Life of General Washington
Illustrations: 10 photos
Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Pub Date: 04/15/2006
List Price: $23.95
ImprintUniversity of Georgia Press
Life of General Washington
This biography of George Washington—the only one authorized by the general himself—was written by his close friend and military aide David Humphreys. It offers a rare, intimate glimpse of Washington's life, from his birth in 1732 until his assumption of the presidency in 1789. After reviewing a portion of the manuscript, he added a section of "Remarks," which reveals a personal side that he seldom exposed in his letters or other writings.
In a remarkable feat of historical detective work, Rosemarie Zagarri assembled manuscripts from three separate archives to reconstruct and publish the complete biography along with Washington's "Remarks."
Lieutenant Colonel Humphreys was a minor Connecticut poet and an aide-de-camp to George Washington during the Revolution. For 18 months in 1787-88 he lived with the Washingtons at Mount Vernon. During that time he began an "authorized" biography which the general himself corrected and annotated. Only part of the work has previously been published—in 1789, anonymously. The whole was assembled from parts found in three repositories. It's a curious work, with much detail on the French and Indian War but only a page or two on the American Revolution. Washington's "Remarks" are priceless, and the long conversations with Humphreys about the presidency in 1789 are reproduced here. The book belongs on all Washington shelves.
Humphreys had an opportunity to know Washington's private opinions better than any other person who wrote an account of his early career. Humphrey's interpretation of events may therefore reflect Washington's perceptions of his role in history more faithfully than any other eighteenth-century sources, including Washington's own letters.
—Journal of Southern History
Incredible as it may seem, this book actually contains new material about George Washington, one of the most thoroughly researched figures in all American history. It not only contributes to the Washington canon but also helps us to separate more critically the man from the myth. Zagarri has done the profession great service. . . . An important resource.
—Journal of American History
The real fascination of this slim volume lies in the general's 'Remarks,' a dozen handwritten pages of suggestions whose overall effect is to add still more of it to a text already heavily weighted toward veneration. Washington clearly did not wish it known that he had ever cooperated in anything so self-serving as a biography and asked that his editorial comments be either burned or returned to him when the author was finished. But he also did not want his suggestions ignored. . . . It is a pity his Life had to wait so long to see the light of day. It would have made a fine campaign biography—had George Washington ever felt the need of one.