“I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles: the character of an honest man.”— Continental Army General and first U.S. President George Washington (1732-1799), letter to Alexander Hamilton, Aug. 28, 1788
Whatever his flaws, George Washington did not seek to profit from office or play footsie with a foreign power to gain the highest office in the land. He was content to let his deeds rather than his words do his talking for him. And he stepped away from seizing power—twice—stepping away from military command and the Presidency to go back to his farm.
The contrast with others in his own time, such as Benedict Arnold, was enormous, even startling. The contrast with the current occupant of the Oval Office is not just dismaying, but would be cause for despair, if not for the realization that the man who was “first in the hearts of his countrymen” took on far greater personal dangers in opposing arbitrary power than any of us could ever imagine.