previous next

[241]

But there is another kind of greatness that, to me, is infinitely greater, and that is the greatness of personal character. It is seldom that we find in exact proportions all the virtues united in any man; seldom that we find a man who by their combination secures universal confidence and trust from those in all ranks of life. It is not often that such men are represented in the history of the world. I have sometimes, in my personal contact with people, thought that there are some such in private life, of whom the world never hears; men who have the making of great geniuses within them; men who combine all these great virtues and qualities, which on occasion would rise and assert themselves, but they live on their quiet, hidden, beautiful lives, and many such often die without their power ever being known, perhaps, even to themselves, because the opportunity was never given to them to signalize these qualities.

To me there are two men in American history who are great all around; two men whose lives stand out in beautiful harmony of proportion, in noble exemplification of all virtues, and all the excellence that can be summed up as belonging to the noblest types of manhood; the best of God. And I am glad that these men belong to the American nation.
the American Washington and the American Lee
are the two men who have always stood in my mind for the best things American—genius, talent, power, for the best things Christian. The first of these men immortalized himself a hundred years ago. Washington was as great at Valley Forge as when he led the American army to victory. He was quite as great when he retired to private life, and when people wanted to make him king he rejected the temptation, content to be the representative of American principle among his people. Repelling temptation showed that he had within him the true elements of greatness, the power to resist, and this more than all else made him first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.

In my judgment George Washington, from the moment when he showed the power to set aside temptation and reject the crown, has been the uncrowned king of the American people. From that day to this he is king, and will remain as long as there is an historian capable of writing American history.

It has always seemed to me that Robert Lee, born a century after, was the twin brother of George Washington. I am glad that

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Valley Forge (Tennessee, United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George Washington (2)
Robert Lee (1)
George L. Christian (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: