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Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency
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PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 10. BLOOD OF TYRANTS ~ October 14th ~ October 20th ~~ CHAPTERS 30 - 32 ~ (258 - 289) No-Spoilers

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Bryan Craig Chapter Overviews and Summaries

Chapter Thirty: License to Plunder


The U.S. was going bankrupt and prices were going up due to the war. Washington's own mother asked the state of Virginia for a stipend, but Washington blocked it. Congress started to seize Loyalist property as well as fine and tax them. The economy was affecting Washington as he was failing to get much needed supplies from Congress as the states wanted to defend themselves.

Washington's army wintered at Valley Forge, and the men were starving. The general did not want them to pillage the countryside and would punish men who did. Congress authorized his men to take supplies from the countryside, and Washington made sure it was done with civility. As time went on, more supplies, especially food, was taken, but Washington tried to repay farmers that lost cattle or food.

Chapter Thirty One: Not-So-Civil War

The British attacked the southern states and General Howe hoped to use Loyalists to help govern, but as the Americans lost Savannah and Charleston, a patriotic swell developed.

The Americans lost in the Battle of Camden, and Congress agreed that Washington could appoint his own to commanders, so he brought in General Greene to fight in the south. The region erupted as patriots attack Loyalists, and the Americans used guerrilla war tactics on the British. The British suffered heavier losses.

Chapter Thirty Two: Oh God! It's All Over!

A historical item was stolen in 1967, Washington's eye glasses. Washington did not use them in public because they were seen as a sign of weakness, but they played an important role in a crucial moment in history.

As the Americans were closer to victory, Washington's celebrity rose, and it stayed that way even after the war. The southern American army pushed the British forces to Yorktown, while the French navy was on its way to Virginia. General Clinton learned that Washington planned to retake New York City, and Washington used this to his advantage as a diversion while he finished the British forces in Yorktown. With the French navy on his flank, Washington won at Yorktown and the British army surrendered. Lord North and the British public were shocked.


Bryan Craig I have to say it takes a certain strength to issue and enforce a no-pillaging order on hungry troops.

What affect would this order have on morale of the troops?


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G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments I believe it would depend on how it was managed in each specific location. In some cases, those who would be pillaged were friends and neighbors of the troops, and that would create a real problem. If, as Washington hoped, some sort of payment could be made for the resources, I think it would not only help morale, but garner respect.


Bryan Craig Yeah, giving them compensation is an important move, a very fair one under the circumstances.


Katy (kathy_h) I had no idea about how GW felt about his mother and their relationship. This was definitely not part of my school/university history experience.

Compensation for the troops was important. How sad that these troops were not a top priority for payment of their service. As for looting, GW did the right thing to try and prevent it. Looting hurts all involved.


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Mark Mortensen The book’s theme is centralized around George Washington, America’s first commander–in-chief, yet Logan Beirne used his creativity by choosing to highlight a powerful quote from a future commander-in chief, Thomas Jefferson: “The Tree of Liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” (pg.279)


Logan Beirne | 140 comments Mark wrote: "The book’s theme is centralized around George Washington, America’s first commander–in-chief, yet Logan Beirne used his creativity by choosing to highlight a powerful quote from a future commander-..."

Isn't that an alarming quote? I think our Founders hoped to save us from future bloodshed by creating a government that was strong enough to protect us from tyrants abroad but not so strong that we would face tyrants at home.


Mark Mortensen Yes, that is a strong quote. Thanks for your insight and further explanation too.


Bryan Craig I agree, it was a powerful image TJ created.


Bryan Craig Kathy wrote: "I had no idea about how GW felt about his mother and their relationship. This was definitely not part of my school/university history experience.

Compensation for the troops was important. How sad..."


Yeah, and he stopped the pension concept, too. I guess it would be a sign of favoritism.


David (nusandman) | 111 comments I found it interesting how confident the British were that simply securing the southern states would lead them to a stronghold in the south. That's twice now where their trust in German assistance has cost them.


Bryan Craig Yeah, the British strategy was off on this and I don't know if some input came from London on this or what.

