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Washington tried his best to lead an ethical life. After copying the “Rules of Civility” as a young child, Washington vowed to live his life by the rules. Many of these rules helped Washington live an ethical and upstanding life. Some examples of the rules he followed as taken from the National Center website are:
· Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.
· Sleep not when others speak; sit not when others stand; speak not when you should hold your peace; walk not on when others stop.
· The gestures of the body must be suited to the discourse you are upon.
· If any one come to speak to you while you are sitting, stand up, though he be your inferior, and when you present seats, let it be to everyone according to his degree.
· It is good manners to prefer them to whom we speak before ourselves, especially if they are above us, with whom in no sort we ought to begin.
· Inspeaking to men of quality do not lean nor look them full in the face, nor approach too near them at left. Keep a full pace from them.
· In writing or speaking, give away person his due title to his degree and the custom of the place.
· Speak not in an unknown tongue in company but in your own language and that as those of quality do and not as the vulgar; sublime matters treat seriously.
· When another speaks, be attentive yourself; and disturb not the audience. If any hesitate in his words, help him not nor prompt him without desired; interrupt him not, nor answer him till his speech ended.
· In company of those higher quality than yourself, speak not ‘til you are asked a question, then stand upright, put off your hat and answer in few words.
These rules are basic rules that give every man their due respect. The list consisted of over 100 rules that outlined the necessity of giving each and every person their own rights. He made sure that even though he was a leader, he did not step on the rights of any other man. Having respect and understanding of basic human rights shows that he tried his best to be an ethical and moral man.
Washington was a slave owner. At the time of his death he had acquired 317 slaves. On his plantation, Mount Vernon went from tobacco, to wheat production, to a distillery of whiskey. Like all slave owners he worked the slaves long and hard. He would break up the slave’s families and he would discipline the slaves harshly, and recalcitrant slaves were sold to the West Indies (death sentence). When Washington became president, he began to think of slavery as an inefficient and immoral system. It is unknown what or who changed his views on this subject. He had first opposed black soldiers in the Continental Army, but during the war he had come to admire the performance of the blacks in the northern regiments. Of the all of our slave owning presidents, Washington was the only president to leave a provision in his will that after Martha’s death, the slaves would be freed. Event though being a slave owner was a normal, and unquestioned practice at the time, Washington began to question the ethical standing of the system as he got older. This showed great leadership and a real understanding of the human experience.
Culture He Helped Create
Washington was a leader during some of the biggest changes in our country. During the French and Indian War, he started to show some of the skills that it takes to be a good leader. When our country decided to throw off the injustices placed on it by the British government, Washington was able to lead us through with dignity, grace, civility, intelligence, and ferociousness. Washington did not fear the new world that they were creating; instead he embraced and welcomed it. He wanted to make sure he set up the country properly so that future generations could see it run smoothly. He even foresaw some of the divides between the North and the South and tried his best to show his face in all places to prevent a divide in the country. George Washington had a vision for how the country should be run, how the people should be treated and he made sure to follow that vision as closely as he knew how. Through Washington’s vision he was able to create a culture of independence and freedom within the country.
Continue to Part 5.
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