“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example everlasting...”

—Congressman Henry Lee, 1799

The American Revolutionary War hung in the balance. Fort Lee was abandoned, and George Washington had moved his troops to safety behind the Delaware River. Defeat hung in the air, thick as smog, as the demoralized troops began to fall apart. Sickness and desertion rates increased, with more than a third of Washington’s soldiers requiring hospital care. Commander-in-Chief George Washington anguished; he needed to do something.

At this low point in the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, a popular writer thanks to the publication of “Common Sense” published a new pamphlet with words that addressed this defining moment:

“These are times that try men's souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

When Paine’s words were published, the troops were encamped at what has come to be known as Washington Crossing. Within a day, General Washington ordered Paine’s writing to be read aloud to the troops, to boost their morale. Indeed, the words stirred the troops to renewed inspiration as Washington finalized his plans for a daring night crossing of the Delaware River.

On December 26, 1776, at about 3 a.m., Washington marched approximately 2,700 soldiers off the Jersey Bank of the Delaware River, resolved to take victory. The Battle of Trenton proved to be a pivotal point in the American Revolution. Although not much territory was gained, it proved something crucial to the burgeoning nation’s band of unrefined soldiers and anxious countrymen—that their quest for independence could succeed. The battle was a turning point in regaining control of the war, and eventually securing independence for the fledgling nation.

Because of actions like his leadership during that brave winter crossing, the American people saw that Washington was a man of virtue, character and peace. He offered a firm warning against partisanship in domestic politics and called for Americans to work for the common good. He was persuaded to attend the Constitutional Convention of 1787, where he was unanimously elected President of the Convention. It was at this Convention that the office of the Presidency was designed.

On April 30, 1789, in New York City, George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States. He is the only president to have received 100 percent of electoral votes. When the office was established, Congress voted to pay a salary of $25,000, a large sum of money at the time. Already wealthy and viewing himself as a public servant, Washington turned the salary down, although he later accepted it so that the office of the president would not be limited to only the wealthy.

George Washington remains an emblem of wisdom and foresight in the face of adversity. The iconic painting of his crossing of the Delaware portrays him as many the world over still envision him today—as a tremendous leader who built character, expected greatness, and inspired loyalty in a new nation.

Leadership. Pass It On!

This billboard about Leadership features George Washington (1732-1799), First President of the United Statesof America.

Pass It On®

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Your Comments
Anonymous JULY 22, 2018

Anonymous MARCH 1, 2018
This was very good

Virginia from 3243 N. Lehi Utah 84043 AUGUST 3, 2017
We all need to have the values of George Washington. He is my hero.

Linda from CT SEPTEMBER 30, 2016
Great article!

Timothy Chambers from Fishers IN AUGUST 16, 2016
Freaking George Washington... He was one of many of American Heroes. Except General Washington is widely know throughout the World

Otessarah from Houston  APRIL 25, 2016
This is very inspiring

Skeeter from USA OCTOBER 3, 2013

Tommy S. from Wisconsin, U.S.A. DECEMBER 12, 2012
George Washington is a momental figure of history.

gt from florida AUGUST 5, 2012
God gave us George for a reason. George was a faithful servant, and he helped establish America. Oh for another George to come along in these perilous times.

KobraKai from Omaha, NE JULY 10, 2012
After the Treaty of Paris was finally signed and American independence made official, King George III asked his American painter, Benjamin West, what George Washington would do now that the war was won. West answered, "They say he will return to his farm". The incredulous King responded, "If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world." Point being that everyone... in Europe and in the thirteen American colonies... all assumed that George Washington with the army at his back and only a completely powerless congress at his front, would crown himself king and rule America as a benevolent despot. That was the way things worked in 1783 and nobody could comprehend any other outcome. However, as he did so many times before and after, Washington broke the mold. He DID resign his commission and happily returned to being a gentleman farmer in his beloved Virginia. Later, after being drafted to be our first president and serving two terms, he set another precedent by again returning to Virginia and allowing a peaceful transfer of power to another elected president. Today, this may not seem all that incredible, but in 1797, it was unheard of. Remember, only a few years later, France's revolution would be co-opted by a successful military man who not only refused to walk away when the war was over, but refused to even understand that the war was over at all... until Europe was in flames and he was sent to St. Helena in chains.

alec deford from indianapolis, indiana MARCH 22, 2012
George Washington was awesome. Great man.... great man!!!

