The first picture identified a key factor and no, the cherry tree incident is not thought to have been true, but rather representative of George's responsibility at a young age for acting as a man of the house. You see, George lost his father at age eleven and that required for him to assume responsibilities for his family, a common occurrence in Colonial times. George was, indeed, a responsible young man who loved his mother and it showed in his maturity and taking his responsibilities seriously. The result was the family finding its way through the difficult time with positive consequences and it helped George develop the ability to focus on goals and ultimately accomplish them.
Picture two shows George as the Commander of the Continental Army some thirty years later. At the time of the picture showing the approach by water across the Delaware River toward New Jersey and Trenton, Washington's Army was in tatters, hungry and without proper winter clothing and many without boots. the Revolutionary War was on the verge of ending disastrously before the battle really got started and Washington knew he needed a victory if he expected the Continental Congress to provide the provisions to continue on. Yet despite their hardships, Washington's men remained determined to fight, much of that determination coming from their general's leadership, and the victory that occurred in the early hours of the morning after Christmas 1776 lit the light of hope that sparked the ensuing energy to and drive which would lead nearly five years later to the British surrender at Yorktown.
The ensuring years, 1782 through 1788 were wrought with difficulty as the new nation struggled with organizing itself and was dealing with factionalism among the thirteen colonies. Yet, somehow the effort stayed alive until the Constitution was finally written creating the experiment in a representative democratic republican type of governance that was a marvel of the world. Oh, it wasn't finished in its entirety until the Bill of Rights was finally approved after the election by the representatives of the people of a man to lead the new nation. As we all know, that man was the former Continental Army Commanding General, George Washington. He was the perfect choice with his bravery, his stature as a leader of men and his desire to make sure the new nation was led in a way that would preclude the creation of a similar situation to which they had finally escaped, a powerful monarchy not responsive to the people and the quest to maintain freedom. Washington could have asked for and become a monarch, for that would have likely been agreeable to a people who wanted a strong leader but he would have nothing of it, and so the decision to create an elected President of the United States came to fruition.
Looking back at Washington's rise from a boy with no father to leadership of what would become later the most powerful nation on earth, it becomes obvious, at least to me, that this man's presence was pre-ordained by a greater power than man himself. After all, Washington spent time as young man as a surveyor, a dangerous occupation out in the wilderness where tragedies were so common. As a military leader, many reports were submitted by his subordinates saying that his ability to avoid almost certain death in combat had to be attributed to something much more powerful than he and, as the man selected to lead the land, he was obviously guided by principles and beliefs contrary to what so many others might have done when faltering could have made him a very wealthy and lifelong leader. That things turned out the way they did tell me that they were ordained by Mighty Providence, and it was his place in history to carry that forth. And that, my friends, is why I truly rate George Washington as the greatest President in American history, for if any of those things in his life had been different, our story as a nation could have been much different with a less remarkable outcome or even outright failure. Happy birthday to the late and great George Washington, for on this day the lamp of freedom shines brightly all over the fruited plain. It's a day to truly be proud of being an American.