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article imageOp-Ed: A Day to Remember George, Tom, and Abe

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 15, 2010 in Lifestyle
While some people roamed the malls to shop, there are those today who remember George, Tom and Abe. But what would most people think of them in the United States political climate now?
February 15 is President's Day. It is the time Americans set aside to honor Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.
Many Americans believe George's gift to America was his decline of the crown. Had he accepted the office of king, the United States might not have evolved as it did. Here was a man of war who took the country through difficult times, through a war with its mother country, England, and through the development of covenants that would govern the nation for many years to come. He became the country's first President during the struggles in its birth and infancy.
But George, some folks say, had a dark side. There are certainly tales of his love for women, but one writer points out much more. Henry Gallagher Fields calls George "the father of American tyranny."
It seems George had more than a war and the union that makes him colorful according to Fields. Fields writes how Washington led a band of Virginia Militia in 1754 to bushwhack a small part of a French infantry in western Pennsylvania. This is a time when Britain and France were at peace. The assault, Fields declares unprovoked, killed the French commander, Jospeh Coulon de Jumonville. George confessed to what happened after he and his militia were caught by another French and Indian military party, thereby gaining release for himself and his men.. But what did George do later? He claimed he didn't understand what he was signing.
It also turns out, according to Fielding, that Washington actually lost every battle he fought in the revolutionary war but kept the British forces focused, while other generals did much more. Yet bucked up by the French, Washington emerged a national hero, later becoming President. However, as Fields argues, George and his compatriots were cunning a bit, putting in place certain laws and edicts that he said "mesmerized the American common folk into thinking that everything they had that was good was derived from the existing State."
Let's put George up for a vote today, given some of the backdoor gossip Fields brings. Would the newspapers bring out his issues, his women, his booze and his lies? How would George be measured, and would folks of today vote him in?
A look at Tom brings some questions. This inventor and statesman became President of the United States, defeating John Adams four years after he had been elected Vice President. He did great things, as history has told, from the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark expedition that expanded the nation's boundaries to his efforts to remain neutral during British and French conflicts, to try to prevent war. He failed, as we know, when war was declared in 1812. Jefferson penned documents of freedom and advocated liberty even as he spoke of reason to guide the country forward. In other words, America celebrates Jefferson as a strong President and very great man.
But Jefferson too had a dark side, some things which are already known. He owned slaves that were never freed until after his death. He kept one mistress, Sally Hemings, secret along with her brood for many years, even as he preached freedom and equality as the hallmark of man's best intent.
Was Jefferson a good or bad President, and would people vote for him now? Some say it really depends upon whether you were a slave or a woman or landowner and free. But as PBS points outs in its archives, he helped set up a model for strife, even as he was one of the country's best leaders.
He was the archetype of individual freedom and a minimal state while Hamilton, whom he defeated, was in favor of international banking and the state having control and rights. It is a battle, one author points out, that goes on. Jefferson also denied being a Christian, claiming to be a Humanist instead. So could he be President now.
There is Abe, honest Abe, and the stories about him virtually every child in American learns while growing up.. Here was the man who came from the backwoods of rural Illinois, educated himself and became President of the United States. He led the country through a divisive war, and although he was not originally an abolitionist, he succumbed to the demands of many that slavery be abolished and set free. People look at old Abe with affection, for he certainly deserved much applause.
But that dark side, he had, like the others. Here was a moody man, given to bouts of depression. His wife was mentally ill. He had health problems that were documented in the course of his life, that impeded his ability to fully govern at his best during key times during his administration. Abe expanded his power as President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus during the first year of the Civil War. This was due, according to historians, to riots and local militia activities that had taken place in the border states. This allowed Abe to hold indefinitely those who were called disloyal, without recourse to trial and the courts. Isn't this argued today?
And so, dear folks, with that background, here is the question again. If George, Tom and Abe were living today, would you vote them for President now?
And would they survive the Drudge Report?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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