His Excellency: George Washington

Couple of weeks ago, one of my friend and I were talking about American history. I was telling how I thought Civil war seems like the real birth of modern America as we know it. It seems to have defined America more than the war for independence. He told me about this book that he was reading about George Washington. I remember him telling me about how Washington walked away from all the power after the war was over. Obvious comparison were drawn between Gandhi who walked away from it India got its independence in 1947. But I do think there are some fundamental differences other than the basic philosophy of achieving their goals (Military Vs Non-Violence), they were really different people. Both led their countries through the time of crisis. Both seemed to have walked away from the attraction of power. Gandhi did not get much to live. He was killed less than 6 months after India’s independence. Washington on the other hand not only returned to power but he also had a great career. It seems like though, he had to do lot of compromises that person who is trying to balance things with lot of forces pulling in different direction has to do. There was an old Indian Poem written by poet in a village that said something like this. ” After the Independence in the procession Nehru was riding high in elephant, Patel was accompanying him on the horse, but Mahatma (Gandhi) was still walking” well it sounds really good in Hindi but anyway that is how people saw Gandhi. Gandhi was also the person who gave up most of the material things. One of the thing I respected about Gandhi was he was actually did what he said. He followed the principles till the end. On the other hand I felt Washington was very well to do and he made sure he remained that way. The conflict  between his principles and reality seemed to get much clearer when the subject of slavery was described. He realized the principles on which he was building a new nation, did not have place for slavery but it seems like reasons of economy always prevented him from taking a clear stance against it. It took almost 60 more years  to take a stand against it by Lincoln.

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