Letter to the editor: Washington DID read books, lots of them
In his essay published in the Jan. 28 edition of the Addison Independent, on his way to making a point about George Washington’s example of moral excellence, Victor Nuovo made a misleading and disparaging comment about the Father of our Country.
The first paragraph of Mr. Nuovo’s essay begins: “George Washington (1732-99) was not an intellectual. He did not attend college. He did not read books; he was not a great orator, and wrote nothing that might become a classic.”
Just because George Washington was not an academic like Mr. Nuovo is no reason to unfairly judge him as not a great man of letters. George Washington’s private study in his home in Virginia had over 800 books! Mr. Nuovo is incorrect to state that “He did not read books.” George Washington was aware of his imperfect and incomplete formal education and so he more than made up for it by reading more books than his fellow scholars.
Did George Washington write anything? By the end of 2019, the “Papers of George Washington” had published 75 of a projected 92 volumes since the project’s inception at the University of Virginia in 1968. According to the National Archives, “There is almost no facet of research on life and enterprise in the late colonial and early national periods that will not be enhanced by material from these documents.”
Long before George Washington distinguished himself in battle as commander in chief of the Continental Army or as President of the United States, Harvard College on April 3, 1776, made Washington only the second person in the school’s history to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
George Washington not only read and owned many hundreds of books, he also wrote enough to fill dozens of books. When you possess all of the self-discipline that George Washington had, you don’t need to be a career academic in order to be highly literate.
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