Washington did more than this, though. He lent his nationwide credibility to the Convention by agreeing to be its President. This was an extraordinary gesture. It’s easy for us to think nowadays that the Constitutional debate was fought over abstract principles and the highest notions of the public good – but, like everything else in America, politics mattered a great deal. That George Washington was willing to lend his good name to the Convention was a truly selfless act of statesmanship. His signature on the final document – the first of 39 – might very well have made the difference in the Virginia ratifying convention, where the Constitution passed by a hair’s breadth. Surely, if Washington had refused to support the Constitution, it would have failed.
This country has had many heroic war time leaders, and she has almost always honored them with her never-ending gratitude, respect, and trust. The fact that George Washington would use that this adoration not to his own benefit, but to help bind the thirteen diverse states into a single Union testifies to the greatness of the nation’s First President. Through the Revolutionary War, the tumultuous years of the Confederation, and the early years of the Republic – George Washington is rightly remembered as the father of his country.