Letter from American History – February 2010

By American History editors
11/24/2009 • AH Issues

Washington’s Prudence

During the early stages of the Revolutionary War, patriot leaders hoped Canadians would recognize the righteousness of their struggle against imperial tyranny and join the resistance. But when George Washington launched a surprise assault on the British garrison at Quebec in the fall of 1775, no one could predict with any certainty how receptive the local French Catholic population would be. “Much to his credit, Washington understood the move was a gamble,” says Ray Raphael, author of Founders: The People Who Brought You a Nation. In our cover story, “George Washington’s Five Rules for How to Wage War Honorably,” Raphael reveals how our first commander in chief “hedged his bets by issuing cautionary instructions on how American officers and troops should conduct themselves on foreign soil—words that are just as relevant today as they were then.”

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