Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Review: The Journal of Major George Washington, Sent by the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, Esq; His Majesty’s Lieutenant-Governor, and Commander In Chief Of Virginia, to the Commandant of the French Forces on Ohio. To Which Are Added, the Governor’s Letter, and a Translation of the French Officer’s Answer facsimile edition printed by Colonial Williamsburg

Synopsis: Printed in 1753 just a few days after his return, this is Washington's journal and account of his journey from Williamsburg,Virginia, into the far reaches of the Ohio Territory. Washington's errand was simple: To deliver a letter from Dinwiddie to the French Commander, which, in the most polite words possible, said "GTFO of Ohio." To which the French Commander responded, again, in the most respectful tones, "No. We called dibs. F-off."  And thus we have the origins of the French and Indian War.
Washington did not know his journal would be published, and indeed, it was done so quickly he had hardly time to make any edits. It was an instant best-seller, with it being quoted in popular society and periodicals of the time. It brought the young surveyor much praise and set him on a road towards the Presidency. 

Review: Only 8 of the originals survived to the modern era. My edition, printed in 1959 by Colonial Williamsburg, is a faithful copy of the one in their collection. It’s a fine facsimile. They have kept the odd arrangements, the grammatical errors and awkward spellings. Reading it is like being back in time. Since the spellings are different (all the s look like f) it can make reading it a challenge – but a fun one.
As for content, it’s interesting to read about his trip. Traveling in the cold winter (before global warming), with snow piled high and rivers layered with ice, it’s a testament to his determination that he and his companions survived. He isn’t one for descriptions of nature, but he was a keen observer of human nature and was honest about his concerns and difficulties. He paid particular attention to the Native Americans he meet, to his relationship with them – and theirs to the French. It is evident he was concerned about the Native Americans being swayed too much to side with the French and understood their importance to the colonies.
This pamphlet, and my edition in particular, as a fine addition to any patriot’s library, and it’s perfect for any American history buff.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Year Published: 1753 (This edition printed in 1959)
Date Finished: 7-28-2016
Pages: 28

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