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Our nation's first president is not usually thought of as a man of words. Unlike the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials in the nation's capital, the Washington monument is inscribed with no words for the benefit of posterity. Yet Washington was keenly aware of the power and importance of language. From the time of his entrance into the public arena at the age of twenty to his death forty-seven years later, he produced a steady stream of letters, reports, memoranda, addresses, messages, and speeches designed to express his views and to persuade people to them. Here, collected in an elegant volume, is the authoritative selection of Washington's thoughts and observations culled from his public discourse and private correspondence. As we read his comments on subjects as diverse as government, foreign policy, religious freedom, friendship, character, and relations between the sexes, we find that his words are often as applicable to our own time as they were to his.
Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 George Washington Chronology Chapter 3 Quotations Chapter 4 Index
Posted November 25, 2010
George Washington was generally not thought of as a man of words. Editor Stephen E. Lucas, who is a leading scholar of the history of American political rhetoric and professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, notes that our first President lacked the stylistic felicity of Thomas Jefferson, the multifaceted genius of Benjamin Franklin, the intellectual power of James Madison, or the rhetorical fire of Thomas Paine. However, during his public life, he produced a steady stream of letters, reports, memoranda, addresses, messages, and speeches.
From these, along with the well-known "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation," which did not originate with Washington but which he transcribed as a school exercise sometime before his sixteenth birthday, Lucas draws a collection of his sentiments. Following an Introduction which explains the development of Washington's writing and speaking practices and includes a short chronology of his life, there follows 102 pages of quotations from "The Father of His Country" arranged alphabetically by subject. An index will prove very helpful at finding quotations on specific topics. Anyone interested in George Washington or American history in general should find this small volume fascinating.
Lucas is also the author of Portents of Rebellion: Rhetoric and Revolution in Philadelphia, 1765-1776, which received the Golden Anniversary Award of the National Communication Association, and The Art of Public Speaking which is a leading book on the subject in colleges and universities across the country. In addition, he has also published widely on the Declaration of Independence as well as on the importance of George Washington's speeches and writings in his military and presidential careers. Other books available from Madison House in this series include Citizen Jefferson: The Wit and Wisdom of an American Sage by John Kaminski, Citizen Paine, The Quotable John Adams, The Quotable Benjamin Franklin, and The Quotable Abraham Lincoln.