April 23, 2013
A Presidential Pioneer
George Washington was a leader in the Continental Army in the American Revolution and the first American to become president of the United States. Washington entered office with support of the national and state leadership, and established the executive and judicial branches of the Federal Government of the United States. Washington’s leadership arguably portrayed him to be a great rhetor. George Washington was loyal, and had integrity, and great courage. However, it was his Ethos—his ability to mesmerize his audience with his words, to gain respect from them and to gain confidence in him--that led him to be a great rhetor.
Historical Context There were many major events that took place in the mid to late 1700’s. In the year 1753 the French and Indian war took place. This war was an extension of the seven year’s war, which took place in Europe from 1756 to 1763. This war was the bloodiest American war of the 18th century, and took more lives than the American Revolution. A major battle in this war was the Battle of the Monongahela, also known as the battle of the Battle of the Wilderness, which took place on July 9, 1755. This battle was a major turning point in the French and Indian War (SparkNotes Editors). In the year 1774, the First Continental Congress was formed. This was a result of unhappiness among colonists in the American colony’s with Great Britain (“George Washington Timeline (1732-1799)”). On April 19, 1775, shots were fired on Lexington and Concord, triggering the Revolutionary War. This led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Many battles follow, including the Battle of Harlem Heights on September 16, 1776, the Battle of the White Plains on October 28, 1776, and The Battle of Monmouth on June 27/28 1778. Finally the British army surrenders at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, freeing the American colonies of British control (“George Washington Timeline (1732-1799)”). Many Major events also took place during Washington’s presidency. The constitutional convention occurred in Philadelphia in 1787. The first national census took place in 1790. The Bill of Rights became law on December 15, 1791. And the Whiskey Rebellion occurred in 1794 (George Washington Timeline (1732-1799)”).
Training and Experience Washington’s education foreshadowed a future of rhetorical mastery. Washington had little formal education. Washington was taught from his older brothers and private tutor and later attended the College of William and Mary. Washington’s love for reading and learning about the world played a big part helping him become a great rhetor.
According to The Independence Hall Association, or IHA, a corporation that aims to educate the public about the Revolutionary and Colonial eras of American history, Washington was an apprentice to a surveyor of Virginia lands in his youth. In the process he learned about the natural environment and developed a deep passion for his native Virginia (The Independence Hall Association).
During the French and Indian War, Washington was given rank of major and sent to assess the strength of the French at the Ohio Country Valley. In 1754, Washington received a commission as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Virginia Regiment. Washington’s great leadership and influential spirit helped him well to become known as one of America’s great rhetors.
According to George Clyde, history scholar and writer for the Military History Monthly, Washington was also the commander and chief of the continental army. Washington’s character, and trustworthiness, gave him the reputation as being the best colonial military commander. Washington created the Continental Army; his organizational and administrative skills, coupled with the trust of his citizen soldiers, enabled him to weld them into a fighting force able to take on the British (clyde). This showed Washington’s Ethos and also helped him to become