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Title: Washington's Birthday
Author: Schauffler, Robert Haven, 1879-1964 [Editor]
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Washington's Birthday" ***

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commemoration of Washington's Birthday, February 22, 2005

Our American Holidays


Its History, Observance, Spirit, and Significance as Related in Prose
and Verse, with a Selection from Washington's Speeches and Writings

Edited by


New York
Dodd, Mead and Company


The popular idea of Washington has recently begun to veer away from the
vision of an eighteenth century demigod in a wig,--an old-fashioned
statue in dusky bronze, stern and forbidding. We are swinging around
toward the idea of a loveable, fallible, very human personality with
humor, a hot temper, and a genuine love of pleasure.

Accordingly, in gathering material for this book the editor has passed
by those earlier writers who are mainly responsible for this distorted
view; and he has aimed to gather here the essays, orations poems,
stories, and exercises which best exhibit the modern conception of
Washington; together with a selection from his own writings and the
finest of the elder tributes to the memory of our greatest National


The Editor and Publishers wish to acknowledge their indebtedness to
Houghton, Mifflin & Company; Doubleday, Page & Company; J.B. Lippincott
& Co.; Mr. David McKay, John Macy, and others who have very kindly
granted permission to reprint selections from works bearing their




WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY _Oliver Wendell Holmes_
WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY _Margaret E. Sangster_
CROWN OUR WASHINGTON _Hezekiah Butterworth_


WASHINGTON'S TRAINING _Charles Wentworth Upham_


WASHINGTON AT TRENTON _Richard Watson Gilder_
VALLEY FORGE _Henry Armitt Brown_


WASHINGTON _Mary Wingate_


GEORGE WASHINGTON _Hamilton Wright Mabie_
WASHINGTON'S LAST DAYS _Elisabeth Eggleston Seelye_


WASHINGTON'S STATUE _Henry Theodore Tuckerman_
WASHINGTON _Anonymous_


THE HIGHEST PEDESTAL _William E. Gladstone_


A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF WASHINGTON _Henry Mitchell MacCracken_
  _John W. Daniel_


THE ABUSE OF WASHINGTON _Thomas Wentworth Higginson_
GREAT GEORGE WASHINGTON _Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith_
HEADQUARTERS IN 1776 _Paul Leicester Ford_






A good deal of American history was once violently distorted by the
partisanship of the eighteenth century, frozen solid by its icy
formalism, and left thus for the edification of succeeding generations.
For example, it was not until 1868 that Franklin's Autobiography was by
accident given to the world in the simple natural style in which he
wrote it. The book had been "edited" by Franklin's loyalist grandson,
and had been cut and tortured into the pompous, stilted periods that
were supposed to befit the dignity of so important a personage. When
John Bigelow published the original with all its naïveté and homely
turns of phrases and suppressed passages, he shed a flood of light upon
Benjamin Franklin.

But not _such_ a flood as has still more recently been shed upon our
struggle for independence, and the hero who led it.

Mr. Sydney George Fisher[1] has shown how the history of the Revolution
has been garbled by the historians into the story of a struggle between
a villainous monster on the one hand, and a virtuous fairy on the other:
He has shown how a period that is said to have changed the thought of
the world like the epochs of Socrates, of Christ, of the Reformation,
and of the French Revolution, has been described in a series of "able
rhetorical efforts, enlarged Fourth-of-July orations, or pleasing
literary essays on selected phases of the contest." These writers have
ignored the fearful struggle of the patriots with the loyalists, the
early leniency of England as expressed in the conduct of General Howe,
the Clinton-Cornwallis controversy, and many other important subjects.
In short, their design was--as Mr. Wister has happily put it, "to leave
out any facts which spoil the political picture of the Revolution they
chose to paint for our edification; a ferocious, blood-shot tyrant on
the one side, and on the other a compact band of 'Fathers,' downtrodden
and martyred, yet with impeccable linen and bland legs."

In view of this state of affairs, it is not strange that Washington
should have shared in the general misrepresentation. Like Franklin's,
his writings, too, were altered by villainous editors. In his letters,
for example, such a natural phrase as "one hundred thousand dollars will
be but a flea-bite" was changed to "one hundred thousand dollars will be
totally inadequate."

The editors were aided in their refrigerating enterprise by a throng of
partisan biographers, first among whom was the Rev. Mr. Weems, that
arch-manipulator of facts for moral purposes. They were helped also by
many of our old sculptors and painters, who were evidently more
concerned to portray a grand American hero in a wig than to give us a
real man of flesh and blood.

"By such devices," writes Owen Wister,[2] "was a frozen image of George
Washington held up for Americans to admire, rigid with congealed virtue,
ungenial, unreal, to whom from our school-days up we have been paying a
sincere and respectful regard, but a regard without interest, sympathy,
heart--or, indeed, belief. It thrills a true American to the marrow to
learn at last that this far-off figure, this George Washington, this man
of patriotic splendor, the captain and savior of our Revolution, the
self-sacrificing and devoted President, was a man also with a hearty
laugh, with a love of the theater, with a white-hot temper ... a
constant sportsman, fox-hunter, and host...."

"The unfreezing of Washington was begun by Irving, but was in that day a
venture so new and startling, that Irving, gentleman and scholar, went
at it gingerly and with many inferential deprecations. His hand,
however, first broke the ice, and to-day we can see the live and human
Washington, full length. He does not lose an inch by it, and we gain a
progenitor of flesh and blood."

Since Irving the thawing process has been carried on with growing
success by such able biographers as Lodge and Scudder, Hapgood and Ford,
Woodrow Wilson, Owen Wister, and Frederick Trevor Hill.

As yet this new idea of Washington's essential humanity has seemed too
novel and startling to make its way deep into the popular conviction. I
say "new idea." In reality it is a very old idea; only it has been
smothered by the partisan writers of history and biography. Certainly
the accounts of the first celebrations of Washington's Birthday do not
sound as though our ancestors were trying to work up their enthusiasm
over a steel-engraving hero.

"It was the most natural thing," writes Walsh,[3] "for our forefathers
to choose Washington's Birthday as a time for general thanksgiving and
rejoicing, and it is interesting to note that the observance was not
delayed until after the death of Washington. Washington had the
satisfaction of receiving the congratulations of his fellow-citizens
many times upon the return of his birthday, frequently being a guest at
the banquets given in honor of the occasion. In fact, after the
Revolution, Washington's Birthday practically took the place of the
birthday of the various crowned heads of Great Britain, which had always
been celebrated with enthusiasm during colonial times. When independence
was established, all these royal birthdays were cast aside, and the
birthday of Washington naturally became one of the most conspicuous in
the calendar of America's holidays.

"It may be interesting at this time to look back upon those early days
of the republic and see how the newly liberated citizens attested their
admiration for their great general and the first President of their
country. But the people did not wait until Washington was raised to the
highest position his country could give him before honoring his

"The first recorded mention of the celebration is said to be the one in
_The Virginia Gazette_ or _The American Advertiser_ of Richmond:
'Tuesday last being the birthday of his Excellency, General Washington,
our illustrious Commander-in-Chief, the same was commemorated here with
the utmost demonstrations of joy.' The day thus celebrated was February
11, 1782, the Old Style in the calendar not having then been everywhere
and for every purpose abandoned. Indeed, the stone placed as late as in
1815 on the site of his birthplace in Westmoreland County, Virginia, had
the following inscription: 'Here, the 11th of February, 1732, George
Washington was born.'

"Twelve months later the 11th was commemorated at Talbot Court-House in
Maryland. On the same day a number of gentlemen met in a tavern in New
York. One had written an ode. Another brought a list of toasts. All,
before they went reeling and singing home, agreed to assemble in future
on the same anniversary and make merry over the birth of Washington.

"Next year they had an ampler opportunity. In the previous October the
British troops had evacuated New York City, which was gradually
recovering from the distresses of the long war. The demonstrations were
not very elaborate, but they were intensely patriotic. In a newspaper of
February 17, 1784, we find an interesting account of this first public
celebration in New York:

"'Wednesday last being the birthday of his Excellency, General
Washington, the same was celebrated here by all the true friends of
American Independence and Constitutional Liberty with that hilarity and
manly decorum ever attendant on the Sons of Freedom. In the evening an
entertainment was given on board the East India ship in this harbor to a
very brilliant and respectable company, and a discharge of thirteen
cannon was fired on this joyful occasion.'

"A club called a 'Select Club of Whigs' assembled in New York on the
evening of February 11, and a brief account of the proceedings at its
meeting was sent to the _New York Gazette_, with an amusing song,
written, it was stated, especially for this occasion. The following
stanzas will serve as a sample of this effusion of poetical patriotism:

  Americans, rejoice;
  While songs employ the voice,
    Let trumpets sound.
  The thirteen stripes display
  In flags and streamers gay,
  'Tis Washington's Birthday,
    Let joy abound.

  Long may he live to see
  This land of liberty
    Flourish in peace;
  Long may he live to prove
  A grateful people's love
  And late to heaven remove,
    Where joys ne'er cease.

  Fill the glass to the brink,
  Washington's health we'll drink,
    'Tis his birthday.
  Glorious deeds he has done,
  By him our cause is won,
  Long live great Washington!
    Huzza! Huzza!

"The following is also an interesting example of newspaper editorial
patriotism which appeared in the _New York Gazette_ at the same time:
'After the Almighty Author of our existence and happiness, to whom, as a
people, are we under the greatest obligations? I know you will answer
"To Washington." That great, that gloriously disinterested man has,
without the idea of pecuniary reward, on the contrary, much to his
private danger, borne the greatest and most distinguished part in our
political salvation. He is now retired from public service, with, I
trust, the approbation of God, his country, and his own heart. But shall
we forget him? No; rather let our hearts cease to beat than an
ungrateful forgetfulness shall sully the part any of us have taken in
the redemption of our country. On this day, the hero enters into the
fifty-third year of his age. Shall such a day pass unnoticed? No; let a
temperate manifestation of joy express the sense we have of the
blessings that arose upon America on that day which gave birth to
Washington. Let us call our children around us and tell them the many
blessings they owe to him and to those illustrious characters who have
assisted him in the great work of the emancipation of our country, and
urge them by such examples to transmit the delights of freedom and
independence to their posterity.'

"It is also interesting to know that New York City was not the only
place in the country remembering Washington's Birthday in this year
1784. The residents of Richmond, Virginia, were not forgetful of the
day, and in the evening an elegant entertainment and ball were given in
the Capitol Building, which, we are informed, were largely attended. So
late as 1796, Kentucky and Virginia persisted in preserving the Old
Style date. But we have documentary evidence that in 1790 the Tammany
Society of New York celebrated the day on February 22. The society had
been organized less than a year, and it is interesting to see that it
did not allow the first Washington's Birthday in its history to pass by
without fitting expressions of regard for the man who was then living in
the city as President of the United States. Washington, at that time,
lived in the lower part of Broadway, a few doors below Trinity Church.
Congress was in session in the old City Hall, on the corner of Wall and
Nassau Streets, now occupied by the Sub-Treasury. New York was the
capital of the country, but it was the last year that it enjoyed that
distinction, for before the close of 1790 the seat of government was
removed to Philadelphia, where it remained until 1800, when permanent
governmental quarters were taken up at Washington. It may be of interest
to know how the founders of this famous political organization
commemorated Washington's Birthday. Fortunately, the complete account of
this first Tammany celebration has been preserved. It was published in
a New York newspaper, a day or two after the event, as follows:

"'At a meeting of the Society of St. Tammany, at their wigwam in this
city, on Monday evening last, after finishing the ordinary business of
the evening, it was unanimously resolved: That the 22d day of February
be, from this day and ever after, commemorated by this society as the
birthday of the Illustrious George Washington, President of the United
States of America. The society then proceeded to the commemoration of
the auspicious day which gave birth to the distinguished chief, and the
following toasts were drank in porter, the produce of the United States,
accompanied with universal acclamations of applause:

     1. May the auspicious birthday of our great Grand Sachem, George
     Washington, ever be commemorated by all the real sons of St.

     2. The birthday of those chiefs who lighted the great Council Fire
     in 1775.

     3. The glorious Fourth of July, 1776, the birth of American

     4. The perpetual memory of those Sachems and warriors who have been
     called by the Kitchi Manitou to the Wigwam above since the

     5. The births of the Sachems and warriors who have presided at the
     different council fires of the thirteen tribes since 1776.

     6. Our Chief Sachem, who presides over the council fire of our

     7. The 12th of May, which is the birthday of our titular saint and

     8. The birth of Columbus, our secondary patron.

     9. The memory of the great Odagh 'Segte, first Grand Sachem of the
     Oneida Nation, and all his successors.

     10. The friends and patrons of virtue and freedom from Tammany to

     11. The birth of the present National Constitution, 17th of
     September, 1787.

     12. The Sachems and warriors who composed that council.

     13. May the guardian genius of freedom pronounce at the birth of
     all her sons--Where Liberty dwells, there is his country.

"'After mutual reciprocations of friendship on the joyous occasion, the
society adjourned with their usual order and harmony.'

"In Washington ever since the first President was inaugurated it had
been the practice of the House to adjourn for half an hour to
congratulate him on the happy return of his natal day. But this
observance was dropped in 1796, on account of the animosities excited by
the Jay Treaty.

"The Philadelphians, always patriotic, never allowed Washington's
Birthday to go by without the celebration. In 1793 a number of old
Revolutionary officers belonging to the First Brigade of Pennsylvania
Militia had a 'very splendid entertainment at Mr. Hill's tavern in
Second Street, near Race Street.' According to a Philadelphia newspaper
account, the company was numerous and truly respectable, and among the
guests on that occasion were the Governor of Pennsylvania, Thomas
Mifflin, and Mr. Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House of Representatives. At
all these patriotic banquets it was customary to give as many toasts as
there were States in the Union, so that during the early years we
invariably find that thirteen toasts was the rule. As new States were
added, however, extra toasts were added to the list. Just when this
custom died out can perhaps not be definitely determined, but probably
the rapid increase of the States may have had something to do with it,
as the diners probably saw that it was taxing their drinking abilities
too heavily with the addition of each new State. However, at this
Philadelphia celebration the toasts were fifteen, as two new States had
recently been added, and among some of the most interesting are the

     The people of the United States--May their dignity and happiness be
     perpetual, and may the gratitude of the Nation be ever commensurate
     with their privileges.

     The President of the United States--May the evening of his life be
     attended with felicity equal to the utility and glory of its

     The Fair Daughters of America--May the purity, the rectitude, and
     the virtues of their mind ever continue equal to their beauty and
     external accomplishments.

     The Republic of France--Wisdom and stability to her councils,
     success to her armies and navies, and may her enemies be
     compensated for their defeats by the speedy and general diffusion
     of that liberty which they are vainly attempting to suppress.

     May Columbia be ever able to boast a Jefferson in council, a
     Hamilton in finance, and, when necessary, a Washington to lead her
     armies to conquest and glory.

     The Day--May such auspicious periods not cease to recur till every
     day in the year shall have smiled on Columbia with the birth of a

     Our Unfortunate Friend the Marquis de Lafayette--May America
     become shortly his asylum from indignity and wrong, and may the
     noon and evening of his life be yet honorable and happy in the
     bosom of that country where its morning shone with such unclouded

"In conclusion, the newspaper account of this celebration states that
'the afternoon and evening were agreeably spent in social pleasures and
convivial mirth, and the conduct of the whole company was marked by that
politeness, harmony, and friendship which ought ever to characterize the
intercourse of fellow-citizens and gentlemen.'

"Balls and banquets, it will be seen, were the chief methods employed in
celebrating the day, and there was hardly a town so small that it could
not manage to have at least one of these functions in honor of George
Washington. The early newspapers for a month, and often longer, after
the 22d of February, were filled with brief accounts of these
celebrations from different localities. Many of them are very
interesting, showing, as they do, the patriotism of the people, as well
as their customs and habits in their social entertainments. For
instance, when Washington's Birthday was celebrated in Alexandria,
Virginia, in 1791, the _Baltimore Advertiser_ gives us the following
amusing account of a ball held at Wise's tavern:

"'The meeting was numerous and brilliant. Joy beamed in every
countenance. Sparkling eyes, dimpled cheeks dressed in smiles, prompted
by the occasion, with all the various graces of female beauty,
contributed to heighten the pleasure of the scene. At an interesting
moment a portrait of the President, a striking likeness, was suddenly
exhibited. The illustrious original had been often seen in the same room
in the mild character of a friend, a pleased and pleasing guest. The
song of "God Bless Great Washington, Long Live Great Washington,"
succeeded. In this prayer many voices and all hearts united. May it not
be breathed in vain.'"

In course of time Washington's Birthday was made a legal holiday in one
State after another, until to-day it is legally recognized in every
State but Alabama.

But as it gradually became legalized, so it also became formalized
little by little, until, in some parts of America, the very phrase, "a
Washington's Birthday celebration," came to mean a sort of exercise in
hypocrisy,--a half-hearted attempt to galvanize a dead emotion into

This attitude toward Washington as a man was due largely to the
misrepresentations of the early literature. Three distinct eras in our
regard for him as a public character have been pointed out by Bradley T.

     The generation which fought the Revolution, framed and adopted the
     Constitution, and established the United States were impressed with
     the most profound veneration, the most devoted affection, the most
     absolute idolatry for the hero, sage, statesman. In the reaction
     that came in the next generation against "the old soldiers," who
     for thirty years had assumed all the honors and enjoyed all the
     fruits of the victory that they had won, accelerated by the
     division in American sentiment for or against the French
     Revolution, it came to be felt, as the younger generation always
     will feel, that the achievements of the veterans had been greatly
     overrated and their demigod enormously exaggerated. They thought,
     as English Harry did at Agincourt, that "Old men forget: yet all
     shall be forgot, but they'll remember with advantages what feats
     they did that day."

     The fierce attacks of the Jeffersonian Democracy on Washington, his
     principles, his life, and his habits, exercised a potent influence
     in diminishing the general respect for his abilities felt by the
     preceding generation; and Washington came to be regarded as a
     worthy, honest, well-meaning gentleman, but with no capacity for
     military and only mediocre ability in civil affairs. This estimate
     continued from the beginning of Jefferson's administration to the
     first of Grant's. Neither Marshall nor Irving did much during that
     period to place him in a proper historical light....

     But in the last twenty-five years there has been a steady drift
     toward giving Washington his proper place in history and his
     appropriate appreciation as soldier and statesman. The general who
     never won a battle is now understood to have been the Revolution
     itself, and one of the great generals of history. The statesman who
     never made a motion, nor devised a measure, nor constructed a
     proposition in the convention of which he was president, is
     appreciated as the spirit, the energy, the force, the wisdom which
     initiated, organized, and directed the formation of the
     Constitution of the United States and the Union by, through, and
     under it; and therefore it seems now possible to present him as the
     Virginian soldier, gentleman, and planter, as a man, the evolution
     of the society of which he formed a part, representative of his
     epoch, and his surroundings, developed by circumstances into the
     greatest character of all time--the first and most illustrious of

Henry Cabot Lodge,[5] writing in 1899, was one of the first to discover
"the new Washington." "The real man," he wrote, "has been so overlaid
with myths and traditions, and so distorted by misleading criticisms,
that ... he has been wellnigh lost. We have the religious and statuesque
myth, we have the Weems myth (which turns Washington into a faultless
prig), and the ludicrous myth of the writer of paragraphs. We have the
stately hero of Sparks, and Everett, and Marshall, and Irving, with all
his great deeds as general and President duly recorded and set down in
polished and eloquent sentences; and we know him to be very great and
wise and pure, and, be it said with bated breath, very dry and cold....
In death as in life, there is something about Washington, call it
greatness, dignity, majesty, what you will, which seems to hold men
aloof and keep them from knowing him. In truth he was a difficult man to

"Behind the popular myths, behind the statuesque figure of the orator
and the preacher, behind the general and the President of the historian,
there was a strong, vigorous man, in whose veins ran warm, red blood, in
whose heart were stormy passions and deep sympathy for humanity, in
whose brain were far-reaching thoughts, and who was informed throughout
his being with a resistless will."

It is a shameful thing that there should ever have been any doubt in
American minds of the true significance of Washington either as man or
soldier or statesman. But the writers of our day have decided that--if
they can help it--the sins of the fathers are not going to be visited
upon "the third and fourth generation." The call has gone out for modern
champions of our ancient champion; and literature has responded with a

It takes long, however, to straighten out a national misconception. The
new literature has not yet had time to take hold of the popular
imagination. But when it does, and when we cease to regard the Father of
our Country as a demigod, and begin to love him as a man, then
Washington's Birthdays everywhere will lose their stiff, perfunctory,
bloodless character, and recover the inspiring, emotional quality of the
early celebrations.



[1] In "The True History of the American Revolution" and "The Struggle
for American Independence."

[2] "The Seven Ages of Washington."

[3] In "Curiosities of Popular Customs."

[4] "General Washington."

[5] Introduction to "George Washington."





  Welcome to the day returning,
   Dearer still as ages flow,
  While the torch of Faith is burning,
   Long as Freedom's altars glow!
  See the hero whom it gave us
   Slumbering on a mother's breast;
  For the arm he stretched to save us
   Be its morn forever blest!

  Vain is empire's mad temptation!
   Not for him an earthly crown!
  He whose sword has freed a nation
   Strikes the offered scepter down.
  See the throneless conqueror seated,
   Ruler by a people's choice;
  See the patriot's task completed;
   Hear the Father's dying voice:

  "By the name that you inherit,
   By the sufferings you recall,
  Cherish the fraternal spirit;
   Love your country first of all!
  Listen not to idle questions
    If its bands may be untied;
  Doubt the patriot whose suggestions
    Strive a nation to divide."

  Father! we, whose ears have tingled
    With the discord notes of shame;
  We, whose sires their blood have mingled
    In the battle's thunder-flame,--
  Gathering, while this holy morning
    Lights the land from sea to sea,
  Hear thy counsel, heed thy warning;
    Trust us while we honor thee.


[6] _By permission of the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin & Co_.

       *       *       *       *       *



  'Tis splendid to live so grandly
    That long after you are gone,
  The things you did are remembered,
    And recounted under the sun;
  To live so bravely and purely,
    That a nation stops on its way,
  And once a year, with banner and drum,
    Keeps its thought of your natal day.

  'Tis splendid to have a record,
    So white and free from stain
  That, held to the light, it shows no blot,
    Though tested and tried amain;
  That age to age forever
    Repeats its story of love,
  And your birthday lives in a nation's heart,
    All other days above.

  And this is Washington's glory,
    A steadfast soul and true,
  Who stood for his country's honor
    When his country's days were few.
  And now when its days are many,
    And its flag of stars is flung
  To the breeze in defiant challenge,
    His name is on every tongue.

  Yes, it's splendid to live so bravely,
    To be so great and strong,
  That your memory is ever a tocsin
    To rally the foes of the wrong;
  To live so proudly and purely
    That your people pause in their way,
  And year by year, with banner and drum,
    Keep the thought of your natal day.

       *       *       *       *       *



The birthday of the "Father of his Country!" May it ever be freshly
remembered by American hearts! May it ever reawaken in them a filial
veneration for his memory; ever rekindle the fires of patriotic regard
for the country which he loved so well, to which he gave his youthful
vigor and his youthful energy; to which he devoted his life in the
maturity of his powers, in the field; to which again he offered the
counsels of his wisdom and his experience as president of the convention
that framed our Constitution; which he guided and directed while in the
chair of state, and for which the last prayer of his earthly
supplication was offered up, when it came the moment for him so well,
and so grandly, and so calmly, to die. He was the first man of the time
in which he grew. His memory is first and most sacred in our love, and
ever hereafter, till the last drop of blood shall freeze in the last
American heart, his name shall be a spell of power and of might.

Yes, gentlemen, there is one personal, one vast felicity, which no man
can share with him. It was the daily beauty and towering and matchless
glory of his life which enabled him to create his country, and at the
same time secure an undying love and regard from the whole American
people. "The first in the hearts of his countrymen!" Yes, first! He has
our first and most fervent love. Undoubtedly there were brave and wise
and good men before his day, in every colony. But the American nation,
as a nation, I do not reckon to have begun before 1774, and the first
love of that young America was Washington. The first word she lisped was
his name. Her earliest breath spoke it. It still is her proud
ejaculation; and it will be the last gasp of her expiring life! Yes;
others of our great men have been appreciated--many admired by all--but
him we love; him we all love. About and around him we call up no
dissentient, discordant, and dissatisfied elements--no sectional
prejudice nor bias--no party, no creed, no dogma of politics. None of
these shall assail him. Yes; when the storm of battle blows darkest and
rages highest, the memory of Washington shall nerve every American arm
and cheer every American heart. It shall relume that Promethean fire,
that sublime flame of patriotism, that devoted love of country, which
his words have commended, which his example has consecrated.

       *       *       *       *       *



  Welcome, thou festal morn!
  Never be passed in scorn
    Thy rising sun,
  Thou day forever bright
  With Freedom's holy light,
  That gave the world the sight
    Of Washington.

  Unshaken 'mid the storm,
  Behold that noble form--
    That peerless one--
  With his protecting hand,
  Like Freedom's angel stand
  The guardian of our land,
   Our Washington.

  Then with each coming year,
  Whenever shall appear
    That natal sun,
  Will we attest the worth,
  Of one true man to earth,
  And celebrate the birth
    Of Washington.

  Traced there in lines of light,
  Where all pure rays unite,
    Obscured by none;
  Brightest on history's page,
  Of any clime or age,
  As chieftain, man, and sage,
    Stands Washington.

  Name at which tyrants pale,
  And their proud legions quail,
    Their boasting done;
  While Freedom lifts her head,
  No longer filled with dread,
  Her sons to victory led
    By Washington.

  Now the true patriot see,
  The foremost of the free,
    The victory won.
  In Freedom's presence bow,
  While sweetly smiling now,
  She wreaths the smiling brow
    Of Washington.

  Then with each coming year,
  Whenever shall appear
    That natal sun,
  Shall we attest the worth
  Of one true man to earth,
  And celebrate the birth
    Of Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *



The brief phrase--the schools and colleges of the United States--is a
formal and familiar one; but what imagination can grasp the infinitude
of human affections, powers, and wills which it really comprises? But
let us forget the outward things called schools and colleges, and summon
up the human beings. Imagine the eight million children actually in
attendance at the elementary schools of the country brought before your
view. Each unit in this mass speaks of a glad birth, a brightened home,
a mother's pondering heart, a father's careful joy. In all that
multitude, every little heart bounds and every eye shines at the name
of Washington.

The two hundred and fifty thousand boys and girls in the secondary
schools are getting a fuller view of this incomparable character than
the younger children can reach. They are old enough to understand his
civil as well as his military achievements. They learn of his great part
in that immortal Federal convention of 1787, of his inestimable services
in organizing and conducting through two Presidential terms the new
Government,--services of which he alone was capable,--and of his firm
resistance to misguided popular clamor. They see him ultimately
victorious in war and successful in peace, but only through much
adversity and many obstacles.

Next, picture to yourselves the sixty thousand students in colleges and
universities--selected youth of keen intelligence, wide reading, and
high ambition. They are able to compare Washington with the greatest men
of other times and countries, and to appreciate the unique quality of
his renown. They can set him beside the heroes of romance and
history--beside David, Alexander, Pericles, Cæsar, Saladin,
Charlemagne, Gustavus Adolphus, John Hampden, William the Silent, Peter
of Russia, and Frederick the Great, only to find him a nobler human type
than any one of them, more complete in his nature, more happy in his
cause, and more fortunate in the issues of his career. They are taught
to see in him a soldier whose sword wrought only mercy and justice for
mankind; a statesman who steadied a remarkable generation of public men
by his mental poise and exalted them by his singleness of heart; and a
ruler whose exercise of power established for the time on earth a
righteous government by all and for all.

And what shall I say on behalf of the three hundred and sixty thousand
teachers of the United States? None of them are rich or famous; most of
them are poor, retiring, and unnoticed; but it is they who are building
a perennial monument to Washington. It is they who give him a
million-tongued fame. They make him live again in the young hearts of
successive generations, and fix his image there as the American ideal of
a public servant. It is through the schools and colleges and the
national literature that the heroes of any people win lasting renown;
and it is through these same agencies that a nation is molded into the
likeness of its heroes.

The commemoration of any one great event in the life of Washington and
of the United States is well, but it is nothing compared with the
incessant memorial of him which the schools and colleges of the country
maintain from generation to generation. What a reward is Washington's!
What an influence is his and will be! One mind and will transfused by
sympathetic instruction into millions; one life pattern for all public
men, teaching what greatness is and what the pathway to undying fame!

       *       *       *       *       *



  Arise! 'tis the day of our Washington's glory;
    The garlands uplift for our liberties won.
  Oh sing in your gladness his echoing story,
    Whose sword swept for freedom the fields of the sun!
        Not with gold, nor with gems,
        But with evergreens vernal,
  And the banners of stars that the continent span,
  Crown, crown we the chief of the heroes eternal,
  Who lifted his sword for the birthright of man!

  He gave us a nation to make it immortal;
    He laid down for Freedom the sword that he drew,
  And his faith leads us on through the uplifting portal
    Of the glories of peace and our destinies new.
        Not with gold, nor with gems,
        But with evergreens vernal,
  And the flags that the nations of liberty span,
  Crown, crown him the chief of the heroes eternal,
  Who laid down his sword for the birthright of man!

  Lead, Face of the Future, serene in thy beauty,
    Till o'er the dead heroes the peace star shall gleam,
  Till Right shall be Might in the counsels of duty,
    And the service of man be life's glory supreme.
        Not with gold, nor with gems,
        But with evergreens vernal,
  And the flags that the nations in brotherhood span,
  Crown, crown we the chief of the heroes eternal,
  Whose honor was gained by his service to man!

  O Spirit of Liberty, sweet are thy numbers!
    The winds to thy banners their tribute shall bring
  While rolls the Potomac where Washington slumbers,
    And his natal day comes with the angels of spring.
        We follow thy counsels,
        O hero eternal!
  To highest achievement thy school leads the van,
  And, crowning thy brow with the evergreen vernal,
  We pledge thee our all to the service of man!

       *       *       *       *       *



  How your moods and actions vary
    Or to seek or shun!
  Now a smile of sunlight lifting,
  Now in chilly snowflakes drifting;
  Now with icy shuttles creeping
    Silver webs are spun.
  Now, with leaden torrents leaping,
    Oceanward you run,
  Now with bells you blithely sing,
    'Neath the stars or sun;
  Now a blade of burdock bring
    To the suffering one;
  February--you are very
    Dear, when all is done:
  Many blessings rest above you,
  You one day (and so we love you)
    Gave us Washington.


[7] _By permission of the author_.





From _The Christian Endeavor World_

Seldom visited and almost unknown is the Wakefield Farm in Virginia, the
birthplace of our first President. Recent attempts have been made to
popularize the place, but there is little to attract the ordinary
traveler; and its distance from a city makes excursions impracticable.

Lying on the Potomac River, about seventy miles below the city of
Washington, one edge of the estate reaches down a steep, wooded bank to
dip into the water, while, stretching back, it rambles on in grassy
meadows and old stubble-fields to the corn-lands and orchards of the
adjoining plantations. Skirting the land on one side is Pope's Creek,
formerly Bridges' Creek, which in Washington's time was used as the main
approach to the estate. On this side there is an easy, undulating slope;
but this entrance has been abandoned. Only at high tide can small boats
enter the creek, and another way had to be adopted. An iron pier nearly
two miles away has been built, and is the landing-place for large and
small craft.

All is quiet here now. There is only the rustle of the leaves, the
drowsy hum of insects, and the interrupted discourse of the
preacher-bird in the clump of trees near which stood the first home of
Washington, to break the stillness on a summer day. No one lives here.
Indeed, no one has lived here since the fire which destroyed the house
and negro cabins, in Washington's boyhood. But here the baby life was
spent, in the homestead founded by his great-grandfather, John
Washington, who came from England in 1657.

Only a heap of broken bits grown over with catnip showed the place of
the great brick chimney the first time I visited the farm; and the
second time these, too, were gone. Now a plain, graceful shaft, bearing
the simple inscription, "Washington's Birthplace," and below, "Erected
by the United States, A.D. 1895," marks the place.

From the monument through the trees, can be seen the gleaming river,
rippling its way silently to the bay, and over all rests the same
brooding sense of peace and quietness which one feels at Mt. Vernon or
at Arlington, the city of our nation's dead.

       *       *       *       *       *



From _The Evangelist_

George Washington was born at a time when savagery had just departed
from the country, leaving freshness and vigor behind. The Indian had
scarcely left the woods, and the pirate the shore near his home. His
grandfather had seen his neighbor lying tomahawked at his door-sill, and
his father had helped to chase beyond the mountains the whooping savages
that carried the scalps of his friends at their girdle. The year his
brother was born, John Maynard's ship had sailed up the James River with
the bloody head of Blackbeard hanging to the bowsprit.

He had only one uncle, a brother Lawrence, and a cousin Augustine, all
older than he, but the youngest of his older brothers was twelve years
of age when George was born, while his cousin Augustine was only four
years older, and his cousin Lawrence six years older than himself. When
he was seven years old his sister Betty was a little lass of six. Two
brothers, Samuel and John, were nearing their fourth and fifth
birthdays. Charles, his baby brother, was still in his nurse's arms.
Early the shadow of death crossed his boyish path, for his baby sister,
Mildred, born soon after he was seven, died before he was nine.

The first playmate Washington had, out of his own immediate family, was
another Lawrence Washington, a very distant cousin, who lived at Chotauk
on the Potomac, and who, with his brother, Robert Washington, early won
Washington's regard, and kept it through life. When Washington made his
will he remembered them, writing, "to the acquaintances and friends of
my juvenile years, Lawrence Washington and Robert Washington, I give my
other two gold-headed canes having my arms engraved on them."

It was at Chotauk, with Lal and Bob Washington, that George Washington
first met with traffic between the old world and the new. There was no
money used except tobacco notes, which passed among merchants in London
and Amsterdam as cash. Foreign ships brought across the ocean goods that
the Virginians needed, and the captains sold the goods for these tobacco
notes. Much of Washington's time was spent with these boys, and when he
grew old he recalled the young eyes of the Chotauk lads, as they, with
him, had stood on the river-bank vainly trying to see clearly some
object beyond vision, and in memory of the time he wrote in his will,
"To each I leave one of my spy-glasses which constituted part of my
equipage during the late war."

Of Washington's first school there is no record or tradition other than
that gathered by Parson Weems. He says: "The first place of education to
which George was ever sent was a little old field school kept by one of
his father's tenants, named Hobby, an honest, poor old man, who acted
in the double capacity of sexton and schoolmaster. Of his skill as a
gravedigger tradition is silent; but for a teacher of youth his
qualifications were certainly of the humbler sort, making what is
generally called an A, B, C schoolmaster. While at school under Mr.
Hobby he used to divide his playmates into parties and armies. One of
them was called the French and the other American. A big boy named
William Bustle commanded the former; George commanded the latter, and
every day with cornstalks for muskets and calabashes [gourds] for drums,
the two armies would turn out and march and fight."

       *       *       *       *        *



Among the mountain passes of the Blue Ridge and the Alleghanies, a youth
is seen employed in the manly and invigorating occupation of a surveyor,
and awakening the admiration of the backwoodsmen and savage chieftains
by the strength and endurance of his frame and the resolution and energy
of his character. In his stature and conformation he is a noble specimen
of a man. In the various exercises of muscular power, on foot, or in the
saddle, he excels all competitors. His admirable physical traits are in
perfect accordance with the properties of his mind and heart; and over
all, crowning all, is a beautiful, and, in one so strong, a strange
dignity of manner, and of mien--a calm seriousness, a sublime
self-control, which at once compels the veneration, attracts the
confidence, and secures the favor of all who behold him. That youth is
the Leader whom Heaven is preparing to conduct America through her
approaching trial.

As we see him voluntarily relinquishing the enjoyments, luxuries, and
ease of the opulent refinement in which he was born and bred, and
choosing the perils and hardships of the wilderness; as we follow him
fording swollen streams, climbing rugged mountains, breasting the forest
storms, wading through snowdrifts, sleeping in the open air, living upon
the coarse food of hunters and of Indians, we trace with devout
admiration the divinely appointed education he was receiving to enable
him to meet and endure the fatigues, exposures, and privations of the
War of Independence.

Soon he was called to a more public sphere of action; and we again,
follow him in his romantic adventures as he travels the far-off
wilderness, a special messenger to the French commander on the Ohio, and
afterwards, when he led forth the troops of Virginia in the same
direction, or accompanied the ill-starred Braddock to the blood-stained
banks of the Monongahela. Everywhere we see the hand of God conducting
him into danger, that he might extract from it the wisdom of an
experience not otherwise to be obtained, and develop those heroic
qualities by which alone danger and difficulty can be surmounted; but
all the while covering him with a shield.

When we think of him, at midnight and in midwinter, thrown from a frail
raft into the deep and angry waters of a wide and rushing Western river,
thus separated from his only companion through the wilderness with no
aid for miles and leagues about him, buffeting the rapid current and
struggling through driving cakes of ice; when we behold the stealthy
savage, whose aim against all other marks is unerring, pointing his
rifle deliberately at him, and firing over and over again; when we see
him riding through showers of bullets on Braddock's fatal field, and
reflect that never, during his whole life, was he ever wounded, or even
touched by a hostile force--do we not feel that he was guarded by an
unseen hand, warding off every danger? No peril by flood or field was
permitted to extinguish a life consecrated to the hopes of humanity and
to the purposes of Heaven.

For more than sixteen years he rested from his warfare, amid the shades
of Mount Vernon; ripening his mind by reading and reflection, increasing
his knowledge of practical affairs, entering into the whole experience
of a citizen at home and on his farm, and as a delegate to the Colonial
Assembly. When, at last, the war broke out, and the unanimous voice of
the Continental Congress invested him, as the exigency required, with
almost unbounded authority, as their Commander-in-Chief, he blended,
although still in the prime of his life, in the mature bloom of his
manhood, the attributes of a sage with those of a hero. A more
perfectly fitted and furnished character has never appeared on the
theater of human action than when, reining up his war-horse beneath the
majestic and venerable elm, still standing at the entrance of the
Watertown road to Cambridge, George Washington unsheathed his sword and
assumed the command of the gathered armies of American Liberty.

       *       *       *       *       *


From _The Christian Endeavor World_

According to Captain Mercer, the following describes Washington when he
took his seat in the House of Burgesses in 1759:

     He is as straight as an Indian, measuring six feet two inches in
     his stockings, and weighing one hundred and seventy-five pounds.
     His head is well shaped, though not large, and is gracefully poised
     on a superb neck, with a large, and straight rather than prominent
     nose; blue-gray penetrating eyes, which are widely separated and
     overhung by heavy brows. A pleasing, benevolent, though commanding
     countenance, dark-brown hair, features regular and placid, with all
     the muscles under control, with a large mouth, generally firmly

Houdon's bust accords with this description.





On the 16th of June, the day before the battle of Bunker Hill, the
Congress, having accepted Massachusetts' gift of the army before Boston,
gave the command of it to Colonel George Washington, of Virginia, and
made him a general and commander-in-chief of all the forces of the
patriot cause.

Hancock, it is said, had ambitions in that direction, and was somewhat
disappointed at the choice. But the fitness of Washington for the office
was generally admitted as soon as John Adams urged his appointment. He
would conciliate the moderate patriots, for he had clung to the old
arguments as long as possible, and refrained from forcing events. If
substantial independence of Parliament and the Ministry could be
secured, he was willing to allow the King a vague or imaginary headship
until in the course of years that excrescence should slough away.

Many were inclined to think that a New England general should command
the New England army that was gathered before Boston; but they were
obliged to admit that the appointment of a general from Virginia, the
most populous and prosperous of the colonies, would tend to draw the
Southern interest to the patriot cause.

Washington was forty-three years old, which was the right age for
entering upon the supreme command in what might be a long war. He had
distinguished himself by helping to rescue Braddock's defeated army in
1755, and he had taken a more or less prominent part in the subsequent
campaigns which ended in driving the French out of Canada. This military
education and experience seemed slight, and not equal to that of the
British officers who would be opposed to him. But it was American
experience, no colonist was any better equipped, and he was of a larger
intelligence than Putnam, Ward, and other Americans who had served in
the French War.

His strong character and personality had impressed themselves upon his
fellow-delegates in the Congress. It was this impressive personality
which made his career and brought to him grave responsibility without
effort on his part to seek office or position. When he was only
twenty-one the governor of Virginia had sent him through the wilderness
to interview the French commander near Lake Erie, a mission which
required the hardihood of the hunter and some of the shrewd intelligence
of the diplomat.

But much to the surprise of travelers and visitors, Washington never
appeared to be a brilliant man. He was always a trifle reserved, and
this habit grew on him with years. His methods of work were homely and
painstaking, reminding us somewhat of Lincoln; and the laborious
carefulness of his military plans seemed to European critics to imply a
lack of genius.

But it was difficult to judge him by European standards, because the
conditions of the warfare he conducted were totally unlike anything in
Europe. He never commanded a real army with well-organized departments
and good equipment. His troops were usually barefooted, half-starved,
and for several years incapable of performing the simplest parade
manoeuvre. Brilliant movements, except on a small scale, as at
Princeton, were rarely within his reach; and large complicated movements
were impossible because he had not the equipment of officers and
organization for handling large bodies of men spread out over a great
extent of country. He was obliged to adopt the principle of
concentration and avoid making detachments or isolated movements that
could be cut off by the British. To some of his contemporaries it
therefore seemed that his most striking ability lay in conciliating
local habits and prejudices, harmonizing discordant opinions, and
holding together an army which seemed to the British always on the eve
of disbanding.

He reasoned out, however, in his own way, the peculiar needs of every
military position, and how he did this will appear more clearly as our
narrative progresses. He often spoke of his own lack of military
experience, as well as of the lack of it in the officers about him; and
this seems to have led him to study every situation like a beginner,
with exhaustive care, consulting with everybody, calling councils of war
on every possible occasion, and reasoning out his plans with minute
carefulness. This method, which his best friends sometimes ridiculed,
was in striking contrast to the method of one of his own officers,
General Greene, and also to the method of Grant in the Civil War. Both
Greene and Grant dispensed altogether with laborious consultations and
councils of war.

But the laborious method was well suited to Washington, whose mind was
never satisfied unless it could strike a balance among a great mass of
arguments and details which must be obtained from others, and not
through his own imagination. He liked to reserve his decision until the
last moment, and this trait was sometimes mistaken for weakness. His
preparedness and devotion to details remind us of Napoleon. His
cautious, balancing, weighing habit, developed by lifelong practice,
runs through all his letters and every act of his life, appearing in
some of the great events of his career as a superb and masterful
equipoise. It became very impressive even to those who ridiculed it; it
could inspire confidence through years of disaster and defeat; and it
enabled him to grasp the general strategy of the war so thoroughly that
no military critic has ever detected him in a mistake.

As a soldier he fought against distinguished British officers four
pitched battles--Long Island, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth; in
the first three of which he was defeated, and the last was a draw. He
conducted two sieges--Boston and Yorktown--in both of which he was
successful; and he destroyed two outposts--Trenton and Princeton--in a
manner generally regarded as so brilliant and effective that he saved
the patriot cause from its first period of depression. His
characteristics as a soldier were farseeing judgment and circumspection,
a certain long-headedness, as it might be called, and astonishing
ability to recover from and ignore a defeat. In his pitched battles,
like Long Island and Brandywine, he knew that defeat was probable, and
he prepared for it.[9]

He was compelled to act so much on the defensive, and the British
methods were so slow, that his activities in the field were not numerous
when we consider that he was in command for seven years. The greater
part of his time and energy was employed in building up the cause by
mild, balanced, but wonderfully effective arguments; reconciling
animosities by tactful precautions; and by the confidence his
personality inspired preventing the army from disbanding. A large part
of this labor was put forth in writing letters of wonderful beauty and
perfection in the literary art, when we consider the end they were to
accomplish. Complete editions of his writings of this sort usually fill
a dozen or more large volumes; and there have been few if any great
generals of the world who have accomplished so much by writing, or who
have been such consummate masters of language.

Sufficient care has not always been taken to distinguish between the
different periods of his life. He aged rapidly at the close of the
Revolution; his reserved manner and a certain "asperity of temper," as
Hamilton called it, greatly increased; and some years afterwards, when
President, he had become a very silent and stiffly formal man, far
different from the young soldier who, in the prime of life, drew his
sword beneath the old elm at Cambridge to take command of the patriot

The Virginians of his time appear to have had occupations and social
intercourse which educated them in a way we are unable to imitate.
Washington in his prime was a social and convivial man, fond of cards,
fine horses, and fox-hunting. Although not usually credited with book
learning, his letters and conduct in the Revolution show that he was
quite familiar with the politics of foreign countries and the general
information of his time. We have not yet learned to appreciate the full
force of his intellect and culture.


[8] From "The Struggle for American Independence," by Sydney George
Fisher. Copyright by J.B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia.

[9] Limiting by his foresight the extent of his loss, guarding by his
disposition security of retreat, and repairing with celerity the injury
sustained, his relative condition was often ameliorated, although
victory adorned the brow of his adversary.--LEE, _Memoirs_, Vol. I, p.

       *       *       *       *       *


_The Battle Monument, October 19, 1893_


  Since ancient Time began
    Ever on some great soul God laid an infinite burden--
  The weight of all this world, the hopes of man.
    Conflict and pain, and fame immortal are his guerdon!

  And this the unfaltering token
    Of him, the Deliverer--what though tempests beat,
  Though all else fail, though bravest ranks be broken,
    He stands unscared, alone, nor ever knows defeat

  Such was that man of men;
    And if are praised all virtues, every fame
  Most noble, highest, purest--then, ah! then,
    Upleaps in every heart the name none needs to name.

  Ye who defeated, 'whelmed,
    Betray the sacred cause, let go the trust;
  Sleep, weary, while the vessel drifts unhelmed;
    Here see in triumph rise the hero from the dust!

  All ye who fight forlorn
    'Gainst fate and failure; ye who proudly cope
  With evil high enthroned; all ye who scorn
    Life from Dishonor's hand, here take new heart of hope.

  Here know how Victory borrows
    For the brave soul a front as of disaster,
  And in the bannered East what glorious morrows
    For all the blackness of the night speed surer, faster.

  Know by this pillared sign
    For what brief while the powers of earth and hell
  Can war against the spirit of truth divine,
    Or can against the heroic heart of man prevail.


[10] _By permission of the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin & Co._

       *       *       *       *       *


From "_Washington and the Generals of the Revolution_"

It is a truth, illustrated in daily experience, and yet rarely noted or
acted upon, that, in all that concerns the appreciation of personal
character or ability, the instinctive impressions of a community are
quicker in their action, more profoundly appreciant, and more reliable,
than the intellectual perceptions of the ablest men in the community.
Upon all those subjects that are of moral apprehension, society seems to
possess an intelligence of its own, infinitely sensitive in its
delicacy, and almost conclusive in the certainty of its determinations;
indirect, and unconscious in its operation, yet unshunnable in sagacity,
and as strong and confident as nature itself. The highest and finest
qualities of human judgment seem to be in commission among the nation,
or the race. It is by such a process, that whenever a true hero appears
among mankind, the recognition of his character, by the general sense of
humanity, is instant and certain: the belief of the chief priests and
rulers of mind, follows later, or comes not at all. The perceptions of a
public are as subtly-sighted, as its passions are blind. It sees, and
feels, and knows the excellence, which it can neither understand, nor
explain, nor vindicate. These involuntary opinions of people at large
explain themselves, and are vindicated by events, and form at last the
constants of human understanding. A character of the first order of
greatness, such as seems to pass out of the limits and course of
ordinary life, often lies above the ken of intellectual judgment; but
its merits and its infirmities never escape the sleepless perspicacity
of the common sentiment, which no novelty of form can surprise, and no
mixture of qualities can perplex. The mind--the logical
faculty--comprehends a subject, when it can trace in it the same
elements, or relations, which it is familiar with elsewhere: if it finds
but a faint analogy of form or substance, its decision is embarrassed.
But this other instinct seems to become subtler, and more rapid, and
more absolute in conviction, at the line where reason begins to falter.
Take the case of Shakespeare. His surpassing greatness was never
acknowledged by the learned until the nation had ascertained and settled
it as a foregone and questionless conclusion. Even now, to the most
sagacious mind of this time, the real ground and evidence of its own
assurance of Shakespeare's supremacy, is the universal, deep, immovable
conviction of it in the public feeling. There have been many acute
essays upon his minor characteristics; but intellectual criticism has
never grappled with Shakespearian art, in its entireness and grandeur,
and probably it never will. We know not now wherein his greatness
consists. We cannot demonstrate it. There is less indistinctness in the
merit of less eminent authors. Those things which are not doubts to our
consciousness, are yet mysteries to our mind. And if this is true of
literary art, which is so much within the sphere of reflection, it may
be expected to find more striking illustration in great practical and
public moral characters.

These considerations occur naturally to the mind in contemplating the
fame of Washington. An attentive examination of the whole subject, and
of all that can contribute to the formation of a sound opinion, results
in the belief that General Washington's _mental_ abilities illustrate
the very highest type of greatness. His _mind_, probably, was one of
the very greatest that was ever given to mortality. Yet it is impossible
to establish that position by a direct analysis of his character, or
conduct, or productions. When we look at the incidents or the results of
that great career--when we contemplate the qualities by which it is
marked from its beginning to its end--the foresight which never was
surprised, the judgment which nothing could deceive, the wisdom whose
resources were incapable of exhaustion--combined with a spirit as
resolute in its official duties as it was moderate in its private
pretensions, as indomitable in its public temper as it was gentle in its
personal tone--we are left in wonder and reverence. But when we would
enter into the recesses of that mind--when we would discriminate upon
its construction, and reason upon its operations--when we would tell how
it was composed, and why it excelled--we are entirely at fault. The
processes of Washington's understanding are entirely hidden from us.
What came from it, in counsel or in action, was the life and glory of
his country; what went on within it, is shrouded in impenetrable
concealment. Such elevation in degree, of wisdom, amounts almost to a
change of kind, in nature, and detaches his intelligence from the
sympathy of ours. We cannot see him as he was, because we are not like
him. The tones of the mighty bell were heard with the certainty of Time
itself, and with a force that vibrates still upon the air of life, and
will vibrate forever. But the clock-work, by which they were regulated
and given forth, we can neither see nor understand. In fact, his
intellectual abilities did not exist in an analytical and separated
form; but in a combined and concrete state. They "moved altogether when
they moved at all." They were in no degree speculative, but only
practical. They could not act at all in the region of imagination, but
only upon the field of reality. The sympathies of his intelligence
dwelt exclusively in the national being and action. Its interests and
energies were absorbed in them. He was nothing out of that sphere,
because he was everything there. The extent to which he was identified
with the country is unexampled in the relations of individual men to the
community. During the whole period of his life he was the thinking part
of the nation. He was its mind; it was his image and illustration. If we
would classify and measure him, it must be with nations, and not with

This extraordinary nature of Washington's capacities--this impossibility
of analyzing and understanding the elements and methods of his
wisdom--have led some persons to doubt whether, intellectually, he was
of great superiority; but the public--the community--never doubted of
the transcendant eminence of Washington's abilities. From the first
moment of his appearance as the chief, the recognition of him, from one
end of the country to the other, as THE MAN--the leader, the counselor,
the infallible in suggestion and in conduct--was immediate and
universal. From that moment to the close of the scene, the national
confidence in his capacity was as spontaneous, as enthusiastic, as
immovable, as it was in his integrity. Particular persons, affected by
the untoward course of events, sometimes questioned his sufficiency; but
the nation never questioned it, nor would allow it to be questioned.
Neither misfortune, nor disappointment, nor accidents, nor delay, nor
the protracted gloom of years, could avail to disturb the public trust
in him. It was apart from circumstances; it was beside the action of
caprice; it was beyond all visionary, and above all changeable feelings.
It was founded on nothing extraneous; not upon what he had said or done,
but upon what he was. They saw something in the man, which gave them
assurance of a nature and destiny of the highest elevation--something
inexplicable, but which inspired a complete satisfaction. We feel that
this reliance was wise and right; but why it was felt, or why it was
right, we are as much to seek as those who came under the direct
impression of his personal presence. It is not surprising, that the
world recognizing in this man a nature and a greatness which philosophy
cannot explain, should revere him almost to religion. The distance and
magnitude of those objects which are too far above us to be estimated
directly--such as stars--are determined by their parallax. By some
process of that kind we may form an approximate notion of Washington's
greatness. We may measure him against the great events in which he
moved; and against the great men, among whom, and above whom, his figure
stood like a tower. It is agreed that the War of American Independence
is one of the most exalted, and honorable, and difficult achievements
related in history. Its force was contributed by many; but its grandeur
was derived from Washington. His character and wisdom gave unity, and
dignity, and effect to the irregular, and often divergent enthusiasm of
others. His energy combined the parts; his intelligence guided the
whole: his perseverance, and fortitude, and resolution, were the
inspiration and support of all. In looking back over that period, his
presence seems to fill the whole scene; his influence predominates
throughout; his character is reflected from everything. Perhaps nothing
less than his immense weight of mind could have kept the national
system, at home, in that position which it held, immovably, for seven
years; perhaps nothing but the august respectability which his demeanor
threw around the American cause abroad, would have induced a foreign
nation to enter into an equal alliance with us upon terms that
contributed in a most important degree to our final success, or would
have caused Great Britain to feel that no great indignity was suffered
in admitting the claim to national existence of a people who had such a
representative as Washington. What but the most eminent qualities of
mind and feeling--discretion superhuman--readiness of invention, and
dexterity of means, equal to the most desperate affairs--endurance,
self-control, regulated ardor, restrained passion, caution mingled with
boldness, and all the contrarieties of moral excellence--could have
expanded the life of an individual into a career such as this?

If we compare him with the great men who were his contemporaries
throughout the nation; in an age of extraordinary personages, Washington
was unquestionably the first man of the time in ability. Review the
correspondence of General Washington--that sublime monument of
intelligence and integrity--scrutinize the public history and the
public men of that era, and you will find that in all the wisdom that
was accomplished or was attempted, Washington was before every man in
his suggestions of the plan, and beyond every one in the extent to which
he contributed to its adoption. In the field, all the able generals
acknowledged his superiority, and looked up to him with loyalty,
reliance, and reverence; the others, who doubted his ability, or
conspired against his sovereignty, illustrated, in their own conduct,
their incapacity to be either his judges or his rivals. In the state,
Adams, Jay, Rutledge, Pinckney, Morris--these are great names; but there
is not one whose wisdom does not vail to his. His superiority was felt
by all these persons, and was felt by Washington himself, as a simple
matter of fact, as little a subject of question, or a cause of vanity,
as the eminence of his personal stature. His appointment as
commander-in-chief was the result of no design on his part; and of no
efforts on the part of his friends; it seemed to take place
spontaneously. He moved into the position, because there was a vacuum
which no other could supply: in it, he was not sustained by government,
by a party, or by connections; he sustained himself; and then he
sustained everything else. He sustained Congress against the army, and
the army against the injustice of Congress. The brightest mind among his
contemporaries was Hamilton's; a character which cannot be contemplated
without frequent admiration, and constant affection. His talents took
the form of genius, which Washington's did not. But active, various,
and brilliant, as the faculties of Hamilton were, whether viewed in the
precocity of youth, or in the all-accomplished elegance of maturer
life--lightning-quick as his intelligence was to see through every
subject that came before it, and vigorous as it was in constructing the
argumentation by which other minds were to be led, as upon a shapely
bridge, over the obscure depths across which his had flashed in a
moment--fertile and sound in schemes, ready in action, splendid in
display, as he was--nothing is more obvious and certain than that when
Mr. Hamilton approached Washington, he came into the presence of one who
surpassed him in the extent, in the comprehension, the elevation, the
sagacity, the force, and the ponderousness of his mind, as much as he
did in the majesty of his aspect and the grandeur of his step. The
genius of Hamilton was a flower, which gratifies, surprises, and
enchants; the intelligence of Washington was a stately tree, which in
the rarity and true dignity of its beauty is as superior as it is in its

       *       *       *       *       *



_From Centennial Address delivered at Valley Forge, June 19, 1878_

The century that has gone by has changed the face of Nature, and wrought
a revolution in the habits of mankind. We to-day behold the dawn of an
extraordinary age. Man has advanced with such astounding speed, that,
breathless, we have reached a moment when it seems as if distance had
been annihilated, time made as nought, the invisible seen, the
intangible felt, and the impossible accomplished. Already we knock at
the door of a new century, which promises to be infinitely brighter and
more enlightened and happier than this.

We know that we are more fortunate than our fathers. We believe that our
children shall be happier than we. We know that this century is more
enlightened than the past. We believe that the time to come will be
better and more glorious than this. We think, we believe, we hope, but
we do not know. Across that threshold we may not pass; behind that veil
we may not penetrate. It may be vouchsafed us to behold it, wonderingly,
from afar, but never to enter in. It matters not. The age in which we
live is but a link in the endless and eternal chain. Our lives are like
sands upon the shore; our voices, like the breath of this summer breeze
that stirs the leaf for a moment, and is forgotten. The last survivor of
this mighty multitude shall stay but a little while. The endless
generations are advancing to take our places as we fall. For them, as
for us, shall the years march by in the sublime procession of the ages.

And here, in this place of sacrifice, in this vale of humiliation, in
this valley of the shadow of death, out of which the life of America
rose regenerate and free, let us believe, with an abiding faith, that to
them union will seem as dear, and liberty as sweet, and progress as
glorious, as they were to our fathers and are to you and me, and that
the institutions which have made us happy, preserved by the virtue of
our children, shall bless the remotest generation of the time to come.
And unto Him who holds in the hollow of His hand the fate of nations,
and yet marks the sparrow's fall, let us lift up our hearts this day,
and unto His eternal care commend ourselves, our children, and our

       *       *       *       *       *



  With his lean, ragged levies, undismayed,
    He crouched among the vigilant hills; a show
    To the disdainful, heaven-blinded foe.
  Unlauded, unsupported, disobeyed,
  Thwarted, maligned, conspired against, betrayed--
    Yet nothing could unheart him. Wouldst thou know
    His secret? There, in that thicket on the snow,
  Washington knelt before his God, and prayed.

  Close in their lair for perilous months and days
    He held in leash his wolves, grim, shelterless,
      Gaunt, hunger-bitten, stanch to the uttermost;
    Then, when the hour was come for hardiness
      Rallied, and rushed them on the reeling host;
  And Monmouth planted Yorktown's happy bays!

