An excerpt from Ladies and Gentlemen: Why the Survival of Our Republic Depends on the Revival of Honor, by Dr. Gina Loudon and Dr. Dathan Paterno.
Fortunately, we have been blessed with men and women throughout history whose lives reflect most of the virtues that must be reclaimed if our Republic is to survive. Their biographies are enhanced by towering excellence in multiple traits. Equally important, the blemishes on their life story are few and underwhelming.
We examined many men and women for the honor of being the quintessential gentleman and lady. All of them had excellent resumes; several of them could arguably have been chosen. Two stood out above the rest: George Washington and Abigail Adams. We examine the virtuousness of Washington, the man whom Americans were describing as “the Father of the Country” since before he was even that country’s first president.
Three of Washington’s most endearing and impressive virtues stand out on this Father’s Day.
The first is his commitment to family. In an age when so many fathers abandon their families—either leaving them or spending inordinate time playing golf and pursuing other pleasures —Washington’s decisions are noteworthy. When Washington was twenty-six, he married Martha DandridgeCustis, who had been widowed two years prior and had two children. It was apparent that his marriage was of the utmost importance to him, as he wrote twenty-five years later, “I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event of one’s life, the foundation of happiness or misery.” While only one letter between the two has survived, several of Washington’s letters to others refer to his wife in nothing but the most caring and tender terms.
In terms of Martha’s two children, George immediately adopted them as his own. Not a distant father by any means, he was intimately involved in decisions regarding their education, health, and other matters. He personally interviewed the children’s tutors. He also referred to them lovingly in letters.
There is evidence that Washington’s patterns of amusements significantly narrowed upon marriage and fatherhood. For example, he no longer attended cockfights and rarely joined hunting expeditions. The family, instead, spent time together exploring the countryside, especially the mountains and springs of Virginia.