Hennessy's View

Domine, non sum dignus

How Conservatives Relate to Washington’s Continental Army

Did you know there is no federal holiday called Presidents Day?


Today is Washington’s Birthday. As a posthumous birthday gift to our first president and commander-in-chief of the army that won our war for independence, I offer a simple wish: that the army of liberty formed in February 2009, known as “the Tea Party,” will resist the temptation to resign.

That’s a great word for what a lot of us feel these days: resignation. And in that feeling, we mirror the feelings of Washington’s best officers

On February 18, 1779, Washington replied to Brigadier General John Glover’s letter of January 27. This was the famous winter at Valley Forge:

Excuse me Sir, if I hesitate to give my concurrence to the desire you express, of quitting the Army. I have too high an opinion of your value, as an Officer, to do any thing that may contribute to your relinquishing that Character. My earnest wish is, that you may continue in it.

Washington went on to tell Glover he was not alone in his feelings of resignation:

The spirit of resigning, which is now become almost epidemical, is truly painful and alarming. This spirit, prevailing among many of the best Officers, from various inducements, if persisted in, must deeply wound the common cause. You cannot but be convinced, the situation of the Army is such, that it can ill bear the loss of good Officers, and such would do well to consider how much they put to the hazard, by doing any thing to weaken the sinews of our contest, at so critical a time. I am persuaded, if these ideas were properly realized, they would endure great inconveniences and make great sacrifices, rather than withdraw their services.

What’s amazing to me is that Washington offered no sliver bullet. He held out no ridiculous promises. He did not try to persuade the dispirited officers with some ROI promise.

Instead, he simply pleaded with them using very simple appeals to their character: our cause is just, our sacrifices deserve the full measure of our commitment, the men will follow your extraordinary leadership, and your country needs you now.

Before you resign, try attending the 3rd Anniversary Tea Party. We may not have a figure as enormous as George Washington’s to inspire new confidence in our little army. We can, though, reward Washington’s service and commitment to our country.

We can refuse to be the generation that let the light of liberty go out.


comments powered by Disqus