Professor Peter R. Henriques lectured on a chapter from his most recent book, First and Always, A New Portrait of George Washington.
On 12 April, the Richard Henry Lee Chapter (RHLC) of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution (VASSAR) met for the second time in 2022 at the Indian Creek Yacht and Country Club (ICYCC).
The RHLC president, Michael Rhodes, chaired the meeting. Rhodes started the meeting recognizing Dr. Mike Nickerson, by presenting him a five-year membership certificate for his loyal and faithful service to RHLC. Next the president recognized Bob Weekley who was leaving RHLC and VASSAR by transferring his membership to Kentucky where he is in the process of moving. Bob has been a member of the RHLC since April 2018. Bob’s wife Elaine was a guest at the meeting.
The president then announced that Miriam Sisson who attends Chesapeake Academy in Irvington was the winner of the RHLC’s 2022 poster contest and that on 20 April the RHLC will present her an award certificate and a scholarship check at the Academy. Miriam will represent RHLC in this year’s VASSAR poster contest and if she wins, she will represent Virginia in the National Sons of the American Revolution contest. Miriam is the daughter of Michael and Courtney of Farnham, Virginia.
After lunch the president asked Jim Russell to introduce the speaker for the event, Professor Peter R. Henriques. Dr. Henriques earned his PHD in 1971 at the University of Virginia, said Russell. He has taught American and Virginia History with a special emphasis on the Virginia Founding Fathers, especially George Washington (GW). He has written several books on our first President. The subject of this lecture was based on a chapter from his most recent book, First and Always, A New Portrait of George Washington.
Dr. Henriques (Peter) began his lecture with a slide that described GW as a GOAT. To provide meaning to this term, he used the example of the NFL quarterback Tom Brady who after winning multiple super bowls with different teams bears the tag “GOAT” an acronym for“Greatest of All Time.”
Peter then laid out why, in his opinion, the tag is appropriate for GW. First with his leadership America won its independence from Great Britain and then under his leadership America became a nation-two distinctly different achievement.
He listed ten factors which led to this success. The first factor, said Peter, was Good Fortune: one example was that he exposed himself to personal danger but survived; Physicality: 6’2” ram rod straight with a combination of great strength and grace; Ambition: GW strove not only to outdo all competitors but also to conquer and surpass himself, Peter said; Determination: firmness in mind and patience in suffering.
Peter then brought up the famous sculptor of GW done by Jean-Antoine Houdon at Mount Vernon in 1785. The bust is on the cover of Peter’s latest book. Peter believes the bust catches many of the factors he is describing to show GW’s success. It conveys GW’s strength- “if GW had been born in the forest he would have been the fiercest man among the savage tribes.”
Other factors for success that Peter listed were Passion: save for a few lapses, he was a man of granite self-control and a good listener; Courage: it enabled him to make and hold to unpopular but necessary decisions; Toughness: at the core of his being was a steely will; Realism: quoting GW “We must make the best of mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish them to be.”
GW had many Talents: a keen intellect, phenomenal memory, astute judgment and an understanding of power to name a few. The most important factor was his Character which was a combination of courage, wisdom, temperance, and justice. Abigail Adams said GW could have been a very dangerous man-but because he was one of the best-intentioned men in the world, he put his talents to work not in self-aggrandizement but to lead his country in the glorious cause of establishing and expanding liberty and republican values. It was a priceless gift.
With that Dr. Henriques concluded his lecture and answered several questions from his audience who gave him a standing applause.
RHLC will hold its next meeting on 10 May at ICYCC.
The guest speaker will be Robert Teagle, CEO Christ Church.
If you are interested in learning more about RHLC contact president Rhodes 1-804-929-1444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.