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   George Washington

 

 

(1732-1799)

He was commander in chief of the Continental army during the American Revolution, and later the first president of the United States. Known as the "father of his country," he symbolizes qualities of discipline, honor, loyalty and love of country. 

This song is not a true story. General Washington did, however, courageously lead his troops across the icy waters of the Delaware River during a Christmas night snowstorm to win a stunning victory over enemy German soldiers known as Hessians. The battle of Trenton restored the nation's morale and became known as the turning point of the revolutionary war. 

“The power under the Constitution will always be under the people.”   --  George Washington

WASHINGTON'S HAT

(By Jonathan Sprout)

On Christmas Day, 1776

General George Washington was up to his tricks.

He had an idea. It would revolutionize

The way to win the war with a secret surprise.

He called his troops to the banks of the Delaware,

Put on a crazy hat, and let the soldiers stare.

It was a silly secret weapon, but soon you'll see

How a hat brought the colonies a victory.

 

REFRAIN:   Washington's hat

                   Imagine that.

                   Washington's hat

 

They struggled with the boats, though it would have been nice

If they had taken the bridge to avoid the ice.

It was a Kodak moment, so a painter painted that,

While George stood tall in his silly hat.

Then he said to the artist, "If you will,

Please paint my portrait for the dollar bill!"

That night while the Hessians were turning and tossing,

They should have looked for George at Washington Crossing.

 

REFRAIN

 

At last they came to Trenton and divided into groups.

George had given orders to surround the Hessian troops.

That's when he went knocking on the Hessian General's door,

Who took a look at George's hat and laughed 'til he was sore.

Powerless and giddy, this is what he said,

"I cannot fight a man who's wearing that atop his head!"

And so he gathered his belongings after gathering his wits,

Gave his sword to George and said, "I call it quits."

"It's too cold and dark to fight," he said. "Besides, I'd rather chat.

Now, what on earth possesses you to wear that silly hat?"

 

REFRAIN

 

Washington leaned forward and whispered in his ear,

"That's a military secret. I can't reveal it here."

The Hessians, thus, surrendered, caught in George's trap.

'Twas a victory for the colonies and a feather in his cap.

 

REFRAIN

 

George fought many battles. Everywhere he'd go,

The enemy dropped their guns, to tease him so.

His silly hat befuddled them. All they ever did,

Was double over laughing, screaming, "Who's he trying to kid!"

Later in Yorktown where the war was won,

George tipped his hat when they cheered for what he'd done.

It's been said he wore that chapeau everywhere he went.

Some believe that's how he got to be the President.

Father of our country, noble diplomat.

Is it safe to say we're here today because of George's hat?

 

REFRAIN

 

Now the moral of the story, in case you didn't know:

It's okay to wear a silly hat when playing in the snow.

And don't be too concerned about what others think and do,

When you might have a better way of doing something new.

Just think of General George and all the glory he begat -

The man who crossed the Delaware beneath a silly hat. 

© 1995 Kanukatunes (ASCAP)


I had fun writing the song “Washington’s Hat” on my American Heroes CD. The song is NOT historically accurate. If you’ve heard the song, I hope you also realize that the song’s silliness is a reflection of the songwriter’s silliness, not the hero’s silliness! George Washington was awe inspiring. 

The famous Emanuel Leutze painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware was the “inspiration” for my song. This painting was made some seventy-five years after the actual crossing. It has some historical inaccuracies:

1) The boats are crossing the wrong way, to the West, toward the setting sun. In actuality, they headed east as the day wore on, from Pennsylvania into New Jersey.

2) The boat in the painting is too small. Larger boats known as Durhams were actually used.

3) Washington would not have been standing up in a shaky boat that was crossing during a storm.

4) The flag in the painting did not exist at the time. It was first flown on September 3, 1877, well after the crossing which took place on December 25, 1776.


To my knowledge, the best real life telling of the story of Washington Crossing the Delaware is in a great book by Howard Fast titled The Crossing. It’s been made into an equally inspiring movie in which actor Jeff Daniels plays the part of General Washington. I recommend both the book and the movie.

Washington was the man of many firsts. Of course, he was the first president. He was first in command of the Revolutionary Army. He was one of the first scientific farmers in America. He was our nation’s first spymaster. They say he was “first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.” 

One of Mr. Washington’s less well known firsts had to do with his dancing abilities. According to author Mary Higgins Clark, who wrote the novel about George and Martha Washington called Mount Vernon Love Story, in real life, Mr. Washington was the best dancer in the colony of Virginia!

I own a great book, By George! Mr. Washington’s Guide to Civility, autographed by the author, Steven Michael Selzer. This book lists and discusses something Washington did when he was just fourteen years old. At that young age, Washington wrote a list of 110 rules of civility and decent behavior that he intended to live by. He wrote rules like:

“Rule #22: Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.”

“Rule #40: Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.”

Even at fourteen, Washington was an advanced human being!


Links:

Washington Crossing Historic Park, Washington Crossing, PA 

George Washington's Mt. Vernon Estate, VA 

George Washington Birthplace National Historic Monument, VA  

Washington Monument in Washington, DC  

Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, NJ 

Valley Forge National Historical Park, Valley Forge, PA

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