History Reminder — George Washington Was a One-Percenter

4 Jul

Salena Zito wrote an interesting column for Townhall.com, titled “Gen. George Washington: the Original One Percenter?”, in which she describes an issue between George Washington and occupiers (in this case, they were occupying his land).  The full text of the column can be found at http://townhall.com/columnists/salenazito/2012/07/04/gen_george_washington_the_original_one_percenter/page/full/

 I have included some excerpts below.  I happen to consider Washington the most important of Presidents, even more so than the great Abraham Lincoln.  Having a man like Washington in the role of President at the very start of our national identity was absolutely key to the ongoing success of our political and economic systems, and key to our country’s prosperity.

 Excerpts:    [Bolding is mine; content within brackets [] is mine]

To the 13 families living in this Pennsylvania village [Venice], Gen. George Washington was an arrogant, elite Virginian who dared to claim ownership of the land where they had built log cabins, grown crops and conducted their lives for nearly 15 years.

To them, he was “the first true 1-percenter,” local historian Clayton Kilgore said, recalling Occupy protesters’ description of wealthy Americans.  Washington represented everything they despised, according to Kilgore.

“These [people] .  .  .    held anything associated with government in utter contempt.” Based on the standards of that time,  .  .  .  Washington indeed was very rich — quite possibly the wealthiest man in the fledgling nation.

He owned nearly 60,000 acres,  .  .  .  This particular tract contained approximately 3,000 acres given to him by the British for his French and Indian War service.  .  .  .

You can imagine his surprise, in the late summer of 1784, when he rode out to survey his property and found squatters permanently settled on the land.  .  .  .   They had built a church, homes and lives here, and looked down their noses at this elite truant-landlord.

“He really didn’t care much for the ‘rabble,’” Kilgore said. “He thought they had no regard for his grueling time spent commanding the Revolutionary War, which kept him away from his lands, and he was right — they thought very little of him.” .  .  .  .

Washington offered them choices: Pay back rent, lease the property for 999 years, or leave.  They said “no” to all three options.

So much for negotiating with those who have no claim to your property in the first place.

The situation back then really does remind one of today’s Occupy movement, Kilgore agreed. Washington was about as popular among those squatters as a modern-day Wall Street banker is among today’s Occupy crowd, he said.  .  .  .   Washington’s land dispute eventually went before Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.  .  .  .  he finally won.

He generously offered to allow the .  .  .  families to remain .  .  .   without paying back rent, but insisted they pay going forward.  “They would have none of it” and moved on”, Kilgore said.  .  .  .

[End of excerpts]

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