upon private contributions to help preserve George Washington's home and legacy. In Stock. He was the very definition of a historical figure. In March 1783, with the army encamped at Newburgh, New York, awaiting word on a final peace treaty, resentments among the officers over congressional bad faith and neglect of financial settlements threatened to boil over. Washington, not yet viewed in 1776 as “indispensable” leader, understood what Franklin and other republican purists, those who believed the war could be won with a people’s army made up of highly patriotic short-term enlistees, did not. Open 365 days a year, Mount Vernon is located just 15 miles south of Washington DC. David Milner (12/30/2015 5:05:00 AM) This is surely not the right title? After Valley Forge, and with inestimable assistance from Baron von Steuben, the soldiery more and more viewed Washington as an ideal commander who was always standing with them, regardless of daunting circumstances. He served as a model of resistance, the truly virtuous Revolutionary who would not go down without a serious fight. Share . J Reston on his warnings against 'indispensable man' theory. In reality, he/she shares the traits of both. The Marquis Lafayette, Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox, and many other military and civilian leaders—and certainly Washington—came to believe that only professional soldiers could wage a long war and stand up to the redcoats. ML: Newburgh. PP&E is impacted by Capex, Depreciation, and Acquisitions/Dispositions … The Trenton counter-attack was something no one else could have done. As the number of soldiers under Washington’s command declined over time, those who committed to long-term service learned to appreciate the importance of the kind of rigorous training and discipline that would bring about military victory. JKM: As commander in chief, Washington brought his military experience, his knowledge of logistics and administration, and his humility to the battlefield. All Rights Reserved. Washington’s personal charisma was also an important part of the formula that sustained him at the head of the army, since there was scant evidence that Gates or any other aspirant could provide more effective leadership. From the mansion to lush gardens and grounds, intriguing museum galleries, immersive programs, and the distillery and gristmill. He recognized and seized the “favorable moment” to direct the course of history, and such consistency is not the stuff of coincidence or chance. Martin recently completed his lengthy teaching career by serving as the Charles Boal Ewing Visiting Professor of Military History at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. In a time of political, social, revolutionary flux and unrest—precisely the circumstances when a Great Man can make the biggest impact—Washington rebuilt the Continental Army virtually from scratch. Concerned about anointing a potential tyrant in military garb, the delegates were confident that Washington, a man of established character and significant wealth, would never become the kind of commander who, once imbued with martial power, would think of using his army to establish some form of military dictatorship. Report Reply. Later, in 1777, Washington’s defeats at Brandywine and Germantown, coupled with the loss of the de facto rebel capital of Philadelphia, led directly to the Conway Cabal and a real challenge to his authority as commander-in-chief. Today the theory is more alive in Europe that America, with its most sophisticated proponent being Russian historian and philosopher of history Leonid Efimovich Grinin. 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial HighwayMount Vernon, Virginia 22121. From the mansion to lush gardens and grounds, intriguing museum galleries, immersive programs, and the distillery and gristmill. Amid his battlefield setbacks, he never lost sight of the essential need to keep his army alive because without some sort of functioning Continental force, the patriot cause was for all practical purposes dead. Schuyler was a possibility, but the New Englanders in Congress despised him. THE MAILING LIST CATEGORIES ARCHIVES . Why Did George Washington Join the Revolution? What followed at Morristown was another example of the same thing. Until the day that machines are able to think, talk, and experience emotions, humans will remain the most complicated beings to manage. For Washington, defeating well-trained British forces dictated the need to establish “a respectable army” that would feature soldiers who agreed to long-term service, accepted arduous training and discipline, and would not split and run when facing massed British arms, no matter how battered and beaten they were. Rationale. Read historian Mark Lender's response to the question whether General George Washington was the indispensable man of the American Revolution. In 1775, no one, not even Washington, could predict whether he would succeed, let alone become a “great person,” a “historical figure” of enduring consequence. He had the stamina, courage, and determination to persist and endure in his military actions to help bring into being a less tyrannical world. Absolutely appalled, Washington scoffed at this idea. Washington was a leader who did not have to do or have everything done for his personal benefit. Perhaps a refusal to demobilize after the peace? Congressional delegates had selected well in appointing Washington their commander in chief. And Washington certainly had his share of luck: consider Brooklyn Heights when Howe failed to press his advantage against Washington’s trapped army. In regard to accepted forms of military strategy, there are three basic approaches–annihilation, attrition, and exhaustion. View on timesmachine. Need help with homework? Feb. 18, 1996; See the article in its original context from February 18, 1996, Section 7, Page 8 Buy Reprints. In fact John Adams scoffed at the idea of an indispensable Washington or an indispensable anyone. Influential rebel leaders in the Congress such as Samuel Adams held to the same tenets. Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization. His decision to wait until the next morning allowed Washington to slip away and turn the tables on the British at Princeton. Washington was lucky not to have his outflanked army torn to pieces at Brooklyn Heights. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. “Discipline is the soul of the army,” he stated, and such was his operational approach to bringing order out of chaos. There were alternative choices. Full text is unavailable for this digitized archive article. If a militia force got beaten, another supposedly would rise from the citizenry under new leaders. During the autumn of 1782, Washington began moving his army of about 7,500 soldiers–this number also included wives, consorts, and children–into its final winter campsite at New Windsor, New York. He was no Oliver Cromwell or later revolutionary leaders turned dictators like Napoleon Bonaparte or Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong. When the assembled officers murmured in surprise, he seized the moment and ad libbed: “Gentlemen, you must pardon me: I too have grown gray in your service and I too find myself going blind.” Yes, he was like them. 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News: Someone is Waiting on your Story 3 didn ’ t matter 1783, he lacked real experience... When he faced-down the so-called Newburgh Conspiracy question whether General George Washington become that kind of narrowly historical! Napoleon Bonaparte or Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong to say that other factors—culture,,! Everything, and the army depended on the theory that everyone is replaceable and. His countrymen '' ” they did what Washington repeatedly did through eight long years war... Kirby Martin 's answers to the Philadelphia area—and still other patriots were just giving on. ( September ) and outmaneuvered at Germantown ( October ) and is it possible that one person can such! Had been officially signed who holds public authority exercises their power through the kingship of Christ George become! On Andrew Roberts ’ s political critics calls into question this kind of transforming “ historical moment ” knowing! 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