       *       *       *       *       *



From _Magazine of American History_.

_The following extract from a letter written by Abbé Robin, chaplain in
the French army in America, and bearing date "Camp of Phillipsburg,
August 4, 1781," a few weeks after his arrival in this country, is very
suggestive. This letter was the first of a series of thirteen letters
from the Abbé while in America, which were published in Paris in 1782.
He writes_:

I have seen General Washington, that most singular man--the soul and
support of one of the greatest revolutions that has ever happened, or
can happen. I fixed my eyes upon him with that keen attention which the
sight of a great man always inspires. We naturally entertain a secret
hope of discovering in the features of such illustrious persons some
traces of that genius which distinguishes them from, and elevates them
above, their fellow mortals.

Perhaps the exterior of no man was better calculated to gratify these
expectations than that of General Washington. He is of a tall and noble
stature, well proportioned, a fine, cheerful, open countenance, a simple
and modest carriage; and his whole mien has something in it that
interests the French, the Americans, and even enemies themselves, in
his favor. Placed in a military view, at the head of a nation where each
individual has a share in the supreme legislative authority, and where
coercive laws are yet in a degree destitute of vigor, where the climate
and manners can add but little to their energy, where the spirit of
party, private interest, slowness and national indolence, slacken,
suspend, and overthrow the best concerted measures; although so situated
he has found out a method of keeping his troops in the most absolute
subordination; making them rivals in praising him; fearing him when he
is silent, and retaining their full confidence in him after defeats and
disgrace. His reputation has, at length, arisen to a most brilliant
height; and he may now grasp at the most unbounded power, without
provoking envy or exciting suspicion. He has ever shown himself superior
to fortune, and in the most trying adversity has discovered resources
until then unknown: and, as if his abilities only increased and dilated
at the prospect of difficulty, he is never better supplied than when he
seems destitute of everything, nor have his arms ever been so fatal to
his enemies, as at the very instant when they thought they had crushed
him forever. It is his to excite a spirit of heroism and enthusiasm in a
people who are by nature very little susceptible of it; to gain over the
respect and homage of those whose interest it is to refuse it, and to
execute his plans and projects by means unknown even to those who are
his instruments; he is intrepid in dangers, yet never seeks them but
when the good of his country demands it, preferring rather to temporize
and act upon the defensive, because he knows such a mode of conduct best
suits the genius and circumstances of the nation, and all that he and
they have to expect, depends upon time, fortitude, and patience; he is
frugal and sober in regard to himself, but profuse in the public cause;
like Peter the Great, he has by defeats conducted his army to victory;
and like Fabius, but with fewer resources and more difficulty, he has
conquered without fighting, and saved his country.

Such are the ideas that arise in the mind at the sight of this great
man, in examining the events in which he had a share, or in listening to
those whose duty obliges them to be near his person, and consequently
best display his character. In all these extensive States they consider
him in the light of a beneficent god, dispensing peace and happiness
around him. Old men, women, and children press about him when he
accidentally passes along, and think themselves happy, once in their
lives, to have seen him--they follow him through the towns with torches,
and celebrate his arrival by public illuminations. The Americans, that
cool and sedate people, who in the midst of their most trying
difficulties, have attended only to the directions and impulses of plain
method and common sense, are roused, animated, and inflamed at the very
mention of his name: and the first songs that sentiment or gratitude has
dictated, have been to celebrate General Washington.





It is the concurring judgment of political thinkers, that no event in
all the history of the Anglo-Saxon race has been more far-reaching in
its consequences than the organization of the present Government of the
United States. And it is in every sense appropriate to connect the name
of Washington with the Constitution which brought that government into
existence. It is appropriate because his splendid leadership of the
Revolutionary armies made it possible to establish upon this continent a
government resting upon the consent of the governed, yet strong enough
to maintain its existence and authority whenever assailed.

But it is especially appropriate for the reason that he was among the
first of the great men of the Revolutionary period to discern the
inherent defects in the articles of confederation; and but for his
efforts to bring about a more perfect union of the people, the existing
Constitution, it is believed, would not have been accepted by the
requisite number of States. He was indeed the pioneer of the Union
established by that Constitution. Of the accuracy of these statements
there is abundant evidence.

We are only in the spring-time of our national life, and yet we have
realized all that Washington could possibly have anticipated from the
creation of the present Government. What more could be desired in a
system of government than is secured in the existing organizations of
the General and State governments with their respective powers so
admirably adjusted and distributed as to draw from Gladstone the remark
that the American Constitution was "the most wonderful work ever struck
off at one time by the brain and purpose of man"?

Despite the fears of many patriotic statesmen at the time of the
adoption of the Constitution, that that instrument would destroy the
liberties of the people, every genuine American rejoices in the fullness
of a grateful heart that we have a government under which the humblest
person in our midst has a feeling of safety and repose not vouchsafed to
the citizen or subject of any other country; with powers ample for the
protection of the life of the nation and adequate for all purposes of a
general nature, yet so restricted by the law of its creation in the
exercise of its powers, that it cannot rightfully encroach upon those
reserved to the States or to the people.

I will not allude to or discuss particular theories of constitutional
construction, but I may say, and I am glad that it can be truthfully
said, that the mass of the people concur in holding that only by
maintaining the just powers of both the National and State governments
can we preserve in their integrity the fundamental principles of
American liberty.

       *       *       *       *       *



WASHINGTON'S PATRIOTISM.--Washington would have preferred to spend the
remainder of his life in his tranquil home at Mount Vernon, but his
patriotism would not allow him to disregard the call of his country. He
had so little money at the time, that his home was threatened by the
sheriff, and he had to borrow funds with which to pay his most pressing

WASHINGTON'S INAUGURATION.--The President-elect left Mount Vernon on
April 16, and the entire journey to New York was a continual ovation. He
received honors at almost every step of the way, and was welcomed to the
nation's capital by the joyous thousands who felt that no reward could
be too great for the illustrious patriot that had enshrined himself
forever in the hearts of his loving countrymen. The inauguration
ceremonies took place April 30, in Federal Hall, on the present site of
the sub-treasury building. Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York
administered the oath, in a balcony of the Senate chamber, in full view
of the vast concourse on the outside, who cheered the great man to the
echo. Other ceremonies followed, Washington showing deep emotion at the
manifestation of love and loyalty on the part of all.

THE FIRST CONSTITUTIONAL CONGRESS.--The first session of the first
Constitutional Congress was chiefly occupied in setting the government
machinery in motion. The following nominations for the first Cabinet
were made by Washington, and confirmed by the Senate: Thomas Jefferson,
secretary of foreign affairs, afterward known as secretary of state;
Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury; Henry Knox, secretary of
war; and Edmund Randolph, attorney-general. John Jay was appointed chief
justice of the supreme court, with John Rutledge, James Wilson, William
Cushing, Robert H. Harrison, and John Blair associates. (The Senate
refused to confirm the nomination of Rutledge.)

FEDERALISTS AND REPUBLICANS.--The most urgent question was that of
finance. Hamilton handled it with great skill. The debt of the
confederation and States was almost eighty million dollars. Hamilton's
plan, as submitted to Congress, called for the payment by the United
States of every dollar due to American citizens, and also the war debt
of the country. There was strong opposition to the scheme, but it
prevailed. The discussions in Congress brought out the lines between the
Federalists and the Republicans, or, as they were afterward called,
Democrats. The Federalists favored the enlargement of the powers of the
general government, while the Republicans insisted upon holding the
government to the exact letter of the Constitution, and giving to the
individual States all rights not expressly prohibited by the

THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT.--North Carolina did not adopt the Constitution
until November 13, 1789. Little Rhode Island sulked until Massachusetts
and Connecticut proposed to parcel her between them, when she came to
terms and adopted the Constitution, May 29, 1790. It was decided to
transfer the seat of government to Philadelphia until 1800, when it was
to be permanently fixed upon the eastern bank of the Potomac. The third
session of the first Congress, therefore, was held in Philadelphia, on
the first Monday in December, 1790. Through the efforts of Hamilton, the
United States Bank and a national mint were established in that city,
and did much to advance the prosperity of the country.

A PROTECTIVE TARIFF.--In 1791, Hamilton made a memorable report to
Congress. In it he favored a protective tariff, recommending that the
materials from which goods are manufactured should not be taxed, and
advising that articles which competed with those made in this country
should be prohibited. These and other important features were embodied
in a bill, which was passed February 9, 1792.

TROUBLE WITH THE INDIANS.--Trouble occurred with the Indians in the
Northwestern Territory and in the South. Georgia was dissatisfied with
the treaty, by which a considerable part of the State was relinquished
to the Indians. The difficulty in the Northwest was much more serious.
General Harmar was sent to punish the red men for their many outrages,
but was twice defeated. Then General St. Clair took his place. Before he
set out, Washington impressively warned him against being surprised,
but he, too, was beaten, and his army routed with great slaughter.

"Mad Anthony" Wayne now took up the task, with nearly three thousand
men, and completed it thoroughly. At Fallen Timbers, August 20, 1794, he
met the combined tribes and delivered a crushing defeat, from which the
Indians did not recover for years. One year later, eleven hundred chiefs
and warriors met the United States commissioners at Fort Greenville and
signed a treaty of peace, relinquishing at the same time a vast tract of
land lying in the present States of Indiana and Michigan.

THE WHISKEY REBELLION.--Among the important laws passed by Congress was
one imposing a duty on distilled spirits. This roused great opposition
in western Pennsylvania, where whiskey was the principal article of
manufacture and trade. The revolt there assumed such formidable
proportions that it became known as the "Whiskey Rebellion," and the
President was compelled to call out the militia, fifteen thousand
strong, to suppress it.

WASHINGTON'S SECOND TERM.--Washington did not desire a second term, but
his countrymen would not permit him to decline. He again received all
the electoral votes cast, while the next highest number went to John
Adams. Strong party spirit was shown, Hamilton being the leader of the
Federalists, and Jefferson the foremost Republican.

"CITIZEN GENET."--During Washington's administrations, France was
plunged into the bloodiest revolution known in history. Her
representative in this country was Edmond Charles Genet (zheh-na),
better known as "Citizen Genet." Landing at Charleston, South Carolina,
in April, 1793, he did not wait to present his credentials to the
government, but began enlisting soldiers and fitting out privateers for
the French service. Many thoughtless citizens encouraged him, but the
wise Washington, finding that Genet defied him, ended the business by
compelling his country to recall him.

JAY'S TREATY.--There was much trouble also with Great Britain, but a
treaty was finally arranged with her by our special envoy, John Jay. One
of its provisions guaranteed payment to British citizens of debts due
them before the war. This caused much opposition, but the time came when
it was admitted that Jay's treaty was one of the best made by our


[11] From "Young People's History of Our Country." Thomas R. Shewell &
Co., 1900.

       *       *       *       *       *



  O noble brow, so wise in thought!
  O heart, so true! O soul unbought!
  O eye, so keen to pierce the night
  And guide the "ship of state" aright!
  O life, so simple, grand and free,
  The humblest still may turn to thee.
  O king, uncrowned! O prince of men!
  When shall we see thy like again?
  The century, just passed away,
  Has felt the impress of thy sway,
  While youthful hearts have stronger grown
  And made thy patriot zeal their own.
  In marble hall or lowly cot,
  Thy name hath never been forgot.
  The world itself is richer, far,
  For the clear shining of a star.
  And loyal hearts in years to run
  Shall turn to thee, O Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *



On the fourth of March, 1789, Elbridge Gerry, who had been chosen to the
Senate of the United States, wrote thus from New York to John Adams:

     My Dear Friend: I find, on inquiry, that you are elected
     Vice-President, having three or four times the number of votes of
     any other candidate. Maryland threw away their votes on Colonel
     Harrison, and South Carolina on Governor Rutledge, being, with some
     other states which were not unanimous for you, apprehensive that
     this was a necessary step to prevent your election to the chair. On
     this point they were mistaken, for the President, as I am informed
     from pretty good authority, has a unanimous vote. It is the
     universal wish of all that I have conferred with, and indeed their
     expectation, that both General Washington and yourself will accept;
     and should either refuse, it will have a very disagreeable effect.
     The members present met to-day in the City Hall, there being about
     eleven Senators and thirteen Representatives, and not constituting
     a quorum in either house, they adjourned till to-morrow.

     Mrs. Gerry and the ladies join me in sincere regards to yourself,
     your lady, Colonel and Mrs. Smith, and be assured I remain, etc.

     E. GERRY.

So slow was the movement of news in those days, and so doubtful, even
after the election, were all men as to its results, Adams would not
start from Braintree, his home, till he knew he was elected, nor
Washington from Mt. Vernon. Charles Thompson, the Secretary of the old
Congress, arrived at Mt. Vernon on the fourteenth of April and
communicated to Washington the news of his election. No quorum of the
House of Representatives had been formed until the first of April, nor
of the Senate until the sixth. These bodies then counted the electoral
vote, with the result predicted by Gerry in his letter written two days

Washington waited a day before starting to the seat of Government. On
the sixteenth of April he started for New York. He writes in his diary:

     About ten o'clock I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life and
     to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious
     and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for
     New York in company with Mr. Thompson and Colonel Humphries, with
     the best dispositions to render service to my country in obedience
     to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations.

The journey began with a public dinner at Alexandria. Said the
gentlemen of Alexandria in their address to him:

     Farewell!... Go!... and make a grateful people happy, a people who
     will be doubly grateful when they contemplate this recent sacrifice
     for their interest.

And Washington in his reply said:

     At my age, and in my circumstances, what prospects or advantages
     could I propose to myself, for embarking again on the tempestuous
     and uncertain ocean of public life?

The journey went on with similar interruptions. The rule so often laid
down by the Virginians afterward that that is the best government which
governs least, was certainly well kept until the thirteenth of April. To
this hour the adventurous cyclist, stopping at some wayside inn to
refresh himself, may find upon the wall the picture of the maidens and
mothers of Trenton in New Jersey. Here Washington met a deputation sent
to him by Congress. A triumphal arch had been erected, and a row of
young girls dressed in white, a second row of ladies, and a third of
their mothers, awaited him. As he passed, the girls scattered flowers,
and sang the verses which Judge Marshall has preserved:

  Welcome, mighty chief, once more
  Welcome to this grateful shore;
  Now no mercenary foe
  Aims again the fatal blow--
  Aims at thee the fatal blow.

  Virgins fair and matrons grave,
  These thy conquering arm did save.
  Build for thee triumphal bowers,
  Strew, ye fair, his way with flowers--
  Strew your Hero's way with flowers.

His progress through New Jersey was everywhere accompanied by similar
festivities--"festive illuminations, the ringing of bells, and the
booming of cannon." He had written to Governor Clinton, that he hoped he
might enter New York without ceremony; but this was hardly to be
expected. A committee of both houses met him at Elizabethtown; he
embarked in a splendid barge manned by thirteen pilots, masters of
vessels, and commanded by Commodore Nicholson; other barges and boats
fell in in the wake; and a nautical procession swept up the Bay of New
York. On board two vessels were parties of ladies and gentlemen, who
sang odes as Washington appeared. The ships in the harbor were dressed
in colors and fired salutes as he passed. On landing at Murray's Wharf
he was welcomed by Governor Clinton and General Knox. It is of the
landing at this point that the anecdote is told that an officer asked
Washington's orders, announcing himself as commanding his guard.
Washington, with his ready presence of mind, begged him to follow any
directions he had already received in the arrangements, but said that
for the future the affection of his fellow-citizens was all the guard
that he required.

At the end of the day, in his diary, the sad man says:

     The acclamations of the people filled my mind with sensations as
     painful as pleasing.

It was some days before the formal inauguration. The two houses of
Congress did not know by what title they should address him, and a
committee had been appointed to discuss this subject. It was finally
agreed that the address should be simply, "To the President of the
United States"--a form which has remained to the present day.

The inauguration finally took place on the thirtieth of April.

On the thirtieth at last all things were ready, and the inauguration
went forward. The place was at what they then called Federal Hall, in
New York, and Chancellor Livingstone administered the oath:

     I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully administer and execute
     the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best
     of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of
     the United States.

A salute of thirteen guns followed, amid the cheers of thousands of
people. Washington then delivered his inaugural speech to both houses in
the Senate Chamber. After this ceremony he walked to St. Paul's Church,
where the Bishop of New York read prayers. Maclay, who was a Senator in
the first Congress, says:

     He was agitated and embarrassed more than he ever was by the
     leveled cannon or pointed musket. He trembled and several times
     could scarce make out to read his speech, though it must be
     supposed he had often read it before.

Fisher Ames says:

     He addressed the two houses in the Senate Chamber. It was a very
     touching scene, and quite of a solemn kind. His aspect, grave
     almost to sadness, his modesty, actually shaking, his voice deep, a
     little tremulous, and so low as to call for close attention.

John Adams had taken his place as President of the Senate two days
before. As he did not always in after life speak any too cordially of
Washington, it is worth noting that at this critical period he said that
he congratulated the people of America on "the prospect of an executive
authority in the hands of one whose portrait I shall not pretend to
draw.... Were I blessed with powers to do justice to his character, it
would be impossible to increase the confidence, or affection of his
country, or make the smallest addition to his glory. This can only be
effected by a discharge of the present exalted trust on the same
principles, with the same abilities and virtues which have uniformly
appeared in all his former conduct, public or private. May I
nevertheless be indulged to inquire, if we look over the catalogue of
the first magistrates of nations, whether they have been denominated
presidents or consuls, kings or princes, where shall we find one whose
commanding talents and virtues, whose overruling good fortune, have so
completely united all hearts and voices in his favor? who enjoyed the
esteem and admiration of foreign nations and fellow-citizens with equal
unanimity? Qualities so uncommon are no common blessings to the country
that possesses them. By these great qualities and their benign effects
has Providence marked out the head of this Nation, with a hand so
distinctly visible as to have been seen by all men, and mistaken by

Whether on this occasion, there were too much ceremony was a question
discussed at the time, in connection with the heated discussion as to
the etiquette of the new Administration. There is a correspondence
between Washington and an old friend, Stuart, of Virginia, who had told
him that the people of that State accused him of "regal manners."

Washington's reply, with his usual good sense, answers a good many
questions which are bruited to-day. Dr. Albert Shaw, in the _Review of
Reviews_, once brought some of these questions forward. "How far is it
right for the people of a free state to kill their magistrates by
inches?" This is the question reduced to its simplest terms. It was
generally understood, when the late Governor Greenhalge died in
Massachusetts, that his career, invaluable to the people of that State
and of the country, had been cut off untimely by a certain etiquette,
which obtains in Massachusetts, that whenever there is a public dinner
the Governor of the State must be present and make a speech. With
reference to a somewhat similar notion, Washington says:

     Before the present custom was established I was unable to attend to
     any business whatever. Gentlemen, consulting their own convenience
     rather than mine, were calling from the time I rose from breakfast,
     often before, until I sat down to dinner. To please everybody was
     impossible. I therefore adopted that line of conduct which combined
     public advantage with private convenience.

In another place he says:

     Had I not adopted the principle of returning no visits, I should
     have been unable to have attended to any sort of business.

In contrast with the simple ceremonies at which a sensitive democracy
took exception, we find now that a great nation considers no honors too
profuse for the ceremonies which attend the inauguration of its chief


[12] Reprinted from _The Independent_.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Extracts from the Contemporary Newspapers and other Accounts of the
Inauguration of our First President in 1789_

From _The Massachusetts Sentinel_, May 6, 1789:

New York, May 1. Yesterday the great and illustrious Washington, the
favorite son of liberty, and deliverer of his country, entered upon the
execution of the office of First Magistrate of the United States of
America; to which important station he had been unanimously called by
the united voice of the people. The ceremony which took place on this
occasion was truly grand and pleasing, and every heart seemed anxious to
testify the joy it felt on so memorable an event. His Excellency was
escorted from his house by a troop of light Dragoons, and the Legion,
under the command of Colonel Lewis, attended by a committee of the
Senate and House of Representatives, to Federal Hall, where he was
formally received by both Houses of Congress, assembled in the Senate
Chamber; after which he was conducted to the gallery in front of the
hall, accompanied by all the members when the oath prescribed by the
Constitution was administered to him by the Chancellor of this State,
who then said--

     "Long live George Washington,

"President of the United States;" which was answered by an immense
concourse of citizens, assembled on the occasion, by the loudest plaudit
and acclamation that love and veneration ever inspired. His Excellency
then made a speech to both Houses, and then proceeded, attended by
Congress, to St. Paul's Church, where Divine Service was performed by
the Right Rev. Samuel Provost, after which His Excellency was conducted
in form to his own house. In the evening a most magnificent and
brilliant display of fireworks was exhibited at the Fort, under the
direction of Colonel Beuman. The houses of the French and Spanish
Ministers were illuminated in a superb and elegant manner; a number of
beautiful transparent paintings were exhibited, which did infinite
credit to the parties concerned in the design and execution.

       *       *       *       *       *

April 30. We have had this day one of those impressive sights which
dignify and adorn human nature. At nine o'clock all the churches were
opened--and the people, in prodigious numbers, thronged these sacred
temples--and, with one voice, put up their prayers to Almighty God for
the safety of the President.

At twelve the procession moved to the Federal State House, where in the
gallery fronting Broad Street, in the presence of an immense concourse,
His Excellency took the oath, the book being placed on a velvet cushion.
The Chancellor then proclaimed him President--and in a moment the air
trembled with the shouts of the citizens, and the roar of artillery. His
Excellency, with that greatness of soul--that dignity and calmness,
which are his characteristics--then bowed to his "fellow-citizens"--who
again huzzaed.

       *       *       *       *       *

From "_History of the Arts of Design in America_," by William Dunlap:

Major L'Enfant was a native of France; he was employed to rebuild after
a design of his own the old New York City Hall in Wall Street, fronting
Broad Street; making therefrom the Federal Hall of that day (1789). The
new building was for the accommodation of Congress; and in the balcony
upon which the Senate Chamber opened, the first President of the United
States was inaugurated. A ceremony which I witnessed, and which for its
simplicity, the persons concerned in it, the effect produced upon my
country and the world, in giving stability to the Federal Constitution,
by calling Washington to administer its blessings, remains on my mind
unrivaled by any scene witnessed, through a long life, either in Europe
or America.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Dunlap's "_School History of New York_":

In 1789, I saw Washington divested of the garb of war, place his hand on
the Bible, and swear to support that Constitution under which I have
since lived happily half a century. Between the pillars of the old City
Hall, in Wall Street, as altered for the reception of the Federal
Congress, in view of thousands who filled Broad Street as far as the eye
could extend its view, and every avenue within sight of the building,
the man of the people's choice was announced to them, as the first
President of the United States of America.

       *       *       *       *       *

Abstract of account in _New York Packet_:

New York, May 1, 1789. Yesterday at two o'clock was solemnly inaugurated
into office, our Illustrious President.

The ceremony was begun by the following procession from the Federal
House to the President's house, viz.:

  Troop of Horse
  Committee of Representatives
  Committee of Senate
  Gentlemen to be admitted in the Senate Chamber
  Gentlemen in coaches
  Citizens on foot

On their arrival, the President joined the procession in his carriage
and four, and the whole moved through the principal streets to the State
House in the following order:

  Troop of Horse
  Sheriff on horseback
  Committee of Representatives
  Committee of Senate
  President and
  Assistants (President's Suite) Assistants
  Gentlemen to be admitted in the Senate Chamber
  Gentlemen in coaches
  Citizens on foot

When the van reached the State House, the troops opening their ranks
formed an avenue, through which, after alighting, the President,
advancing to the door, was conducted to the Senate Chamber, where he was
received by both branches of Congress, and by them accompanied to the
balcony or outer gallery in front of the State House, which was
decorated with a canopy and curtains of red interstreaked with white for
the solemn occasion. In this public manner the oath of office required
by the Constitution was administered by the Chancellor of this State,
and the illustrious Washington thereupon declared by the said
Chancellor, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, amidst the repeated huzzas
and acclamations of a numerous and crowded audience.

After the inauguration, the President, returning to the Senate Chamber,
delivered a speech to both Houses of Congress.

After this the President, accompanied by both Houses of Congress,
proceeded on foot to St. Paul's Church (where divine service was
performed by the Right Rev. Dr. Provost, suitable to the immediate
occasion) in the following order, viz.:

  Troop of Horse
  Door Keeper and Messenger of Representatives
  President and Vice-President
  President's Suite
  Door Keeper and Messenger of the Senate
  Gentlemen admitted into the Senate Chamber

Constables, marshals, etc., on each side of the Members of Congress at
proper distances, from the front of the Representatives to the rear of
the Senators.

In the evening fireworks were displayed under the direction of Colonel
Bauman.--The brilliancy and excellency of them does honor to the

The houses of their Excellencies the French and Spanish Ambassadors were
most elegantly illuminated on this auspicious occasion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Extract of a letter from a gentleman in New York to his friend in
Philadelphia, dated May 1, 1789:

Yesterday the great Patriot Washington took a solemn charge of the
liberties of America. The magnificence and splendor of the procession,
from his house to the Federal Building, commanded the admiration of
every beholder. But above all, the solemnity which appeared while he
took the oath of office, was truly affecting. The silent joy which every
rank of spectators exhibited in their countenances, bespoke the sincere
wishes of their hearts. I could have wished you to have been a

The fireworks exhibited in the evening were truly brilliant; and the
illuminations and transparent paintings of the Spanish and French
Ambassadors surpassed even conception itself.

       *       *       *       *       *

New York, May 2, 1789. We feel satisfied in adding to the account given
in yesterday's paper of the inauguration of the President,--that His
Excellency on that great day, was dressed in a complete suit of elegant
broadcloth of the manufacture of his country.--_Pennsylvania Packet_,
May 6, 1789.

From the _Gazette of the United States_:

THE PRESIDENT, accompanied by His Excellency the Vice-President, the
Speaker of the House of Representatives, and both Houses of Congress,
went to St. Paul's Chapel, where divine service was performed by the
Right Rev. Dr. Provost, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in this State,
and Chaplain to the Senate.

The religious solemnity being ended, the President was escorted to his

       *       *       *       *       *

Evening Celebration

The transparent paintings exhibited in various parts of the city, on
Thursday evening, were equal at least to anything of the kind ever
before seen in America.

That displayed before the Fort at the bottom of Broad-way did great
honor to its inventors and executors, for the ingenuity of the design,
and goodness of the workmanship; it was finely lighted and
advantageously situated: The virtues, Fortitude,[13] Justice,[14] and
Wisdom[15] were judiciously applied; of the first, all America has had
the fullest evidence; and with respect to the two others, who does not
entertain the most pleasing anticipations.

His Excellency Don Gardqui's residence next caught the eye--and fixed it
in pleasing contemplation: The _Tout-en-semble_ here, formed a most
brilliant front; the figures well fancied. The Graces suggested the best
ideas; and the pleasing variety of emblems, _flowers_, shrubbery,
_arches_, &c., and above all the Moving Pictures, that figured in the
windows or, as it were, in the _background_, created by fixing the
transparencies between the windows, afforded a new--an animated and
enchanting spectacle.

The residence of his Excellency, Count Meustier, was illuminated in a
stile of novel elegance; the splendid bordering of lamps round the
windows, doors, &c., with the fancy pieces of each window; and above all
the large designs in front, the allusions, of which we cannot at present
particularly describe, did great honor to the taste and sentiment of the

The above two instances of attention to honor this great and important
occasion, so highly interesting to our "dear country," evince the
friendship, the delicacy, and politeness of our illustrious allies.

The portrait of "THE FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY" exhibited in Broad-Street,
was extremely well executed, and had a fine effect.

There was an excellent transparency, also shown at the Theatre, and at
the corner, near the Fly-Market: In short, emulation and ingenuity were
alive; but perhaps were in no instance exhibited to greater advantage
than in the display of fireworks, which, from one novelty to another,
continued for two hours, to surprise by variety, taste, and brilliancy.

The illumination of the Federal State House was among the most
agreeable of the exhibitions of the evening; and the ship Carolina
formed a beautiful pyramid of stars: The evening was fine--the company
innumerable--everyone appeared to enjoy the scene, and no accident casts
the smallest clouds upon the retrospect.

       *       *       *       *       *

May 1. Yesterday morning The President received the compliments of His
Excellency the Vice-President, His Excellency the Governor of this
State, the principal Officers of the different Departments; the foreign
Ministers; and a great number of other persons of distinction.

We are informed that the President has assigned every Tuesday and
Friday, between the hours of two and three, for receiving visits; and
that visits of compliment on other days, and particularly on Sundays,
will not be agreeable to him.

It seems to be a prevailing opinion that so much of The President's time
will be engaged by the various and important business imposed upon him
by the Constitution, that he will find himself constrained to omit
returning visits, or accepting invitations to Entertainments.


[13] The President.

[14] The Senate.

[15] The Representatives of the United States.

       *       *       *       *       *



Picture to yourselves the joy and expectation of that day which saw the
establishment of our Government a century ago. As the patriots of that
day in the midst of festivity and joy look back upon famine and
nakedness and peril and sword, upon battlefields and garments rolled in
blood, as they think of their emergence from the long struggle weary and
exhausted, as they recall their precarious existence as a nation under
the articles of confederation, as they behold the blessing of God upon
their faith and courage and energy, can we not hear those voices, hushed
so long ago, speaking to us and assuring us that they that sow in tears
shall reap in joy?

