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The Case for GreatnessHonorable Ambition and Its Critics$
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Robert Faulkner

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780300123937

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300123937.001.0001

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Obscuring the Truly Great: Washington and Modern Theories of Fame

Obscuring the Truly Great: Washington and Modern Theories of Fame

(p.177) Chapter Six Obscuring the Truly Great: Washington and Modern Theories of Fame
The Case for Greatness

Robert Faulkner

Yale University Press

This chapter addresses the doubts that surround the very notion of the gentleman-statesman. This chapter is thus a biographical-historical account of George Washington and the gentleman-statesman, a reminder that this is still a familiar type—although more difficult to gleam and appreciate due to the shadows cast by theories surrounding these ambitious figures. The chapter weighs in on the modern interpretation of Washington by American historian Douglass Adair, author of the influential essay, “Fame and the Founders.” This essay argued that the greatest deeds of the seminal American founders were due to their love of fame. In this confrontation of Adair's characterization of Washington, the chapter relies on John Marshall's Life of Washington, which is argued to better capture the statesman's motives.

Keywords:   gentleman-statesman, George Washington, Douglass Adair, Fame and the Founders, American founders, John Marshall, Life of Washington

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