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The Invention of George Washington

Paul K. Longmore
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BY TRACING George Washington's deliberate development from colonial planter and soldier to republican icon, Paul Longmore answers the riddle of Washington's simultaneous fame and aloofness, arriving at a portrait of Washington as a self-fashioning representative of his turbulent time. As a young Virginia planter, Washington aspired to virtues associated with the colonial gentry, but as the British system of patronage threatened his own ambitions, he adopted the radical Whig patriotism that would lead him to take up arms. As a national hero of the Revolutionary War, and in accepting the presidency, Washington defended civilian control of the military and other ideals of republican government because his own image was inextricably tied to their success. The Invention of George Washington, first published in hardcover in 1988, explores the character of our first president in modern terms, but as Longmore shows, Washington's assiduous cultivation of his own public image does not ultimately diminish his extraordinary achievements as general and statesman.