Heading Into The Seven Years’ War

Did you remember from Social Studies that what we call maize The French and Indian War, everyone else calls the Seven Years’ War?  Well, I hit that point last night.  I’m five days into Randall’s GEORGE WASHINGTON: A LIFE, up to page 132 (slow for me, but this book really drags in places), so I’m a bit more than a quarter of the way through this 502 page tome.  

I want to say to Randall, “It’s not you, it’s me.”  It’s both of us.  But I don’t feel like he’s telling me anything i want to know about Georgie.  I’m getting a lot of “what” but not “why”.   His dad dies, and we get no sense of how he feels beyond recognizing he’s going to have to deal more often with his mom.  Lawrence, his beloved brother, dies (which, by the way, is how he ended up with Mount Vernon, because Lawrence’s widow Nancy loses her little daughter, remarries and escapes from those memories)…and we never get a sense of what this meant for him.

I get that we 21st century folks are much more pop-psych oriented, but I would trade the pages describing his dysentery for ones that gave us a clue what he felt.  There are very few primary sources (diaries, letters, etc.) that aren’t George’s own, and while he might not have said how he felt, surely some nosy nellie must have said “Damn, but that George seems like he needs less surveying and more loving!”

I’ve said little about his early years, aside from his Mommy issues, but I’ll note that when George wasn’t with his mom, he seemed perfectly adequate, a bit nerdy and also a little girlie, which I’ll chalk up to the times.  Nerdy, as he really seemed to enjoy the math and science of the surveying work, but a little busy avoiding the financial woes caused by his mother by flirting with his best friend Fairfax’s fair bride.  Sure, when he was 16 and she 18, it made sense, but in the aftermath of his defeat at Fort Necessity and as he’s heading into the Seven Years’ War, he comes off less like an 18th century stalker and more like a teenager (even at 22) than he ought.  His peeps taught him cards and dancing, but couldn’t be bothered to teach him how to talk to women?

Washington seemed to have mixed results with regard to self-esteem with men, as well as women.  On his way back from leaving Lawrence dying, George stops to curry favor with Governor Dimwiddie (hey, I didn’t make that name up), who, over multiple visits,  eventually takes George under his wing.  But Dimwiddie is a dim bulb at social niceties and ends up screwing our country’s future leader whenever it suited his pocketbook.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to catch up on George’s big success (his diplomatic spy mission), his big failure (which, given  his age, I blame on everyone but George…who sends a boy to do lead myriad untrained, badly militia men, ignores his advice and then treats him like a dog?  

I’m eager to read more about Washington’s experiences under General Braddock, his new patron.  Both Dimwiddie and Braddock have their problems, but Braddock strikes me as the more honorable and worthy mentor, so far.  We’ll see.

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Published in: on January 5, 2009 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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