The Germans were one of the best fighters in the world, but they were not ready for the American way to fight.

I remember the Russians turning down an offer to send troops.


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Tomi | 161 comments I got a little behind and just now caught up by reading 6 chapters, so I'm not sure exactly which chapter this description came from, but I loved the image I got from "a group of drunken kleptomaniacs!"


Bryan Craig Not sure either but a colorful phrase.


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G Hodges (glh1) | 901 comments As a small aside, when I was a young girl there was a TV show called the Swamp Fox which fictionalized the efforts of Francis Marion. My father was from the American South and always watched it with me. Of course as a result, at my current age I still believe Marion was a great American hero.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOBwVJ...


Bryan Craig That's great G, classic Disney programming. I know a Marion, Ohio, so now I know why.

It just proves the importance of the southern American campaign.


Bryan Craig I wonder how often Greene's commanders executed an order to shoot the first man to flee a battlefield (no pun intended)?


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Jerome | 4310 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "Yeah, the British strategy was off on this and I don't know if some input came from London on this or what.

The Germans were one of the best fighters in the world, but they were not ready for the ..."


The British government actually thought the South was a bastion of Loyalist sentiment. That's what Lord Germain told Howe and Cornwallis, anyway.


Bryan Craig Makes sense, Jerome, thank you. I guess the southern Loyalist influence on power did not meet British expectations.


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Todd (todsisson) | 18 comments G wrote: "As a small aside, when I was a young girl there was a TV show called the Swamp Fox which fictionalized the efforts of Francis Marion. My father was from the American South and always watched it wit..."

I thought I remembered reading somewhere that Francis Marion was the model used for Benjamin Martin in "The Patriot".

The description from the book seems to fit at least.

I enjoyed reading about the Revolutionary War in the southern states. It's wild to think that after all that happens in the northeast, the war effectively finds its end in the south.


Bryan Craig I think you might be right, Todd, about Marion being the inspiration of the film.

This book might be good:

From Savannah to Yorktown The American Revolution in the South by Henry Lumpkin by Henry Lumpkin (no photo)


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Mark (mwl1) I find it interesting that when congress finally gave Washington the authority to take supplies that were needed, he still preferred that the congress do it rather than himself. It would be definitely add an extra level of checks to protect rights of the citizens, however, at the same time it seems to be more natural to give the military the ability to get the supplies themselves. Congress would need to back the order with some sort of force anyway if they were to take the responsibility of providing supplies.


Bryan Craig It is interesting, Mark, and Congress' record for getting things done was not stellar. I guess GW understood the importance of civilian authority to a point to do things less efficiently.


Bryan Craig I have to say I'm impressed by GW using the intelligence at hand to launch a false invasion of NYC and divert attention away from Yorktown. It reminds me of Patton and his fake invasion force at D-Day.


Phillip (philbertk) | 55 comments It seems as if Washington had a uncanny to seize an advantage when it presented itself. I have always thought that the Yorktown siege was completely out of character with the way Washington had previously conducted his campaigns. But it seems most of his successes resulted from the same breaking out of his conservative nature.


Bryan Craig Yeah, this battle does seem more like the usual European warfare, and GW was not fighting this kind of war as much.


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Teri (teriboop) I have to say that Logan paints quite a picture (page 286) of the troops and their families who almost blindly followed Washington's orders and headed south, not knowing where they were going or what would happen. They followed on sheer faith and confidence in GW. He was definitely a celebrity in their eyes for them to follow him.


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Bryan Craig Exactly, Teri. And the more GW wins, the bigger celebrity he becomes. I think worries some people in the political realm, but as you said, for the soldier, he would follow GW to the ends of the earth.


Robyn (rplouse) | 73 comments I really appreciate GW's integrity in making the Congress appropriate provisions for the army and refusing to allow the soldiers to loot. He also showed great integrity in writing to set the Virginia legislature straight on the pension for his mother. I got the impression that he was embarrassed she asked. I also liked the historical note about his glasses. I never realized he wore glasses. I interesting how most people know about the false teeth, but few knew about his glasses - and its false teeth that people feel more self conscious about now.