We think of the founding of our Government and we recall at this moment
the representatives of three generations of statesmen, Washington and
Hamilton, Clay and Webster, Lincoln and Sumner. Our attention will be
concentrated on the unique and commanding figure of the first President.
Through the renewed study and statement of his public career many
lessons, familiar indeed, but of fresh importance, will be read into the
hearts of our country.

We cannot doubt in the case of Washington the fact of a divine call.
Joshua was not more evidently called to command the armies of Israel
than Washington to lead the forces of the united colonies. David was
not more signally summoned from the sheep-folds to the throne of his
people than Washington from his quiet home on the Potomac to the seat of
supreme power over his countrymen. There was not a single believer in
the Divine Being in the Constitutional Congress who did not hear in the
voice of John Adams, when he moved the appointment of George Washington
as Commander-in-Chief of all the forces raised or to be raised, the
creation and appointment of God.

So, in his election and re-election to the office of President, Hamilton
set forth the clearness and urgency of the call in the remark that
circumstances left Washington no option. That wonderful triumphal
procession from Mount Vernon to New York, through Baltimore,
Philadelphia, and Trenton, is in response to the appeal and command not
only of earth, but of Heaven. As the nation's first President was called
of God, so is the nation itself called. The divine ideal is before it as
it was before him. God had work for Washington; he had work for his
nation; he had work for every one of his fellow-citizens. An ideal good
is before every man, and divine power behind him. Let him consent to the
control of the power.

The nation's life and each individual life within it is founded on the
sense of obligation. We have in the model of Washington a definition of
duty in the special sense of the term, in the saying, "I most heartily
wish the choice may not fall upon me. The wish of my soul is to spend
the evening of my days as a private citizen on my farm." There is the
power of inclination, the pleading of personal ease and comfort, the
assertion of individual good. In all this there is nothing wrong, until
it comes into conflict with the national call, with the universal good.
Then came the fight between the special and the general, the private and
the public, the individual and the universal good.

The hope of a nation is in the choice of office of its best men. The
historic peril of the republic lies in the choice of unfit men for
eminent official position. This is our peril. It is well we are becoming
more and more alive to it. Nevertheless it is well to remember that
there have been times in our history when the voice of electors has been
the voice of God. When Washington was elected, the fittest man was
chosen. His was the rule of the wisest and best man. There are few
living who will not confess that Abraham Lincoln was another example of
the choice by the people of the best man. We turn in hope to the great
future. After he had taken the oath, Washington bowed his head, kissed
the Bible, and, with the deepest feeling, uttered the words, "So help me
God." There was his hope. There is the hope of every man. There is the
hope of the nation.

       *       *       *       *       *



He devoted one hour every other Tuesday, from three to four, to these
visits. He understood himself to be visited as the "President of the
United States," and not on his own account. He was not to be seen by
anybody and everybody; but required that everyone who came should be
introduced by his secretary, or by some gentleman whom he knew himself.
He lived on the South side of Market Street, just below Sixth. The place
of reception was the dining-room in the rear, twenty-five or thirty feet
in length, including the bow projecting over into the garden. Mrs.
Washington received her visitors in the two rooms on the second floor,
from front to rear.

At three o'clock, or at any time within a quarter of an hour afterward,
the visitor was conducted to this dining-room, from which all seats had
been removed for the time. On entering, he saw the tall, manly figure of
Washington, clad in black velvet; his hair in full dress, powdered and
gathered behind in a large silk bag; yellow gloves on his hands; holding
a cocked hat with cockade in it, and the edges adorned with a black
feather, about an inch deep. He wore knee and shoe buckles; and a long
sword with a finely wrought and polished steel hilt. The scabbard was
white polished leather.

He stood always in front of the fireplace, with his face toward the door
of entrance. The visitor was conducted to him, and he required to have
the name so distinctly pronounced that he could hear it. He had the very
uncommon faculty of associating a man's name and personal appearance so
durably in his memory, as to be able to call anyone by name, who made a
second visit. He received his visitor with a dignified bow, while his
hands were so disposed of as to indicate that the salutation was not to
be accompanied with shaking hands. This ceremony never occurred in these
visits, even with his most near friends, that no distinction might be

As these visitors came in, they formed a circle round the room. At a
quarter-past three, the door was closed, and the circle was formed for
that day. He then began on the right and spoke to each visitor, calling
him by name and exchanging a few words with him. When he had completed
his circuit he resumed his first position, and the visitors approached
him in succession, bowed, and retired. By four o'clock the ceremony was

On the evenings Mrs. Washington received visitors, he did not consider
himself as visited. He was then as a private gentleman, dressed usually
in some colored coat and waistcoat, often brown with bright buttons, and
black on his lower limbs. He had then neither hat nor sword; he moved
about among the company, conversing with one and another. He had once a
fortnight an official dinner, and select companies on other days. He sat
(it is said) at the side in a central position, Mrs. Washington
opposite; the two ends were occupied by members of his family, or by
personal friends.

       *       *       *       *       *



How infinitely superior must appear the spirit and principles of General
Washington, in his late address to Congress, compared with the policy of
modern European courts! Illustrious man!--deriving honor less from the
splendor of his situation than from the dignity of his mind! Grateful to
France for the assistance received from her in that great contest which
secured the independence of America, he yet did not choose to give up
the system of neutrality in her favor. Having once laid down the line of
conduct most proper to be pursued, not all the insults and provocations
of the French Minister, Genet, could at all put him out of his way or
bend him from his purpose. It must, indeed, create astonishment that,
placed in circumstances so critical, and filling a station so
conspicuous, the character of Washington should never once have been
called in question; that he should in no one instance have been accused
either of improper insolence or of mean submission in his transactions
with foreign nations. It has been reserved for him to run the race of
glory without experiencing the smallest interruption to the brilliancy
of his career. The breath of censure has not dared to impeach the purity
of his conduct, nor the eye of envy to raise its malignant glance to the
elevation of his virtues. Such has been the transcendent merit and the
unparalleled fate of this illustrious man!

How did he act when insulted by Genet? Did he consider it as necessary
to avenge himself for the misconduct or madness of an individual by
involving a whole continent in the horrors of war? No; he contented
himself with procuring satisfaction for the insult by causing Genet to
be recalled, and thus at once consulted his own dignity and the
interests of his country. Happy Americans! while the whirlwind flies
over one quarter of the globe, and spreads everywhere desolation, you
remain protected from its baneful effects by your own virtues and the
wisdom of your government. Separated from Europe by an immense ocean,
you feel not the effect of those prejudices and passions which convert
the boasted seats of civilization into scenes of horror and bloodshed.
You profit; by the folly and madness of the contending nations, and
afford, in your more congenial clime, an asylum to those blessings and
virtues which they wantonly contemn, or wickedly exclude from their
bosom! Cultivating the arts of peace under the influence of freedom, you
advance by rapid strides to opulence and distinction; and if by any
accident you should be compelled to take part in the present unhappy
contest,--if you should find it necessary to avenge insult or repel
injury,--the world will bear witness to the equity of your sentiments
and the moderation of your views; and the success of your arms will, no
doubt, be proportioned to the justice of your cause.





On the 4th of March, 1797, Washington went to the inauguration of his
successor as President of the United States. The Federal Government was
sitting in Philadelphia at that time, and Congress held sessions in the
courthouse on the corner of Sixth and Chestnut Streets.

At the appointed hour Washington entered the hall, followed by John
Adams, who was to take the oath of office. When they were seated,
Washington arose and introduced Mr. Adams to the audience, and then
proceeded to read in a firm, clear voice his brief valedictory--not his
great "Farewell Address," for that had already been published. A lady
who sat on "the front bench," "immediately in front" of Washington,
describes the scene in these words:

     There was a narrow passage from the door of entrance to the room.
     General Washington stopped at the end to let Mr. Adams pass to the
     chair. The latter always wore a full suit of bright drab, with
     loose cuffs to his coat. General Washington's dress was a full suit
     of black. His military hat had the black cockade. There stood the
     "Father of his Country," acknowledged by nations the first in war,
     first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen. No
     marshals with gold-colored scarfs attended him; there was no
     cheering, no noise; the most profound silence greeted him as if the
     great assembly desired to hear him breathe. Mr. Adams covered his
     face with both his hands; the sleeves of his coat and his hands
     were covered with tears. Every now and then there was a suppressed
     sob. I cannot describe Washington's appearance as I felt
     it--perfectly composed and self-possessed till the close of his
     address. Then, when strong nervous sobs broke loose, when tears
     covered the faces, then the great man was shaken. I never took my
     eyes from his face. Large drops came from his eyes. He looked as if
     his heart was with them, and would be to the end.

On Washington's retirement from the Presidency one of his first
employments was to arrange his papers and letters. Then, on returning to
his home, the venerable master found many things to repair. His landed
estate comprised eight thousand acres, and was divided into farms, with
inclosures and farm buildings. And now, with body and mind alike sound
and vigorous, he bent his energies to directing the improvements that
marked his last days at Mount Vernon.

In his earlier as well as in later life, his tour of the farms would
average from eight to twelve or fourteen miles a day. He rode upon his
farms entirely unattended, opening his gates, pulling down and putting
up his fences as he passed, visiting his laborers at their work,
inspecting all the operations of his extensive establishment with a
careful eye, directing useful improvements, and superintending them in
their progress.

He usually rode at a moderate pace in passing through his fields. But
when behind time, this most punctual of men would display the
horsemanship of his earlier days, and a hard gallop would bring him up
to time so that the sound of his horse's hoofs and the first dinner bell
would be heard together at a quarter before three.

A story is told that one day an elderly stranger meeting a Revolutionary
worthy out hunting, a long-tried and valued friend of the chief,
accosted him, and asked whether Washington was to be found at the
mansion house, or whether he was off riding over his estate. The friend
answered that he was visiting his farms, and directed the stranger the
road to take, adding, "You will meet, sir, with an old gentleman riding
alone in plain drab clothes, a broad-brimmed white hat, a hickory switch
in his hand, and carrying an umbrella with a long staff, which is
attached to his saddle-bow--that person, sir, is General Washington."

Precisely at a quarter before three the industrious farmer returned,
dressed, and dined at three o'clock. At this meal he ate heartily, but
was not particular in his diet with the exception of fish, of which he
was excessively fond. Touching his liking for fish, and illustrative of
his practical economy and abhorrence of waste and extravagance, an
anecdote is told of the time he was President and living in
Philadelphia. It happened that a single shad had been caught in the
Delaware, and brought to the city market. His steward, Sam Fraunces,
pounced upon the fish with the speed of an osprey, delighted that he
had secured a delicacy agreeable to the palate of his chief, and
careless of the expense, for which the President had often rebuked him.

When the fish was served, Washington suspected the steward had forgotten
his order about expenditure for the table, and said to Fraunces, who
stood at his post at the sideboard, "What fish is this?" "A shad, sir, a
very fine shad," the steward answered. "I know Your Excellency is
particularly fond of this kind of fish, and was so fortunate as to
procure this one--the only one in market, sir, the first of the season."
"The price, sir, the price?" asked Washington sternly. "Three--three
dollars," stammered the conscience-stricken steward. "Take it away,"
thundered the chief, "take it away, sir! It shall never be said that my
table set such an example of luxury and extravagance." Poor Fraunces
tremblingly did as he was told, and the first shad of the season was
carried away untouched, to be speedily discussed in the servants'

Although the Farmer of Mount Vernon was much retired from the business
world, he was by no means inattentive to the progress of public affairs.
When the post-bag arrived, he would select his letters and lay them
aside for reading in the seclusion of his library. The newspapers he
would peruse while taking his single cup of tea (his only supper) and
read aloud passages of peculiar interest, remarking the matter as he
went along. He read with distinctness and precision. These evenings with
his family always ended at precisely nine o'clock, when he bade
everyone good-night and retired to rest, to rise again at four and renew
the same routine of labor and enjoyment.

Washington's last days, like those that preceded them in the course of a
long and well-spent life, were devoted to constant and careful
employment. His correspondence both at home and abroad was immense. Yet
no letter was unanswered. One of the best-bred men of his time,
Washington deemed it a grave offense against the rules of good manners
and propriety to leave letters unanswered. He wrote with great facility,
and it would be a difficult matter to find another who had written so
much, who had written so well. General Harry Lee once observed to him,
"We are amazed, sir, at the vast amount of work you get through."
Washington answered, "Sir, I rise at four o'clock, and a great deal of
my work is done while others sleep."

He was the most punctual of men, as we said. To this admirable quality
of rising at four and retiring to rest at nine at all seasons, this
great man owed his ability to accomplish mighty labors during his long
and illustrious life. He was punctual in everything, and made everyone
about him punctual. So careful a man delighted in always having about
him a good timekeeper. In Philadelphia the first President regularly
walked up to his watchmaker's to compare his watch with the regulator.
At Mount Vernon the active yet punctual farmer invariably consulted the
dial when returning from his morning ride, and before entering his

The affairs of the household took order from the master's accurate and
methodical arrangement of time. Even the fisherman on the river watched
for the cook's signal when to pull in shore and deliver his catch in
time for dinner.

Among the picturesque objects on the Potomac, to be seen from the
eastern portion of the mansion house, was the light canoe of the house's
fisher. Father Jack was an African, an hundred years of age, and
although enfeebled in body by weight of years, his mind possessed
uncommon vigor. And he would tell of days long past, when, under African
suns, he was made captive, and of the terrible battle in which his royal
sire was slain, the village burned, and himself sent to the slave ship.

Father Jack had in a considerable degree a leading quality of his
race--somnolency. Many an hour could the family of Washington see the
canoe fastened to a stake, with the old fisherman bent nearly double
enjoying a nap, which was only disturbed by the jerking of the white
perch caught on his hook. But, as we just said, the domestic duties of
Mount Vernon were governed by clock time, and the slumbers of fisher
Jack might occasion inconvenience, for the cook required the fish at a
certain hour, so that they might be served smoking hot precisely at
three. At times he would go to the river bank and make the accustomed
signals, and meet with no response. The old fisherman would be quietly
reposing in his canoe, rocked by the gentle undulations of the stream,
and dreaming, no doubt, of events "long time ago." The importune master
of the kitchen, grown ferocious by delay, would now rush up and down
the water's edge, and, by dint of loud shouting, cause the canoe to turn
its prow to the shore. Father Jack, indignant at its being supposed he
was asleep at his post, would rate those present on his landing, "What
you all meck such a debil of a noise for, hey? I wa'nt sleep, only

The establishment of Mount Vernon employed a perfect army of domestics;
yet to each one were assigned special duties, and from each one strict
performance was required. There was no confusion where there was order,
and the affairs of this estate, embracing thousands of acres and
hundreds of dependents, were conducted with as much ease, method, and
regularity as the affairs of a homestead of average size.

Mrs. Washington was an accomplished housewife of the olden time, and she
gave constant attention to all matters of her household, and by her
skill and management greatly contributed to the comfort and
entertainment of the guests who enjoyed the hospitality of her home.

The best charities of life were gathered round Washington in the last
days at Mount Vernon. The love and veneration of a whole people for his
illustrious services, his generous and untiring labors in the cause of
public utility; his kindly demeanor to his family circle, his friends,
and numerous dependents; his courteous and cordial hospitality to his
guests, many of them strangers from far distant lands; these charities,
all of which sprang from the heart, were the ornament of his declining
years, and granted the most sublime scene in nature, when human
greatness reposes upon human happiness.

On the morning of the 13th of December, 1799, the General was engaged in
making some improvements in the front of Mount Vernon. As was usual with
him, he carried his own compass, noted his observations, and marked out
the ground. The day became rainy, with sleet, and the improver remained
so long exposed to the inclemency of the weather as to be considerably
wetted before his return to the house. About one o'clock he was seized
with chilliness and nausea, but having changed his clothes, he sat down
to his indoor work. At night, on joining his family circle, he
complained of a slight indisposition. Upon the night of the following
day, having borne acute suffering with composure and fortitude, he died.

In person Washington was unique. He looked like no one else. To a
stature lofty and commanding he united a form of the manliest
proportions, and a dignified, graceful, and imposing carriage. In the
prime of life he stood six feet, two inches. From the period of the
Revolution there was an evident bending in his frame so passing straight
before, but the stoop came from the cares and toils of that arduous
contest rather than from years. For his step was firm, his appearance
noble and impressive long after the time when the physical properties of
men are supposed to wane.

A majestic height was met by corresponding breadth and firmness. His
whole person was so cast in nature's finest mould as to resemble an
ancient statue, all of whose parts unite to the perfection of the
whole. But with all its development of muscular power, Washington's form
had no look of bulkiness, and so harmonious were its proportions that he
did not appear so tall as his portraits have represented. He was rather
spare than full during his whole life.

The strength of Washington's arm was shown on several occasions. He
threw a stone from the bed of the stream to the top of the Natural
Bridge, Virginia, and another stone across the Rappahannock at
Fredericksburg. The stone was said to be a piece of slate about the size
of a dollar with which he spanned the bold river, and it took the ground
at least thirty yards on the other side. Many have since tried this
feat, but none have cleared the water.

In 1772 some young men were contending at Mount Vernon in the exercise
of pitching the bar. The Colonel looked on for a time, then grasping the
missile in his master hand, he whirled the iron through the air, and it
fell far beyond any of its former limits. "You see, young gentlemen,"
said the chief with a smile, "that my arm yet retains some portion of my
early vigor." He was then in his fortieth year, and probably in the
fullness of his physical powers. Those powers became rather mellowed
than decayed by time, for "his age was like lusty winter, frosty yet
kindly," and up to his sixty-eighth year he mounted a horse with
surprising agility, and rode with ease and grace. Rickets, the
celebrated equestrian, used to say, "I delight to see the General ride,
and make it a point to fall in with him when I hear he is out on
horseback--his seat is so firm, his management so easy and graceful,
that I, who am an instructor in horsemanship, would go to him and learn
to ride."

In his later day, the General, desirous of riding pleasantly, procured
from the North two horses of a breed for bearing the saddle. They were
well to look at, and pleasantly gaited under the saddle, but also scary,
and therefore unfitted for the service of one who liked to ride quietly
on his farm, occasionally dismounting and walking in his fields to
inspect improvements. From one of these horses the General sustained a
fall--probably the only fall he ever had from a horse in his life. It
was upon a November evening, and he was returning from Alexandria to
Mount Vernon, with three friends and a groom. Having halted a few
moments, he dismounted, and upon rising in his stirrup again, the horse,
alarmed at the glare from a fire near the roadside, sprang from under
his rider, who came heavily to the ground. His friends rushed to give
him assistance, thinking him hurt. But the vigorous old man was upon his
feet again, brushing the dust from his clothes, and after thanking those
who came to his aid, said that he had had a very complete tumble, and
that it was owing to a cause no horseman could well avoid or
control--that he was only poised in his stirrup, and had not yet gained
his saddle when the scary animal sprang from under him.

Bred in the vigorous school of frontier warfare, "the earth for his
bed, his canopy the heavens," Washington excelled the hunter and
woodsman in their athletic habits, and in those trials of manhood which
filled the hardy days of his early life. He was amazingly swift of foot,
and could climb steep mountains seemingly without effort. Indeed, in all
the tests of his great physical powers he appeared to make little
effort. When he overthrew the strong man of Virginia in wrestling, upon
a day when many of the finest athletes were engaged in the contest, he
had retired to the shade of a tree intent upon the reading of a book. It
was only after the champion of the games strode through the ring calling
for nobler antagonists, and taunting the reader with the fear that he
would be thrown, that Washington closed his book. Without taking off his
coat he calmly observed that fear did not enter his make-up; then
grappling with the champion, he hurled him to the ground. "In
Washington's lion-like grasp," said the vanquished wrestler, "I became
powerless, and went down with a force that seemed to jar the very marrow
in my bones." The victor, regardless of shouts at his success, leisurely
retired to his shade, and again took up his book.

Washington's powers were chiefly in his limbs. His frame was of equal
breadth from the shoulders to the hips. His chest was not prominent, but
rather hollowed in the center. He never entirely recovered from a
pulmonary affection from which he suffered in early life. His frame
showed an extraordinary development of bone and muscle; his joints were
large, as were his feet; and could a cast of his hand have been
preserved, it would be ascribed to a being of a fabulous age. Lafayette
said, "I never saw any human being with so large a hand as the

Of the awe and reverence which the presence of Washington inspired we
have many records. "I stood," says one writer, "before the door of the
Hall of Congress in Philadelphia, when the carriage of the President
drew up. It was a white coach, or, rather, of a light cream color,
painted on the panels with beautiful groups representing the four
seasons. As Washington alighted, and, ascending the steps, paused on the
platform, he was preceded by two gentlemen bearing large white wands,
who kept back the eager crowd that pressed on every side. At that moment
I stood so near I might have touched his clothes; but I should as soon
have thought of touching an electric battery. I was penetrated with
deepest awe. Nor was this the feeling of the schoolboy I then was. It
pervaded, I believe, every human being that approached Washington; and I
have been told that even in his social hours, this feeling in those who
shared them never suffered intermission. I saw him a hundred times
afterward, but never with any other than the same feeling. The Almighty,
who raised up for our hour of need a man so peculiarly prepared for its
whole dread responsibility, seems to have put a stamp of sacredness upon
his instrument. The first sight of the man struck the eye with
involuntary homage, and prepared everything around him to obey.

"At the time I speak of, he stood in profound silence and had the
statue-like air which mental greatness alone can bestow. As he turned to
enter the building, and was ascending the staircase to the Congressional
hall, I glided along unseen, almost under the cover of the skirts of his
dress, and entered into the lobby of the House, which was in session to
receive him.

"At Washington's entrance there was a most profound silence. House,
lobbies, gallery, all were wrapped in deepest attention. And the souls
of the entire assemblage seemed peering from their eyes as the noble
figure deliberately and unaffectedly advanced up the broad aisle of the
hall between ranks of standing Senators and members, and slowly ascended
the steps leading to the Speaker's chair.

"The President, having seated himself, remained in silence, and the
members took their seats, waiting for the speech. No house of worship
was ever more profoundly still than that large and crowded chamber.

"Washington was dressed precisely as Stuart has painted him in
full-length portrait--in a full suit of the richest black velvet, with
diamond knee-buckles and square silver buckles set upon shoes japanned
with most scrupulous neatness; black silk stockings, his shirt ruffled
at the breast and waist, a light dress sword, his hair profusely
powdered, fully dressed, so as to project at the sides, and gathered
behind in a silk bag ornamented with a large rose or black ribbon. He
held his cocked hat, which had a large black cockade on one side of it,
in his hand, as he advanced toward the chair, and when seated, laid it
on the table.

"At length thrusting his hand within the side of his coat, he drew forth
a roll of manuscript which he opened, and rising, read in a rich, deep,
full, sonorous voice his opening address to Congress. His enunciation
was deliberate, justly emphasized, very distinct, and accompanied with
an air of deep solemnity as being the utterance of a mind conscious of
the whole responsibility of its position, but not oppressed by it. There
was ever about the man something which impressed one with the conviction
that he was exactly and fully equal to what he had to do. He was never
hurried; never negligent; but seemed ever prepared for the occasion, be
it what it might. In his study, in his parlor, at a levee, before
Congress, at the head of the army, he seemed ever to be just what the
situation required. He possessed, in a degree never equaled by any human
being I ever saw, the strongest, most ever-present sense of propriety."

In the early part of Washington's administration, great complaints were
made by political opponents of the aristocratic and royal demeanor of
the President. Particularly, these complaints were about the manner of
his receiving visitors. In a letter Washington gave account of the
origin of his levees: "Before the custom was established," he wrote,
"which now accommodates foreign characters, strangers, and others, who,
from motives of curiosity, respect for the chief magistrate, or other
cause, are induced to call upon me, I was unable to attend to any
business whatever; for gentlemen, consulting their own convenience
rather than mine, were calling after the time I rose from breakfast, and
often before, until I sat down to dinner. This, as I resolved not to
neglect my public duties, reduced me to the choice of one of these
alternatives: either to refuse visits altogether, or to appropriate a
time for the reception of them.... To please everybody was impossible.
I, therefore, adopted that line of conduct which combined public
advantage with private convenience.... These visits are optional, they
are made without invitation; between the hours of three and four every
Tuesday I am prepared to receive them. Gentlemen, often in great
numbers, come and go, chat with each other, and act as they please. A
porter shows them into the room, and they retire from it when they
choose, without ceremony. At their first entrance they salute me, and I
them, and as many as I can talk to."

An English gentleman, after visiting President Washington, wrote: "There
was a commanding air in his appearance which excited respect and forbade
too great a freedom toward him, independently of that species of awe
which is always felt in the moral influence of a great character? In
every movement, too, there was a polite gracefulness equal to any met
with in the most polished individuals of Europe, and his smile was
extraordinarily attractive.... It struck me no man could be better
formed for command. A stature of six feet, a robust but
well-proportioned frame calculated to stand fatigue, without that
heaviness which generally attends great muscular strength and abates
active exertion, displayed bodily power of no mean standard. A light eye
and full--the very eye of genius and reflection. His nose appeared
thick, and though it befitted his other features, was too coarsely and
strongly formed to be the handsomest of its class. His mouth was like no
other I ever saw: the lips firm, and the under jaw seeming to grasp the
upper with force, as if its muscles were in full action when he sat

Such Washington appeared to those who saw and knew him. Such he remains
to our vision. His memory is held by us in undying honor. Not only his
memory alone, but also the memory of his associates in the struggle for
American Independence. Homage we should have in our hearts for those
patriots and heroes and sages who with humble means raised their native
land--now our native land--from the depths of dependence, and made it a
free nation. And especially for Washington, who presided over the
nation's course at the beginning of the great experiment in
self-government and, after an unexampled career in the service of
freedom and our human-kind, with no dimming of august fame, died calmly
at Mount Vernon--the Father of his Country.


[16] From "Heroes Every Child Should Know." Copyright, 1906, by
Doubleday, Page & Co.

       *       *       *       *       *



Once more before he died Washington was called into public life for a
short time. President Adams had sent three commissioners to France. The
French Minister, Talleyrand, treated them ill, and sent secret agents to
them to let them know that nothing would be done until they paid large
bribes. The three Americans sent home cipher dispatches in which they
told how they had been received. President Adams thought best to publish
these dispatches, putting the letters X, Y, and Z in place of the names
of the secret agents. These papers came to be known as the X, Y, and Z
dispatches, and they caused great excitement in America. The cry was,
"Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute," and the war spirit
rose very high. Everyone wished Washington to be the leader in case
there should be war with France. President Adams accordingly wrote to
Washington, asking him to accept the command of the new army which was
to be formed. Washington accepted, on condition that he was not to be
called into service unless there should really be war, and that he
should be allowed to name the chief officers who were to serve under
him. He wished to put a young and able man second in command--for old
officers seldom make good ones--so he chose Hamilton first, then
Pinckney, and then Knox. Adams disliked Hamilton, and tried to place
Knox second in command, as this old officer thought his due. There was
some trouble between Washington and Adams on this point, but Adams was
forced to give way to the great leader. Washington went to Philadelphia
in the fall of 1798, to work over army plans with his major-generals. It
seemed possible that he might have to lead the Americans against one of
Napoleon's great armies. But though he made careful preparations,
Washington did not believe that there would be war. He thought, however,
that preparing for war would be the best way to bring about peace. And
so it proved; for no sooner did Talleyrand see that the Americans were
really aroused than he caused it to be intimated to the American
Minister at Holland that he would treat another envoy better. Adams
accordingly sent one to France, and war was finally averted, though the
news of the settlement did not reach America until after the death of
her great General.

Washington had said, "I am of a short-lived family, and cannot remain
long upon the earth." In fact, his sister and all of his brothers except
one died before he did. According to his usual careful habits, he made
out a long paper, in which he planned how his estates should be managed
for several years, with a rotation of crops. He finished this paper only
four days before his death. The day before he was taken ill he walked
out with his nephew, Lawrence Lewis, who was married to Nelly Custis
and living at Mount Vernon, and talked to him about building a new
family vault. "This change," said he, "I shall make first of all, for I
may require it before the rest."

On the 12th of December, 1799, Washington made the tour, as usual, of
his plantations. The weather was very bad. There was rain, hail, and
snow falling at different times, and a cold wind blowing. It was after
three o'clock when he returned. Mr. Lear, his secretary, brought him
some letters to be franked, for he intended to send them to the post
office that afternoon. Washington franked the letters, but said that the
weather was too bad to send a servant out with them. Lear noticed that
the General's neck appeared to be wet, and that there was snow clinging
to his hair. He spoke to him about it, but Washington said that he was
not wet, as his greatcoat had protected him. He went to dinner, which
was waiting for him, without changing his clothes. The next day he
complained of a sore throat, and remained in the house in the morning,
as it was snowing hard. In the afternoon, however, he went out to mark
some trees which he wished cut down, between the house and the river. He
was quite hoarse by evening. He sat in the parlor, however, with Mrs.
Washington and Lear, reading the papers which had been brought from the
post office. He read some things aloud in spite of his hoarseness. At
nine o'clock Mrs. Washington went to the room of her granddaughter
Nelly, whose first child had recently been born. The two gentlemen
continued to read the papers, and Washington seemed cheerful. Once he
became excited over some political event, and used some of the strong
words he could command on occasion. Before they went to bed, Lear
advised the General to take something for his cold.

"No," said Washington; "you know I never take anything for a cold. Let
it go as it came."

