George Washington First Becomes a National Leader
On July 3, 241 years ago, George Washington took command of the newly formed Continental Army. Congress had selected him — one of its own members — to organize the farmers and local militia groups into an army capable of defeating the world’s greatest military power. Quite an undertaking!
One of his first orders to the new American military set a clear tone of what he expected from his troops and also told us much about his character. In that order, Washington urged that
“…every officer and man will endeavor so as to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”
That his troops display Christian character was important to Washington, and he later additionally charged them:
“To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
He also issued orders prohibiting swearing, profanity, and gambling. He clearly set a very high moral standard for his troops, but it was not more than what he expected from himself. In fact, while just a young boy, he copied out 110 maxims concerning good behavior and manners. Called his “Rules of Civility,” he lived by them throughout his life, and they were especially apparent during his time as a soldier.
Washington longed for military life from the time he was a young boy, and he got his first experience during the French and Indian War, two decades before the American Revolution. He should have been killed in the Battle of the Monongahela, but his life was saved by God’s Divine intervention. As he told his brother:
“[I] now exist and appear in the land of the living by the miraculous care of Providence that protected me beyond all human expectation; I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me and yet escaped unhurt.”
(Similar instances of his life being spared during the Revolutionary War are in the The Founders’ Bible article, “George Washington: The Soldier Who Could Not Die”).
It was as a result of what he did in the French and Indian War that he was first vaulted into the national spotlight. In fact, a famous military sermon preached in 1755 by the Rev. Samuel Davies (considered the greatest pulpit orator in American history) specifically singled out the young George Washington for special attention because of what happened in that battle.
It was largely because of Washington’s experiences in that early war that he was chosen by his fellow citizens as a member of Congress, and then chosen by his peers in Congress as Commander-In-Chief. He led America on to a successful conclusion of the Revolutionary War, oversaw the formation of the U. S. Constitution, and guided us through the implementation of our new government as our first president. He is rightly honored as “The Father of His Country.”
Washington fully understood that the important part he had played in America’s formation was by the direction of God, acknowledging:
“I have only been an instrument in the hands of Providence.”
As the anniversary of America’s independence draws closer, let’s honor one of the key individuals responsible for that independence: George Washington.
Special Notes: The remarkable story of George Washington is told in The Bulletproof George Washington and the audio book read by famous Hollywood actor Dean Jones. The sermon that helped bring the young Washington to national attention is included in Celebrate Liberty. And his 110 Rules of Civility are still available today. Finally, several of Washington’s religious and moral orders to his troops are found in the booklet The Spirit of the American Revolution. All of these are available in the WallBuilders store.