American Hero - Father of Our Country
Jay shares thoughts on Presidents' Day from our nation’s capital – celebrating the birthdays of two of our greatest Americans, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
General George Washington is widely celebrated as the leader of our American troops – victorious in the Revolutionary War. We owe this remarkable man so very much. The defeat of the British Empire. Securing our path to freedom. And so much more. As a result, we often think of George Washington in terms of his remarkable military achievements. However, make no mistake about it, Washington’s accomplishments as President were of at least equal significance – establishing precedents that are still in place today, cementing our elected form of government, and providing the inspirational leadership to rally a uniquely American sense of pride and nation. We are indeed fortunate that George Washington served as our first President
This coming Monday we celebrate Presidents' Day. It’s a holiday with a rather ambiguous name that most of us might associate with a day off from school or work, an extra day on the slopes, or some pretty good sales. But its foundations are actually rooted in a birthday celebration for two men who undeniably helped this country persevere through some of its toughest moments, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. We’ve often spoken about Abraham Lincoln in the Sunshine Report and his enduring legacy of seeing us through the Civil War. But what about that of our first president, whose presidency many scholars believe to have put our then burgeoning nation on a trajectory that allowed it to now endure more than 230 years?
Well known as the leader of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, beyond being our first president, his legacy as President may not be common knowledge. We may take the idea of democracy for granted today, but it’s important we don’t forget that when Washington first took office, the world over was ruled by monarchs and tyrants, single heads of state who ruled with absolute power. As the first president of a participatory democracy, he had to carefully balance establishing himself as the chief executive so as to govern effectively, while trying to avoid appearing as a monarch or dictator. Not only that, much of what he did while in office helped keep our youthful nation together in the face of those still loyal to the crown, while establishing traditions and presidential norms that still exist to this day.
Even in the face of personal attacks, not only against him but his family, he praised dissent, a free press, all in the interest of free thought. He believed that any person serving in the role of president should be limited to two terms, long observed as a norm, and ultimately becoming law in the 22nd Amendment after World War II. When first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Jay resigned, he chose from outside the court, setting an important legal precedent that members of the court can come from beyond the bench. He would even support and sign legislative bills sent to him from Congress that he disagreed with but viewed as not being in conflict with the Constitution, setting a precedent of executive restraint that helped legitimize the checks and balances of our governing system.
It’s almost unanimously agreed upon by scholars that George Washington was one of the few presidents who never sought to seek personal gain from his position and acted solely to see his newly founded nation through the early days of democratic statehood. And though his legacy certainly doesn’t end there, these few examples are enough to demonstrate the impact his presidency had upon our nation and give credence to the celebration of President’s Day this weekend.
George Washington and a Bit of New England History
In 1789, newly inaugurated President George Washington visited New England both to celebrate the birth of our government and to seek wisdom from its people. Though Vice President John Adams from Massachusetts had declined to go on the tour with him, Washington was received from Boston to Portsmouth with much pomp, ceremony, joy and celebration as he was seen as the embodiment of the new federal government.
However, the New England that Washington visited was not the one that we know today. There were only three ratified states at the time: Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Washington would have his hand in eventually accepting two other New England states. As president, Washington accepted five states: North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, in addition to the New England states of Rhode Island and Vermont. Washington would tour Rhode Island later in 1789 when it became the last of the thirteen colonies to be ratified into the Union
The acceptance of Vermont was a bit trickier. As the first state accepted into the Union not originally a colony, Vermont had a complicated history with its two of its neighboring colonies, New Hampshire and New York. The border between Vermont and New Hampshire had been in dispute since the late 1740’s when Royal Governor Benning Wentworth gave charters to New Hampshire towns located across the Connecticut River in what is now Vermont while meanwhile giving Vermont territory overlapping with land also granted to New York. Being caught between two colonies, the people of Vermont did not want to send representation to either of the colonial capitals of Albany or Exeter and decided to create their own republic. Created in Windsor Vermont, the new Republic encompassed many towns in the Connecticut River Valley, including sixteen towns in New Hampshire that did not want to send representatives to far-away Exeter.