During the night, however, he had a chill, and awoke Mrs. Washington,
telling her that he felt ill. She wished to get up, but he would not
allow her to do this, lest she should take cold. When the servant came
into the room to make a fire at daylight, Mrs. Washington sent for Lear,
and got up herself. The General was now breathing with difficulty, and
could scarcely speak. Lear sent for Dr. Craik, and meantime Washington
told him to send for Mr. Rawlins, an overseer, to bleed him. Rawlins
came soon after sunrise, and trembled at the prospect of opening a vein
on the great man's arm. "Don't be afraid," said Washington; and when the
vein had been opened, he added, "the orifice is not large enough." Mrs.
Washington did not approve of the bleeding before the doctor came, but
Washington said, "More, more." It was a universal remedy in those days,
but it brought no relief to the sufferer.

During the day three doctors arrived. Washington was bled three times;
blisters were applied to the throat and the feet; all that medical
science could do in that day was tried, but without success. The disease
was an acute laryngitis, and could have been relieved only by
tracheotomy, which was not practical in the South, though it had been
tried in Philadelphia at an earlier date. About half-past four in the
afternoon the sick man asked Mrs. Washington to go downstairs and fetch
two wills from his desk. He looked at them, and asked her to burn one of
them, which she did. Lear now came to his bedside and took his hand.

"I find I am going," Washington said to him. "My breath cannot last
long. I believed from the first that the disorder would prove fatal. Do
you arrange and record all my late military letters and papers. Arrange
my accounts and settle my books, as you know more about them than anyone
else, and let Mr. Rawlins finish recording my other letters which he has

Washington asked Lear whether he thought of anything else that ought to
be done; he had but a very short time, he said, to remain with his
friends. The secretary answered that he could think of nothing, and that
he hoped the General was not so near his end as he thought. Washington
smiled, and said that he certainly was, "and that, as it was a debt
which we must all pay, he looked on the event with perfect resignation."

Sometimes he seemed to be in pain and distress from the difficulty of
breathing, and was very restless. Lear would then lie down upon the bed
and raise and turn him as gently as possibly. Washington often said, "I
am afraid I shall fatigue you too much"; and when the young man assured
him that he wished for nothing but to give him ease, Washington replied:

"Well, it is a debt we must pay to each other, and I hope that when you
want aid of this kind you will find it."

He noticed that his servant, Christopher, had been standing most of the
day, and told him to sit down. He asked when his nephew Lewis and his
adopted son Custis, who were away from home, would return. When his
lifelong friend, Dr. Craik, came to his bedside, he said: "Doctor, I die
hard, but I am not afraid to go. I believed from my first attack that I
should not survive it. My breath cannot last long." The doctor was
unable to answer from grief, and could only press his hand.

He afterward said to all the physicians: "I feel myself going. I thank
you for your attentions; but, I pray you, take no more trouble about me.
Let me go off quietly; I cannot last long." He continued to be restless
and uneasy, but made no complaints, only asking now and then what time
it was. When Lear helped him to move, he gave the secretary a look of
gratitude. About ten o'clock at night he made several efforts to speak
to Lear before he could do so. He finally said: "I am just going. Have
me decently buried; and do not let my body be put into the vault in less
than three days after I am dead." Lear nodded, for he could not speak.

"Do you understand?" asked Washington.


"'Tis well," said the dying man.

About ten minutes before death his breathing became easier; he felt his
own pulse, and the expression of his face changed. One hand presently
fell from the wrist of the other. Lear took it in his and pressed it to
his bosom.

Mrs. Washington, who sat near the foot of the bed, asked in a firm
voice, "Is he gone?"

Lear was unable to speak, but made a sign that Washington was dead.

"Tis well," said she; "all is now over; I shall soon follow him; I have
no more trials to pass through."

Washington died on December 14, 1799, in his sixty-eighth year. All his
neighbors and relatives assembled to attend his funeral; the militia and
Freemasons of Alexandria were present; eleven pieces of artillery were
brought to Mount Vernon to do military honors, and a schooner which lay
in the Potomac fired minute guns. Washington's horse, with saddle,
holster, and pistols, was led before the coffin by two grooms dressed in
black. The body was deposited in the old family vault, after short and
simple ceremonies. Washington was deeply mourned all over the United
States, for never had a man been so beloved by his own countrymen.

Washington left all of his estates to his wife for life; after her death
they were to be divided between his nephews and nieces, and Mrs.
Washington's grandchildren. He made his nephew, Bushrod Washington, his
principal heir, leaving Mount Vernon to him. He said that he did this
partly because he had promised the young man's father, his brother, John
Augustine, when they were bachelors, to leave Mount Vernon to him in
case he should fall in the French war. He willed that all his negro
slaves should be set free on the death of his wife. He said that he
earnestly wished that it might be done before this, but he feared it
would cause trouble on account of their intermarriages with the dower
negroes who came to Mrs. Washington from her first husband, and whom he
had no right to free. He willed also that such should be comfortably
clothed and fed by his heirs. To his five nephews he left his swords,
with the injunction that they were "not to unsheath them for the purpose
of shedding blood, except it be in self-defense, or in defense of their
country and its rights; and in the latter case to keep them unsheathed,
and prefer falling with them in their hands to the relinquishment

Washington's life is an open book. He knew that he was making history,
and he kept careful copies of all his most important letters and
writings, so that it is impossible that there should be doubts on any
very important point. So jealous was he of his own honorable reputation,
that his last act as President was to file a denial of the authenticity
of some spurious letters which were attributed to him by his political
enemies. These letters were first published during the Revolution by the
English, and purported to be written by Washington to Lund Washington,
to Mrs. Washington, and to John Parke Custis. The person who wrote them
knew something of Washington's private affairs, but he made the American
general say things which represented him as opposed to the independence
of the colonies. It was asserted that Washington in his retreat from New
York left his servant Billy behind, and that these papers were found in
a handbag which the valet carried. As it was well known in the army that
Billy had never been captured, Washington did not then think it needful
to deny having written these letters; but when they were brought forward
again by his enemies during the last years of his Presidency, he was
alarmed lest they should go down to history as his own. Most of
Washington's writings which are preserved show him to us only as a grave
public character, and lives of Washington drawn mainly from this source
are apt to make the great man seem unnaturally cold, dignified, remote,
and impressive. So usual has this view of Washington become, that there
is a common belief that he never laughed aloud--a belief which there are
many stories to refute.

Washington had immense physical courage. In all the battles in which he
fought he exposed himself fearlessly. His moral courage was even
greater. He never shrank from doing what he thought right because it was
likely to make him unpopular. Perhaps Washington's greatest qualities
were his wisdom and prudence. These traits were very important in the
leader of a young people engaged in a revolutionary struggle. He had few
brilliant military successes, but it is impossible to say what he might
not have done had he not been weighed down by immense difficulties. His
influence over men was great, and those who were under him loved him. He
was never swayed by mean motives, his actions were always honorable, and
he was generous even to those who were his bitter opponents. Though he
was a man of action, he thought deeply on many subjects. "Never," said
Jefferson, "did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man
great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies
have merited from man an everlasting remembrance."


[17] "The Story of Washington." D. Appleton & Co., 1893.

       *       *       *       *       *



The Defender of His Country, The Founder of Liberty,


History and Tradition are Explored in Vain for a Parallel
to His Character.

And the Noblest Names of Antiquity Lose Their Lustre
In His Presence. Born the Benefactor of Mankind, He
United All The Qualities Necessary to An Illustrious


He made himself virtuous.

Called By His Country To The Defence of Her Liberties,
He Triumphantly Vindicated The Rights of Humanity,
And on The Pillars of National Independence Laid the
Foundations Of A Great Republic. Twice Invested With
the Supreme Magistracy, By the Unanimous Voice of a
Free People, He Surpassed In The Cabinet


And Voluntarily Resigning the Sceptre and the Sword,
Retired to the Shades of Private Life. A Spectacle So
New and So Sublime Was Contemplated With the Profoundest
Admiration; And the Name of


Adding New Lustre to Humanity,
Resounded To The Remotest Regions Of the Earth.
Magnanimous in Youth,


His Highest Ambition the Happiness of Mankind,
His Noblest Victory the Conquest of Himself,
Bequeathing to Posterity the Inheritance of His Fame,

_And Building His Monument in the Hearts of His

He Lived the Ornament Of the Eighteenth Century, and
Died Regretted By a Mourning World.


[18] The author of this inscription is not known. It has been
transcribed from a manuscript copy written on the back of a
picture-frame, in which is set a miniature likeness of Washington, and
which hangs in one of the rooms of the mansion at Mount Vernon, where it
was left some time after Washington's death.--H.B. CARRINGTON.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Delivered at the laying of the cornerstone of the new wing of the
Capitol at Washington, July 4, 1851_

Washington! Methinks I see his venerable form now before me. He is
dignified and grave; but concern and anxiety seem to soften the
lineaments of his countenance. The government over which he presides is
yet in the crisis of experiment. Not free from troubles at home, he sees
the world in commotion and arms all around him. He sees that imposing
foreign powers are half disposed to try the strength of the recently
established American Government. Mighty thoughts, mingled with fears as
well as with hopes, are struggling within him. He heads a short
procession over these then naked fields; he crosses yonder stream on a
fallen tree; he ascends to the top of this eminence, whose original oaks
of the forest stand as thick around him as if the spot had been devoted
to Druidical worship, and here he performs the appointed duty of the

And now, if this vision were a reality; if Washington now were actually
amongst us, and if he could draw around him the shades of the great
public men of his own day, patriots and warriors, orators and statesmen,
and were to address us in their presence, would he not say to us:

"Ye men of this generation, I rejoice and thank God for being able to
see that our labors, and toils, and sacrifices, were not in vain. You
are prosperous, you are happy, you are grateful. The fire of liberty
burns brightly and steadily in your hearts, while duty and the law
restrain it from bursting forth in wild and destructive conflagration.
Cherish liberty, as you love it; cherish its securities, as you wish to
preserve it. Maintain the Constitution which we labored so painfully to
establish, and which has been to you such a source of inestimable
blessings. Preserve the Union of the States, cemented as it was by our
prayers, our tears, and our blood. Be true to God, to your country, and
to your duty. So shall the whole Eastern world follow the morning sun,
so contemplate you as a nation; so shall all generations honor you, as
they honor us; and so shall that Almighty power which so graciously
protected us, and which now protects you, shower its everlasting
blessings upon you and your posterity!"

Great Father of your Country! We need your words; we feel their force,
as if you now uttered them with lips of flesh and blood. Your example
teaches us, your affectionate addresses teach us, your public life
teaches us, your sense of the value of the blessings of the Union. Those
blessings our fathers have tasted, and we have tasted, and still taste.
Nor do we intend that those who come after us shall be denied the same
high function. Our honor, as well as our happiness, is concerned. We
cannot, we dare not, we will not, betray our sacred trust. We will not
filch from posterity the treasure placed in our hands to be transmitted
to other generations. The bow that gilds the clouds in the heavens, the
pillars that uphold the firmament, may disappear and fall away in the
hour appointed by the will of God; but, until that day comes, or so long
as our lives may last, no ruthless hand shall undermine that bright arch
of Union and Liberty which spans the continent from Washington to





Modern history, oratory, and poetry are so replete with tributes to the
memory of Washington, that the entire progress of the civilized world
for more than a century has been shaped by the influence of his life and
precepts. The memorial shaft at the national capital, which is the
loftiest of human structures, and is inner-faced by typical expressions
of honor from nearly all nations, is a fit type of his surmounting
merit. The ceremonies which attended the cornerstone consecration and
signalized its completion are no less an honor to the distinguished
historian and statesman who voiced the acclamations of the American
people than a perpetual testimonial worthy of the subject honored by the
occasion and by the monument. When the world pays willing tribute, and
the most ambitious monarch on earth would covet no higher plaudit than
that he served his people as faithfully as Washington served America, it
is difficult to fathom the depths of memorial sentiment and place in
public view those which are the most worthy of study and appreciative
respect. The national life itself throbs through his transmitted life,
and the aroma of his grace is as consciously breathed by statesmen and
citizens to-day as the invisible atmosphere which secures physical
vitality and force. Senator Vance of North Carolina, thus earnestly
commends to the youth of America the brightness and beauty of the great

     Greater soldiers, more intellectual statesmen, and profounder sages
     have doubtless existed in the history of the English race, perhaps
     in our own country, but not one who to great excellence in the
     threefold composition of man, the physical, intellectual, and
     moral, has added such exalted integrity, such unaffected piety,
     such unsullied purity of soul, and such wondrous control of his own
     spirit. He illustrated and adorned the civilization of
     Christianity, and furnished an example of the wisdom and perfection
     of its teachings which the subtlest arguments of its enemies cannot
     impeach. That one grand, rounded life, full-orbed with intellectual
     and moral glory, is worth, as the product of Christianity, more
     than all the dogmas of all the teachers. The youth of America who
     aspire to promote their own and their country's welfare should
     never cease to gaze upon his great example, or to remember that the
     brightest gems in the crown of his immortality, the qualities which
     uphold his fame on earth and plead for him in heaven, were those
     which characterized him as the patient, brave, Christian gentleman.
     In this respect he was a blessing to the whole human race no less
     than to his own countrymen, to the many millions who annually
     celebrate the day of his birth.

Such sentiments fitly illustrate the controlling element of character
which made the conduct of Washington so peerless in the field and in the
chair of state. His first utterances upon assuming command of the
American army before Boston, on the 2d of July, 1775, were a rebuke of
religious bigotry and an impressive protest against gaming, swearing,
and all immoral practices, which might forfeit divine aid in the great
struggle for national independence. Succeeding orders, preparatory to
the battle of Long Island, in August, 1776, breathe the same
spirit,--that which transfused all his activities, as with celestial
fire, until he surrendered his commission with a devout and public
recognition of Almighty God as the author of his success.


[19] From the "Patriotic Reader." Lippincott Co.

       *       *       *       *       *


_World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, October 21, 1892_



  When dreaming kings, at odds with swift-paced time,
    Would strike that banner down,
  A nobler knight than ever writ or rhyme
    With fame's bright wreath did crown
  Through armed hosts bore it till it floated high
  Beyond the clouds, a light that cannot die!
    Ah, hero of our younger race!
      Great builder of a temple new!
    Ruler, who sought no lordly place!
      Warrior, who sheathed the sword he drew!
    Lover of men, who saw afar
    A world unmarred by want or war,
    Who knew the path, and yet forbore
    To tread, till all men should implore;
    Who saw the light, and led the way
    Where the gray world might greet the day;
    Father and leader, prophet sure,
    Whose will in vast works shall endure,
  How shall we praise him on this day of days,
  Great son of fame who has no need of praise?

  How shall we praise him? Open wide the doors
    Of the fair temple whose broad base he laid.
    Through its white halls a shadowy cavalcade
  Of heroes moves o'er unresounding floors--
  Men whose brawned arms upraised these columns high,
  And reared the towers that vanish in the sky,--
  The strong who, having wrought, can never die.

       *       *       *       *       *



  The quarry whence thy form majestic sprung
    Has peopled earth with grace,
  Heroes and gods that elder bards have sung,
    A bright and peerless race;
  But from its sleeping veins ne'er rose before
    A shape of loftier name
  Than his, who Glory's wreath with meekness wore,
    The noblest son of Fame.
  Sheathed is the sword that Passion never stained;
    His gaze around is cast,
  As if the joys of Freedom, newly gained,
    Before his vision passed;
  As if a nation's shout of love and pride
    With music filled the air,
  And his calm soul was lifted on the tide
    Of deep and grateful prayer;
  As if the crystal mirror of his life
    To fancy sweetly came,
  With scenes of patient toil and noble strife,
    Undimmed by doubt or shame;
  As if the lofty purpose of his soul
    Expression would betray--
  The high resolve Ambition to control,
    And thrust her crown away!
  O, it was well in marble firm and white
    To carve our hero's form,
  Whose angel guidance was our strength in fight,
    Our star amid the storm!
  Whose matchless truth has made his name divine
    And human freedom sure,
  His country great, his tomb earth's dearest shrine.
    While man and time endure!
  And it is well to place his image there
    Upon the soil he blest:
  Let meaner spirits, who its councils share,
    Revere that silent guest!
  Let us go up with high and sacred love
    To look on his pure brow,
  And as, with solemn grace, he points above,
    Renew the patriot's vow!


_Extract from an address by President Gary of the Union League Club, at
the celebration of Washington's Birthday at the Auditorium, Chicago,
February 22, 1900_

It is needless to dispute with others as to Washington's rank in minor
things. We know that for us and for our country his is the greatest name
that lives; that in the grand struggle and march for freedom he was
humanity's greatest leader, and that through us as a nation he gave to
the world its chiefest example of republican self-government And now
that his greatness is acknowledged and his praises sung the world round,
our hearts swell with pride and gratitude that he is ours; our
countryman; our great American; our Washington. Not the safe and
invincible general merely, not the wise first President, but George
Washington, the sublime personality, greatest seen when all props and
scaffoldings of rank and station are torn away.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Green's "_History of the English People_":

No nobler figure ever stood in the forefront of a nation's life.
Washington was grave and courteous in address; his manners were simple
and unpretending; his silence and the serene calmness of his temper
spoke of a perfect self-mastery; but little there was in his outer
bearing to reveal the grandeur of soul which lifts his figure with all
the simple majesty of an ancient statue, out of the smaller passions,
the meaner impulses of the world around him.

It was only as the weary fight went on that the colonists learned,
little by little, the greatness of their leader--his clear judgment, his
calmness in the hour of danger or defeat; the patience with which he
waited, the quickness and hardness with which he struck, the lofty and
serene sense of duty that never swerved from its task through resentment
or jealousy, that never, through war or peace, felt the touch of a
meaner ambition; that knew no aim save that of guarding the freedom of
his fellow-countrymen; and no personal longing save that of returning to
his own fireside when their freedom was secured.

It was almost unconsciously that men learned to cling to Washington with
a trust and faith such as few other men have won, and to regard him with
reverence which still hushes us in presence of his memory.

       *       *       *       *       *

Washington's is the mightiest name of earth--long since mightiest in the
cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation. On that
name no eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun,
or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible. Let none
attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless
splendor leave it shining on.


       *       *       *       *       *

Washington cannot be stripped of any part of his credit for patriotism,
wisdom, and courage; for the union of enterprise with prudence; for
integrity and truthfulness; for simply dignity of character; for tact
and forbearance in dealing with men; above all for serene fortitude in
the darkest hour of his cause, and under trials from the perversity,
insubordination, jealousy, and perfidy of those around him, severer than
any defeat.


       *       *       *       *       *

The life of our Washington cannot suffer by a comparison with those of
other countries who have been most celebrated and exalted by fame. The
attributes and decorations of royalty could have only served to eclipse
the majesty of those virtues which made him, from being a modest
citizen, a more resplendent luminary.

Malice could never blast his honor, and envy made him a single exception
to her universal rule. For himself he had lived enough to life and to
glory. For his fellow-citizens, if their prayers could have been
answered, he would have been immortal. His example is complete, and it
will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only
in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history
shall be read.


       *       *       *       *       *

His character, though regular and uniform, possessed none of the
littleness which may sometimes belong to these descriptions of men. It
formed a majestic pile, the effect of which was not inspired, but
improved, by order and symmetry. There was nothing in it to dazzle by
wildness, and surprise by eccentricity. It was of a higher species of
moral beauty. It contained everything great and elevated, but it had no
false or trivial ornament. It was not the model cried up by fashion and
circumstance: its excellence was adapted to the true and just moral
taste, incapable of change from the varying accidents of manners, of
opinions, and times. General Washington is not the idol of a day, but
the hero of ages.


       *       *       *       *       *

Washington stands alone and unapproachable like a snow peak rising above
its fellows into the clear air of morning, with a dignity, constancy,
and purity which have made him the ideal type of civic virtue to
succeeding generations.


       *       *       *       *       *

  Pale is the February sky,
    And brief the midday's sunny hours;
  The wind-swept forest seems to sigh
    For the sweet time of leaves and flowers.

  Yet has no month a prouder day,
    Not even when the Summer broods
  O'er meadows in their fresh array,
    Or Autumn tints the glowing woods.

  For this chill season now again
    Brings, in its annual round, the morn
  When, greatest of the sons of men,
    Our glorious Washington was born!

         *       *       *       *       *

  Amid the wreck of thrones shall live
    Unmarred, undimmed, our hero's fame,
  And years succeeding years shall give
    Increase of honors to his name.


       *       *       *       *       *

Washington, the warrior and legislator! In war contending, by the wager
of battle, for the independence of his country, and for the freedom of
the human race; ever manifesting amidst its horrors, by precept and
example, his reverence for the laws of peace and the tenderest
sympathies of humanity: in peace soothing the ferocious spirit of
discord among his countrymen into harmony and union; and giving to that
very sword, now presented to his country, a charm more potent than that
attributed in ancient times to the lyre of Orpheus.


       *       *       *       *       *

George Washington may justly be pronounced one of the greatest men whom
the world has produced. Greater soldiers, more intellectual statesmen,
and profounder sages have doubtlessly existed in the history of the
English race--perhaps in our own country--but no one who to great
excellence in each of these fields has added such exalted integrity,
such unaffected piety, such unsullied purity of soul, and such wondrous
control of his own spirit. That one grand rounded life, full-orbed with
intellectual and moral glory, is worth, as the product of Christianity,
more than all the dogmas of all the teachers. He was a blessing to the
whole human race, no less than to his own countrymen--to the many
millions who celebrate the day of his birth.


       *       *       *       *       *

First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen, he
was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life;
pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere, uniform, dignified, and
commanding, his example was as edifying to all around him, as were the
effects of that example lasting.


       *       *       *       *       *

Happy was it for America, happy for the world, that a great name, a
guardian genius, presided over her destinies in war. The hero of America
was the conqueror only of his country's foes, and the hearts of his
countrymen. To the one he was a terror, and in the other he gained an
ascendency, supreme, unrivaled, the triumph of admiring gratitude, the
reward of a nation's love.


       *       *       *       *       *

The sword of Washington! The staff of Franklin! Oh sir, what
associations are linked in adamant with these names! Washington, whose
sword, as my friend has said, was never drawn but in the cause of his
country, and never sheathed when wielded in his country's cause.
Franklin, the philosopher of the thunderbolt, the printing-press, and
the plowshare.


       *       *       *       *       *

Others of our great men have been appreciated,--many admired by all. But
him we love. Him we all love. About and around him we call up no
dissentient and discordant and dissatisfied elements, no sectional
prejudice nor bias, no party, no creed, no dogma of politics. None of
these shall assail him. When the storm of battle blows darkest and rages
highest, the memory of Washington shall nerve every American arm and
cheer every American heart. It shall relume that Promethean fire, that
sublime flame of patriotism, that devoted love of country, which his
words have commended, which his example has consecrated.


       *       *       *       *       *

  Where may the wearied eyes repose
    When gazing on the great,
  Where neither guilty glory glows
    Nor despicable state?
  Yes,--one, the first, the last, the best,
  The Cincinnatus of the West,
    Whom envy dared not hate,
  Bequeathed the name of Washington
    To make men blush there was but one.


       *       *       *       *       *

_From "Washington's Vow," by John Greenleaf Whittier, read at the
dedication of the Washington Arch, at New York City, 1889_

          How felt the land in every part
          The strong throb of a nation's heart?
  As its great leader gave, with reverent awe,
  His pledge to Union, Liberty, and Law!

          That pledge the heavens above him heard,
          That vow the sleep of centuries stirred.
  In world-wide wonder listening peoples bent
  Their gaze on Freedom's great experiment.

         *       *       *       *       *

          Thank God! the people's choice was just!
          The one man equal to his trust.
  Wise without lore, and without weakness good,
  Calm in the strength of flawless rectitude.

         *       *       *       *       *

          Our first and Best--his ashes lie
          Beneath his own Virginia sky.
  Forgive, forget, oh! true and just and brave,
  The storm that swept above thy sacred grave.

         *       *       *       *       *

          Then let the sovereign millions where
          Our banner floats in sun and air,
  From the warm palm-lands to Alaska's cold,
  Repeat with us the pledge, a century old!

Let a man fasten himself to some great idea, some large truth, some
noble cause, even in the affairs of this world, and it will send him
forward with energy, with steadfastness, with confidence. This is what
Emerson meant when he said: "Hitch your wagon to a star." These are the
potent, the commanding, the enduring men,--in our own history, men like
Washington and Lincoln. They may fail, they may be defeated, they may
perish; but onward moves the cause, and their souls go marching on with
it, for they are part of it, they have believed in it.


       *       *       *       *       *

  O name forever to thy country dear!
  Still wreath'd with pride, "still uttered with a tear!"
  Thou that could'st rouse a nation's host to arms,
  Could'st calm the spreading tumult of alarms,
  Of civil discord, awe the threatening force
  And check even Anarchy's licentious course!
  Long as exalted worth commands applause,
  Long as the virtuous bow to virtue's laws,
  Long as thy reverence and honor join'd,
  Long as the hero's glory warms the mind,
  Long as the flame of gratitude shall burn,
  Or human tears bedew the patriot's urn,
  Thy sound shall dwell on each Columbian tongue
  And live lamented in elegiac song!
  Till some bold bard, inspired with Delphic rage!
  Shall with thy lusters fire his epic page!

  In Fate's vast chronicle of future time,
  The mystic mirror of events sublime
  Where deeds of virtue gild each pregnant page
  And some grand epoch makes each coming age,
  Where germs of future history strike the eye
  And empires' rise and fall in embryo lie,
  Though statesmen, heroes, sages, chiefs abound
  Yet none of worth like Washington's are found!

         *       *       *       *       *

  Rear to his name a monument sublime!
  Bid art and genius all their powers bestow,
  And let the pile with life and grandeur glow.
  High on the top let Fame with trumpet's sound,
  Announce his god-like deeds to worlds around!
  Let Pallas lead her hero to the field,
  In Wisdom's train, and cover with her shield.
  A sword present to dazzle from afar
  And flash bright terrors through the ranks of war.
  With port august let oak-wreath'd Freedom stand
  And hail him father of the chosen land;
  With laurels deck him, with due honors greet,
  And crowns and scepters place beneath his feet;
  Let Peace, her olive blooming like the morn,
  And kindred Plenty with her teeming horn,
  With Commerce, child, and regent of the main,
  While Arts and Agriculture join the train,
  Rear a sad altar, bend around his urn,
  And to their guardian, grateful incense burn!
  Let History calm, in thoughtful mood reclin'd,
  Record his actions to enrich mankind,
  And Poesy divine his deeds rehearse
  In all the energy of epic verse!

  To future ages there let Mercy own
  He never from her bosom forc'd a groan;
  Here let a statesman, there a reverend sage
  To mark and emulate his steps engage,
  Columbia widow'd, count his virtues o'er,
  Around his tomb her pearly sorrows pour,
  And mild Religion of celestial mien
  Point to her patron's place, in realms unseen!
  Then stamp in gold the monument above
  The mournful tribute of a nation's love!
  But not alone in scenes where glory fir'd,
  He mov'd, no less, in civic walks admir'd!
  Though long a warrior, choice of human blood,
  As Brutus noble, and as Titus good!
  To all that formed the hero of the age,
  He joined the patriot and the peaceful sage,
  The statesman powerful and the ruler just,
  No less illustrious than the chief august;
  And to condense his characters in one,
  The god-like Father of his Country shone!

_From an old Magazine_.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Hail, brightest banner that floats on the gale,
  Flag of the country of Washington, hail!
  Red are thy stripes with the blood of the brave;
  Bright are thy stars as the sun on the wave;
  Wrapt in thy folds are the hopes of the free.
  Banner of Washington!--blessings on thee!

  Traitors shall perish and treason shall fail;
  Kingdoms and thrones in thy glory grow pale!
  Thou shalt live on, and thy people shall own
  Loyalty's sweet, when each heart is thy throne;
  Union and Freedom thine heritage be.
  Country of Washington!--blessings on thee!


       *       *       *       *       *

  Point of that pyramid whose solid base
    Rests firmly founded on a nation's trust,
  Which, While the gorgeous palace sinks in dust,
    Shall stand sublime, and fill its ample space.

  Elected chief of freemen! greater far
    Than kings whose glittering parts are fixed by birth--
  Nam'd by thy country's voice for long try'd worth,
    Her crown in peace, as once her shield in war!

  Deign, Washington, to hear a British lyre,
    That ardent greets thee with applausive lays,
  And to the patriot hero homage pays.

  O, would the muse immortal strains inspire,
    That high beyond all Greek and Roman fame,
  Might soar to times unborn, thy purer, nobler name!


       *       *       *       *       *

Had he, a mortal, the failings attached to man?--Was he the slave of
avarice? No. Wealth was an object too mean for his regard, and yet
economy presided over his domestic concerns; for his mind was too lofty
to brook dependence. Was he ambitious? No. His spirit soared beyond
ambition's reach. He saw a crown high above all human grandeur. He
sought, he gained, and wore that crown. But he had indeed one
frailty--the weakness of great minds. He was fond of fame, and had
reared a colossal reputation. It stood on the rock of his virtue. This
was dear to his heart. There was but one thing dearer. He loved glory,
but still more he loved his country. That was the master passion, and
with resistless might it ruled his every thought and word and deed.


