Why is George Washington the most significant person in American history? Why is George Washington the most significant person in American history? 

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Washington's character of sacrifice and humility makes him the most significant person in American history. His example set a precedent that was followed for generations to come. He left this place and people better than he found it.

Today, many Americans get frustrated with the wars we participate in. I understand the idea that violence doesn't solve problems. I don't think Washington wanted to be in violent situations which war definitely is, but I do think he knew that war was a means to an end. In his situation, it was for the purpose of freedom.

Today we continue that pursuit that he began in this nation. America's history has had her ugly moments. But this man birthed the idea in this nation that we don't exist just for ourselves who already have freedom, but for people everywhere starving for it. I don't know if this country will remain true to its defining values, but it just might make it through other struggles like it has in the past.

Washington didn't really want to even be president. His fellow revolutionaries did because they knew leadership wouldn't go to his head. They knew he would give of himself for this cause. He did, and we now prosper because of it.

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If George Washington is the most significant person in American History this is why :

1. During the 1st Continental Congress he always wore his uniform (the one he fought in for his country Great Britain during the French and Indian War) but hey a uniform is a uniform...and Washington wore a uniform well. When the time came to elect a general Washington just looked like a general to the delegates. After all he was the tallest man in the room and he was in "A" uniform.

2. The richest and most powerful nation of the face of the earth (Great Britain) surrendered to George Washington and the Continental Army.

3. Washington understood that he was the 'First' president and that his roll required much attention in how future generations would perceive 'the presidency'.  Modesty was required by Washington and although he kept that modesty, Washington was not a man to be reckoned with. He understood that if the nation survived, his name would be an essential part of that nation. Therefore, George Washington is the most significant person  in American History because he not only defines what American History is ....he understood what it meant to be an American.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Debate will linger as to whether or not this is true.  Certainly, a case could be made for it being true.  One such reality would be that Washington was the first established military leader for the nation in its struggles with Europe.  Washington’s stand at Fort Necessity as well as his leading the Virginia Militia during the French and Indian War proved to be compelling parts of his narrative.  When the Second Continental Congress meets after war with England breaks out, Washington is voted as military leader of the colonial army.  His continual support of his troops while crossing the Delaware or at Valley Forge line the annals and textbooks of American History.  While as President, his decision to advocate against political factions and seek a spirit of community where all benefit stand as an almost ironic statement about American politics. His Farewell Address is one that a modern thinker can only look at and marvel at how far off this vision American government has wandered.  In the end, these points might make a case why Washington could be seen as so important to American History.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some people would say this is because he was the general in charge as the colonies won the Revolutionary War.  Some would say that it was because he was the first President of the US.  I would say that it is something else.  To me, Washington is the most significant person because he gave up the presidency after two terms.

In many other new countries, the original leaders have held on to power for their whole lives.  They have seen themselves as the indispensable men.  This has led to situations where you have unstable countries with new presidents taking office by force and not leaving until they die or are forced out.

Washington could have been president for life.  But instead he chose to step down voluntarily.  This set a precedent for our country and we have never had a situation in which one person uses violence to take control of the presidency.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't know that I would agree with that assessment, but his importance certainly can't be ignored.  I think his selflessness, taking command of an army he didn't want, coming out of retirement to serve at the Constitutional Convention (and really holding that body together for a year and a half) and then to serve two terms as President of the United States when all he wanted to do was live peacefully as a farmer on his Mt. Vernon plantation.

He is the definition of public service in my view.  I also very much appreciate the fact that as the first President, he stepped down after two terms and fought every effort to ever make him a King.  Many of our Presidential and democratic traditions come from him.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Washington embodied all the best elements of who America was and perhaps still is.  He was humble, as has already been mentioned, and he understood he was the man for that time but not for all time.  He was willing to serve; rarely has a country asked so much of any one man.  He understood honor and discipline, and he shaped up our fighting forces in short order as a general.  He was a man who understood there was a God and he sought guidance and wisdom each day.  He loved his country and his fellow man.  This makes him sound like perfection, I suppose, but as a flawed human being (like all of us) he selflessly did the best he could for his country at a time when we needed a General and a President to lead us.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It would be hard to argue against Washington as the most significant leader in American history, as most of the other posts have pointed out in many different ways. As a military leader and strategist, few generals since have reached Washington's level. As the fourth post pointed out, Washington refused to accept a position as "king," believing that a democratic government should not be ruled by a single, authoritarian ruler. He begrudgingly accepted the position as president only when assured that no one else would be accepted by the people. His humility and honesty are unquestioned--two qualities most assuredly missing in most of today's politicians.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think George Washington is famous more for who he was than what he did. Other editors have done a great job in terms of identifying his selfless qualities and the way he was very willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the country. This makes him stand out from a huge, huge number of self-serving individuals who have used their power for selfish ends. I think if we had more George Washingtons today the US of A would be a very different place!

jacobjinglheimer | Student

His humility perhaps, he is the only leader I know of that actually gave up power when it was handed to him on silver platter. This speaks volumes to me.

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