George Washington’s Final Battle
The Epic Struggle to Build a Capital City and Nation
Robert P. Watson
Georgetown University Press
ISBN 13: 9781626167841
George Washington is remembered for leading the Continental Army to victory, presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and forging a new nation, but few know the story of his involvement in the establishment of a capital city and how it nearly tore the fledgling nation apart. In this book, Robert Watson brings the events to life, telling how the country’s first president tirelessly advocated for a capital on the shores of the Potomac and succeeded despite numerous surprising obstacles and bitter political feuds. Washington envisioned and had a direct role in planning every aspect of the city that would house the young republic and carry his name. In doing so, he created a landmark that gave the young democracy credibility, united a fractious country, and created a sense of American identity.
Praise for George Washington’s Final Battle
A fine and full account of the much-contested founding of Washington, DC. Watson documents clearly and convincingly why the first president deserved to have the nation’s capital bear his name.
Gordon S. Wood, Pulitzer Prize winning author, National Humanities Medal recipient, and Alva O. Way University Professor at Brown University
In clear prose, both accessible and insightful, Watson portrays George Washington as a great yet flawed hero, the leader whose character and vision helped to win the Revolutionary War and initiate the building of a new city from which the new nation could be governed. Washington understood that this country needed a national identity and that a new capital city was an essential building block for such an identity. Watson considers this phase of Washington’s career as his ‘final battle’ and amply demonstrates his characterization of it as an ‘epic struggle’.
David E. Haberstich, curator and archivist, Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Watson brings to life the very human father of our country. He takes George Washington down from his pedestal and invites us to judge his triumphs and setbacks from the earthen battlefields of the American frontier to the political salons of our nascent republic.”
Alan S. Frumin, former parliamentarian of the United States Senate
Watson regales readers with an extraordinarily detailed account of the debates that overshadowed all the other issues the fledgling nation faced as it came to realize Washington’s passion for creating a ‘great city,’ one that would unify the country and inspire all Americans. This is a must read for those interested in the founding era!
Richard M. Yon, Professor, US Military Academy at West Point
Watson masterfully weaves together how Washington’s many life experiences shaped his ideas on self-government, nationhood, and the power of perception. Truly, Washington’s trials and tribulations prepared him for one of his most overlooked accomplishments—the building of the nation’s capital.
Matthew Costello, Assistant Director of the David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History at the White House Historical Association