Bryan Craig It seems he was embarrassed. It is interesting to read glasses were a sign of weakness.


Sarah | 28 comments I love the part in chapter 32 when Congress didn't have enough money to pay the messenger delivering the news of the surrender at Yorktown so they had to take up a collection among themselves. I am just trying to picture today's Congress being able to come together even for something like that.


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Bryan wrote: "I have to say it takes a certain strength to issue and enforce a no-pillaging order on hungry troops.

What affect would this order have on morale of the troops?"


Compensation - essential, especially given the situation


Bryan Craig Sarah wrote: "I love the part in chapter 32 when Congress didn't have enough money to pay the messenger delivering the news of the surrender at Yorktown so they had to take up a collection among themselves. I a..."

A great scene, would you say? It really shows what trouble this country would be financially speaking.


Bryan Craig Mal wrote: "Bryan wrote: "I have to say it takes a certain strength to issue and enforce a no-pillaging order on hungry troops.

What affect would this order have on morale of the troops?"

Compensation - esse..."


It does send a strong message, doesn't it, Mal?

During wartime, it is so easy to just let your troops roam free, but GW tried hard to reign them in.


Logan Beirne | 140 comments Robyn wrote: "I really appreciate GW's integrity in making the Congress appropriate provisions for the army and refusing to allow the soldiers to loot. He also showed great integrity in writing to set the Virgin..."

"Integrity" - the perfect word to describe Washington, Robyn! Washington's integrity was historically unheard of. And many soldiers thought his hardline stance against looting was outrageous.

In the short run, it was quite harmful as his troops starved and froze. But in the long run, Washington was establishing a radical new republic in which the rights of citizens trumped the desires of the military. That integrity still defines us as a nation today.


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Jason Smith | 8 comments What an interesting time to read this chapter! With a congressional shutdown in the background it was interesting to read of the early founders concerns over debt and the money crisis in America. Though I wouldn't go so far as to say that their attitudes and ideas should be controlling, I do think having an idea of how the founders saw monetary issues is helpful. Particularly how they thought about and approached the issues intellectually.

That being said Washington character shows strongly here. For a large portion of the book he demonstrated his pragmatism and willingness to compromise on important issues for the good of the whole. He however, shows more of an idealistic bent here. In fact not even allowing a loan to be made to his own mother shows how strong his feelings were.

Perhaps though this episode shows his deeper commitment to the colonies as his underlying philosophy. In earlier chapters (such as those that deal with torture), he acts with their best intentions in mind. The same can be said of the loan to his mother. Therefore, I think wherever he approaches an issue pragmatically or idealistically is based on his overarching desire to do good for America. This is the Washington who seems present throughout.


Bryan Craig Thanks, Jason. I get a sense that the Founders really wanted to balance that budget, but sacrificed personal sentiment and print cash to keep the cause going.


Mary Ellen | 184 comments Washington's mother sounded like his nightmare - for someone as proud as Washington, getting word of his mother's petition to the VA legislature must have been such an embarrassment and aggravation. On the other hand, though she seemed to be fairly well established, his mother was feeling (though to a lesser degree than many) the panicky pinch of the rapid inflation devaluing the colonial currency.


Bryan Craig Well said Mary Ellen. It shows us everyone was hurting.


Bryan Craig So true Libby. They did underestimate the South.


David Thomas (phillydave82) | 18 comments The part that always interested me was the fighting between the Patriots and Loyalists in the southern theater. It really was the first American Civil War. It was a time to settle old scores and as was stated in the book it got particularly violent and American commanders including Washington was stunned at the brutality. Even one of the biggest battles in the Southern Campaign, King's Mountain was fought between Americans, with the exception of the British commander Patrick Ferguson. Also when Cornwallis finally surrendered at Yorktown I am sure there was a sense of relief even in the eyes of the British people despite the fact they were also shocked that they were defeated by colonists. The war had severely crippled the British economy and many in Britain saw George III as a failed monarch.


Bryan Craig Well said David. It reinforces the idea of civil war


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