NEW YORK (
) -- Let's all bow down and thank our lucky stars we had George Washington and the founding fathers first -- and Tim Berners-Lee and the founding fathers of the Internet second.
Because if our digital-age leaders tried their hand at spinning up these United States, as Washington did, we'd almost certainly be spending this Fourth of July still coughing up tax dollars to Queen Elizabeth.
Go ahead. Name a single 21st century Information Age leader who had anything close to the vision, gumption and guts of this country's 18th century executives.
George Washington, just as
Larry Page or
Jeff Bezos, started out as high-tech
surveyor and land speculator
. The man went on to be part of the team that created the algorithm of checks and balances that defined our national government. And if that's not enough, our first president gave Alexander Hamilton the means to invent our free-market economy.
Like our digital-age founding fathers, Washington was far from perfect. Ron Charnow won a Pulitzer Prize for rendering our first president's battle to overcome a nasty temper and deep inner doubts in his great biography,
Washington: A Life
"People felt the inner force of his nature," Charnow wrote, "Even if they didn't exactly hear it or see it."
The sense of the pure power of George Washington, though, is best rendered in David McCullough's also Pulitzer Prize-winning classic,
. In spite of being beaten on the field over and over by superior British and German forces, as general of the Continental Army Washington elects to attack Trenton on Christmas Day. And like many a night fight before, it all goes wrong. Ice and wind lock two of his three units on the wrong side of the Delaware. Somehow, Washington and his tiny force make it across, but it takes way too much time and any chance of a safe retreat is lost.
"I knew well I could not reach [Trenton] before day was fairly broke, but as I was certain that there was no making a retreat, I determined to push on at all events," Washington would later write to John Hancock.