"If you speak of solid information and sound judgment, Colonel Washington is undoubtedly the greatest man present."
These were the words of Patrick Henry concerning George Washington's suitability to be Commander
of the Virginia militia, but such words would ring true throughout Washington's long career
in public life.
Washington's first great feat was leading the rag-tag Continental army to victory over the
powerful British expeditionary forces in the American colonies. To achieve such a stunning success,
he had to hold his tiny army of volunteers together for eight desperate years, always under
unbelievably harsh conditions. Further, he had to avoid engaging the British in open battle, or
if he did engage them, to do so only on his own terms. Fortunately for his country, General
Washington's abilities were not those of a tactical commander, such as Andy Jackson, or of a
strategic commander, such as Dwight Eisenhower. Washington was instead a brilliant quartermaster
with highly developed logistical skills, and what concerned him was equipping and sheltering his
soldiers, and as far as possible keeping them out of harm's way. He knew full well that he was
out-numbered, out-gunned, and out-generaled. And he knew that, despite his prodigious efforts to
supply his troops, his men would have to fight on empty stomachs and bare feet. So his task was to
conserve his meager forces and resources, letting the British wear themselves out chasing after him.
In this way he managed to make the Revolutionary War a guerrilla war, a war of harassment and
retreat, that was too wearisome and expensive for the British taste.
Freeing the colonies from the British yoke was not Washington's only stunning achievement. He
saw his duty to oversee the United States of America's ascent into democracy. And so, for eight
more difficult and discouraging years as the first President of the United States, Washington
struggled with internecine disputes within his cabinet and among the states. It would appear that
he and he alone kept the new nation from falling into monarchy or dictatorship, as had all
previously liberated regions in Europe and Asia.
In his lifelong devotion to his country, George Washington can be thought of as the
quintessential civic-minded citizen, or social Guardian, as Plato called this sort of person. Galen
named them the Melancholic or concerned temperament, and Myers, remember, considered them the SJ
or Scheduled type, and attributed a whole list of traits to them, saying that they are dependable,
factual, good maintainers, painstaking, routinized, thorough, conservative, consistent,
detailed, hard-working, patient, persevering, sensible, stable, and unimpulsive.
Excerpted from Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey, PhD
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