Renowned sculptor Gifford Proctor conceived Washington at Valley Forge as fascist forces were wreaking destruction in Germany and Italy while he was in Rome pursuing his studies. Proctor wanted to create an image that would signify both the power of freedom and the persistence required to achieve and sustain it. He chose for his image Washington in that bitter winter during which British troops, already occupying both New York City and Philadelphia, were celebrating the expected demise of the revolution.
With two thousand of his troops lost to disease, frostbite and starvation at Valley Forge, Washington had every reason to give up, yet he did not. Gifford’s statue captures that sense of his strength in perseverance perfectly. He was “a general who won a war of attrition with a world power by never surrendering.”