       *       *       *       *       *

Washington! Father and deliverer of his country! What sweetness dwells
in his name--a name sounded by million-tongued fame through her golden
trumpet into distant worlds. The sooty African that traverses Niger's
sandy waste--the Algerian desperate in fight--the half-lived
Laplander--the Arabian, swift as the wind--the Scythian--the inoffensive
Brahmin,--have all heard it, and when mentioned, revere it.


       *       *       *       *       *

Three times Washington's character saved the country; once by keeping up
the courage of the nation till the Revolutionary War was ended; then, by
uniting the nation in the acceptance of the Federal Constitution;
thirdly, by saving it from being swept away into anarchy and civil war
during the immense excitement of the French Revolution. Such was the
gift of Washington, a gift of God to the nation, as far beyond any other
of God's gifts as virtue is more than genius, as character is more than
intellect, as wise conduct is better than outward prosperity.


       *       *       *       *       *

Patriots of America--and military officers of every name, view the great
example that is set before you. Emulate the virtues of Washington, and
in due time your heads will also be adorned with the wreath of honor.
Here you learn what is true and unfading glory. You will see that it is
not the man who is led on by the blind impulse of ambition; who rushes
into the midst of embattled hosts, merely to show his contempt of death;
or who wastes fair cities or depopulates rich provinces,--to spread far
the terrors of his name--who is admired and praised as the true hero and
friend of mankind;--but the man, who, in obedience to the public voice,
appears in arms for the salvation of his country, shuns no perils in a
just cause, endeavors to alleviate instead of increase the calamities of
war, and whose aim is to strengthen and adorn the temple of liberty, as
resting on the immovable basis of virtue and religion. The voice of
justice and the voice of suffering humanity forbid us to bestow the palm
of true valor on the mad exploits of the destroyers of mankind.

Washington's delight was to save, not to destroy. His greatest glory is
that with small armies and the loss of few lives--compared with the
wastes of other wars--he made his country free and happy.


       *       *       *       *       *

Brave without temerity, laborious without ambition, generous without
prodigality, noble without pride, virtuous without severity--Washington
seems always to have confined himself within those limits where the
virtues, by clothing themselves in more lively but more changeable and
doubtful colors, may be mistaken for faults. Inspiring respect, he
inspires confidence, and his smile is always the smile of benevolence.


       *       *       *       *       *

God has given this nation many precious gifts; but the chief gift of
all, the one, we may say, which has added something to every other one,
is the gift of this great soldier, this great statesman, this great and
good man, this greatest of all Americans, past, present--past, if not to
come. Our heritage from him is illustrious above all others.


       *       *       *       *       *

  Great without pomp, without ambition brave,
  Proud, not to conquer fellow-men, but save;
  Friend to the weak, a foe to none but those
  Who plan their greatness on their brethrens' woes;
  Aw'd by no titles--undefil'd by lust--
  Free without faction--obstinately just;
  Warm'd by religion's sacred, genuine ray,
  That points to future bliss the unerring way;
  Yet ne'er control'd by superstition's laws,
  That worst of tyrants in the noblest cause.

--_From a London Newspaper_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Extract from a translation of a Dutch Ode to Washington. Dr. O'Calla has
made a literal translation; Alfred B. Street, of Albany, the poetical

  No lofty monument thy greatness needs;
    The freedom which America from thee
  Received, and happiness of thy great deeds
    The everlasting monument shall be.

  Thy proud foot trampled on the British chain;
    But O! beware lest some false foreign power
  Rivet his fetters on thy land again,
    For despots smile while waiting for their hour.

  How deeply touched, Humanity! your soul,
    When you beheld the grateful tears that rained
  Down a glad Nation's cheek, as Freedom's goal
    Was by that Nation's might in triumph gained.

  O, Fatherland, whoever loves thy fame,
    Sighing shall mourn thy glory lost, when won;
  Freedom, when leaving thee, lit up her flame
    Within the patriot heart of Washington.

  When Time shall sink in everlasting gloom,
    And Death with Time shall cease for evermore;
  When the dead burst the cerements of the tomb,
    As the last trumpet breaks in thunder o'er;

  Then as it feels its pulses once more free,
    Let every heart Columbia claims as son
  Beat first for God, but let its next throb be
    For the eternal bliss of Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *

The character of Washington! Who can delineate it worthily? Modest,
disinterested, generous, just, of clean hands and a pure heart,
self-denying and self-sacrificing, seeking nothing for himself,
declining all remuneration beyond the reimbursement of his outlays,
scrupulous to a farthing in keeping his accounts, of spotless integrity,
scorning gifts, charitable to the needy, forgiving injuries and
injustices, brave, fearless, heroic, with a prudence ever governing his
impulses, a wisdom ever guiding his valor, true to his friends, true to
his country, true to himself, fearing God, no stranger to private
devotion or public worship, but ever recognizing a divine aid and
direction in all that he accomplished. His magnetism was that of merit,
superior, surpassing merit; the merit of spotless integrity, of
recognized ability, and of unwearied willingness to spend and be spent
in the service of his country.


       *       *       *       *       *

One of the best of modern Americans, James Russell Lowell, who was born
on the same day of the month as Washington, February 22d, 1819, wrote
shortly before his death, to a schoolgirl, whose class proposed noticing
his own birthday: "Whatever else you do on the twenty-second of
February, recollect, first of all, that on that day a really great man
was born, and do not fail to warm your hearts with the memory of his
service, and to brace your minds with the contemplation of his
character. The rest of us must wait uncovered till he be served."


       *       *       *       *       *

The fame of Washington stands apart from every other in history, shining
with a truer luster and a more benignant glory. With us his memory
remains a national property, where all sympathies, throughout our widely
extended and diversified empire meet in unison. Under all dissensions
and amid all the storms of party, his precepts and example speak to us
from the grave with a paternal appeal; and his name--by all
revered--forms a universal brotherhood, a watchword of our Union.


       *       *       *       *       *

The soul of Washington was one of the grandest of all ages that takes
its equal rank with Greek and Roman and Hebrew names of renown for
humane and prime worth, names that seem written not in our poor records,
but on the sky's arch--names in the broad sunshine of whose moral glory,
spreading through the world, all the little fires which men have made
with the kindling of words from abstract conceptions,--go out. For
however otherwise a man may be distinguished--unless there be in him a
spirit of love, devotion, and self-sacrifice, we feel he lacks the very
pith and beauty of manhood; and though he may be a great performer with
his pen as one plays well on a musical instrument, a Great Being he is

_Christian Examiner_.

       *       *       *       *       *

It will be the duty of the historian and the sage of all nations to let
no occasion pass of commemorating this illustrious man; and until time
shall be no more, will a test of the progress which our race has made in
wisdom and virtue, be derived from the veneration paid to the immortal
name of Washington.


       *       *       *       *       *

The character of Washington may want some of those poetical elements,
but it possessed fewer inequalities and a rarer union of virtues than
perhaps ever fell to the lot of any other man. Prudence, firmness,
sagacity, moderation, an overruling judgment, an immovable justice,
courage that never faltered, patience that never wearied, truth that
disdained all artifice, magnanimity without alloy. It seems as if
Providence had endowed him in a pre-eminent degree with the qualities
requisite to fit him for the high destiny he was called upon to fulfill.


       *       *       *       *       *



  Republics are ungrateful, but ours, its best-loved son
  Still keeps in memory green, and wreathes the name of Washington.
  As year by year returns the day that saw the patriot's birth,
  With boom of gun and beat of drum and peals of joy and mirth,
  And songs of children in the streets and march of men-at-arms,
  We honor pay to him who stood serene 'mid war's alarms;
  And with his ragged volunteers long kept the foe at bay,
  And bore the flag to victory in many a battle's day.

  We were a little nation then; so mighty have we grown
  That scarce would Washington believe to-day we were his own.
  With ships that sail on every sea, and sons in every port,
  And harvest-fields to feed the world, wherever food is short,
  And if at council-board our chiefs are now discreet and wise,
  And if to great estate and high, our farmers' lads may rise,
  We owe a debt to him who set the fashion of our fame,
  And never more may we forget our loftiest hero's name.

  Great knightly soul who came in time to serve his country's need,
  To serve her with the timely word and with the valiant deed,
  Along the ages brightening as endless cycles run
  Undimmed and gaining luster in the twentieth century's sun,
  First in our Hall of Fame we write the name all folk may ken,
  As first in war, and first in peace, first with his countrymen.

       *       *       *       *       *


George Washington, the brave, the wise, the good. Supreme in war, in
council, and in peace. Washington, valiant, without ambition; discreet,
without fear; confident, without presumption.


       *       *       *       *       *

More than any other individual, and as much as to one individual was
possible, has he contributed to found this, our wide spreading empire,
and to give to the Western World independence and freedom.


       *       *       *       *       *

Let him who looks for a monument to Washington look around the United
States. Your freedom, your independence, your national power, your
prosperity, and your prodigious growth are a monument to him.


       *       *       *       *       *

More than all, and above all, Washington was master of himself. If there
be one quality more than another in his character which may exercise a
useful control over the men of the present hour, it is the total
disregard of self when in the most elevated positions for influence and


       *       *       *       *       *



_In an Address, February 22, 1898_

Though Washington's exalted character and the most striking acts of his
brilliant record are too familiar to be recounted here, yet often as the
story is retold, it engages our love and admiration and interest. We
love to record his noble unselfishness, his heroic purposes, the power
of his magnificent personality, his glorious achievements for mankind,
and his stalwart and unflinching devotion to independence, liberty, and
union. These cannot be too often told or be too familiarly known.

A slaveholder himself, he yet hated slavery, and provided in his will
for the emancipation of his slaves. Not a college graduate, he was
always enthusiastically the friend of liberal education....

And how reverent always was this great man, how prompt and generous his
recognition of the guiding hand of Divine Providence in establishing and
controlling the destinies of the colonies and the Republic....

Washington states the reasons of his belief in language so exalted that
it should be graven deep in the mind of every patriot:

     No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand
     which conducts the affairs of man more than the people of the
     United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the
     character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished
     by some token of providential agency; and in the important
     revolution just accomplished in the system of their united
     government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consents of so
     many distinguished communities from which the events resulted
     cannot be compared with the means by which most governments have
     been established, without some return of pious gratitude, along
     with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the same
     seems to presage. The reflections arising out of the present crisis
     have forced themselves strongly upon my mind. You will join me, I
     trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which
     the proceedings of a new and free government are more auspiciously

In his Farewell Address, Washington contends in part:

  (1) For the promotion of institutions of learning;

  (2) for cherishing the public credit;

  (3) for the observance of good faith and justice toward all nations....

At no point in his administration does Washington appear in grander
proportions than when he enunciates his ideas in regard to the foreign
policy of the government:

     Observe good faith and justice toward all nations; cultivate peace
     and harmony with all; religion and morality enjoin this conduct.
     Can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be
     worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great
     nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of
     a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.

       *       *       *       *       *



We are met to testify our regard for him whose name is intimately
blended with whatever belongs most essentially to the prosperity, the
liberty, the free institutions, and the renown of our country. That name
was a power to rally a nation in the hour of thick-thronging public
disasters and calamities; that name shone amid the storm of war, a
beacon light to cheer and guide the country's friends; its flame, too,
like a meteor, to repel her foes. That name in the days of peace was a
loadstone, attracting to itself a whole people's confidence, a whole
people's love, and the whole world's respect; that name, descending
with all time, spread over the whole earth, and uttered in all the
languages belonging to the tribes and races of men, will forever be
pronounced with affectionate gratitude by everyone in whose breast there
shall arise an aspiration for human rights and human liberty.

Washington stands at the commencement of a new era, as well as at the
head of the New World. A century from the birth of Washington has
changed the world. The country of Washington has been the theater on
which a great part of that change has been wrought, and Washington
himself a principal agent by which it has been accomplished. His age and
his country are equally full of wonders, and of both he is the chief.

It is the spirit of human freedom, the new elevation of individual man,
in his moral, social, and political character, leading the whole long
train of other improvements, which has most remarkably distinguished the
era. Society has assumed a new character; it has raised itself from
beneath governments to a participation in governments; it has mixed
moral and political objects with the daily pursuits of individual men,
and, with a freedom and strength before altogether unknown, it has
applied to these objects the whole power of the human understanding. It
has been the era, in short, when the social principle has triumphed over
the feudal principle; when society has maintained its rights against
military power, and established on foundations never hereafter to be
shaken its competency to govern itself.





When I first read in detail the life of Washington, I was profoundly
impressed with the moral elevation and greatness of his character, and I
found myself at a loss to name among the statesmen of any age or country
many, or possibly any, who could be his rival. In saying this I mean no
disparagement to the class of politicians, the men of my own craft and
cloth, whom in my own land, and my own experience, I have found no less
worthy than other men of love and admiration. I could name among them
those who seem to me to come near even to him. But I will shut out the
last half century from the comparison. I will then say that if, among
all the pedestals supplied by history for public characters of
extraordinary nobility and purity, I saw one higher than all the rest,
and if I were required at a moment's notice to name the fittest occupant
for it, I think my choice at any time during the last forty-five years
would have lighted, as it would now light, upon Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *



No man ever stood for so much to his country and to mankind as George
Washington. Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and Jay each
represented some of the elements which formed the Union. Washington
embodied them all.

The superiority of Washington's character and genius were more
conspicuous in the formation of our government and in putting it on
indestructible foundations than leading armies to victory and conquering
the independence of his country. "The Union in any event" is the central
thought of the "Farewell Address," and all the years of his grand life
were devoted to its formation and preservation.

Do his countrymen exaggerate his virtues? Listen to Guizot, the
historian of civilization: "Washington did the two greatest things which
in politics it is permitted to man to attempt. He maintained by peace
the independence of his country, which he conquered by war. He founded a
free government in the name of the principles of order, and by
re-establishing their sway."

Hear Lord Erskine, the most famous of English advocates: "You are the
only being for whom I have an awful reverence."

Remember the tribute of Charles James Fox, the greatest parliamentary
orator who ever swayed the British House of Commons: "Illustrious man,
before whom all borrowed greatness sinks into insignificance."

Contemplate the character of Lord Brougham, pre-eminent for two
generations in every department of human thought and activity, and then
impress upon the memories of your children his deliberate judgment:
"Until time shall be no more will a test of the progress which our race
has made in wisdom and virtue be derived from the veneration paid to the
immortal name of Washington."

Blot out from the page of history the names of all the great actors of
his time in the drama of nations, and preserve the name of Washington,
and the century would be renowned.

       *       *       *       *       *



  Exalted chief, in thy superior mind
  What vast resource, what various talents joined!
  Tempered with social virtue's milder rays,
  There patriot worth diffused a purer blaze;
  Formed to command respect, esteem, inspire,
  Midst statesmen grave, or midst the social choir,
  With equal skill the sword or pen to wield,
  In council great, unequaled in the field,
  Mid glittering courts or rural walks to please,
  Polite with grandeur, dignified with ease;
  Before the splendors of thy high renown
  How fade the glow-worn lusters of a crown;
  How sink diminished in that radiance lost
  The glare of conquest, and of power the boast.
  Let Greece her Alexander's deeds proclaim;
  Or Cæsar's triumphs gild the Roman name;
  Stripped of the dazzling glare around them cast,
  Shrinks at their crimes humanity aghast;
  With equal claim to honor's glorious meed.
  See Attila his course of havoc lead!
  O'er Asia's realms, in one vast ruin hurled.
  See furious Zingis' bloody flag unfurled.
  On base far different from the conqueror's claim
  Rests the unsullied column of thy fame;
  His on the woes of millions proudly based,
  With blood cemented and with tears defaced;
  Thine on a nation's welfare fixed sublime,
  By freedom strengthened and revered by time.
  He, as the Comet, whose portentous light
  Spreads baleful splendor o'er the glooms of night,
  With chill amazement fills the startled breast.
  While storms and earthquakes dire its course attest,
  And nature trembles, lest, in chaos hurled,
  Should sink the tottering fabric of the world.
  Thou, like the Sun, whose kind propitious ray
  Opes the glad morn and lights the fields of day,
  Dispels the wintry storm, the chilling rain,
  With rich abundance clothes the smiling plain,
  Gives all creation to rejoice around,
  And life and light extends o'er nature's utmost bound.
  Though shone thy life a model bright of praise,
  Not less the example bright thy death portrays,
  When, plunged in deepest we, around thy bed,
  Each eye was fixed, despairing sunk each head,
  While nature struggled with severest pain,
  And scarce could life's last lingering powers retain:
  In that dread moment, awfully serene,
  No trace of suffering marked thy placid mien,
  No groan, no murmuring plaint, escaped thy tongue,
  No lowering shadows on thy brow were hung;
  But calm in Christian hope, undamped with fear,
  Thou sawest the high reward of virtue near,
  On that bright meed in sweetest trust reposed,
  As thy firm hand thine eyes expiring closed,
  Pleased, to the will of heaven resigned thy breath,
  And smiled as nature's struggles closed in death.

       *       *       *       *       *



_In an Address, February 22, 1888_

"Time's noblest offspring is the last."

As the human race has moved along down the centuries, the vigorous and
ambitious, the dissenters from blind obedience and the original
thinkers, the colonists and state builders, have broken camp with the
morning, and followed the sun till the close of day. They have left
behind narrow and degrading laws, traditions, and castes. Their
triumphant success is pushing behind every bayonet carried at the order
of Kaiser or Czar; men, who, in doing their own thinking, will one day
decide for themselves the problems of peace and war.

The scenes of the fifth act of the grand drama are changing, but all
attention remains riveted upon one majestic figure. He stands the
noblest leader who ever was intrusted with his country's life. His
patience under provocation, his calmness in danger, and lofty courage
when all others despaired, his prudent delays when delay was best, and
his quick and resistless blows when action was possible, his magnanimity
to defamers and generosity to his foes, his ambition for his country and
unselfishness for himself, his sole desire of freedom and independence
for America, and his only wish to return after victory to private life,
have all combined to make him, by the unanimous judgment of the world,
the foremost figure of history.

       *       *       *       *       *



  "Napoleon was great, I know,
    And Julius Cæsar, and all the rest,
  But they didn't belong to us, and so
    I like George Washington the best."

       *       *       *       *       *



It is the peculiar good fortune of this country to have given birth to a
citizen whose name everywhere produces a sentiment of regard for his
country itself. In other countries, whenever and wherever this is
spoken of to be praised, it is called the country of Washington. I
believe there is no people, civilized or savage, in any place however
remote, where the name of Washington has not been heard, and where it is
not respected with the fondest admiration. We are told that the Arab of
the desert talks of Washington in his tent, and that his name is
familiar to the wandering Scythian. He seems, indeed, to be the delight
of humankind, as their beau-ideal of human nature. No American, in any
part of the world, but has found the regard for himself increased by his
connection with Washington, as his fellow-countryman; and who has not
felt a pride, and has occasion to exult, in the fortunate connection?

A century and more has now passed away since he came upon the stage, and
his fame first broke upon the world; for it broke like the blaze of day
from the rising sun--almost as sudden, and seemingly as universal. The
eventful period since that era has teemed with great men, who have
crossed the scene and passed off. Some of them have arrested great
attention--very great. Still Washington retains his preëminent place in
the minds of men; still his peerless name is cherished by them in the
same freshness of delight as in the morn of its glory. History will keep
a record of his fame; but history is not necessary to perpetuate it. In
regions where history is not read, where letters are unknown, it lives,
and will go down from age to age, in all future time, in their
traditionary lore. Who would exchange this fame, the common inheritance
of our country, for the fame of any individual which any country of any
time can boast? I would not; with my sentiments I could not.

       *       *       *       *       *


_The Brightest Name on History's Page_


  Land of the West! though passing brief the record of thine age,
  Thou hast a name that darkens all on history's wide page!
  Let all the blasts of Fame ring out,--thine shall be loudest far;
  Let others boast their satellites,--thou hast the planet star.
  Thou hast a name whose characters of light shall ne'er depart;
  'Tis stamped upon the dullest brain, and warms the coldest heart;
  A war-cry fit for any land where freedom's to be won;
  Land of the West! it stands alone,--it is thy Washington!

  Rome had its Cæsar, great and brave, but stain was on his wreath;
  He lived the heartless conqueror, and died the tyrant's death.
  France had its eagle, but his wings, though lofty they might soar,
  Were spread in false ambition's flight, and dipped in murder's gore.
  Those hero-gods, whose mighty sway would fain have chained the waves--
  Who flashed their blades with tiger zeal to make a world of slaves--
  Who, though their kindred barred the path, still fiercely waded on,
  Oh, where shall be _their_ "glory" by the side of Washington!

  He fought, but not with love of strife; he struck but to defend;
  And ere he turned a people's foe, he sought to be a friend;
  He strove to keep his country's right by reason's gentle word,
  And sighed when fell injustice threw the challenge sword to sword.
  He stood the firm, the wise, the patriot, and the sage;
  He showed no deep, avenging hate, no burst of despot rage;
  He stood for Liberty and Truth, and daringly led on
  Till shouts of victory gave forth the name of Washington.

  No car of triumph bore him through a city filled with grief;
  No groaning captives at the wheels proclaimed him victor-chief;
  He broke the gyves of slavery with strong and high disdain,
  But cast no scepter from the links when he had rent the chain.
  He saved his land, but did not lay his soldier trappings down
  To change them for a regal vest and don a kingly crown.
  Fame was too earnest in her joy, too proud of such a son,
  To let a robe and title mask her noble Washington.

  England, my heart is truly thine, my loved, my native earth,--
  The land that holds a mother's grave and gave that mother birth!
  Oh, keenly sad would be the fate that thrust me from thy shore
  And faltering my breath that sighed, "Farewell for evermore!"
  But did I meet such adverse lot, I would not seek to dwell
  Where olden heroes wrought the deeds for Homer's song to tell.
  "Away, thou gallant ship!" I'd cry, "and bear me safely on,
  But bear me from my own fair land to that of Washington."

       *       *       *       *       *


_An extract from President McKinley's address on Washington, taken from
a report in the Cleveland Leader_

Washington and the American Republic are inseparable. You cannot study
history without having the name of Washington come to you unbidden.
Bancroft said, "But for Washington the Republic would never have been
conceived; the Constitution would not have been formed, and the Federal
Government would never have been put in operation." Washington felt that
the Revolution was a struggle for freedom, and it was by his strong
character and wonderful patriotism that the army was held together
during the prolonged and perilous war. In all the public affairs of the
colonies Washington was the champion of right. His military career has
never been equaled. He continued at the head of his army until the close
of the war, overcoming jealousies and intrigues, which only the greatest
courage and the sublimest wisdom could do. The ideal he had ever
cherished was one in which the individual could have the greatest
liberty, consistent with the country's best interests, and it was with
this ideal constantly in mind that he carried on the war and embodied
the principles of liberty within the government. Washington had many
temptations, but the greatest of them came after the victory was
achieved. At the time when the army was in revolt, when there was
dissatisfaction in Congress, and consternation and distress throughout
the colonies, it was proposed that the original plan of government be
abandoned and that Washington be chosen as the military ruler or
dictator. Washington's strong reproval of such proposals and his
insistence upon the stronger government, showed his unselfish regard for
the country. A weaker man might have weakened, a bad one would, but
Washington was determined to embody into the government all that had
been achieved by the war. Washington in what he did had no precedents.
He and his associates made the chart which assisted them in guiding the
new government. He established credit, put the army and navy on a
permanent basis, fostered commerce, and was ever on the side of

Everything that he did demonstrates his marvelous foresight. We cannot
afford to spare the inspiration that comes from Washington. It promotes
patriotism and gives vigor to national life. Washington's views on
slavery were characterized by a high sense of justice and an exalted
conscience. He was the owner of slaves by inheritance, all his interests
were affected by slavery, yet he was opposed to it, and in his will he
provided for the liberation of his slaves. He set the example for
emancipation. He hoped for, prayed for, and was willing to vote for what
Lincoln afterward accomplished.





  This was the man God gave us when the hour
  Proclaimed the dawn of Liberty begun;
  Who dared a deed, and died when it was done,
  Patient in triumph, temperate in power,--
  Not striving like the Corsican to tower
  To heaven, nor like great Philip's greater son
  To win the world and weep for worlds unwon,
  Or lose the star to revel in the flower.
  The lives that serve the eternal verities
  Alone do mold mankind. Pleasure and pride
  Sparkle awhile and perish, as the spray
  Smoking across the crests of cavernous seas
  Is impotent to hasten or delay
  The everlasting surges of the tide.

 *       *       *       *       *



1732. February 22 (February 11, O.S.), born.
1748. Surveyor of lands at sixteen years of age.
1751. Military inspector and major at nineteen years of age.
1752. Adjutant-general of Virginia.
1753. Commissioner to the French.
1754. Colonel, and commanding the Virginia militia.
1755. Aide-de-camp to Braddock in his campaign.
1755. Again commands the Virginia troops.
1758. Resigns his commission.
1759. January 6. Married.
1759. Elected member of Virginia House of Burgesses.
1765. Commissioner to settle military accounts.
1774. In First Continental Congress.
1775. In Second Continental Congress.
1775. June 15. Elected commander-in-chief.
1775. July 2. In command at Cambridge.
1776. March 17. Expels the British from Boston.
1776. August 27. Battle of Long Island.
1776. August 29. Masterly retreat to New York.
1776. September 15. Gallant, at Kipp's Bay.
1776. October 27. Battle of Harlem Heights.
1776. October 29. Battle near White Plains.
1776. November 15. Enters New Jersey.
1776. December 5. Occupies right bank of the Delaware.
1776. December 12. Clothed with "full power."
1776. December 14. Plans an offensive campaign.
1776. December 26. Battle of Trenton.
1777. January 3. Battle of Princeton.
1777. July. British driven from New Jersey, during.
1777. July 13. Marches for Philadelphia.
1777. September 11. Battle of Brandywine.
1777. September 15. Offers battle at West Chester.
1777. October 4. Battle of Germantown.
1778. Winters at Valley Forge.
1778. June 28. Battle of Monmouth.
1778. British again retire from New Jersey.
1778. Again at White Plains.
1779. At Middlebrook, New Jersey, and New Windsor.
1780. Winters at Morristown, New Jersey.
1781. Confers with Rochambeau as to plans.
1781. Threatens New York in June and July.
1781. Joins Lafayette before Yorktown.
1781. October 19. Surrender of Cornwallis.
1783. November 2. Farewell to the army.
1733. November 25. Occupies New York.
1783. December 4. Parts with his officers.
1783. December 23. Resigns his commission.
1787. Presides at Constitutional Convention.
1789. March 4. Elected President of the United States.
1789. April 30. Inaugurated at New York.
1793. March 4. Re-elected for four years.
1796. September 17. Farewell to the people.
1797. March 4. Retires to private life.
1798. July 3. Appointed commander-in-chief.
1799. December 14. Died at Mount Vernon.

       *       *       *       *       *



George Washington was a son of Augustine Washington and his second wife,
Mary Ball, and a descendant of John Washington, who emigrated from
England about 1657, during the protectorate of Cromwell. He was born in
the English colony of Virginia, in Westmoreland County, on February 22,
1732. His education was simple and practical. To the common English
instruction of his time and home, young Washington added bookkeeping and
surveying. The three summers preceding his twentieth year he spent in
surveying the estate of Lord Fairfax on the northwest boundary of the
colony, an occupation which strengthened his splendid physical
constitution to a high point of efficiency, and gave him practice in
topography,--valuable aids in the military campaigning which speedily

In 1751, at nineteen, he was made Adjutant in the militia, with the rank
of Major. In the following year he inherited the estate of Mount Vernon.
In the winter of 1753-54, at twenty-one, he was sent by the Governor of
Virginia on a mission to the French posts beyond the Alleghanies. Soon
after his return he led a regiment to the headwaters of the Ohio, but
was compelled to retreat to the colony on account of the overwhelming
numbers of the French at Fort Duquesne. In Braddock's defeat, July 9,
1755, Washington was one of the latter's aides, and narrowly escaped
death, having had two horses shot under him. During the remaining part
of the French and Indian War, he was in command of the Virginia
frontier, with the rank of Colonel, and occupied Fort Duquesne in 1758.
On January 17, 1759, he married a wealthy widow, Mrs. Martha Custis, and
removed to Mount Vernon. The administration of his plantations involved
a large measure of commerce with England, and he himself with his own
hand kept his books with mercantile exactness.

Soon after the outbreak of hostilities, Washington was appointed by the
Continental Congress, at forty-three years of age, Commander-in-Chief of
the Armies of the Revolution, and assumed their control at Cambridge on
July 3, 1775. In 1776 he occupied Boston, lost New York, then
brilliantly restored the drooping spirit of the land at Trenton and
Princeton. In the year following he lost Philadelphia, and retreated to
Valley Forge. Threatened by the jealousy of his own subordinates, he put
to shame the cabal formed in the interests of Gates, who had this year
captured Burgoyne. For three years, 1778-80, he maintained himself
against heavy odds in the Jerseys, fighting at Monmouth the first year,
reaching out to capture Stony Point the next year, and the third year
combating the treason of Arnold. In 1781, he planned the cooping up of
Cornwallis on the peninsula of Yorktown, with the aid of the French
allies, and received his surrender on October 19th.

