Friday, January 30, 2015

George Washington - The 1st Rebel?

White Kentucky's post-war evolution to promoters of the Lost Cause is evidenced in many ways; from late 19th century literature to postbellum architecture to the state's identity in the Old South "colonel," to the numerous monuments to Confederate soldiers. Other evidence is much less subtle and had been hidden away in letters, journals, and long forgotten legislative resolutions.

Another piece of evidence is pictured above. This CDV image of George Washington, normally known as the "Father of our County," was remembered by some unknown individual as "The 1st Rebel." It is intriguing that a Lost Cause advocate would choose to remember Washington more for his role as the military leader of the Continental army who was seeking independence from mother England, than as the first president of the Federal Union, who was chosen as leader under the Constitution of the United States. 

I suppose this image is further proof that considering perspective is all important. For example, I doubt that someone from, say, Buffalo, New York, at this same time would have referred to Washington as a "rebel." The term probably would not have even been considered. Washington (in a military role) likely would have been referred to as a patriot or the savior of our country. 

Thinking about this in yet another way, during the Revolution, Great Britain and those Americans that espoused King George III's cause would probably have considered Washington a rebel, but not in the same way that the post-Civil War keeper of the CDV did. The mid-nineteenth century holder of this image took pride in the term "rebel," whereas those with a different perspective saw rebel as a label of denigration. 

History can teach us many things, but one that I truly appreciate is is that it reminds us of the wisdom in looking at issues from others' perspectives. Due to our past experiences, present beliefs, and future hopes, we all see things from different viewpoints. You may reject another person's perspective because it does not match with yours, but I believe it is shortsighted to totally dismiss it with out trying to understand where they are coming from. More harm than good can come through being close-minded.  

Image courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.        

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