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George Washington

Date de naissance: 22. février 1732
Date de décès: 14. décembre 1799

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George Washington, né le 22 février 1732 à Pope's Creek et mort le 14 décembre 1799 à Mount Vernon , est un homme d'État américain, chef d’État-major de l’Armée continentale pendant la guerre d’indépendance entre 1775 et 1783 et premier président des États-Unis, en fonction de 1789 à 1797.

Washington est l'un des planteurs les plus riches de la région avec son domaine de Mount Vernon. Grâce à sa participation à la guerre de Sept Ans qui se déroule entre 1756 et 1763, il devient rapidement célèbre des deux côtés de l'Atlantique et s'intéresse aux questions politiques. Son engagement dans la révolution américaine ainsi que sa réputation le portent au poste de commandant des troupes américaines, qu'il organise et mène à la victoire finale, avec l'aide des Français, sur la métropole britannique. Après le conflit, il participe à la rédaction de la Constitution américaine et fait l’unanimité lors de la première élection présidentielle. Pendant ses deux mandats, George Washington montre ses qualités d'administrateur habile, malgré les difficultés internes et les conflits en Europe. Il a laissé son empreinte sur les institutions du pays et sur l’histoire des États-Unis.

Considéré comme l'un des Pères fondateurs des États-Unis par les Américains, George Washington a fait l'objet de nombreux hommages depuis la fin du XVIIIe siècle : son nom a été donné à la capitale des États-Unis, à un État du nord-ouest de l'Union, ainsi qu'à de nombreux sites et monuments. Son effigie figure depuis 1932 sur la pièce de 25 cents ainsi que sur le billet d'un dollar.

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Citations George Washington

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„It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.“

— George Washington
Letter to his niece, Harriet Washington (30 October 1791)

„To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole is indispensable.“

— George Washington
Context: To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions, which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of Government better calculated than your former for an intimate Union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns.

„I die hard but am not afraid to go“

— George Washington
Context: I die hard but am not afraid to go. I believed from my first attack that I should not survive it — my breath cannot last long. The first sentence here is sometimes presented as being his last statement before dying, but they are reported as part of the fuller statement, and as being said in the afternoon prior to his death in Life of Washington (1859) by Washington Irving, and his actual last words are stated to have been those reported by Tobias Lear below.

„In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States.“

— George Washington
Context: Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. First Inaugural Address (30 April 1789), published in The Writings of George Washington, edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, Vol. 30, pp. 292-3

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„The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.“

— George Washington
Context: The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.

„The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.“

— George Washington
Context: The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government.

„The fact is, I preside over none, nor have I been in one more than once or twice, within the last thirty years. I believe notwithstandings, that none of the Lodges in this Country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the Society of the Illuminati.“

— George Washington
Context: I have heard much of the nefarious, & dangerous plan, & doctrines of the Illuminati, but never saw the Book until you were pleased to send it to me. The same causes which have prevented my acknowledging the receipt of your letter, have prevented my reading the Book, hitherto; namely — the multiplicity of matters which pressed upon me before, & the debilitated state in which I was left after, a severe fever had been removed. And which allows me to add little more now, than thanks for your kind wishes and favourable sentiments, except to correct an error you have run into, of my Presiding over the English lodges in this Country. The fact is, I preside over none, nor have I been in one more than once or twice, within the last thirty years. I believe notwithstandings, that none of the Lodges in this Country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the Society of the Illuminati. Letter to Reverend G. W. Snyder (25 September 1798) http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/06-02-02-0435 thanking him for a copy of Proofs of a Conspiracy against All the Religions and Governments of Europe (1798) by John Robison.

„The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation.“

— George Washington
Context: The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island (1790)

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„Those, who expect more, will be disappointed, but no change will be effected by it.“

— George Washington
Context: My manner of living is plain. I do not mean to be put out of it. A glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always ready; and such as will be content to partake of them are always welcome. Those, who expect more, will be disappointed, but no change will be effected by it. Letter to George William Fairfax (25 June 1786), published in The Writings Of George Washington (1835) by Jared Sparks, p. 175

„The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.“

— George Washington
Context: The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die. Address to the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island (27 August 1776)

„But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.“

— George Washington
Context: In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course, which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated. This has sometimes been misquoted as: Guard against the postures of pretended patriotism.

„Few people know the predicament we are in, on a thousand accounts; fewer still will believe, if any disaster happens to these lines, from what cause it flows.“

— George Washington
Context: The reflection upon my situation, and that of this army, produces many an uneasy hour, when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in, on a thousand accounts; fewer still will believe, if any disaster happens to these lines, from what cause it flows. I have often thought how much happier I should have been, if instead of accepting of a command under such circumstances, I had taken my musket upon my shoulders and entered the rank, or if I could have justified the measure of posterity, and my own conscience, had retired to the back country, and lived in a wigwam. If I shall be able to rise superior to these, and many other difficulties which might be enumerated, I shall most religiously believe that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies; for surely if we get well through this month, it must be for want of their knowing the disadvantages we labor under. Could I have foreseen the difficulties which have come upon us, could I have known that such a backwardness would have been discovered in the old soldiers to the service, all the generals upon earth should not have convinced me of the propriety of delaying an attack upon Boston till this time. In a letter to Joseph Reed, during the siege of Boston (14 January 1776), quoted in History of the Siege of Boston, and of the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill (1849) by Richard Frothingham, p. 286

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