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“George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation,” by T.H. Breen

Duration: 
(00:57:51)

On January 19 at 5:30 p.m., T. H. Breen delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation.”

T. H. Breen introduces us to a George Washington we rarely meet. By nature shy and reserved, the brand new president decided that he would visit the new citizens in their own states, that only by showing himself could he make them feel part of a new nation. Washington made four grueling trips to all thirteen states. He displayed himself as victorious general (he wore his regal uniform and rode his white stallion) and as president (grand dinners, military parades, arcs of triumph, and balls—he liked to dance). He traveled by open carriage on terrible roads, in awful weather, staying and eating at lousy inns (he would not stay with wealthy would-be hosts). Washington drew on his immense popularity, even hero worship, to send a powerful and lasting message—that America was now a nation, not a collection of states. It was an enormous success. He drew the country to him. Breen takes us on Washington’s journeys. We see the country through his eyes and listen through his ears. We come to understand why George Washington is the indispensable Founding Father. He forged a new nation.

Timothy H. Breen is the William Smith Mason Professor of American History Emeritus at Northwestern University. Breen received his Ph.D. in history from Yale University. He also holds an honorary MA from Oxford University. Breen is the respected author of eleven books, including Tobacco Culture: The Mentality of the Great Tidewater Planters on the Eve of Revolution (1985), American Insurgents—American Patriots: The Revolution of the People (2010), and George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation (2015).

This lecture is cosponsored with the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Virginia.