His Excellency: George Washington


I am embarking on a journey to read a biography of every United States President. This is a lofty goal that many have commented is hard to achieve. I think a knowledge of how this country was governed and the men we elected to run it are invaluable to me as a citizen of this country. I long to be the history buff that can tell you the 26th President without thinking or can list off reasons the people elected one candidate over another. Essentially, I have high expectations for my choices on this journey, especially for our first President who would kick it off. This book failed to meet these expectations and my excitement diminished almost immediately. Instead of fact and storyline, I got someone’s opinion, a negative one at that, which feeds on itself and cannot help but leave the reader dreading turning the pages. I literally asked myself if I should finish it or just start another biography? I want to like Washington, our revered first President, but I can’t. Not even a little bit. Now this may not be all Ellis’s fault. My history classes are partially to blame with their cherry trees and tales of building a nation. From what I have learned through this book, it seems Washington was simply a lucky man. In the right place at the right time, not dying alongside many others. He chose to keep quiet where others chose to have an opinion. His demeanor just said “I am a leader” and so he was. From Ellis’ view, Washington allowed others to form his opinions, to write his letters and even persuade him to make decisions he would not have made. That is all I got out of this 275 page book that inevitably took me two months to suffer through. I believe historians should give facts, not their own speculation. I want Washington as he was or as close as I can get. This book was not that at all.  Back to square one. 


One thought on “His Excellency: George Washington

  1. I’m wondering if the title is a reference to John Adams’s suggestion that the Presidents of the United States be addressed as ‘your excellency, the President’ (the other founding fathers preferred ‘Mr President’ and so that’s what stuck!)


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