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The Digital Skeptic: The Web as Founded by George Washington

Facing what any sane man would consider near certain defeat and probable death, Washington marches on to surprise and prevail over King George's Hessian mercenaries and notch a critical early win in the American war for independence.

Now, our digital-age leaders are smart enough, I suppose. But do any of them have that kind of guts? I doubt it

Washington's letter to investors
What's deflating about Washington is that his place in history is muted mostly because he's viewed as an intellectual second-rower when compared with America's other top chief executives, such as Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt. But if investors actually take the time to read Washington's words, they'll find some of the most literate, compassionate and downright useful thinking produced by any U.S. leader.

I am particularly stirred by Washington's Circular to the States, written June 8, 1783, just days after the English capitulation. "When we consider the magnitude of the prize we contended for, the doubtful nature of the contest and the favorable manner in which it has terminated," he wrote, "We shall find the greatest possible reason for gratitude and rejoicing."

This letter -- almost St. Paul-like -- goes on to dive deeply into the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for a young and still vulnerable country.

"It appears to me there is an option still left to the United States of America, that it is in their choice, and depends upon their conduct, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a Nation," he wrote.

Washington then breaks the task ahead into four simple steps -- to have a union of states under one federal head; a sacred regard for justice; the adoption of a proper peace establishment; and, finally:

Among the people of the United States, there must be a means to "induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity," Washington wrote. "And in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the Community."

The letter leads investors to an interesting set of ideas: What if a smart, capable and deeply good man such as Washington had the same hand in creating the Web that he had in creating our country? Chances are the complexities we now struggle with online of balancing our freedom with the needs of private property, security and profit would not be afterthoughts.

They'd be core values.

To these tired eyes, the Web Washington would have built would have been like the America he did build: a beacon of prosperity to the world. Not the lawless Sierra Leone we currently hustle around in. A land where the few enrich themselves and most go hungry.

A country can only be lucky every so often, I suppose.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
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