His Excellency: George Washington

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His Excellency: George Washington
Author Joseph Ellis
Country United States
Language English
Genre Biography
Publisher Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 320 pp (first edition)
ISBN 1-4000-4031-0 hardcover
ISBN 1-4000-3253-9 paperback
OCLC 54817026
973.4/1/092 B
LC Class E312 .E245 2004

His Excellency: George Washington is a 2004 biography of the first President of the United States, General George Washington. It was written by Joseph Ellis, a professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, who specializes in the founding fathers and the revolutionary and federalist periods.


Events and themes[edit]

In the text, Ellis focuses on three main areas of Washington's life:

According to Ellis, Washington was always searching for a means to control his inner passions and his destiny. He fumed under the control that the British held over him during the Colonial America period; in particular, he was frustrated by the lack of respect offered for his military achievements to granting land claim rights in the west. As a general, he bemoaned the lack of control the fledgling Continental Congress had over the colonies which composed it. (Later as President, he supported legislation to ensure control by the federal government over the states).

As a man forced to make his own destiny, he made the theme of control central to his life, he asserted such control in his decisions at his beloved plantation, Mount Vernon.


  • Preface: The Man In The Moon
  • Chapter One: Interior Regions
  • Chapter Two: The Strenuous Squire
  • Chapter Three: First In War
  • Chapter Four: Destiny's Child
  • Chapter Five: Introspective Interlude
  • Chapter Six: First In Peace
  • Chapter Seven: Testaments


The historian Gordon S. Wood, who has also written about the Revolutionary and federalist periods, wrote in his review in The New Republic that "Ellis's portrait of Washington thus humanizes the man without knocking him off the pedestal where his contemporaries placed him. This Washington is all the greater because he is a real human being with both passions and principles."[1] He also wrote, "Joseph J. Ellis ... has been a one-man historical machine... Ellis has entered the ranks of that tiny group of popular historians, including David McCullough, Walter Isaacson, and Ron Chernow, who sell copies of their books in the tens and even hundreds of thousands."[1]


  1. ^ a b Wood, Gordon (16 December 2004). "His Excellency (New Republic book review)". The New Republic (carried at powells.com). Retrieved 2006-08-04. 

External links[edit]