George Washington’s Secret to Success

Your February 22 editorial spoke of George Washington: “What was the secret of his success?  How did he found a nation, this self-made man, this self-taught general, this self-abnegating statesman?  …he did it by his concern for ‘civility and reputation, which tamed and smoothed his natural endowments, and brought his ideals into daily life’.  He did it through an unbroken series of successful gestures.”

Response:  The editorial omits a crucial fact: that Washington was a strong Christian, known for his avid prayer life.  Washington stated: “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are.

While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.

I now make it my earnest prayer that God would… most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of the mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion.”

That whirring sound you have been hearing is George Washington, turning over in his grave upon learning that his success was attributed to his own virtue without the hand of almighty providence, the real secret of his success.  One of his successful gestures was to always tell the truth.