Resigning his commission at Annapolis, December 23, 1783, he returned to
his estate at Mount Vernon, but vastly aided the incipient work of
framing the Constitution by correspondence. In May, 1787, he took his
seat as President of the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia. He
was inaugurated the first President of the United States in April, 1789,
after a unanimous election. He was similarly reflected in 1793, but
refused a third term in 1796. In the face of unmeasured vituperation he
firmly kept the nascent nation from embroiling herself in the wars of
France and England. Retiring again to Mount Vernon in the spring of
1797, he nevertheless accepted, at sixty-six years of age, the post of
Commander-in-Chief of the provisional army raised in 1798 to meet the
insolence of the French Directorate. In December, 1799, while riding
about his estates during a snowstorm, he contracted a disease of the
throat, from which he died on December 14, 1799. He provided by his will
for the manumission of his slaves, to take effect on the decease of his
widow. No lineal descendants can claim as an ancestor this extraordinary
man. He belongs to his country. His tomb is at Mount Vernon, and is in
keeping of the women of America.


[20] From "The Hall of Fame." Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York,

       *       *       *       *       *



_A Speech Delivered at a Public Dinner, Washington, February 22, 1832_

_The Power of the Name of Washington_

We are met to testify our regard for him whose name is intimately
blended with whatever belongs most essentially to the prosperity, the
liberty, the free institutions, and the renown of our country;. That
name was of power to rally a nation, in the hour of thick-thronging
public disasters and calamities; that name shone, amid the storm of war,
a beacon light, to cheer and guide the country's friends; it flamed,
too, like a meteor, to repel her foes. That name, in the days of peace,
was a lodestone, attracting to itself a whole people's confidence, a
whole people's love, and the whole world's respect. That name,
descending with all time, spreading over the whole earth, and uttered in
all the languages belonging to the tribes and races of men, will forever
be pronounced with affectionate gratitude by everyone in whose breast
there shall arise an aspiration for human rights and human liberty.

We perform this grateful duty, Gentlemen, at the expiration of a hundred
years from his birth, near the place so cherished and beloved by him,
where his dust now reposes, and in the capital which bears his own
immortal name.

All experience evinces that human sentiments are strongly influenced by
association. The recurrence of anniversaries, or of longer periods of
time, naturally freshens the recollection, and deepens the impression,
of events with which they are historically connected. Renowned places,
also, have a power to awaken feeling, which all acknowledge. No American
can pass by the fields of Bunker Hill, Monmouth, and Camden, as if they
were ordinary spots on the earth's surface. Whoever visits them feels
the sentiment of love of country kindling anew, as if the spirit that
belonged to the transactions which have rendered these places
distinguished still hovered round, with power to move and excite all who
in future time may approach them.

_Washington's Great Moral Example to the Youth of America_

But neither of these sources of emotion equals the power with which
great moral examples affect the mind. When sublime virtues cease to be
abstractions, when they become embodied in human character, and
exemplified in human conduct, we should be false to our own nature if we
did not indulge in the spontaneous effusions of our gratitude and our
admiration. A true lover of the virtue of patriotism delights to
contemplate its purest models; and that love of country may be well
suspected which affects to soar so high into the regions of sentiment as
to be lost and absorbed in the abstract feeling, and becomes too
elevated or too refined to glow with fervor in the commendation or the
love of individual benefactors. All this is unnatural. It is as if one
should be so enthusiastic a lover of poetry as to care nothing for Homer
or Milton; so passionately attached to eloquence as to be indifferent to
Tully[21] and Chatham; or such a devotee to the art, in such an ecstasy
with the elements of beauty, proportion, and expression, as to regard
the masterpieces of Raphael and Michel Angelo with coldness or contempt.
We may be assured, Gentlemen, that he who really loves the thing itself,
loves its finest exhibitions. A true friend of his country loves her
friends and benefactors, and thinks it no degradation to commend and
commemorate them. The voluntary outpouring of the public feeling, made
to-day, from the north to the south, and from the east to the west,
proves this sentiment to be both just and natural. In the cities and in
the villages, in the public temples and in the family circles, among all
ages and sexes, gladdened voices to-day bespeak grateful hearts and a
freshened recollection of the virtues of the Father of his Country. And
it will be so, in all time to come, so long as public virtue is itself
an object of regard. The ingenuous youth of America will hold up to
themselves the bright model of Washington's example, and study to be
what they behold; they will contemplate his character till all its
virtues spread out and display themselves to their delighted vision; as
the earliest astronomers, the shepherds on the plains of Babylon, gazed
at the stars till they saw them form into clusters and constellations,
overpowering at length the eyes of the beholders with the united blaze
of a thousand lights.

_A Wonderful Age and Country_

Gentlemen, we are at a point of a century from the birth of Washington;
and what a century it has been! During its course, the human mind has
seemed to proceed with a sort of geometric velocity, accomplishing for
human intelligence and human freedom more than had been done in fives or
tens of centuries preceding. Washington stands at the commencement of a
new era, as well as at the head of the New World. A century from the
birth of Washington has changed the world. The country of Washington has
been the theater on which a great part of that change has been wrought,
and Washington himself a principal agent by which it has been
accomplished. His age and his country are equally full of wonders; and
of both he is the chief.

If the poetical prediction, uttered a few years before his birth, be
true; if indeed it be designed by Providence that the grandest
exhibition of human character and human affairs shall be made in this
theater of the Western world; if it be true that,

  "The four first acts already past,
  A fifth shall close the drama with the day;
  Time's noblest offspring is the last";

how could this imposing, swelling, final scene be appropriately opened,
how could its intense interest be adequately sustained but by the
introduction of just such a character as our Washington?

_The Spark of Human Freedom_

Washington had attained his manhood when that spark of liberty was
struck out in his own country which has since kindled into a flame and
shot its beams over the earth. In the flow of a century from his birth,
the world has changed in science, in arts, in the extent of commerce, in
the improvement of navigation, and in all that relates to the
civilization of man. But it is the spirit of human freedom, the new
elevation of individual man, in his moral, social, and political
character, leading the whole long train of other improvements, which has
most remarkably distinguished the era. Society, in this century, has not
made its progress, like Chinese skill, by a greater acuteness of
ingenuity in trifles; it has not merely lashed itself to an increased
speed round the old circles of thought and action; but it has assumed a
new character; it has raised itself from _beneath_ governments to a
participation in governments; it has mixed moral and political objects
with the daily pursuits of individual men; and, with a freedom and
strength before altogether unknown, it has applied to these objects the
whole power of the human understanding. It has been the era, in short,
when the social principle has triumphed over the feudal principle; when
society has maintained its rights against military power, and
established, on foundations never hereafter to be shaken, its competency
to govern itself.

_A New Governmental Experiment_

It was the extraordinary fortune of Washington that, having been
intrusted in revolutionary times, with the supreme military command, and
having fulfilled that trust with equal renown for wisdom and for valor,
he should be placed at the head of the first government in which an
attempt was to be made on a large scale to rear the fabric of social
order on the basis of a written constitution, and of a pure
representative principle. A government was to be established without a
throne, without an aristocracy, without castes, orders, or privileges;
and this government, instead of being a democracy existing and acting
within the walls of a single city, was to be extended over a vast
country of different climates, interests, and habits, and of various
communions of our common Christian faith. The experiment certainly was
entirely new. A popular government of this extent, it was evident, could
be framed only by carrying into full effect the principle of
representation or of delegated power; and the world was to see whether
society could, by the strength of this principle, maintain its own peace
and good government, carry forward its own great interests, and conduct
itself to political renown and glory. By the benignity of Providence,
this experiment, so full of interest to us and to our posterity
forever, so full of interest, indeed, to the world in its present
generation and in all its generations to come, was suffered to commence
under the guidance of Washington. Destined for this high career, he was
fitted for it by wisdom, by virtue, by patriotism, by discretion, by
whatever can inspire confidence in man toward man. In entering on the
untried scenes, early disappointment and the premature extinction of all
hope of success would have been certain, had it not been that there did
exist throughout the country, in a most extraordinary degree, an
unwavering trust in him who stood at the helm.

_The World Interested in the Experiment_

I remarked, Gentlemen, that the whole world was and is interested in the
result of this experiment. And is it not so? Do we deceive ourselves, or
is it true that at this moment the career which this government is
running is among the most attractive objects to the civilized world? Do
we deceive ourselves, or is it true that at this moment that love of
liberty and that understanding of its true principles which are flying
over the whole earth, as on the wings of all the winds, are really and
truly of American origin?

_Importance of the English Revolution of 1688_

At the period of the birth of Washington there existed in Europe no
political liberty in large communities, except in the provinces of
Holland, and except that England herself had set a great example, so
far as it went, by her glorious Revolution of 1688. Everywhere else,
despotic power was predominant, and the feudal or military principle
held the mass of mankind in hopeless bondage. One-half of Europe was
crushed beneath the Bourbon scepter, and no conception of political
liberty, no hope even of religious toleration, existed among that nation
which was America's first ally. The king was the state, the king was the
country, the king was all. There was one king, with power not derived
from his people, and too high to be questioned; and the rest were all
subjects, with no political right but obedience. All above was
intangible power, all below quiet subjection. A recent occurrence in the
French chamber shows us how public opinion on these subjects is changed.
A minister had spoken of the "king's subjects." "There are no
subjects," exclaimed hundreds of voices at once, "in a country where the
people make the king!"

Gentlemen, the spirit of human liberty and of free government, nurtured
and grown into strength and beauty in America, has stretched its course
into the midst of the nations. Like an emanation from Heaven, it has
gone forth, and it will not return void. It must change, it is fast
changing, the face of the earth. Our great, our high duty is to show, in
our own example, that this spirit is a spirit of health as well as a
spirit of power; that its benignity is as great as its strength; that
its efficiency to secure individual rights, social relations, and moral
order, is equal to the irresistible force with which it prostrates
principalities and powers. The world, at this moment, is regarding us
with a willing, but something of a fearful, admiration. Its deep and
awful anxiety is to learn whether free States may be stable, as well as
free; whether popular power may be trusted, as well as feared; in short,
whether wise, regular, and virtuous self-government is a vision for the
contemplation of theorists, or a truth established, illustrated, and
brought into practice in the country of Washington.

_The United States a Western Sun_

Gentlemen, for the earth which we inhabit, and the whole circle of the
sun, for all the unborn races of mankind, we seem to hold in our hands,
for their weal or woe, the fate of this experiment. If we fail, who
shall venture the repetition? If our example shall prove to be one not
of encouragement, but of terror, not fit to be imitated, but fit only to
be shunned, where else shall the world look for free models? If this
great _Western Sun_ be struck out of the firmament, at what other
fountain shall the lamp of liberty hereafter be lighted? What other orb
shall emit a ray to glimmer, even, on the darkness of the world?

There is no danger of our overrating or overstating the important part
which we are now acting in human affairs. It should not flatter our
personal self-respect, but it should reanimate our patriotic virtues and
inspire us with a deeper and more solemn sense both of our privileges
and of our duties. We cannot wish better for our country, nor for the
world, than that the same spirit which influenced Washington may
influence all who succeed him; and that the same blessing from above,
which attended his efforts, may also attend theirs.

_Washington's Farewell Address_

The principles of Washington's administration are not left doubtful.
They are to be found in the Constitution itself, in the great measures
recommended and approved by him, in his speeches to Congress, and in
that most interesting paper, his Farewell Address to the people of the
United States. The success of the government under his administration is
the highest proof of the soundness of these principles. And, after an
experience of thirty-five years, what is there which an enemy could
condemn? What is there which either his friends, or the friends of the
country, could wish to have been otherwise? I speak, of course, of great
measures and leading principles.

In the first place, all his measures were right in their intent. He
stated the whole basis of his own great character, when he told the
country, in the homely phrase of the proverb, that honesty is the best
policy. One of the most striking things ever said of him is, that "_he
changed mankind's ideas of political greatness_."[22] To commanding
talents, and to success, the common elements of such greatness, he
added a disregard of self, a spotlessness of motive, a steady submission
to every public and private duty, which threw far into the shade the
whole crowd of vulgar great. The object of his regard was the whole
country. No part of it was enough to fill his enlarged patriotism. His
love of glory, so far as that may be supposed to have influenced him at
all, spurned everything short of general approbation. It would have been
nothing to him that his partisans or his favorites outnumbered, or
outvoted, or outmanaged, or outclamored, those of other leaders. He had
no favorites; he rejected all partisanship; and, acting honestly for the
universal good, he deserved, what he so richly enjoyed, the universal

His principle it was to act right, and to trust the people for support;
his principle it was not to follow the lead of sinister and selfish
ends, nor to rely on the little arts of party delusion to obtain public
sanction for such a course. Born for his country and for the world, he
did not give up to party what was meant for mankind. The consequence is,
that his fame is as durable as his principles, as lasting as truth and
virtue themselves. While the hundreds whom party excitement, and
temporary circumstances, and casual combinations, have raised into
transient notoriety, sink again, like thin bubbles, bursting and
dissolving into the great ocean, Washington's fame is like the rock
which bounds that ocean, and at whose feet its billows are destined to
break harmlessly forever.

_His Conduct of America's Foreign Relations_

The maxims upon which Washington conducted our foreign relations were
few and simple. The first was an entire and indisputable impartiality
towards foreign States.[23] He adhered to this rule of public conduct,
against very strong inducements to depart from it, and when the
popularity of the moment seemed to favor such a departure. In the next
place, he maintained true dignity and unsullied honor in all
communications with foreign States. It was among the high duties
devolved upon him to introduce our new government into the circle of
civilized States and powerful nations. Not arrogant or assuming, with no
unbecoming or supercilious bearing, he yet exacted for it from all
others entire and punctilious respect. He demanded, and he obtained at
once, a standing of perfect equality for his country in the society of
nations; nor was there a prince or potentate of his day, whose personal
character carried with it, into the intercourse of other States, a
greater degree of respect and veneration.

He regarded other nations only as they stood in political relations to
us. With their internal affairs, their political parties and
dissensions, he scrupulously abstained from all interference; and, on
the other hand, he repelled with spirit all such interference by others
with us or our concerns. His sternest rebuke, the most indignant
measure of his whole administration, was aimed against such an attempted
interference. He felt it as an attempt to wound the national honor, and
resented it accordingly.

_Foreign Influence a Foe of Republican Government_

The reiterated admonitions in his Farewell Address show his deep fears
that foreign influence would insinuate itself into our counsels through
the channels of domestic dissension, and obtain a sympathy with our own
temporary parties. Against all such dangers he most earnestly entreats
the country to guard itself. He appeals to its patriotism, to its
self-respect, to its own honor, to every consideration connected with
its welfare and happiness, to resist, at the very beginning, all
tendencies toward such connection of foreign interests with our own
affairs. With a tone of earnestness nowhere else found, even in his last
affectionate farewell advice to his countrymen, he says, "Against the
insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me,
fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be _constantly_
awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one
of the most baneful foes of republican government."

_The Advantages of American Isolation_

Lastly, on the subject of foreign relations, Washington never forgot
that we had interests peculiar to ourselves. The primary political
concerns of Europe, he saw, did not affect us. We had nothing to do
with her balance of power, her family compacts, or her successions to
thrones. We were placed in a condition favorable to neutrality during
European wars, and to the enjoyment of all the great advantages of that
relation. "Why, then," he asks us, "why forego the advantages of so
peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?
Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe,
entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition,
rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?"

Indeed, Gentlemen, Washington's Farewell Address is full of truths
important at all times, and particularly deserving consideration at the
present. With a sagacity which brought the future before him, and made
it like the present, he saw and pointed out the dangers that even at
this moment most imminently threaten us. I hardly know how a greater
service of that kind could now be done to the community, than by a
renewed and wide diffusion of that admirable paper, and an earnest
invitation to every man in the country to reperuse and consider it. Its
political maxims are invaluable; its exhortations to love of country and
to brotherly affection among citizens, touching; and the solemnity with
which it urges the observance of moral duties, and impresses the power
of religious obligation, gives to it the highest character of truly
disinterested, sincere, parental advice.

_Washington's Domestic Policy_

The domestic policy of Washington found its pole-star in the avowed
objects of the Constitution itself. He sought so to administer that
Constitution as to form more perfect union, establish justice, insure
domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. These were objects
interesting in the highest degree, to the whole country, and his policy
embraced the whole country.

Among his earliest and most important duties was the organization of the
government itself, the choice of his confidential advisers, and the
various appointments to office. This duty, so important and delicate,
when a whole government was to be organized, and all its offices for the
first time filled, was yet not difficult to him, for he had no sinister
ends to accomplish, no clamorous partisans to gratify, no pledges to
redeem, no object to be regarded but simply the public good. It was a
plain, straightforward matter, a mere honest choice of good men for the
public service.

_His First Cabinet_

His own singleness of purpose, his disinterested patriotism, were
evinced by the selection of his first cabinet, and by the manner in
which he felled the seats of justice, and other places of high trust. He
sought for men fit for offices; not for offices which might suit them.
Above personal considerations, above local considerations, above party
considerations, he felt that he could only discharge the sacred trust
which the country had placed in his hands, by a diligent inquiry after
real merit, and a conscientious preference of virtue and talent. The
whole country was the field of his selection. He explored that whole
field, looking only for whatever it contained most worthy and
distinguished. He was, indeed, most successful, and he deserved success
for the purity of his motives, the liberality of his sentiments, and his
enlarged and manly policy.

_Important Measures of His Administrations_

Washington's administration established the national credit, made
provision for the public debt, and for that patriotic army whose
interests and welfare were always so dear to him; and, by laws wisely
framed, and of admirable effect, raised the commerce and navigation of
the country, almost at once, from depression and ruin to a state of
prosperity. Nor were his eyes open to these interests alone. He viewed
with equal concern its agriculture and manufactures, and, so far as they
came within the regular exercise of the powers of this government, they
experienced regard and favor.

It should not be omitted, even in this slight reference to the general
measures and general principles of the First President, that he saw and
felt the full value and importance of the judicial department of the
government. An upright and able administration of the laws he held to be
alike indispensable to private happiness and public liberty. The temple
of justice, in his opinion, was a sacred place, and he would profane and
pollute it who should call any to minister in it, not spotless in
character, not incorruptible in integrity, not competent by talent and
learning, not a fit object of unhesitating trust.

_His Opinion of the Dangers of Party Spirit_

Among other admonitions Washington has left us, in his last
communication to his country, an exhortation against the excesses of
party spirit. A fire not to be quenched, he yet conjures us not to fan
and feed the flame. Undoubtedly, Gentlemen, it is the greatest danger of
our system and of our time. Undoubtedly, if that system should be
overthrown, it will be the work of excessive party spirit, acting on the
government, which is dangerous enough, or acting in the government,
which is a thousand times more dangerous; for government then becomes
nothing but organized party, and, in the strange vicissitudes of human
affairs, it may come at last, perhaps, to exhibit the singular paradox
of government itself being in opposition to its own powers, at war with
the very elements of its own existence. Such cases are hopeless. As men
may be protected against murder, but cannot be guarded against suicide,
so government may be shielded from the assaults of external foes, but
nothing can save it when it chooses to lay violent hands on itself.

_His Love of the Union_

Finally, Gentlemen, there was in the breast of Washington one sentiment
so deeply felt, so constantly uppermost, that no proper occasion escaped
without its utterance. From the letter which he signed in behalf of the
Convention when the Constitution was sent out to the people, to the
moment when he put his hand to that last paper in which he addressed his
countrymen, the Union,--the Union was the great object of his thoughts.
In that first letter he tells them that to him and his brethren of the
Convention, union appears to be the greatest interest of every true
American; and in that last paper he conjures them to regard that unity
of government which constitutes them one people as the very palladium of
their prosperity and safety, and the security of liberty itself. He
regarded the union of these States less as one of our blessings, than as
the great treasure-house which contained them all. Here, in his
judgment, was the great magazine of all our means of prosperity; here as
he thought, and as every true American still thinks, are deposited all
our animating prospects, all our solid hopes for future greatness. He
has taught us to maintain this union, not by seeking to enlarge the
powers of the government, on the one hand, nor by surrendering them, on
the other; but by an administration of them at once firm and moderate,
pursuing objects truly national, and carried on in a spirit of justice
and equity.

_The American Nation Unique_

The extreme solicitude for the preservation of the Union, at all times
manifested by him, shows not only the opinion he entertained of its
importance, but his clear perception of those causes which were likely
to spring up to endanger it, and which, if once they should overthrow
the present system, would leave little hope of any future beneficial
reunion. Of all the presumptions indulged by presumptuous men, that is
one of the rashest which looks for repeated and favorable opportunities
for the deliberate establishment of a united government over distinct
and widely extended communities. Such a thing has happened once in human
affairs, and but once; the event stands out as a prominent exception to
all ordinary history; and unless we suppose ourselves running into an
age of miracles, we may not expect its repetition.

Washington, therefore, could regard, and did regard nothing as a
paramount political interest but the integrity of the Union itself. With
a united government, well administered, he saw that we had nothing to
fear; and without it, nothing to hope. The sentiment is just, and its
momentous truth should solemnly impress the whole country. If we might
regard our country as personated in the spirit of Washington, if we
might consider him as representing her, in her past renown, her present
prosperity, and her future career, and as in that character demanding of
us all to account for our conduct, as political men or as private
citizens, how should he answer him who has ventured to talk of disunion
and dismemberment? Oh how should he answer him who dwells perpetually on
local interests, and fans every kindling flame of local prejudice? How
should he answer him who would array State against State, interest
against interest, and party against party, careless of the continuance
of that unity of government which constitutes us one people?

The political prosperity which this country has attained, and which it
now enjoys, has been acquired mainly through the instrumentality of the
present government. While this agent continues, the capacity of
attaining to still higher degrees of prosperity exists also. We have,
while this lasts, a political life capable of beneficial exertion, with
power to resist or overcome misfortunes, to sustain us against the
ordinary accidents of human affairs, and to promote, by active efforts,
every public interest. But dismemberment strikes at the very being which
preserves these faculties. It would lay its rude and ruthless hand on
this great agent itself. It would sweep away, not only what we possess,
but all power of regaining lost, or acquiring new possessions. It would
leave the country not only bereft of its prosperity and happiness, but
without limbs, or organs, or faculties, by which to exert itself
hereafter in the pursuit of that prosperity and happiness.

_Dismemberment of the United States the Greatest of Evils_

Other misfortunes may be borne, or their effects overcome. If disastrous
war should sweep our commerce from the ocean, another generation may
renew it; if it exhaust our treasury, future industry may replenish it;
if it desolate and lay waste our fields, still, under a new cultivation,
they will grow green again, and ripen to future harvests. It were but a
trifle even if the walls of yonder Capitol were to crumble, if its lofty
pillars should fall, and its gorgeous decorations be all covered by the
dust of the valley. All these might be rebuilt. But who shall
reconstruct the fabric of demolished government? Who shall rear again
the well-proportioned columns of constitutional liberty? Who shall frame
together the skillful architecture which unites national sovereignty
with State rights, individual security, and public prosperity? No, if
these columns fall, they will be raised not again. Like the Coliseum and
the Parthenon, they will be destined to a mournful, a melancholy
immortality. Bitterer tears, however, will flow over them than were ever
shed over the monuments of Roman or Grecian art; for they will be the
remnants of a more glorious edifice than Greece or Rome ever saw, the
edifice of constitutional American liberty.

But let us hope for better things. Let us trust in that gracious Being
who has hitherto held our country as in the hollow of his hand. Let us
trust to the virtue and the intelligence of the people, and to the
efficacy of religious obligation. Let us trust to the influence of
Washington's example. Let us hope that that fear of Heaven which expels
all other fear, and that regard to duty which transcends all other
regard, may influence public men and private citizens, and lead our
country still onward in her happy career. Full of these gratifying
anticipations and hopes, let us look forward to the end of that century
which is now commenced. A hundred years hence, other disciples of
Washington will celebrate his birth, with no less of sincere admiration
than we now commemorate it. When they shall meet, as we now meet, to do
themselves and him that honor, so surely as they shall see the blue
summits of his native mountains rise in the horizon, so surely as they
shall behold the river on whose banks he lived, and on whose banks he
rests, still flowing on toward the sea, so surely may they see, as we
now see, the flag of the Union floating on the top of the Capitol; and
then, as now, may the sun in his course visit no land more free, more
happy, more lovely, than this our own country!


[21] At the beginning of the nineteenth century Marcus Tullius Cicero
was often called Tully.

[22] A remark by Fisher Ames (1758-1808), of Massachusetts,--perhaps the
extremest Federalist of his time.

[23] The famous phrase, "honest friendship with all nations, entangling
alliances with none," was not Washington's but Jefferson's.

       *       *       *       *       *



_The following lines were written on the back of a picture at Mount

  There dwelt the Man, the flower of human kind,
  Whose visage mild bespoke his nobler mind.

  There dwelt the Soldier, who his sword ne'er drew
  But in a righteous cause, to Freedom true.

  There dwelt the Hero, who ne'er killed for fame,
  Yet gained more glory than a Cæsar's name.

  There dwelt the Statesman, who, devoid of art,
  Gave soundest counsels from an upright heart;

  And, O Columbia, by thy sons caressed,
  There dwelt the Father of the realms he blessed;
  Who no wish felt to make his mighty praise,
  Like other chiefs, the means himself to raise;
  But there retiring, breathed in pure renown,
  And felt a grandeur that disdained a crown.

       *       *       *       *       *



To the pen of the historian must be resigned the more arduous and
elaborate tribute of justice to those efforts of heroic and political
virtue which conducted the American people to peace and liberty. The
vanquished foe retired from our shores, and left to the controlling
genius who repelled them the gratitude of his own country, and the
admiration of the world. The time had now arrived which was to apply the
touchstone to his integrity, which was to assay the affinity of his
principles to the standard of immutable right.

On the one hand, a realm to which he was endeared by his services almost
invited him to empire; on the other, the liberty to whose protection his
life had been devoted, was the ornament and boon of human nature.

Washington could not depart from his own great self. His country was
free. He was no longer a general. Sublime spectacle! more elevating to
the pride of virtue than the sovereignty of the globe united to the
scepter of the ages! Enthroned in the hearts of his countrymen, the
gorgeous pageantry of prerogative was unworthy the majesty of his
dominion. That effulgence of military character which in ancient states
has blasted the rights of the people whose renown it had brightened, was
not here permitted, by the hero from whom it emanated, to shine with so
destructive a luster. Its beams, though intensely resplendent, did not
wither the young blossoms of our Independence; and Liberty, like the
burning bush, flourished, unconsumed by the glory which surrounded it.

To the illustrious founder of our Republic it was reserved to exhibit
the example of a magnanimity that commanded victory, of a moderation
that retired from triumph. Unlike the erratic meteors of ambition, whose
flaming path sheds a disastrous light on the pages of history, his
bright orb, eclipsing the luminaries among which it rolled, never
portended "fearful change" to religion, nor from its "golded tresses"
shook pestilence on empire.

What to other heroes has been glory, would to Washington have been
disgrace. To his intrepidity it would have added no honorary trophy, to
have waded, like the conqueror of Peru, through the blood of credulous
millions, to plant the standard of triumph at the burning mouth of a
volcano. To his fame, it would have erected no auxiliary monument to
have invaded, like the ravager of Egypt, an innocent though barbarous
nation, to inscribe his name on the pillar of Pompey.

       *       *       *       *       *



The history, so sad and so glorious, which chronicles the stern struggle
in which our rights and liberties passed through the awful baptism of
fire and blood, is eloquent with the deeds of many patriots, warriors,
and statesmen; but these all fall into relations to one prominent and
commanding figure, towering up above the whole group in unapproachable
majesty, whose exalted character, warm and bright with every public and
private virtue, and vital with the essential spirit of wisdom, has burst
all sectional and national bounds, and made the name of Washington the
property of all mankind.

This illustrious man, at once the world's admiration and enigma, we are
taught by a fine instinct to venerate, and by a wrong opinion to
misjudge. The might of his character has taken strong hold upon the
feelings of great masses of men; but, in translating this universal
sentiment into an intelligent form, the intellectual element of his
wonderful nature is as much depressed as the moral element is exalted,
and consequently we are apt to misunderstand both. Mediocrity has a bad
trick of idealizing itself in eulogizing him, and drags him down to its
own level while assuming to lift him to the skies. How many times have
we been told that he was not a man of genius, but a person of "excellent
common sense," of "admirable judgment," of "rare virtues"! and, by a
constant repetition of this odious cant, we have nearly succeeded in
divorcing comprehension from his sense, insight from his judgment, force
from his virtues, and life from the man. Accordingly, in the panegyric
of cold spirits, Washington disappears in a cloud of commonplaces; in
the rhodomontade of boiling patriots, he expires in the agonies of rant.
Now, the sooner this bundle of mediocre talents and moral qualities,
which its contrivers have the audacity to call George Washington, is
hissed out of existence, the better it will be for the cause of talent
and the cause of morals; contempt of that is the condition of insight.
He had no genius, it seems. O no! genius, we must suppose, is the
peculiar and shining attribute of some orator, whose tongue can spout
patriotic speeches, or some versifier, whose muse can "Hail Columbia,"
but not of the man who supported states on his arm, and carried America
in his brain. The madcap Charles Townshend, the motion of whose
pyrotechnic mind was like the whiz of a hundred rockets, is a man of
genius; but George Washington raised up above the level of even eminent
statesmen, and with a nature moving with the still and orderly celerity
of a planet round the sun,--he dwindles, in comparison, into a kind of
angelic dunce! What is genius? Is it worth anything. Is splendid folly
the measure of its inspiration? Is wisdom that which it recedes from, or
tends towards? And by what definition do you award the name to the
creator of an epic, and deny it to the creator of a country? On what
principle is it to be lavished on him who sculptures in perishing marble
the image of possible excellence, and withheld from him who built up in
himself a transcendent character indestructible as the obligations of
Duty, and beautiful as her rewards?

