History is Not Boring discussion

Has George Washington become underappreciated ?

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message 1: by Arminius (new)

Arminius A few reasons why I think that the Father of America has become so.

1. His birthday was a national holiday in America which was replaced by an all encompassing President's Day holiday.

2. Historians used to rank him consistently as America's greatest president. Then a few years back they started ranking Lincoln ahead of him. Then Roosevelt became their favorite and Washington moved to third.

message 2: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth I don't know if he's become underappreciated as much as people's perceptions of him have changed. He's not viewed as a man, as a president as much as he's revered as an ideal.

message 3: by Dina (last edited Feb 29, 2008 07:06AM) (new)

Dina Interesting subject. We have a beautiful painting in the living room of General Washington kneeling and praying at Valley Forge. Also, in November 2006 my husband and I went to DC to take in the usual sites plus Mt Vernon, Manassas, Vt and Gettysburg. When we were at Mt Vernon (my 2nd trip and the husbands 1st) we were appauled at a comment made by some rich-bitch standing next to us. She said to her just as snotty husband "when are they going to put condos up around this and across the water" if i had this land around here, i would totally do that, you know how much money we could get?". Little does the princess know that the GW Foundation or what ever the group is called takes care of hundreds of acres around Mt V and the historical society owns tons of land across the river that is in view of Mt V- so her sick wish will never happen anyway!
Does that answer your question about underappreciated?

message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 17 comments What an interesting question... Certainly, Dina's example makes me think that 'yes' he has become underappreciated. Although there are plenty of people out there who don't appreciate history regardless of the figure.

I also agree with Laura that the perception of him has changed. Sometimes with older students - high school and undergrad - I get the feeling that because he is so much apart of the 'American myth' in early education that they experience some sort of a backlash when they learn more detail about early American history, as if what they learned about in 4th grade was a lie. (Which begs a whole other thread about history pedagogy... so I'll refrain.)

What is interesting from personal experience though is that last school year (this is at the high school where I teach) our administration decided to extend winter break. They did this by moving the MLK holiday from whenever it was celebrated on the federal calendar to the end of our winter break to give the vacation an extra day. When the staff and students figured out why the break had been extended they were up in arms that we had treated the holiday with such disregard. To which our principal retorted that the teachers were foolish to believe that any student was going to go home on the actual holiday and celebrate the legacy of MLK... and that no one had ever complained about the fact that we don't celebrate Washington's birthday on his birthday, instead we celebrate President's Day and we cram it into a three-day weekend anyway that rarely lands on actual holiday anyway. Regardless of the endless school politics involved in this debate, the teachers and students (myself included) seemed much more concerned about the commemoration of MLK (a much more contemporary figure) as compared to the 1st president.

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