Monday, February 15, 2010
Seeing as it was President's Day today, I thought I would do a special post about George Washington and William Wallace. Ever since Washington stepped onto the pages of history, people have likened him to William Wallace.
As men, they were very much alike. Physically, they were both known to be very strong and tall. They were also known to go into battle with their men and lead them from the fore unlike most generals who would either charge at the rear or stay out of the way to observe. They were men of action, and the men who fought under them respected them greatly for it. Wallace was an outlaw and was probably a bit more desperate at times then Washington, but you have to consider the time periods they lived in. Wallace lived in the 1200s where it was pretty much do or die and by the 1700s when Washington fought, warfare had taken on a more honorable approach. It actually had rules and people didn't just go around with broadswords hacking and slashing! In today's times, both the men are seen as their country's national heroes. They both fought for the freedom of their country; Wallace was made Guardian of Scotland, and Washington was made President, and they never swayed in their duty. Wallace even died for his country because he wouldn't swear his allegiance to England. And even though he did not personally win his country's freedom like George Washington did, his charisma and his horrid murder spurred Robert Bruce and many other men to take a stand, resulting, in turn, the winning of Scotland's freedom.
Another thing to point out is that the time periods the men lived in were very much alike, in a national situation anyway. Both Scotland and America in the times of Wallace and Washington were oppressed by England who thought they owned the lands. But the two men stood up and defied their oppression--Wallace when no one else would--and fought for what they believed in.
This is an interesting story that not many people know: After George Washington was inaugurated president, he received a small snuff box from the Scottish Earl of Buchan. The reason this box was so special was because it was made of an oak known as the Wallace Oak. It gained its name because legend states that it sheltered Wallace after his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. Many things have been made out of it, including this snuff box that was made for the Earl of Buchan by a jeweler in Edinburgh. The Earl passed it on to George Washington and called him the American Wallace in honor of his defeat of England. (In other words, he was saying "Nice Going!") Washington was very touched by the gift and promised to return it after he had died so that it could reside in Scotland. (If everyone was as thoughtful as Washington, Scotland would have twice as many artifacts as they have now!) Unfortunately, after Washington's death, it was stolen in a stagecoach raid in the early 1800s. No one knows what happened to it today. I personally think it is still out there somewhere. If anyone happens to run across it in the most unlikely place, please make sure it gets back to Scotland!
So here's a bit of history on two men who lived about five hundred years apart and yet almost shared a history. History does really repeat itself. Tomorrow, I will post some more on the Wallace Box like the letters of correspondence that Washington sent to the Earl of Buchan upon receiving the gift.