Informative Speech (Object)General Purpose: To inform about an object.Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about George Washington, the first presidentof the United States of America.Thesis Statement: George Washington’s ability to handle difficult circumstances in warand government grew out of experiences in his early life and his dedication to detail.Introduction I. Attention Getter: Despite what your teachers may have told you, George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree and he did tell quite a few lies when shaping the founding of this nation. A. Who wouldn’t when faced with the series of events he confronted throughout his life? II. Thesis/Introduce Topic: In fact, George Washington’s ability to handle difficult circumstances in government grew out of experiences in his life and his dedication to detail, not some mythic promise to always tell the truth. III. Preview: As a young adult in the British colony of Virginia, Washington sought the respect and pride that accompanied an aristocrat, but that desire almost led him to bankruptcy and forced him to pay closer attention to the economic environment around him in future business dealings. A. Later, when fighting the Revolution he understood how important seemingly simple tasks were to having any hope for success in fighting the British. B. Finally, Washington during the war Washington began to recognize the talents of others, and so he delegated authority and cultivated strong allies within his command to help him accomplish wheat needed to be done.[Transition: Throughout his life Washington exhibited that vision all leaders must have,and it eventually served him well when he became our first president.]Body I. Main point: Washington almost never became president, or even fought in the Revolution because as a young aspiring Virginia gentleman he almost bankrupted himself.
A. Sub-point: Washington inherited most of his land from his family and friends, and the bulk of it was farmland in Virginia. B. Sub-point: Like many upper class aristocratic farmers in his day, Washington farmed mostly tobacco and had it sold in England, but the profits were not large. C. Sub-point: Even in the face of limited profits Washington paid a lot of money for dozens of dessert glasses, a hogskin hunting saddle, a custom made mahogany case with sixteen decanters engraved stationary, and many other expensive items he barely could afford (Ellis, 2004, 49). D. Sub-point: The costs got so high that in 1763 Washington almost ran out of money and was notified by his broker that he was short 1,800 pounds and interest would begin to accrue immediately (Ellis, 2004, 50). 1. Sub-sub-point: Quickly Washington realized he would never be able to pull himself out of debt because of the system, and he blamed the British Empire for his problems. 2. Sub-sub-point: One of the saving graces for Washington was his getting out of tobacco as his main crop, and this move saved him from ruin because tobacco taxes became one of the major contributors to economic problems in the colonies.[Transition: The experience of almost losing his money contributed to his fiscaldiscipline later while president, and the vision that saved his money in this episode wasalso evident in other areas of his life.] II. Main point: Washington lost more battles than he won, but because of his attention to detail and ability to figure out the right risks to take he ended up winning the war. A. Sub-point: Perhaps the most important battle Washington fought was, according to historian Richard Brookhiser, “the battle for sanitation.” 1. Sub-sub-point: In Washington’s time troops did not always build latrines, and often took to relieving themselves in the ditches at the foundation of the fort (Brookhiser, 2008, 14). 2. Sub-sub-point: Only when a German soldier, who helped train the Americans, arrived at Valley Forge, was the practice of building latrines institutionalized in the Regulations for the
Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States (Brookhiser, 2008, 14-15). B. Sub-point: In addition to the latrine issue, Valley Forge also represented another serious problem for Washington: enlistments for most of his men ended in December. 1. Sub-sub-point: Wars during Washington’s time took winter breaks, much like colleges do, to take a break from bad weather and regroup, and the winter of 1776 was no different. 2. Sub-sub-point: In need of a dramatic victory to keep his troops from leaving when enlistments ran out, Washington staged a successful surprise winter attack on a mercenary camp in Trenton on Christmas that year (Moore, 2008, 10).[Transition: Almost losing his money made Washington financially responsible,almost losing his army made him a more efficient strategist, and as I will discussnext, recognizing the talent of others made him a stronger leader.]III. Main point: The forces Washington commanded during the Revolution did not contain a lot of seasoned fighters, so the General was forced to look for skill sets in the unlikeliest of places in order to fight the war. A. Sub- point: One of those Washington identified early on as having the necessary skills and drive to make things happen was Henry Knox. 1. Sub-sub-point: Knox was a bookseller from Boston whose only qualification was that he was well read on engineering (Ellis, 2004, 81). 2. Sub-sub-point: Knox used that knowledge to become the chief artillery officer in Washington’s army and a future confidant during his administration as president. B. Sub-point: In addition to a bookworm, Washington also found a close ally and dependable lieutenant form the ranks of the pacifist Quakers. 1. Sub-sub-point: Nathaniel Greene of Rhode Island was a Quaker, but he supported the war against the British and quickly rose in favor with Washington (Ellis, 2004, 81-82). 2. Sub-sub-point: Washington thought so much of Greene that he named Greene his successor if the General should fall in battle (Ellis, 2004, 81-82).
[Transition: Washington had a knack for knowing when to change crops, how to strike the enemy, and who could be entrusted with difficult tasks, all skills he needed to be successful when he later became president.]Conclusion I. Signpost: In conclusion, George Washington’s early years and time conducting, the Revolution gave him the experiences he needed to be successful when President. II. Summary: When he ran up debt trying to become a Virginia gentleman, he demonstrated vision by diversifying his crops and learned the fiscal discipline necessary to lead. A. During the war, his ability to seize the right moment at Trenton illustrated his knack for understanding the importance of timing. B. Finally, as a general with few competent soldiers in his army, he showed an ability to identify talented people who could accomplish the tasks the army needed done. C. All in all, Washington’s time early in life and as a general gave him the necessary experiences to develop important skills he needed when he was elected president. III. Clincher: Now, the next time you see his face on a quarter or a dollar bill, you know that George Washington’s life is more than myth or folklore; it is the story of a man with judgment and vision learned through hard experiences.
BibliographyEllis, Joseph J. (2004). His Excellency: George Washington. NY,NY: Random House.Brookhiser, Richard. (2008). George Washington on Leadership. NY,NY: Basic Books.Moore, Kathryn. (2008). The American Presidents: A Complete History. NY, NY: Fall River Press.