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The Essence of Washington in One Volume
on January 1, 2013
George Washington: A Collection is a nice one volume sampling of the writings, papers, etc. of the first president of the United States edited by W. B. Allen and published by Liberty Fund that spans over his adult life (1756-1799). The book is well organized into fourteen different chapters that include several different pieces that correspond to the given chapter. Each chapter also contains interesting headnotes which are a useful setup that goes well with the contents of each chapter. Readers should keep in mind that this is just a small sampling of Washington's writings. Although this is a good resource it is in no way definitive, his collected works I believe run around 40+ volumes.
The content of this work varies from letters to presidential addresses. Contained in this collection are letters to such notables as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and his good friend Lafayette to lesser known individuals such as President James Warren, and Major General Nathanael Greene.
The collection contains some of Washington's more memorable writings such as his noteworthy farewell address that included thoughts on faction, morality, education (diffusion of knowledge), foreign policy and permanent alliances among other subjects. Washington's farewell address took four months before it was published on September 19, 1796 and enlisted the help Madison, Hamilton and John Jay to complete the address. Found in the epilogue is Washington's Last Will and Testament (July 9, 1799) which another notable piece of writing in which Washington calls for the emancipation of his slaves, among other topics.
Continuing on the topic of slavery is an interesting part of a 1786 letter Washington sent to his good friend Lafayette. Washington comments on the "benevolence" of Lafayette's heart as he purchased an estate in the colony of Cayenne with the intent of emancipating all the slaves. In the same letter Washington discussed his support for gradual emancipation as he stated, "To set them afloat at once would, I believe, be productive of much inconvenience and mischief; but by degrees it certainly might, and assuredly ought to be effected; and that too by legislative authority." However, at the time as Washington noted that the petitions for the abolition of slavery presented to the assembly were seldom read and ignored. He also mentions support for the idea three years earlier (1783) to Lafayette.
Overall this is a good one volume collection of Washington's writings that covers a broad range of topics. I would recommend this for purchase.
The fourteen chapters are divided up as follows:
1. The Rules of Bravery and Liberty 1756-1775
2. Tyranny: The Scourge of Liberty 1775-1777
3. The Passions of Men and the Principles of Action 1778-1780
4. Trials and Triumph 1780-1781
5. Washington's Knowledge of Himself and His Army 1782-1783
6. Washington's Knowledge of His Countrymen 1783
7. The General Resigns 1783
8. The Citizen Stirs 1784-1786
9. Making a Constitution 1786-1788
10. The Drama of Founding 1788-1789
11. Presidential Addresses 1789-1796
12. Washington the President 1789-1791
13. Trials of Division 1792-1796
14. A Work Completed 1796-1799