His Excellency: George Washington Review
Ellis was born in the United States in 1948, July 18. Currently, Ellis lives in Massachusetts, and he is and has been a history professor at Mount Holyoke College since 1972. Additionally, he is a national scholar on the American History. This is attributable to his seven books on American history that touches critical American issues since the colonial times and the early years of the country’s republic. On several occasions, the author has won some significant awards including the National Book Award under the Nonfiction category and the Pulitzer Prize for the Founding Brothers Book.
Scope of the Book
Ellis portrays George Washington as a political and military leader, the traits that were hidden under his volcanoes of emotions and energies. The author attributes Washington traits to his successes in defeating the colonialists and uniting the American colonies and later becoming the world’s most famous leader. It would have been difficult for the Americans to know more about the country’s first president if it were not for the efforts of Ellis. The author begins by bringing Washington into the limelight from a military point of view. At the age of 21 years, Washington captured the attention of the Virginia Governor for his brave actions to confront the French military. The author has gone ahead to exhibit Washington as a political leader who led the country revolution. The Washington contribution in the country did not only win independence for Americans but also helped to shape the country’s powerful political system that got rid of aristocratic and monarchical leadership. The author portrays Washington as a person who embraced unity through his belief that central government was a focal factor in uniting all the Americans. Finally, Ellis appears to congratulate Washington for uniting the country in the wake of regional loyalties and for giving room for the emergence of political parties. To complete his work, the author has relied largely on Washington’s papers and letters.
Evaluation of the Author’s Work
Despite Ellis notable contribution on Thomas Jefferson and John Adams achievements, his exploration of the George Washington’s success speaks volume. Ellis comes out as a thoughtful author who can express himself in a lively manner. In the book “His Excellency: George Washington” Ellis brings out the main subject in an organized and clear manner that makes it easy for the reader to understand. Ellis penetrates into Washington’s life and defines it from the three major phases. First, he portrays Washington as a young courageous military soldier who is determined to fight for the American independence. Secondly, the author exhibits Washington as a revolutionary leader who is ready to take the fight for the American independence to the next level. Lastly, Ellis elaborates Washington as the unitary figure of the American society through his advocacy for the strong central government. The authors concentrate the three Washington’s life periods into his earlier leadership experiences that contributed his success as the American president. Ideally, Ellis bases his work on the Washington character a fact that is supported the argument that Washington’s character is strongly built on his bibliography.
Critical Assessment of the Book
Ellis focuses on Washington’s personal life to portray him as an exemplary leader. First, Ellis exhibits Washington as a person who belonged to the minor gentry but who was determined to succeed no matter the obstacles, especially when he married from a wealthy family. Washington personal life commences as that of an ordinary American who appears to engage on the day to day activities with the ordinary citizens. The author portrays Washington as a person who had the upper hand in the society through his luxurious life, especially through importation of expensive goods and clothes from England. It is during this time whereby Washington started to condemn injustices in the society, especially when business people mistreated the customers. As a result, Washington grew as an angry man because of overcharging practices that were quite common among the English agents and merchants. Ellis praises Washington as a sensible citizen who through his resentment on unethical business merchants influenced British colonizers to do away with unfair taxes.
The author shifts Washington personal life from that of an ordinary citizen to that of the military leader. In his work, Ellis brings Washington as a potential future American leader. For example, Washington seems to attend Congress meeting especially during the debate on who should be selected as the commander in chief. As a leader of the four military committees, Washington appears to quietly believe in himself that he can make a great leader as the head of the commander in chief. In this context, Ellis advocates Washington as the only unanimous and obvious choice. However, Washington’s leadership journey was not a bed of full of roses always. Just like other successful leaders, Washington sometimes will perform messy jobs as a military leader. For example, the American military defeat in 1977 in New York. Washington learned from his mistakes and recovered with successes in several battles that followed. It was out of these battle achievements where the colonizers came to recognize Washington as the representative figure of the Americans. Besides, Washington was loved by several European governments as a person.
Ellis argues that the Washington military contributed largely in the country’s independence. Despite getting involved in war, Washington evaluated fighting from two perspectives, war as a bad idea and it was better to engage in war to avoid potential threats. It was during the struggle for American Independence whereby he resorted to the vitality of the civilian government. To agitate for the civilian government, Washington pleaded with several colonial governments and Congress in vain and later ended up settling for the revolutionary movement. Together with other revolutionaries, Washington was able to lead America to independence.
Upon the country attaining independence, Washington was influenced by the military unity experience to advocate for the strong central government. However, his suggestions were vehemently opposed by his fellow revolutionaries. The opponents of the central government argued that it was a power of the central government to collect taxes that irritated Americans to engage in revolt. However, through his influence, Washington was able to convince the fellow revolutionists on the importance of central government through ratification of the constitution that saw him as the first American president. At this juncture, Ellis depicts Washington as the person who knew what he wanted, and that is why he had to achieve his targets and later became one of the world’s famous leaders.
Ellis is a great writer. He has elaborately brought out George Washington as the American founding father. For example, he has given his facts right, drawn reputable conclusions and his work is full of clear insights. However, there are still loops in his works that calls for improvement. This paper recommends that Ellis should have made a great book by comparing the Washington leadership with the then American governance. This would have given the reader a clear reflection of who was George Washington in the American leadership.