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An Exploration Of George Washington And Thomas Jefferson Through The Eyes Of Gordon S. Wood

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An Exploration of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson Through the Eyes of Gordon S. Wood

Although the founding fathers are often thought of as a single entity tied to one another with bonds of historical greatness, each one of them is completely different. In Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, the author, Gordon S. Wood, explores the similarities and differences of these men and helps conclude exactly what made the founders so spectacular. It is hard to say which, if any, of the founders made the greatest impact on what we now call the United States of America, but through Wood's work one may determine who they believe was the greatest asset. Through reading Wood's work it is evident that he believes the success of America is a collaboration of all of these great men, but uses extreme care in emphasizing the greatness of two of them in particular, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Washington and Jefferson, although completely distinctive politically, they share the unique bond of shaping America to what it has become today.

Similarly, both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington struggled to maintain the legacy of becoming gentlemen, exemplifying the time that they lived. Wood portrays Washington as obsessed with his gentleman status, and often put his reputation, which was probably his most prized possession, before his personal beliefs. Wood wrote, "Washington was obsessed with having things in fashion and was fastidious about his appearance to the world. (36)." An example of this can be seen by his decision to become the first president. Washington truly wanted to retire and not fulfill this duty, but because the American people felt that he was the best candidate he accepted. Washington believed that his name would be slandered if he did not accept the people's request. Jefferson, like Washington, also struggled for the title of gentleman. While Washington struggled to maintain the image of a disinterested man, Jefferson thought that it was a less importance. Although these two great men have the commonality of struggling to maintain their gentlemen status, the way that they handled their image is what differentiates them.

Wood visualizes how George Washington and Thomas Jefferson's contributions to the new world helped to shape America as we view it today. Most people look at the contributions of Washington as the commander and chief of the revolutionary forces and the first president, and Jefferson as the author of The Declaration of Independence and the third president, but Wood focuses on their other successes as well. Although it may first appear that both of these men worked for the same objective of laying an adequate foundation for the new world, Wood makes it clear that they had completely different strategies for doing so. Washington believed that it was important to set up a strong government that relied on the thoughts of the leaders, and Jefferson found the importance of listening to the average person and of minimal government. Jefferson "promoted the rights of weeds to flourish (97)", seeing the importance of the common person's view. Because of Jefferson's ongoing optimism, the people of America had hope and the foundation for a path to change. Although

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