In 1791, Washington presented to Congress the admittance of Vermont into the Union, under the condition that they give back the New Hampshire towns on the east side of the river and maintain the Connecticut River as the border. Thus, although a Virginian, Washington clearly had a formative hand as to what New England looks like today. So, in yet another instance, as seen here, George Washington was truly a creative force in establishing the great country we now have and enjoy today.
Please Join Us Next Friday - 3D Printing of Houses
As we at the Sunshine Initiative work to revitalize our small towns and communities, we are always on the lookout for the latest and most innovative approaches that can solve important problems and propel our communities forward. With this in mind, we are delighted to be sponsoring a visit to New Hampshire from Zack Mannheimer, CEO of Alquist 3D. Zack and his team are the leaders in the U.S. when it comes to 3D printed homes – they just produced the first 3D printed livable home in the country for Habitat for Humanity. CNN and Fox News have recently highlighted Alquist 3D’s amazing work.
Next week, Zack is working with the Sunshine Initiative on a project to help reimagine the beautiful Ruger Mill and the continued revitalization of Newport, NH. And while he’s here, we’ve invited him to do a presentation at a Manchester factory that’s recently been wonderfully renovated by Liz Hitchcock and her team – The Factory on Willow. On Friday, February 25th, he’ll address a group of people interested in helping solve our housing crisis. The event will bring together interested individuals representing a cross section from business, government, nonprofits, and professional services.
Here is what what Zack has to say about Alquist 3D….
“We bring a new vitality to smaller communities by creating affordable, sustainable, innovative homes. Using state-of-the-art 3D printing technology, Alquist helps lift economically distressed and under-served communities by lowering the cost of building the single-family, multifamily, mixed-use, and senior-living homes they need to thrive.”
We at the Sunshine Initiative are very excited to have Zack join us because his mission is so well aligned with our revitalization efforts which are now gathering steam in Laconia, Rochester, and the Westside of Manchester, in addition to our progress in Newport. When communities are struggling economically, they are usually also suffering from a ‘poverty of hope.’ That’s why the Sunshine Initiative along with Alquist 3D are excited to be working together to bring positivity and hope to communities throughout New Hampshire in the form of new 3D printed homes.
Please join us on Friday, February 25th at noon at the Factory on Willow, 252 Willow Street in Manchester to attend this amazing presentation. Meanwhile you might also enjoy watching these video links that that share the remarkable story of Alquist and 3D printing:
Positive Profile of the Week – Eric Chinburg
We are delighted this week to highlight a true leader in the New Hampshire business community and a great friend, Eric Chinburg.
Eric is one of the most prolific homebuilders in New England. He has been at the forefront of the revival of some of the most forgotten towns and cities – throughout northern New England, spearheading multiple successful projects throughout New Hampshire and Maine. His work provides much needed new life into local communities. Eric’s family owned business grew from a small footprint to now being the largest builder of homes in the Seacoast region. He did this by focusing on the company’s values of integrity, honesty and quality. I would add community to that list as well!
One of the areas that Eric prides himself on is the focus on new constructions being energy efficient. With the increasingly challenging utility rates in New England, these new design techniques are critical in addressing the growing problem of energy demand. This has contributed to Eric’s great success as well as being environmentally friendly. A true win-win for all involved.
Recently, Eric has been active developing properties closer to my hometown of Newport with the acquisition of historic buildings in downtown Claremont. These efforts will bring new energy and life to downtown Claremont and will help in the revitalization of this once-thriving community. It’s exciting to see our small towns and cities beginning to see population growth as they start to enjoy renewed life. Importantly, as well, a hallmark of Eric’s work is a commitment to preserving and building upon the unique history of each community. And, in so doing, his projects serve to remind people of just how far our small towns and cities have come!
Thank you, Eric! Your work is truly making a significant and positive difference!
Quotes of the Week: By George Washington
“The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”
“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
”Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.”
“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”