"Does George Washington still matter? The bestselling author argues for his unique contribution to the forging of America by retracing his journey as a new President through the former colonies, now an unsure nation. A new first-person voice for Philbrick, weaving history and personal reflection into one narrative. When George Washington became president in 1798, the United States of America was still a loose and quarrelsome confederation and a tentative political experiment. Washington undertook a tour of the ex-colonies to talk to ordinary citizens about their lives and their feelings about his new government, and to imbue in them the idea of being one thing--Americans. Nathaniel Philbrick embarked on his own journey into what Washington called "the infant woody country"--and to see for himself what it had become in the 230 years since. Writing in a thoughtful first person about his own adventures with his travel companions (wife and puppy), Philbrick follows the tour of America that Washington went on after becoming President--an almost 2,000-mile journey from Mount Vernon to the new capital in New York, a tour of New England, a venture out across Long Island, and into the hinterlands of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The narrative moves smoothly back and forth from the eighteenth to twenty-first centuries, so we see the country through Washington's eyes as well as Philbrick's. Written at a moment when America's foundational ideals--or claims to them--are under scrutiny, Travels with George grapples bluntly and honestly with George Washington's legacy as a man of the people, a mythical figure of the early republic, a reluctant President, and a plantation owner who held people in slavery. At historic houses and landmarks, Philbrick reports on the reinterpretations at work, as well as meeting reenactors and other keepers of the flame. He paints a picture of 18th century America as divided and fraught as it is today, and he comes to understand how Washington entranced, compelled, enticed, and stood up to the many different kinds of citizens he met on this journey--and how through belief, vision, and sheer will he convinced them that they were now all Americans, creating a sense of national solidarity that had never existed before"--
Includes bibliographical references (pages -358) and index.