WINNER: TOP 25 LIBERTARIAN DOCUMENTARIES
The story of George Washington and his pivotal role in the American Revolution is told in this moving documentary. George Washington: The Man Who Wouldn’t Be King credits: [Dir: David Sutherland/ 60 min/ Documentary-Educational, Biography/ American Revolution]
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“He began as a grasping, land-hungry, young surveyor. Somehow, he made himself a general who could win a revolution. Then he did what no general had done in a thousand years. When he could have seized power and made himself king, he handed in his commission and seized history instead.” According to this PBS biography, Washington was the essential man who turned the American Revolution from a theoretical ideal into a reality.
He was the first to put his life on the line against the British; he led his ill-trained and undersupplied troops in battle for eight long years, inspiring his men to keep fighting even when all appeared lost; and most importantly, at the end of the war, when his officers urged a coup d’état because they had not been paid by Congress as promised, he alone faced them down. Here is a person indeed worthy of libertarian hero worship, and his achievements are given due respect in this biography.
One flaw in the film, however, is that Washington’s early, aggressive acquisition of land is treated almost as though it were a stain on his character, not just because some of his actions in acquiring land may have been wrong, but because they reflect greed. One gets the impression that the makers of this film felt that Washington’s material ambition, which made everything else he did possible, was in itself demeaning. This minor point takes away little from the overall effect, but libertarians will be sensitive to it.
In other respects, this film is competently put together in the usual PBS style, with a number of expert viewpoints and reenactments woven into an interesting story. It will instill new admiration for this essential man, without whom the U.S. might have remained a British colony, or worse, become a military dictatorship.