America's first entrepreneur -- George Washington

John Berlau, Senior Fellow for Finance and Access to Capital at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, commemorates Washington's birthday by highlighting a little-known facet of Washington's life: his career as an entrepreneur.

Among his other achievements, Washington built one of America's earliest and most successful whiskey distilleries. As Mr. Berlau points out, Washington's history of entrepreneurship is very relevant to his military and political career:

Washington's lifelong entrepreneurship sheds new light on his fight for liberty and his motivation to develop a constitutional structure in which all were free to develop their many talents. It also provides an effective answer to claims like the recent ranting of a law professor in The New York Times that Americans should “give up on the Constitution” because it is not “remotely rational” to listen to “white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries” and “knew nothing of our present situation.”

In fact, Washington knew more about the “present situation” of entrepreneurs frustrated by government hurdles than most legal academics writing for The New York Times could ever “remotely” hope to.

We would certainly be better off if more of our elected officials had experience in trying to run a small business, and thus understood how taxes, regulations, and inflation hampered entrepreneurship, economic growth, and job creation.


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