Larkin Spivey Finding Faith In War

Sunday, February 20, 2011

President's Day

On President's Day we have an opportunity to remember our greatest founding father, George Washington. His service to America is epitomized in a story that came from the last days of the Revolutionary War when he had to defuze a growing mutiny:

After Washington’s resounding victory at Yorktown in 1781, a period of uncertainty settled over the Continental Army. After six years of war the national treasury and foreign credit were exhausted. The soldiers of the army continued to be undersupplied and underpaid. They received promises of pensions, but it became increasingly apparent that these promises might not be kept. It was also apparent that the soldiers’ power to resolve these problems would disappear once the army itself was disbanded. This situation led to one of the defining moments in the life of George Washington and the United States.
With a ‘mutiny’ brewing within the army, Washington called a meeting of all his field grade officers and representatives from every company of the army. On March 15, 1783, he walked alone into a packed and tension filled room. For the first time in eight years he was not leading his men in a great cause, but was facing them as a potential adversary. In a remarkable speech he identified himself closely with the concerns of every man of the army. He explained the political process and all its delays. He reminded them of what they had accomplished in fighting for a new nation and that they were all now citizens of it themselves.
At one point he brought out a letter, and, after a hesitation, made the poignant remark, “Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.” Tears flowed freely as the assembled officers voted unanimously to stand with their great leader and to forego a confrontation with civilian political authority. If Washington were a man with other personal ambitions, he could easily have led his army in an entirely different direction. Many implored him to assume the role of dictator or even king. How many times in history have successful generals used situations such as this to install themselves in power? Unlike his contemporary, Napoleon, George Washington possessed a God-given humility that led him to relinquish his power for the good of the nation and future generations.

This story and others about George Washington come from Miracles of the American Revolution.