Author Of The Absolutely True Story Of A Part-Time Indian Cherry Tree Myth

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Cherry Tree Myth

first off: George Washington did not cut the cherry tree. In the fable, the young Washington was provoked into “barking” his father’s prized saplings.

However, the whole story is a moral lesson invented by the first biographer of patriotism – a former Anglican priest and Mason L. A traveling Bible salesman named Weems.

Known throughout the country as “Person” Weems, he wrote several books on good manners to supplement his Bible tracts.

His most popular books were: “The life of George Washington, with its curious anecdotes, is equally honorable to himself and exemplary to his young countrymen.”

The book was published in December 1799, a year after Washington’s death. It contained a lot of factual information, but it also introduced several legends, which made our first president a little uncomfortable.

This is sad because myths have obscured the true personality of our first president. He was a man of great dignity, but an important and passionate man. He was ambitious, hardworking and sensitive to others.

Washington’s integrity was recognized by those he met. Still, he labored throughout his life to control his quick temper.

There is no documentation for Wim’s charming story of the cherry tree. He wrote that he heard the story from “a distant relative close to the family”.

Close relatives claimed they had never heard the story. Nevertheless, the alleged incident is associated with Washington’s childhood personality.

He was tutored by his father Augustine until the age of 11. The elder Washington emphasized honesty and loyalty—as George’s marked textbooks and copy papers still exist.

After his father’s death, young Washington taught himself the art of surveying. At the age of 15 he was actively engaged in that profession. This trade took him steadily across the frontier as far west as Ohio and Kentucky.

In 1754, the governor of Virginia sent Washington to repel a French force occupying a fort at the fork of the Ohio and Allegheny rivers, now Pittsburgh. The young American major was defeated and forced to sign a humiliating surrender. This was the beginning of the French and Indian War.

In subsequent campaigns, George Washington proved himself and was selected for several important military assignments.

Washington was 44 and a successful tobacco farmer when the American Revolution began. As such, he was reluctant to challenge the motherland militarily.

Nevertheless, he accepted the call of the Continental Congress to take charge of Boston’s small army that resisted the besieging British at Breed’s Hill—Bunker Hill is not popularly associated.

It takes an honest man to face the reality of an irrevocable break with Great Britain—to accept the dangers and hardships of building a new nation against armed power.

The War of Independence is now remembered as the Revolutionary War. In fact, it was our most unpopular war — the Civil War and the Vietnam War notwithstanding. Many colonists remained loyal to England and bitterly opposed secession.

Washington’s patience and perseverance brought a great success out of a bad war. He justly deserves the sobriquet: “The Father of Our Country.”

It is unfortunate that his real talents and achievements are obscured by the good image created in his memory by a well-meaning Parson Weems.

For example, here is the complete cherry-tree story told by the enthusiastic Weems:

I can’t lie


“When George was about six years old, he was made rich master of a hatchet, of which, like most little boys, he was very fond, and was constantly going about and cutting off everything that came in his way.

“One day, in the garden where he often amused himself with his mother’s pea-stick, he unfortunately tried the edge of his hatchet on the trunk of a beautiful, young English cherry tree, which he barked so terribly that I do not believe. The tree never grew from it. done well

“The next morning, the old gentleman (Washington’s father), finding what had fallen on his tree—which, however, was very dear—came home. With much warmth he announced to the mischievous writer, at the same time that he had five guineas for his tree. would not take

“No one could tell him anything about it. Presently George and his hatchet made their appearance. ‘George,’ said his father, ‘do you know who killed that pretty little cherry tree over there in the garden?’

“It was a difficult question, and George staggered under it for a moment but quickly recovered himself. Looking at his father, the sweet face of youth, bright with the indescribable charm of all-conquering truth, he cried boldly, ‘I cannot. Tell a lie.’ , Pa, you know I can’t lie. I did it with my hands.’

“‘Run into my arms, dear boy,’ cried his father in transport. ‘Run into my arms. I’m glad you killed my tree, George, for you’ve paid me a thousand times for it. My son’s valor is worth a thousand trees.’ More precious than though silver and its fruit bloomed in pure gold!'”

I know you were here

Parson Weems was clearly not satisfied that he had accurately described all of Washington’s qualities. He embellishes this with another myth in the same book:


“One day Mr. Washington went into the garden and made a little bed of fine dry soil. On it he wrote George’s name in full, capital letters. Then he sprinkled a lot of cabbage seeds. He covered them and smoothed them nicely. With a roller

“This bed he deliberately prepared next to a gooseberry walk which he knew would be honored by George’s visit when the fruit ripened.

“It was not long before George, eyes rolling wildly, and his little cheeks ready to burst at the great news.

“‘O Pa! Come here, come here. I’ll show you a sight you’ve never seen in all your life.’

“The old gentleman, suspecting what state George would be in, gave him his hand, which he grasped with great eagerness; and led him through the garden to the empty bed where the large letters were carved — and all new Freshness of Sprouts — George Washington’s full name.

“‘There, Pa,’ said George, quite astonished, ‘did you see such a sight in all your life? Who made it there?’

“‘It grew by chance, I think, my boy.’

“‘Oh Pa, you mustn’t say chance did it all. Indeed somebody did it; and I dare say now, father, you did it to frighten me because I’m your little boy.’

“His father laughed and said, ‘Well, George, you guess right. I did indeed; but not to frighten you, my son, but to teach you a great thing that you can understand. I want to introduce you. To your true father.’

“‘Hi, Pa, aren’t you my real father, who loves me and has always been so good to me?’

“‘Yes, George, I am your father, as the world says. I love you too. But still, with all my love for you, I am vain compared to a poor father. You have one.’

“‘Yes! I know very well who you mean, Pa. You mean God Almighty, don’t you, but where is God Almighty? I haven’t seen him yet.’

“‘True is my son; but though you have never seen him, yet he is always with you. Ten days ago you did not see me when I made this little tree-bed where you see your name in such beautiful green letters. See me here. Not getting it, yet you know I was here.’

“‘Yes, father, I do. I know you were here!'”

****

So much for poetic license. Truth needs no embroidery.

Washington was that rare, historic figure – the right man in the right place at the right time. His whole life was devoted to the greatest good for the greatest number.

It wasn’t easy for him, but he worked to discipline his flaws—replacing pride with honesty, temper with duty. His life is a more inspiring example of our own imperfect nature than the moralists preach.

By combining his birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s on a convenient President’s Day — to give us another long weekend — we’re missing the real lessons these great heroes left us.

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