What Donald Trump Doesn’t Get About George WashingtonRoundup
tags: Mount Vernon, Donald Trump, George Washingtion
Peter Canellos is editor-at-large of Politico.
On March 4, 1797, George Washington did something that put him on a historic pedestal above Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte and every past conqueror and crowned head of Europe: He gave up power.
This wasn’t expected of him; most Americans hoped he would remain president—for life, if possible.
He chose instead to return to his farm at Mount Vernon. He yearned for home but also to establish enduring precedents for the nation whose independence he had helped painfully win: No man is bigger than the country. The office is more important than any president. Power is a privilege to be wielded and then handed to another.
When Donald Trump visited Mount Vernon with French President Emmanuel Macron last year, he reportedly commented: “If he was smart, he would’ve put his name on it. You’ve got to put your name on stuff or no one remembers you.”
There are ironies on top of ironies in the father of Trump Tower offering posthumous advice to the father of our country. But the greatest of them is that, 220 years after George Washington’s death, his name is everywhere and remembered by everyone, largely because he chose not to maximize his own opportunities for self-promotion.
comments powered by Disqus
- Top Ten differences between the Iraq War and Trump’s Proposed Iran War
- Woodrow Wilson Foundation Releases Findings on Why Americans Don't Know History
- How will Obama be remembered? A massive new oral history project will help shape his legacy.
- 30 Years Later, Making Sense Of The MOVE Bombing
- They Resisted Hitler. They Were Executed. At Last, They Lie at Rest.
- Historians Argue That The History Major Won’t Go the Way of the Dodo
- Tenure, Twitter and Taking Her Board to Task
- The new Statue of Liberty Museum is a quiet paean to America’s embrace of immigrants—but what is there to celebrate?
- McCullough’s new book on pioneers’ history draws criticism
- What to Do With Richmond’s Confederate Statues