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The Invention of George Washington
By Paul K. Longmore. ISBN 0-8139-1872-3. Copyright 1999. Softcover with 337 pages.
By tracing George Washington's deliberate development from colonial planter and soldier to republican icon, Paul Longmore answers the riddle of Washington's aloofness, arriving at a portrait of Washington as a self-fashioning representative of his turbulent time. As a young Virginia planter, Washington aspired to virtues associated with the colonial gentry, but as the British system of patronage threatened his own ambitions, he adopted the radical Whig patriotism that would lead him to take up arms. As a national hero of the Revolutionary War, and in accepting the presidency, Washingotn defended civilian control of the military and other ideals of republican government because his own image was inextricably tied to their success. The story of Washington's assiduous cultivation of his own public image does not ultimately diminish his extraordinary achievements as general and statesman.