Death For The General of the Armies

 Nothing to Add For Now: Monday night and Tuesday look interesting but for now, I’ll leave it at that.  Too many other things to deal with but I would say to plan on delays on Tuesday morning.  Travel may be difficult.

This Date In History: On this date in history, the father of the country passed into immortality. General George Washington succumbed to what most scholars think was something we face every year: cold or flu. However, more recent analysis indicates the notion that he died from acute epiglottitis.

Washington kept very meticulous journals and had reported to be in great health. But, on December 12, 1799 his entry included the details of his daily evening check of the plantation. He was out for about 5 hours in miserable weather which he described as rain, snow, hail and wind. My guess is that it was sleet and not hail. In any event, his clothes were wet and his hair filled with ice and snow. Instead of changing clothes after he came in, he instead had dinner. The next day he had a sore throat and other signs of a cold. In spite of this, he went out on Friday the 13th in more crummy weather, that included sleet, to mark some trees that he wished to be…you guessed…chopped down. Not sure if they were cherry trees. That evening he was quite hoarse but insisted on reading aloud to Martha and his secretary. The next day he had a high fever and felt awful.

I’ll spare the rest of the details except that his condition worsened and he eventually died on this date in 1799 at the age of 67. I’ve read it was the flu or a cold. This new report says it was acute epiglottitis which is a viral infection that causes swelling at the base of the tongue and larynx and makes breathing and swallowing painful and difficult. I’ve also read over the years that he may have bled to death. The accounts I have read says that the medical treatment of the day called for opening wounds to bleed out whatever the infection or disease. It has been suggested that Washington himself told the doctors to bleed him some more even though the doctors said it was too much.

In any event, General George Washington died and left a legacy that the nation still follows today. When looking back for role models, people often turn to FDR, or Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln or perhaps JFK. But, it seems to me that when one studies the life, accomplishments, ideals and most importantly, the actions of General George Washington, it is clear to me that he is rightly and justly called the Father of the Country. He is a man whom we would all do better to emulate and certainly someone whom our politicians should look to for any guidance from the past. I believe that without George Washington, it is possible, even probable, we would not have the United States. He was that important, that unique and that towering a figure in life, and if viewed closely, in death as well.

Congress finally recognized this notion in that, in the mid to late 20th century. In the early part of the century, General John J. Pershing was designated as General of the Armies but he never wore more than 4 stars. He is the only person to have held the rank in life. In 1799 shortly after Washington’s death, the rank was established by Congress posthumously by Congress. In the late 1970’s, Congress officially designated General George Washington as General of the Armies of the United States of America and will forever hold that designation. Congress wanted to make clear that Washington is the nations senior general officer. In other words, no one can outrank George Washington.


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