Mason Locke “Parson” Weems was a book writer. At the time of President George Washington’s death, Weems got up and did his research. Parson Weems wanted there to be books about the courageous and Patriotic men of the American Revolution. He decided to take George Washington.
Because of this, Parson Weems became the first biographer of George Washington’s life. However, not everything in the book was exactly true. Maybe he believed it to be, or it was what he heard from people and took that as facts, or he was praising Washington with awe and wonder with the things he wrote.
When we think of George Washington, we think of these: first President, important fighter in the American Revolutionary War, the Washington Memorial, honored man, etc. Why? Because he played important parts in the history of America. He is the reason, along with many other brave men, we are here today and still not under the thumb of England. He took the first step in being our first President. He became a model for many men. This is why some of us look at this man in amazement.
Weems was definitely one of those kind of people. He was very grateful for Washington and his roles. But he took it a little too far. He described Washington as a demigod. He said as a young man, there were angels surrounding Washington. Weems said he was a strategist at age of twenty-one, even though Washington used his head like any other good army leader and tried to stay out of the line of fire. Weems said Washington should be a model for all men, young and old. Be like Washington. Live like him. This was Weems. He took his biography and made it into a hagiography. A hagiography is basically looking at the life of someone and making him or her a saint.
In Weems’ case, he made Washington sound like a saint who could do no wrong. Washington, in Weems’ eyes, was perfect. However, we today know this to not be the case. Weems was the one who came up with idea of the cherry tree story. Maybe he heard it from someone? Maybe he thought this to be true? Maybe something else? We don’t know. But we do know that this most likely did not happen.
At age 6, Washington was given an axe as a gift. He went and chopped down his father’s cherry tree. When his father found out and demanded to know what happened, George replied, “Father, I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet.” Maybe this really did happen, but Weems probably took it as something like this: Washington could never tell a lie ever again. This story showed up in Weems’ fifth revision of the biography.
Weems looked up at Washington as a great man. We can too, but we have to remember he was not perfect. He was the one who started the French and Indian War, by killing unharmful men. Washington may be a good model for men, but please do realize Washington was not perfect. He was human just like you and me. He had his downs like us. He was chosen for a unique calling only he could do, just like all of us are called to do.