16 – His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis

I think the best way for me to summarize this book is: George Washington’s life, pretty much, sucked.

As a young man, he was basically broke. So he marries Martha, the wealthiest widow in Virginia. And he marries her even though he’s really in love with another man’s wife. Then when he first goes to war he’s practically a laughingstock. Fast forward to him commanding the army during the War of Independence and he has success! Yay! But then takes on the mantle of the presidency. Yeah, that’s great and all, except when he wanted to leave after his first term, he got railroaded into a second term. Not to mention, during this second term, his closest “friends” were putting out propaganda behind his back saying he was old, senile, and unfit for the presidency.

When he finally does get to retire after his second term as president, he doesn’t really get to retire. People were always visiting Mount Vernon to see him and dine with him. The fact that this book even clearly states that Washington figured he and Martha didn’t dine alone for almost 20 years. Ridiculous. Then, when it was finally time for him to die, how does it happen? Oh that’s right, he gets some crazy infection in his throat and suffocates to death. Lovely life, huh?

Some cool things that I learned. Washington, D.C. is located where it is because George thought it best to have the “Federal City” just north of Virginia to help the Virginians believe it was in the south. (Or something like that) I never knew, prior to reading this, that “Commander in Chief” wasn’t always a presidential term. During the first half of this book when GW was being mentioned as the “Commander in Chief” I kept thinking, “Um…did I miss where he became president?” Only to then realize that I’m an idiot. 🙂 It was very cool to read about the creation of our government and why decisions were made. And another thing that sucked for GW, he was our nation’s guinea pig and really got crapped on in terms of people talking badly about him. But you’ve got to admit, even though he didn’t always make the best decisions, he was the one that really and truly believed we could be independent.

Lastly, I think it would be pretty awesome to be called Her “Excellency”. 🙂


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