Washington was voted the ‘greatest ever foe’ according to the British National Army Museum, ranking above others such as Napoleon and Michael Collins. Accroding to the pole, you had to take the field against the British, so this excluded people like Hitler.

Washington lost more battles against the British than he won, but his remarkable ability to keep together an largely unpaid and untrained army while building support for the American cause was remarkable.  Washington insisted that his troops refrain from pillaging the countryside and that they treat British and Hessian prisoners compassionately (while they often did not reciprocate the favor). The way he prosecuted the war both militarily and politically was the core of Washington’s genius. He set the tone for the American war efforts for generations to come.   I recommend General George Washington by Edward Lengel for a great perspective on this.

But yet, I think this story summarizes things best:

Ethan Allen, an American Revolutionary War hero, went to England years after the war was over and stayed at the home of a business associate. The Englishman wanted to play a joke on Allen, so he hung the picture of George Washington in the outhouse. Eventually, Ethan Allen had to answer nature’s call, and the Englishman anxiously awaited Allen’s reaction. Allen came back in the house, and said nothing.

Curious, the Englishman asked, “Did you find the outhouse okay?” Allen replied, “Yep.”

The Englishman asked “Well, did you notice the picture?” Allen replied, “Yep.”

The perplexed Englishman kep on, “That’s a picture of George Washington, right?” Allen replied, “Yep.”

Finally, the Englishman asked, “Well, did you think that an outhouse was an appropriate place to hang a picture of the father of your country?”

Allen explained, “I thought it was VERY appropriate. Because everyone knows that there is nothing that will make an Englishman crap faster than seeing George Washington!”

Now if we want to have a poll on who gave the greatest whipping to an English in a single day, then I would be hard pressed think of someone who did it better than Andrew Jackson at the battle of New Orleans.