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Was George Washington the Indispensable Man of the Revolution?

One of the most hotly-contested questions about the War for Independence has focused squarely on the role of George Washington: Was he, as historian James Flexner claimed, the “indispensable man,” the one figure without whom the Revolution would have failed?

In 2016, Revolutionary War historian Mark Edward Lender wrote an essay exploring the oft-debated topic of whether General George Washington was the essential man of the American Revolution or not. That essay is republished here.

ESSAY: "The 'Indispensable Man': Would the Revolution Have Succeeded without George Washington"  By Mark Edward Lender, The War for American Independence (ABC-CLIO, 2016); republished with permission.

In revisiting this longstanding debate, Mark Edward Lender is joined by his frequent writing partner and historian, James Kirby Martin, in further exploring this topic.  

Mark Edward Lender Responds

The success of the Revolution depended on the success of the Continental Army, and the army depended on Washington.  Thus without Washington we can reasonably speculate that the rebel cause would have been in very deep trouble.

Read Lender's Responses

James Kirby Martin Responds

Successful generalship involves much more than tactical know how.  Critically important is strategic vision, at which Washington excelled.  He understood and fully absorbed the central goal–win the war.

Read Martin's Response