Beginning with our founding in 1776, and continuing to this day, America has faced numerous crises. At each of these times an individual has stepped forward to lead the resistance and preserve our cherished liberty and freedom. Without these special, though flawed, patriotic warriors who stepped forward in time of crises, America today would likely still be a British colony with no Declaration of Independence, no Constitution, and little freedom. These “shores of freedom” have been preserved, not by the upright and timid, but through the leadership of “Flawed Patriot Warriors.”
Among the first of these was George Washington, Commander of the Continental Army and our 1st president. Had it not been for the courage and dedication to liberty of George Washington, The American Revolution might well have failed. In his day he was considered one of America’s greatest patriot warriors. Yet, George Washington was engaged in one of the most brutal and reprehensible practices of his day; the ownership of other human beings. Slavery was openly practiced throughout the South and was considered an economic necessity. While Washington did free his slave in his will, he spent his entire lifetime using them to advance his economic goals. Even so, when the life of the young nation was in peril Washington rose to the occasion as a flawed patriot warrior.
Thomas Jefferson penned our Declaration of Independence. Considered a genius in his own day, Jefferson, our 3rd president, was admired as one of the founding fathers of America. He is widely known for his dedication to freedom and liberty. We hear many patriots today quoting the inspiring words of Thomas Jefferson. The Jefferson monument in Washington, D.C. is one of the most impressive and most visited sites in our capital. Yet, in recent years DNA testing has proven what was widely rumored during his live time. For a number of years Jefferson carried out and adulterous relationship with a young slave girl named Sally Hemming. She was forced to comply with his desires and as a result bore him several illegitimate children. Even so, when the British Empire imposed impossible regulations on the colonies, Jefferson rose to become a flawed patriot warrior.
Benjamin Franklin was the only man to sign all four of our founding documents; the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Treaty of Tripoli. He is also revered as one of our founding fathers. Yet, because the lady he loved, Deborah Read had been married and never divorced the two entered into an adulterous common law relationship. In addition, Franklin fathered an illegitimate son named William by a different woman. Even during his lifetime, Franklin was noted for his wide spread philandering, both in America and abroad. However, like Jefferson, the 71 year old Franklin took his stand along with the other flawed patriot warriors to found our nation of freedom.
In 1812 America was again attacked by the British Empire. Several battles were lost, yet the decisive battle was the Battle of New Orleans. In this battle Andrew Jackson teamed up with the notorious pirate, Jean Lafitte. Jackson had moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1788 where he became acquainted Rachael Donelson Robards. At the time, Rachel Robards was in an unhappy marriage with Captain Lewis Robards. The two were separated in 1790. According to Jackson, he married Rachel after hearing that Robards had obtained a divorce. However, the divorce had never been completed, making Rachel’s marriage to Jackson technically bigamous and therefore invalid. After the divorce was officially completed, Rachel and Jackson remarried in 1794. To complicate matters further, evidence shows that Rachael had been living with Jackson and referred to herself as Mrs. Jackson long before the petition for divorce was even filed. Jackson had the reputation of being a quarrelsome and vengeful man. In 1806 Jackson shot and killed Charles Dickinson in a duel because he had written an article critical of Rachael. Lafitte has been described as, “A man with a thousand vices and one virtue.” Nevertheless, when our young nation was struggling for survival, he and Andrew Jackson stood together to defeat a far superior British army and preserved our nation and our freedom. Once again two flawed patriot warriors rose up and stood together in a time of national crises. In 1829 America chose Jackson as our 7th president.
Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, was revered as the man who preserved our nation during the bitter struggle known as the Civil War. Rising from a backwoods lawyer, he rose to the highest position of power in America. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is a shrine to his greatness. What few know is that, both during his life, and even now, rumors persist that Lincoln may have had homosexual tendencies. True or not, for most people perception is reality. In addition, he was considered arrogant, dictatorial and divisive. Yet at a time of America’s greatest internal crises, Lincoln rose to become a flawed patriot warrior.
Franklin Roosevelt our 32nd president successfully brought America through the Great Depression. His leadership skills and political acumen comforted a nation during the most depressing of times. Famous for his “Fireside Chats with the Nation,” he successfully let the allies through WWII, although he did not live to see the final victory. Even so, Roosevelt was anything but a devoted husband. When Eleanor discovered Franklin’s adulterous relationship with her personal secretary, Lucy Mercer, she gave Franklin an ultimatum: stop seeing Lucy or she would obtain a divorce. Roosevelt did not want to sacrifice his political career, so he promised never to see his mistress again. However, Roosevelt continued to see Lucy over the years and was with her at the time of his death. Nevertheless, when the very economic system of America was on life support and WWII was raging in Europe, Roosevelt stepped forward to lead the nation as a flawed patriot warrior.
Dwight Eisenhower was considered one of the greatest military minds of his generation. As Supreme Allied Commander, Eisenhower led the allied forces to victory in WWII then returned home to become our 34th president. However, during his tour of duty in Europe, there is strong evidence that Eisenhower had an adulterous relationship with his driver, Kay Summersby. Even so, no one can deny his military competence, his strong leadership skills and his love of America. He was elected president in spite of the rumors of his infidelity. Once again Americans opted for a flawed patriot warrior to lead America during the peacetime recovery.
John F. Kennedy our 35th president was widely known for his various adulterous relationships. His relationships with Hollywood starlets, including Marilyn Monroe, were the least kept secretes in Washington. Yet his is considered to have been one of our better presidents. With regard to adultery, he was surpassed by our 42nd president, Bill Clinton who’s various adulterous relationships, including charges of rape, did not prevent him from being elected and re-elected. In both cases, the American public chose to overlook their flaws, and instead, opt for their leadership qualities.
Ronald Reagan, our 40th president is arguably one of the best presidents to ever occupy the Oval Office. He came at a time of great distress and high unemployment. A great malaise had settled over our nation. Many people believed America’s best days were in the past. The Republican elite argued that Reagan had no business experience, was a right wing radical, a class B actor, and to divisive to ever unite the electorate and defeat Jimmy Carter. Their candidate was George H.W. Bush, a Washington insider and acceptable as one of them. Reagan ran on a platform of “Morning in America” and following his victory in the primaries, won a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter. However, like so many others patriot warriors Reagan came with baggage. He was a member of the Hollywood class and in 1948 his first wife, Jane Wyman, had divorced him. He is the only US president to have been divorced and remarried. Yet, in spite of his “baggage,” Ronald Reagan stands with the best of our flawed patriot warriors and is today considered one of our greatest presidents.
Today America stands at a crossroads. It is for all practical purposes a repeat of 1980. America is faced with a choice. Once again the Republican elite have chosen their candidate. Once again the people have chosen theirs. We hear the same criticisms leveled at Newt Gingrich today as were leveled at Ronald Reagan in 1980. Newt is no angel, but he is a fierce fighter, though flawed patriot warrior, who will represent the people. The elite know this and want a “get along- go along Massachusetts Moderate” who will not upset their positions of power. They fear Newt because they know he will. So, will it be the candidate of the Washington elite or the flawed patriot warrior? America’s choice will be reflected in Florida on January 31st.