Manhood and Leadership
“If” was originally written as a companion piece to the children’s story “Brother Square Toes,” a story about George Washington’s presidency during the French Revolution. The story portrays the character of George Washington as a model leader and was meant to illustrate to children the virtues of an exemplary public figure. “If” was placed immediately after this story in order to distill the lessons of the story; the poem also offers a lesson in the characteristics and virtues of a model public figure or leader.
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