The Invention of George Washington

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9780520062726: The Invention of George Washington

George Washington was the central actor in the great American drama of revolution and nation-founding. His image was an essential aspect of the role he played, but scholars have usually examined the life and the legend apart from one another. Paul Longmore here illuminates the relationship between the man, the myth, and the American people. In addition to a comprehensive look at Washington's career, we are shown how he embodied the ideals of his age and made an effort to shape contemporary perceptions of him.

The Invention of George Washington traces the relationship between Washington's career and image from his service in the Seven Years' War through the Declaration of Independence. It shows the linkage between that image and the cultural and political values of his generation. It demonstrates that from the very beginning of the Revolution, his fellow Americans, influenced by contemporary political thought and the needs of a historically transforming moment, substituted him for King George III.

Although biographers have commonly presented Washington as a reluctant leader who preferred private life to the swirl of public affairs, he was, in fact, an eager, active, and astute politician. Longmore's study recounts not only his growth as an American nationalist and republican revolutionary, but also his development as a skillful political leader and actor who fashioned his public self to match the expectations and ideals of his fellow citizens. Shrewd, ambitious, and talented, he collaborated with his generation to make himself the embodiment of the revolutionary cause and the new nation.

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About the Author:

Paul K. Longmore received his Ph.D. in History from the Claremont Graduate School and has taught at the University of Southern California, the Claremont Colleges, and Occidental College. He lives in Los Angeles.

Review:

Paul Longmore has examined the origins of the national image of George Washington, an image that still seems to hide the man. (How could anyone have been that good?) It was not, Longmore shows, the work of Washington's admirers, nor yet of any 18th-century equivalent of the press agent. Washington deliberately created his image himself.

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Paul K. Longmore
Published by University of California Press (1988)
ISBN 10: 0520062728 ISBN 13: 9780520062726
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Longmore, Paul K.
Published by University of California Press (1988)
ISBN 10: 0520062728 ISBN 13: 9780520062726
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