Emma D from USA OCTOBER 4, 2011
George was a great leader in his time...we need him now! Our country needs him now!

Anneliese from Arizona  SEPTEMBER 27, 2011
When I was 4 years old i thought you were still alive. Until my dad had a talk with me. You have always been my favorite president and always will be

Patrick from Washington Crossing, PA JUNE 10, 2011
Yes, I live in the town where the troops departed from, and I have a framed painting of that billboard in the living room. This was the battle that pushed a small snowball down a hill...and became a giant avalanche of victory that helped solidify our country.

george from 426 JANUARY 31, 2011
george washington is the greatest man

E. Noble from Ohio JANUARY 4, 2011
Love this project, site, ideas, initiative. Even a fan of Washington. Not this particular battle though. Washington (against his will some say) led this attack Christmas night which is generally a time of understood universal truce. It was a cheap shot as far as battles go. I approve of taking advantages, but not in a situation of universal unspoken peace!

robert c from 23505 DECEMBER 17, 2010
Our nations most if not ONLY indispensible man during the revolutionary war for independence! If he gave up, we would not exist,period!

Pat from Russia, New York NOVEMBER 18, 2010
George Washington is the true hero of his time, who then is the true hero of our time?

LaVar Christensen from Salt Lake City  SEPTEMBER 18, 2010
This is my favorite. Thank you.

Lena Z. from Philadephia, PA JUNE 5, 2010
I have always looked up in wonder at George Washington. His actions have yet to be repeated or at that time, yet to be seen. His surrender of power and refusal to become king set a precedent and secured him a place among the greats such as Cincinnatus. I am continuously inspired by this great man.

Neco A from Lexington MAY 21, 2010
This dude is off the hook.

Tyler F. from Lexington SC MAY 21, 2010
George, I think you are the best general in the entire world!

Wade L. from Westminster, CO JANUARY 20, 2010
This billboard is tight.

Hunter C. from Bonita Springs, Florida JANUARY 6, 2010
Leadership is when ordinary people achieve extraordinary results.

Casey B from Port Murray, NJ JANUARY 3, 2010
I would love it if you could have lessons on these values to teach in the classroom. Students need to learn about character as well as core subjects. Great site, and great billboards.

Angie from Hong Kong DECEMBER 13, 2009
I think this website is pretty good. Good sharing... thanks.

EdanM. from DeWitt,IA 52742 NOVEMBER 9, 2009
I think that this is a awesome website and would totally recommend it.

John K from Statham Georgia AUGUST 30, 2009
In that cold New Jersey winter so long ago the Father of our Country did what no one else could do!

Sarah T. from Utah AUGUST 30, 2009
This one is one of my favorites. Among the many inspiring attributes of George Washington was his belief in what we could become and achieve if we held true to what really set us apart; our ideals.

Scott C. from New Castle, Indiana AUGUST 29, 2009
The best part of the story of George Washington is what happened after the Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown. He was basically offered the chance to be King. Washington turned it down out of hand, declaring that he had had enough of monarchs. He set the standard very high.

Kathy G. from Kentucky JUNE 16, 2009
I just saw this billboard today on way home from work. This was not there yesterday. I had to check out this site; looked at some of the other 'values' billboards, my favorite so far is 'Preparation'; that photo still amazes me.

Steve S. from Michigan MAY 18, 2009
I think George Washington was an inspiration to us all as a strong leader and he made America come true by fighting off the British and making us into a free country.

Vinay P. from Gujarat, India APRIL 1, 2009
One who relieved America of the demeaning foreign presence needs to become a beacon of light for all who strive for freedom.

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