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How George Washington became an American

There were three revolutions in the 18th century which followed one after the other in the Western world. The first one was the American revolution, resulting in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The second one was the French revolution led by commoners against taxation and elite privileges. The final one — one which rarely is mentioned — is the Haitian revolution. Conducted by¬† self-liberated slaves in 1791 against French colonial rule in Saint-Domingue, it resulted in the colony’s independence.

While the French and the Haitian revolution were by the slaves and commoners, the American revolution was a rich man’s revolution. An important point in this regards comes from the life of the first President George Washington as narrated in an AoM podcast. The question that is asked is: when did George Washington become an American?

According to the podcast, Washington, who had served in the British Army, turned against them towards the end of his commission. He wanted to become a regular British officer compared to what was something like a National Guard. He was promised that by one of his superiors, but that man died. Though Washington lobbied and sucked up, nothing came of it. He went to meet the new British Commander for North America with a plan to defeat the French who had control over territories. The discussion turned to books and the Commander’s impression of Washington was of an uneducated provincial. Their tastes in books were quite different. At that moment, Washington realized he is not going to be a red coat.

He was not erudite enough and did not have enough wealth to buy that commission. One he realized that his dream had been squashed, he became a Virginian. (The term American was not so common then). He then pursues his dream of becoming one of the wealthiest planters in Virginia.

Unlike the Haitian slaves or the French commoner, it was not hardship and suffering or some ideal that caused George Washington to revolt, but an offended sense of honor. Later he scales his personal experience with that of the colonies and believes that they would not get a fair treatment by the British.

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