The Life and Myth of George Washington

Louis Masur
Louis Masur
Rutgers University

Louis Masur is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University. A cultural historian who has written on a variety of topics, his most recent work is The Sum of Our Dreams: A Concise History of America (2020). A specialist on Lincoln and the Civil War, he is the author of Lincoln’s Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction & The Crisis of Reunion (2015), Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union (2012), and The Civil War: A Concise History (2011). Masur’s essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the Washington PostSlate, and on CNN. He has been elected to membership of the American Antiquarian Society, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and the Society of American Historians and has received teaching awards from Harvard University, the City College of New York, Trinity College and Rutgers University. His website is www.louismasur.com.

 

Overview

Following his death in 1799, George Washington was eulogized as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countryman.” His name is invoked 220 years later as much as a symbol as an actual person.

Few figures in American history are surrounded by more well-intended mythology than George Washington. An examination of Washington must begin with an exploration of his life as a Virginian, military leader, and the first President of the United States, not to mention as a husband and a slaveowner. Any study of Washington must also consider celebrated myths, such as whether he chopped down a cherry tree or wore wooden dentures, as well as famous images, such as Washington Crossing the Delaware. In his lifetime, Washington became a hero unlike any other and although he was very much an eighteenth-century man, he has much to teach us in our own time!

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Anne Rivers

Amazing.

7 months ago
Anne Rivers

Good speech, lots of truth.

7 months ago
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