GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS an indispensable war leader, an admirable president, and a good man. His compatriots proclaimed him 'first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen'. Without him, America's fate would have been radically different and less happy. But nowadays, the fact that he was a slave-owner is held against him. The dealings of Thomas Jefferson with slaves have been exhaustively investigated but this is the first book on Washington focuses mainly on slavery. It is sometimes unhistorical in that it tends to exhibit Washington in terms of our own notions rather than those of his day, but equally often it is illuminating and shrewd.
Unlike the other Founding Fathers, Washington was a frontiersman and not just a landowner but a practical farmer, indeed a good and enterprising one. This gave him a different perspective to the other Virginians. Tobacco had saved the original settlers there from starvation, for it was their first, and for