Date of Award

7-26-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Abstract

George Washington was a deliberate political actor, motivated by a desire for self-aggrandizement and social status. He operated within the strictures of a patronage system, advancing his personal interest through the employment of a deferential and disinterested persona. Washington gained preferment and position at a steady pace by offering loyal service to numerous patrons, concealing his ambitions in accordance with the etiquette of Virginian politics. The maintenance of his persona developed into the superintending care of Washington's early career, as it became a prevalent trope within his letters. A combination of youthful overconfidence and numerous frustrations and failures in the field occasioned the slow deterioration of that persona. Washington tactlessly quarreled with his primary patron over issues of his proper recognition and status, causing a breach in that relationship. He eventually resigned, declaring the primary motivations for his service were rank and salary. Contravening a narrative consensus in the modem historiography, The Ambition of Cincinnatus concludes that Washington was an inventive political actor who crafted a persona of deference and disinterested service to advance his selfish ambitions.

Share

COinS