Andy Andrews, a man who wrote The Butterfly Effect and The Travelers Gift, spoke at a Women of Faith conference a few years ago. He encouraged people to read as many biographies as possible. You never know what you’ll learn from reading about other people’s lives.
Right now I am reading a variety of books and novels, but I make sure, for pleasure, to read biographies and historical books to increase my learning and see how other people live. I just finished 1776 by David McCullough. Now I am reading The Real George Washington (National Center for Constitutional Studies; Perry, Allison, and Skousen). It’s a personal, more in-depth look at a man I admire. It’s a biography that includes large sections of his actual writing with an index for quick reference at the end of the book.
For the record, George Washington wasn’t a deist. According to the definition of deist, “The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.”
George Washington was a deeply spiritual man who loved to read the Bible and pray. He was an unwilling slave owner. The Virginia economy at that time did not support a farm with free labor. Free labor was difficult to obtain. He said even when a farmer is making no profit he has to cloth his slaves, pay for equipment, and other farm responsibilities. Washington wrote in his will that upon his death his slaves shall be free. Before the Revolutionary War, Washington was often found working alongside his slaves. He took care of them well. It also hit me so far how God worked in His life.
Prior to the Revolutionary War, Washington suffered bouts of illnesses in between frontier work and violence or going to fight in the French and Indian War. In the fall of 1770 long after the battle of Fort Duquesne, an Indian chief approached Washington and said:
“The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies–he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire.”
That gave me chills, especially as I read about the battle over Fort Duquesne. Out of 1,459 British soldiers, 977 (including 63 officers) died against merely 900 french and Indian soldiers waiting in hiding. Washington had two horses shot out from under him, a bullet that rushed through his hat and missed his head, and three more bullets passing through his great coat without taking any flesh.
I am on page 88 and am enjoying the part where Washington is working his Mount Vernon farm. He became the first scientific farmer and what he and his slaves didn’t make on the farm, he bought locally. Most farmers sold to the British, but American goods didn’t fare well on the British market. Washington sold and bought locally.
There’s a lot of relevancy in Washington’s writing and what was most notable was his determination. He never quit. His determination made him successful in his life. Andy Andrews was correct when he said to read about other people’s lives. There’s a lot you can learn from people’s successes and failures. In Washington’s life this generation could learn about integrity and how to make hard choices.