from the inquiring mind of
children's book author and educator
Barbara Jean Hicks,
Despite the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971 (an act which retailers surely embraced with enthusiasm), today, February 22, is the birthday of George Washington. By almost any account of U.S. history, Washington was a Great Man.
The mid 19th century spawned two opposing views of history. Thomas Carlyle espoused the Great Man Theory, the idea that history can be largely explained by "great men"--persons of great charisma, intelligence or political skill who used their powers in ways that changed life, for either good or ill, for the human race. Herbert Spencer countered that such "great men" (no mention of women in either argument!) were simply the products of the societies into which they were born, men who appeared at the right moment to promote changes that were already underway in a larger social context.