Washington on leadership

Washington on leadership
George Washington, after 1796, by Gilbert Stuart (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute)

During the course of my research into the history of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, I came across a passage that was reflective of George Washington’s attitude regarding leadership, specifically command of an army.

Washington fully appreciated the saying “that an army of asses led by a lion is vastly superior to an army of lions led by an ass:” hence his solicitude, to the day of his death, to see established a national school for the education of officers. With good generals, he knew an effective army might be created out of the most unpromising materials; of which we have the best proof in the examples of Portuguese and Hindoos under British, and Italians under French commanders.1 (emphasis added)

May we have a lion in charge.


  1. Bvt. Maj.-Gen. George W. Cullum, Colonel of Engineers, U.S. Army, Retired,Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. from its Establishment, in 1802, to 1890 with the Early History of the United States Military Academy, (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1891; Third Edition), 9.
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