George Washington, the Indispensable Man

George Washington was called the indispensable man. I didn't even know why until — until — I mean, I've read a lot of books on George Washington. This is the best book ever written on George Washington, "The Real George Washington." It's the first in a series. And I love it because it's mainly his words and you get to know who he was.

I didn't really know why he was called the indispensable man.

Sorry, I like George Washington an awful lot. And he's the kind of guy that I've been looking for. And I think we all have — we've been looking for a guy who is just honest and doesn't want to serve, you know?

People who say — all the time — "Well, I want to be president." You do? Why exactly? I can't imagine a worse job. I can't imagine — especially now, the next guy who serves, even this president, what's left of our country? How do you knit this all back together?

Well, quite honestly, it wasn't much different back when George Washington was around. Things were a mess. And he was the indispensable man because nobody trusted anybody. All the states were arguing with each other. Nobody — you couldn't sell anything across the border. The whole thing was falling apart.

Here is George Washington, a man who at 16 was out surveying land for his country, which was then Great Britain. All he wanted to do was go to Mount Vernon and be a farmer. His countries, Britain and then the United States of America, had him serving for year after year after year after year.

After he won the Revolutionary War, he went back to be that farmer in Mount Vernon. And things started to fall apart. And they came knocking at his door and said, George, we need you, because the whole thing is falling apart. I'm paraphrasing, but I think it was pretty close to — "Have I not yet done enough for my country?" No.

He went back and he didn't say very much during the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. He didn't say much. He didn't have to.

He was a revered figure. He was — that's my favorite painting of him. He was a revered figure. He was a guy — this was actually a painting done on the, just on the words of one of the — I think it was a farmer if I'm not mistaken. A farmer came into the field one day, and heard some noise and heard him standing there, in the field and he just watched him as he got down in Valley Forge on one knee and he prayed all by himself.

He's a guy that in the end could have been made king. He could have been made a ruler. He's a guy who could have been really upset at Congress. Boy, oh, boy.

Valley Forge — I mean, when you think of Valley Forge and how many times, it wasn't just one year they were cold and didn't have shoes. They didn't have pants. And it was year after year after year. I used to live near Valley Forge. It's not that far from Philadelphia.

And yet, Congress just — they wouldn't even — they just wouldn't help our troops. And he stuck with them. In the end, they weren't going to pay the troops.

And — you know, I think my most telling moment of George Washington's power, the soldiers were going to a revolt. They had just won against the most powerful army on the planet, Great Britain. And then they found out the United States of America, what a surprise, weasely Congress wasn't going to take care of the troops, wasn't going to pay them.

Well, they went nuts. They went nuts.

And they said, you're in the going to pay us? We've just defeated Great Britain! We're afraid of you?

And they made a plan and they knew Washington wouldn't go it with. And they made a plan to go and kill everybody in Congress. Washington heard about it. He said let's not replace one tyrant with another.

They didn't listen to him. They had a secret meeting. He wasn't invited to it.

He knew what was going on. He went to Congress and he got a letter from a member of Congress that said, OK, guys. I'll do my best. Please, give me more time. I'll do my best.

He found out about this meeting and he walked in, in the middle of it. All heads turned and it became silent. They didn't know what to say. He said — again, paraphrasing — "Gentlemen, I know what you're doing. Don't do it. Don't do it. We didn't work this hard."

He said, "I have a letter in my pocket," and he reached into his pocket. And he opened up the letter and he was going to read it. But he needed his glasses.

This is a guy who used to sit on top of a white horse in the middle of a battle and he never got shot. They thought this guy was god. And when he put his glasses on, he said, "I am sorry. But I have grown old and gray in the service of my country."

Nobody had ever seen him with his glasses on. It seems like such a silly story, but it goes to the power of George Washington. He took his glasses off, folded the paper up. Never read it and walked out.

They decided not to storm Congress. But they were mad at George Washington. In the end, a lot of his troops didn't — weren't real happy with him, didn't want to stand with him.

I think what I like about George Washington is most of the choices he made, he didn't want to make. Most of the things he did, he didn't want to do. He was revered for it. He was revered.

And I think it's because they knew that in the end, he didn't matter to him. It was just doing the right thing. That's what mattered.

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