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George Washington was an “Exemplar-in-Chief” who had an indelible influence on the nature and character of the early Continental Army, an influence that set the precedence and affected how the United States military would interact with civil authority under the new institution of a democratic republic.
Through an analysis of the historical record there are multiple examples of George Washington’s early influence in shaping the nature and character of the United States military. Today’s American military is a direct descendant of the early Continental Army which fought the War for Independence, and was shaped by Washington’s influence. In analyzing Washington’s motives, actions, to include correspondence and court martial rulings, this study will attempt to open a window into understanding Washington’s influence on the Continental Army and, therefore, the American military tradition among the officer corps to the present day.
Washington was not just a Command-in-Chief, but an Exemplar-in-Chief who left a lasting impression on the American military structure, that has held strong for over two hundred years. Through his actions during the creation of the army and leading that army during the Revolution, he forever set the framework for the civil-military tradition which has never seen a credible or serious military coup. The character and nature of today’s military will not permit an environment that would allow a military coup to begin. This character and nature is a direct result of the profound significance of George Washington’s motives in joining the cause and his actions during the struggle. Washington’s influence is not only significant.... it cemented the military subordination to civilian authority which has lasted till today.