Indeed, if by the genius of action you mean will enlightened by
intelligence, and intelligence energized by will,--if force and insight
be its characteristics, and influence its test,--and, especially, if
great effects suppose a cause proportionately great, that is, a vital
causative mind,--then is Washington most assuredly a man of genius, and
one whom no other American has equaled in the power of working morally
and mentally on other minds. His genius, it is true, was of a peculiar
kind, the genius of character, of thought, and the objects of thought
solidified and concentrated into active faculty. He belongs to that rare
class of men,--rare as Homers and Miltons, rare as Platos and Newtons,
who have impressed their characters upon nations without pampering
national vices. Such men have natures broad enough to include all the
facts of a people's practical life, and deep enough to discern the
spiritual laws which underlie, animate, and govern those facts.
Washington, in short, had that greatness of character which is the
highest expression and last result of greatness of mind; for there is no
method of building up character except through mind. Indeed, character
like his is not _built_ up, stone upon stone, precept upon precept, but
_grows_ up, through an actual contact of thought with things,--the
assimilative mind transmuting the impalpable but potent spirit of public
sentiment, and the life of visible facts, and the power of spiritual
laws, into individual life and power, so that their mighty energies put
on personality, as it were, and act through one centralizing human will.
This process may not, if you please, make the great philosopher or the
great poet; but it does make the great _man_,--the man in whom thought
and judgment seem identical with volition,--the man whose vital
expression is not in words, but deeds,--the man whose sublime ideas
issue necessarily in sublime acts, not in sublime art. It was because
Washington's character was thus composed of the inmost substance and
power of facts and principles, that men instinctively felt the perfect
reality of his comprehensive manhood. This reality enforced universal
respect, married strength to repose, and threw into his face that
commanding majesty which made men of the speculative audacity of
Jefferson, and the lucid genius of Hamilton, recognize, with unwonted
meekness, his awful superiority.


[24] From "Character and Characteristic Men." Published by Houghton,
Mifflin & Co.

       *       *       *       *       *



Washington's ideas concerning education have the approval of educators
of our day. He was in advance of his age; it is a question if we have
quite caught up with him. Of the two plans of his mature years and
ripened experience, one has been realized, the West Point idea, which
brings together, from every State and Territory of the Union, young men
to be trained for military service; that other plan of a National
University, with schools of administration and statesmanship, is yet
being considered.

Washington shared neither the least nor the most of the educational
advantages of his colony. The elder brothers, Lawrence and Augustine,
had realized their father's hopes, and had been sent to England for
their schooling as he had been for his, but the early death of the
father defeated that plan for George, so he obtained the early
preparation for his life work from the "home university," over which
Mary Washington presided, a loving and wise head. At times George was
with his brother Augustine at Bridges Creek, to be near the best parish
school, and then he was at home; but all the time he was advancing
rapidly in that school of men and affairs. "He was above all things
else, a capable, executive boy," says Woodrow Wilson in his biography.
"He loved mastery and he relished acquiring the most effective means of
mastery in all practical affairs. His very exercise books, used at
school, gave proof of it." As he did these things with care and
industry, so he followed with zest the spirited diversions of the hunt
and the life in fields and forests. Very early he put his knowledge of
the surveyor's art to practical test, and applied the chain and
logarithm to the reaches of the family lands. His skill came to the
notice of Lord Fairfax, who wished to know the extent of the lands he
had inherited in the New World. Washington, though but sixteen, was
equal to the task; in a month's time, after fording swollen streams and
penetrating the forests, he presented to Lord Fairfax maps and figures
which showed him the extent and boundaries of his estate. For three
years Washington followed this fascinating yet perilous work, and then,
being strongly recommended by Lord Fairfax, and himself being able to
show in clear, round style his mastery of the art and science of
surveying, he received in 1748 from the President of William and Mary
College the appointment as official surveyor for Culpeper County; such a
certificate was equivalent to a degree of civil engineer in those days.

Thus from an institution of higher learning, George Washington received
the first public recognition of service, and of merit. It was the
turning point in his life; it opened up fully the path to those
experiences which equipped him for that efficient service in the French
and Indian War, and the Revolution.

The honorable position of Chancellor had been held by the Bishops of
London from the foundation of the College in 1693 to the Revolution. The
old statute defining the duties of the office is interesting: "The
Chancellor is to be the Mæcenas, or patron of the College; such a one
as by his favor with the King and by his interest with all other persons
in England may be enabled to help in all the College affairs. His advice
is to be taken, especially in such arduous and momentous affairs as the
College shall have to do in England. If the College has any petitions at
any time to the King, let them be presented by the Chancellor." We can
imagine a grim smile on Washington's countenance as he read the
provisions made concerning the functions of his office, especially that
of conferring with the King.

In his letter to Samuel Griffin, Esq., Rector of the College, accepting
his appointment, he says: "Influenced by a heartfelt desire to promote
the cause of science in general and the prosperity of the College of
William and Mary in particular, I accept the office of Chancellor in the
same, and request you will be pleased to give official notice thereof to
the learned body who have thought proper to honor me with the
appointment. I confide fully in their strenuous endeavors for placing
the system of education on such a basis as will render it most
beneficial to the State, and the Republic of letters, as well as to the
more extensive interests of humanity and religion." This call to the
leadership of education in his own State antedated his election to the
Presidency of the new Republic by a year, and he continued in that
service to the College of William and Mary until the close of his life.

About the close of the Revolution, the State of Maryland began to
broaden its educational institutions. The School of Kent County at
Chestertown was placed in 1780 under the charge of the Rev. Dr. William
Smith, the minister of the parish who had been President of the College
of Philadelphia until its charter was revoked. Dr. Smith conducted the
Academy at Chestertown with great energy and ability, and in 1782 the
Visitors of the Academy asked that it be made a college; the legislature
made provision that when a total endowment of five thousand pounds
currency should be provided for the school, it should be incorporated
into a college, with enlarged courses of study and suitable professors,
and should be denominated Washington College, "in honorable and
perpetual memory of his Excellency, General Washington, the illustrious
and virtuous Commander-in-Chief, of the armies of the United States." In
five months the energetic trustees raised $14,000; Washington
contributed fifty guineas. The College was at once incorporated, and in
the following year, at its first commencement, its endowment had
increased to $28,000. It was the first college in Maryland; Washington
was elected as a member of the first Board of Visitors, but being with
the army at Newburgh, was unable to take his place on the Board, until
the second commencement of the College in 1784. Five years later, the
College bestowed upon Washington the degree of Doctor of Laws; his
letter of acknowledgment expressed the sentiment that, "in civilized
societies the welfare of the state and the happiness of the people are
advanced or retarded in proportion as the morals and education of the
youth are attended to. I cannot forbear on this occasion to express the
satisfaction which I feel on seeing the increase of our seminaries of
learning through the extensive country, and the general wish which seems
to prevail for establishing and maintaining these valuable
institutions." The old College has suffered by fire, and the
vicissitudes of fortune, yet it has lived through the years, and is
to-day doing a prosperous and noble work.

The Potomac and Virginia Company, and the James River Company were among
those organizations for transportation which Washington aided for the
opening up of the country. There was a recognition of his services to
the country, and the legislature of Virginia in 1785, through Patrick
Henry, then Governor, gave Washington fifty shares in the Potomac and
Virginia Company, and one hundred shares in the James River Company.
Washington replied that he had resolutely shut his hand against every
pecuniary recompense during the revolutionary struggle; and that he
could not change that position. He added that, if the legislature would
allow him to turn the gifts from his own private emolument to objects of
a public nature, he would endeavor to select objects which would meet
the most enlightened and patriotic views of the Assembly of Virginia.
The proposition met with hearty approval, and Washington held the stock
in both companies, awaiting the time when proper and worthy objects
should be found for the benefactions.

In 1785 he proposed to Edmund Randolph and Thomas Jefferson, that the
revenue of the stock in those companies be used for the establishment of
two schools, one upon each river, for the education of poor children,
particularly those whose parents had fallen in the struggle for liberty.
The idea was a noble one, yet Washington's call to the large service of
the College of William and Mary as its Chancellor, and to the country as
its President, prevented him from carrying it out. He carried out the
spirit of his idea by giving fifty pounds a year for the instruction of
poor children in Alexandria, and by making large provision for the
education of the sons of soldiers. In 1783 he honored a Princeton
commencement by his presence, and bestowed upon the College a gift of
fifty pounds. A tour through Georgia in 1790 gave him opportunity to
visit and approve of the Academy of Augusta. About the same time the
indomitable Kirkland, missionary to the Iroquois, was trying every
source of influence and money in behalf of an academy in Oneida County,
New York, to be located near the old Property Line, where both the sons
of the settlers and the children of the forest might be educated. His
visit to Philadelphia secured a generous benefaction from Washington,
and at the same time his influence and that of others, so that Congress
appropriated $15,000 yearly to "instruct the Iroquois in agriculture and
the useful arts."

Washington had now matured his idea of a national university. He was
ready to lay it before the country, and to be the first contributor to
its endowment. Virginia was taking new interest in its schools and the
influence of William and Mary College was widening: there was a demand
for more thoroughly equipped academies. The school at Augusta, which the
Revolution had been the means of christening Liberty Hall, had become
prominent. In 1796 Washington settled upon Liberty Hall as the proper
recipient of the one hundred shares in the James River Company to
augment its endowment. In accepting the gift the name of the academy was
changed, and the trustees were able to sign themselves, "the trustees of
Washington Academy, late Liberty Hall." Washington was greatly touched
by the honor, and ascribed his ability to make the donation to "the
generosity of the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia."

The institution prospered. About 1802 a new charter was granted with
larger powers, under the name of Washington College. John Robinson, a
soldier of the Revolution under Washington, gave, in emulation of his
illustrious commander, his entire estate to Washington College; from it
the trustees realized $40,000 toward the endowment. The stock of the
James River Company, which Washington transferred to the College, to-day
yields an income of six per cent, on $50,000, and, after prospering
years, the College has now a productive endowment of $600,000, and a
property worth $800,000. The country has passed through many critical
periods since Washington's day, and the Union is stronger than ever. The
old College is a witness to the all-healing power of time and kinship,
for its name has again been added to: it is Washington and Lee
University now; and thus is joined with the name of the Father of His
Country the name of one whom the South has ever loved, whom the North
long since forgave, and whose memory the country will ever cherish.

The Revolutionary War was a costly experiment of education in military
affairs in the field; it cost heavily in blood and treasure. Washington
realized that preparation for service in the army must be had in
military schools.

From the very beginning of the war until the end of his life, by
official message and by letter, Washington urged the importance of
military instruction. In his message to Congress in 1796 he said: "The
institution of a military academy is recommended by cogent reasons.
However pacific the general policy of a nation may be, it ought never to
be without an adequate stock of military knowledge for emergencies. In
proportion as the observance from the necessity of practicing the rules
of the military art, ought to be its care in preserving and transmitting
by proper establishments the knowledge of that art. A thorough
examination of the subject will evince that the art of war is extensive
and complicated; that it demands much previous study; and that the
possession of it in its most important and perfect state is always of
great moment to the security of a nation." Congress did make provision
for the carrying out of many of the President's recommendations; it
created a new grade in the army, that of _Cadet_, to which young men
exclusively were admitted, and money was appropriated for their
education in the science of war that they might be prepared for
positions of command. But Congress delayed the potential part of the
plan; it did not collect the regiment of artillerists and engineers at a
single station, nor did it erect buildings for the uses of education.

The idea did not die; in 1802 Congress made the first of those
provisions for a military academy with the plan and scope which
Washington had so persistently urged. West Point was chosen as the place
of its location. That academy has more than once demonstrated the
wisdom of the far-seeing Washington.

West Point is the realization of Washington's plans for a national
school of military instruction. To-day it represents to the country the
important features of that plan for a National University. By his last
will and testament, Washington bequeathed the fifty shares of stock in
the Potomac Company to the establishment of a National University in the
central part of the United States; he made provision that until such a
university should be founded the fund should be self-accumulating by the
use of the dividends in the purchase of more stock, to still further
augment the endowment fund. In the transfers and changes of commercial
life apparent record of that stock has been lost, yet that last will
bequeathed an ideal which in indirect ways is still inspiring our
national educational system.

Let us take our place by the side of a student of our national history
and institutions, as after a walk through the buildings across that
noble plain at West Point he sits down to meditate, on the granite steps
of the "Battle Monument." He is where the history of yesterday abides,
but about him is represented the strength and life of the nation, and
the strong military figures of officers, cadets, and soldiers from every
section of our country. He feels the wisdom of that great desire of
Washington's that the life and thought of the widely separated sections
of the rising empire should become homogeneous and unified by the
meeting of the young men of the land in a central school, during the
years of training for the country's service at arms. This student of
history would feel how that hope had been fulfilled by the loyal service
which the sons of West Point to so large a degree rendered the Union in
its days of peril; and with deep gratitude would he acknowledge that
enthusiastic loyalty with which the North and South, the East and West,
as represented at West Point and throughout the country, rushed to its
service to release those islands of the sea from the thraldom and
tyranny of a medieval monarchy.

Then the vista of the future would open before him, and he would see
that larger hope and plan of Washington's realized in the city of his
name. There in that center in the Nation's life he would see young men
assembling in the national schools of administration, commerce, consular
service, and finance, to study questions of government and international
relations. He would see reaching to all the lands of earth a peace more
beautiful than that of the river below him; and wider and deeper than
that Western ocean where now is flying our flag of hope and promise.

       *       *       *       *       *



_Delivered in the Hall of the House of Representatives, February 21,

Mr. President of the United States, Senators, Representatives, Judges,
Mr. Chairman, and My Countrymen:--Alone in its grandeur stands forth the
character of Washington in history; alone like some peak that has no
fellow in the mountain range of greatness.

"Washington," said Guizot, "Washington did the two greatest things which
in politics it is permitted to man to attempt. He maintained by peace
the independence of his country, which he had conquered by war. He
founded a free government in the name of the principles of order and by
re-establishing their sway." Washington did, indeed, do these things.
But he did more. Out of disconnected fragments, he molded a whole, and
made it a country. He achieved his country's independence by the sword.
He maintained that independence by peace as by war. He finally
established both his country and its freedom in an enduring frame of
constitutional government, fashioned to make liberty and union one and
inseparable. These four things together constitute the unexampled
achievement of Washington.

The world has ratified the profound remark of Fisher Ames, that "he
changed mankind's ideas of political greatness." It has approved the
opinion of Edward Everett, that he was "the greatest of good men, and
the best of great men." It has felt for him, with Erskine, "an awful
reverence." It has attested the declaration of Brougham that he was
"the greatest man of his own or of any age."...

Conquerors who have stretched your scepter over boundless territories;
founders of empires who have held your dominions in the reign of law;
reformers who have cried aloud in the wilderness of oppression; teachers
who have striven to cast down false doctrines, heresy, and schism;
statesmen whose brains have throbbed with mighty plans for the
amelioration of human society; scar-crowned vikings of the sea,
illustrious heroes of the land, who have borne the standards of siege
and battle, come forth in bright array from your glorious fanes, and
would ye be measured by the measure of his stature? Behold you not in
him a more illustrious and more venerable presence? Statesman, soldier,
patriot, sage, reformer of creeds; teacher of truth and justice,
achiever and preserver of liberty, the first of men, founder and saviour
of his country, father of his people--this is he, solitary and
unapproachable in his grandeur!

Oh, felicitous Providence that gave to America our Washington!

High soars into the sky to-day, higher than the pyramid or the dome of
St. Paul's or St. Peter's--the loftiest and most imposing structure
that man has ever reared--high soars into the sky to where--"Earth
highest yearns to meet a star" the monument which "We the people of the
United States" have uplifted to his memory. It is a fitting monument,
more fitting than any statue. For his image could only display him in
some one phase of his varied character. So art has fitly typified his
exalted life in yon plain, lofty shaft. Such is his greatness, that only
by a symbol could it be represented. As Justice must be blind in order
to be whole in contemplation, so History must be silent that by this
mighty sign she may disclose the amplitude of her story.

No sum could now be made of Washington's character that did not exhaust
language of its tributes and repeat virtue by all her names. No sum
could be made of his achievements that did not unfold the history of his
country and its institutions--the history of his age and its
progress--the history of man and his destiny to be free. But, whether
character or achievement be regarded, the riches before us only expose
the poverty of praise. So clear was he in his great office that no ideal
of the leader or ruler can be formed that does not shrink by the side of
the reality. And so has he impressed himself upon the minds of men, that
no man can justly aspire to be the chief of a great, free people, who
does not adopt his principles and emulate his example. We look with
amazement on such eccentric characters as Alexander, Cæsar, Cromwell,
Frederick, and Napoleon, but when Washington's face rises before us,
instinctively mankind exclaims: "This is the man for nations to trust
and reverence, and for rulers to follow."

Drawing his sword from patriotic impulse, without ambition and without
malice, he wielded it without vindictiveness, and sheathed it without
reproach. All that humanity could conceive he did to suppress the
cruelties of war and soothe its sorrows. He never struck a coward's
blow. To him age, infancy, and helplessness were ever sacred. He
tolerated no extremity unless to curb the excesses of his enemy, and he
never poisoned the sting of defeat by the exultation of the conqueror.

Peace he welcomed as a heaven-sent herald of friendship; and no country
has given him greater honor than that which he defeated; for England has
been glad to claim him as the scion of her blood, and proud, like our
sister American States, to divide with Virginia the honor of producing

Fascinated by the perfection of the man, we are loath to break the
mirror of admiration into the fragments of analysis. But, lo! as we
attempt it, every fragment becomes the miniature of such sublimity and
beauty that the destructive hand can only multiply the forms of

Grand and manifold as were its phases, there is yet no difficulty in
understanding the character of Washington. He was no Veiled Prophet. He
never acted a part. Simple, natural, and unaffected, his life lies
before us--a fair and open manuscript. He disdained the arts which wrap
power in mystery in order to magnify it. He practiced the profound
diplomacy of truthful speech--the consummate tact of direct attention.
Looking ever to the All-Wise Disposer of events, he relied on that
Providence which helps men by giving them high hearts and hopes to help
themselves with the means which their Creator has put at their service.
There was no infirmity in his conduct over which charity must fling its
veil; no taint of selfishness from which purity averts her gaze; no dark
recess of intrigue that must be lit up with colored panegyric; no
subterranean passage to be trod in trembling, lest there be stirred the
ghost of a buried crime.

A true son of nature was George Washington--of nature in her brightest
intelligence and noblest mold; and the difficulty, if such there be, in
comprehending him, is only that of reviewing from a single standpoint
the vast procession of those civil and military achievements which
filled nearly half a century of his life, and in realizing the magnitude
of those qualities which were requisite to their performance--the
difficulty of fashioning in our minds a pedestal broad enough to bear
the towering figure, whose greatness is diminished by nothing but the
perfection of its proportions. If his exterior--in calm, grave, and
resolute repose--ever impressed the casual observer as austere and cold,
it was only because he did not reflect that no great heart like his
could have lived unbroken unless bound by iron nerves in an iron frame.
The Commander of Armies, the Chief of a People, the Hope of Nations
could not wear his heart upon his sleeve; and yet his sternest will
could not conceal its high and warm pulsations. Under the enemy's guns
at Boston he did not forget to instruct his agent to administer
generously of charity to his needy neighbors at home. The sufferings of
women and children thrown adrift by war, and of his bleeding comrades,
pierced his soul. And the moist eye and trembling voice with which he
bade farewell to his veterans bespoke the underlying tenderness of his
nature, even as the storm-wind makes music in its undertones.

Disinterested patriot, he would receive no pay for his military
services. Refusing gifts, he was glad to guide the benefaction of a
grateful State to educate the children of his fallen braves in the
institution at Lexington which yet bears his name. Without any of the
blemishes that mark the tyrant, he appealed so loftily to the virtuous
elements in man, that he almost created the qualities which his country
needed to exercise; and yet he was so magnanimous and forbearing to the
weaknesses of others, that he often obliterated the vices of which he
feared the consequences. But his virtue was more than this. It was of
that daring, intrepid kind that, seizing principle with a giant's grasp,
assumes responsibility at any hazard, suffers sacrifice without pretense
of martyrdom, bears calumny without reply, imposes superior will and
understanding on all around it, capitulates to no unworthy triumph, but
must carry all things at the point of clear and blameless conscience.
Scorning all manner of meanness and cowardice, his bursts of wrath at
their exhibition heighten our admiration for the noble passions which
were kindled by the aspirations and exigencies of virtue.

Invested with the powers of a Dictator, the country bestowing them felt
no distrust of his integrity; he, receiving them, gave assurance that,
as the sword was the last support of Liberty, so it should be the first
thing laid aside when Liberty was won. And keeping the faith in all
things, he left mankind bewildered with the splendid problem whether to
admire him most for what he was or what he would not be. Over and above
all his virtues was the matchless manhood of personal honor to which
Confidence gave in safety the key of every treasure on which Temptation
dared not smile, on which Suspicion never cast a frown. And why prolong
the catalogue? "If you are presented with medals of Cæsar, of Trajan,
or Alexander, on examining their features you are still led to ask what
was their stature and the forms of their persons; but if you discover in
a heap of ruins the head or the limb of an antique Apollo, be not
curious about the other parts, but rest assured that they were all
conformable to those of a god."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Rome to America" is the eloquent inscription on one stone of your
colossal shaft--taken from the ancient Temple of Peace that once stood
hard by the Palace of the Cæsars. Uprisen from the sea of Revolution,
fabricated from the ruins of bartered bastiles, and dismantled palaces
of unrighteous, unhallowed power, stood forth now the Republic of
republics, the Nation of nations, the Constitution of constitutions, to
which all lands and times and tongues had contributed of their wisdom,
and the priestess of Liberty was in her holy temple.

When Marathon had been fought and Greece kept free, each of the
victorious generals voted himself to be first in honor, but all agreed
that Miltiades was second. When the most memorable struggle for the
rights of human nature of which time holds record was thus happily
concluded in the muniment of their preservation, whoever else was
second, unanimous acclaim declared that Washington was first. Nor in
that struggle alone does he stand foremost. In the name of the people of
the United States, their President, their Senators, their
Representatives, and their Judges do crown to-day with the grandest
crown that veneration has ever lifted to the brow of Glory, him whom
Virginia gave to America, whom America had given to the world and to the
ages, and whom mankind with universal suffrage has proclaimed the
foremost of the founders of empire in the first degree of greatness;
whom Liberty herself has anointed as the first citizen in the great
Republic of Humanity.

Encompassed by the inviolate seas, stands to-day the American Republic,
which he founded--a freer Greater Britain--uplifted above the powers and
principalities of the earth, even as his monument is uplifted over roof
and dome and spire of the multitudinous city.

Long live the Republic of Washington! Respected by mankind, beloved of
all its sons, long may it be the asylum of the poor and oppressed of all
lands and religions--long may it be the citadel of that Liberty which
writes beneath the eagle's folded wings, "We will sell to no man, we
will deny to no man, right and justice."

Long live the United States of America! Filled with the free,
magnanimous spirit, crowned by the wisdom, blessed by the moderation,
hovered over by the angel of Washington's example, may they be ever
worthy in all things to be defended by the blood of the brave, who know
the rights of man and shrink not from their assertion; may they be each
a column, and all together, under the Constitution, a perpetual Temple
of Peace, unshadowed by a Cæsar's palace, at whose altar may freely
commune all who seek the union of liberty and brotherhood.

Long live our country! Oh, long through the undying ages may it stand
far removed in fact as in space from the Old World's feuds and follies;
alone in its grandeur and its glory, itself the immortal monument of him
whom Providence commissioned to teach man the power of truth and to
prove to the nations that their redeemer liveth.

       *       *       *       *       *



For many years I have studied minutely the career of Washington, and
with every step the greatness of the man has grown upon me; for analysis
has failed to discover the act of his life which, under the conditions
of the time, I could unhestitatingly pronounce to have been an error.
Such has been my experience, and, although my deductions may be wrong,
they at least have been carefully and slowly made. I see in Washington a
great soldier, who fought a trying war to a successful end impossible
without him; a great statesman, who did more than any other man to lay
the foundations of a republic which has endured in prosperity for more
than a century. I find in him a marvelous judgment which was never at
fault, a penetrating vision which beheld the future of America when it
was dim to other eyes, a great intellectual force, a will of iron, an
unyielding grasp of facts, and an unequaled strength of patriotic
purpose. I see in him, too, a pure and high-minded gentleman of
dauntless courage and stainless honor, simple and stately of manner,
kind and generous of heart. Such he was in truth. The historian and the
biographer may fail to do him justice, but the instinct of mankind will
not fail. The real hero needs not books to give him worshipers. George
Washington will always receive the love and reverence of men, because
they see embodied in him the noblest possibilities of humanity.




Washington's relations with children are most interesting. He always
wrote of them as the "little ones."

Through his life he adopted or assumed the expenses of nine of the
children of his "kith and kin."

Dumas says that he arrived at Providence with Washington at night. "The
whole population had assembled from the suburbs; we were surrounded by a
crowd of children carrying torches, all were eager to approach the
person of him whom they called their father, and pressed so closely
around us that they hindered us from proceeding. General Washington was
much affected, stopped a few moments, and, pressing my hand, said, 'We
may be beaten by the English, it is the chance of war; but behold an
army which they can never conquer.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

In journeying through New England, Washington spent a night in a private
house where all payment was refused. Writing to his host he said: "Being
informed that you have given my name to one of your sons, and called
another after Mrs. Washington's family, and being, moreover, very much
pleased with the modest and innocent looks of your two daughters, Patty
and Polly, I do for these reasons send each of these girls a piece of
chintz; and to Patty, who bears the name of Mrs. Washington, and who
waited upon us more than Polly did, I send five guineas with which she
may buy herself any little ornament, or she may dispose of them in any
manner more agreeable to herself. As I do not give these things with a
view to have it talked of, or even its being known, the less there is
said about the matter the better you will please me; but, that I may be
sure the chintz and money have got safe to hand, let Patty, who I dare
say is equal to it, write me a line informing me thereof, directed to
the President of the United States at New York."

 *       *       *       *       *

Once the General was engaged in earnest consultation with Colonel
Pickering until after night had fairly set in. Washington prepared to
stay with the colonel over night, provided he had a spare blanket and
straw. "Oh yes," said Primus, who was appealed to, "plenty of straw and
blankets, plenty."

Two humble beds were spread side by side in the tent and the officers
laid themselves down, while Primus seemed to be busy with duties that
required his attention before he himself could sleep. He worked, or
appeared to work, until the breathing of the prostrate gentlemen
satisfied him that they were sleeping, and then seating himself upon a
box, he leaned his head upon his hands to obtain such repose as he

In the middle of the night Washington awoke. He looked about and
descried the negro. He gazed at him awhile and then spoke.

"Primus," said he, "Primus!" Primus started up and rubbed his eyes.

"What, General?" said he. Washington rose up in his bed. "Primus," said
he, "what do you mean by saying that you had straw and blankets enough?
Here you have given up your blankets and straw to me, that I may sleep
comfortably, while you are obliged to sit through the night." "It's
nothing, General," said Primus! "It's nothing! I'm well enough! Don't
trouble yourself about me, General, but go to sleep again. No matter
about me, I sleep very good!" "But it is matter, it is matter," said
Washington. "I cannot do it, Primus. If either is to sit up, I will. But
I think there is no need of either sitting up. The blanket is wide
enough for two. Come and lie down with me."

"Oh no, General!" said Primus, starting and protesting against the
proposition. "No, let me sit here." "I say come and lie down here!" said
Washington. "There is room for both; I insist upon it."

He threw open the blanket as he spoke, and moved to one side of the
straw. Primus professes to have been exceedingly shocked at the idea of
lying under the same covering with the commander-in-chief, but his tone
was so resolute and determined that he could not hesitate. He prepared
himself therefore and laid himself down by Washington; on the same straw
under the same blanket, the General and the negro servant slept until

       *       *       *       *       *

An anecdote characteristic of Washington is related by Professor
McVickar, in his narrative of "The Life of Dr. Bard," who attended
Washington during a severe illness in 1789.

     It was a case of anthrax (carbuncle) so malignant as for several
     days to threaten mortification. During this period Dr. Bard never
     quitted him. On one occasion being left alone with him, General
     Washington, looking steadily in his face, desired his candid
     opinion as to the probable termination of his disease, adding with
     that placid firmness which marked his address, "Do not flatter me
     with vain hopes, I'm not afraid to die, and therefore can bear the
     worst." Dr. Bard's answer, though it expressed hope, acknowledged
     his apprehensions.

     The President replied: "Whether to-night or twenty years hence,
     makes no difference; I know that I am in the hands of a good

       *       *       *       *       *

George Washington to his nephew, Bushrod Washington:

     Remember, that it is not the mere study of the Law, but to become
     eminent in the profession of it, which is to yield honor and

     The first was your choice, let the second be your ambition; that
     the company in which you will improve most, will be least expensive
     to you; and yet I am not such a stoic as to suppose that you will,
     or think it right that you should always be in company with
     senators and philosophers; but of the young and the juvenile kind
     let me advise you to be choice. It is easy to make acquaintances,
     but very difficult to shake them off, however irksome and
     unprofitable they are found, after we have once committed ourselves
     to them.

       *       *       *       *       *

While absent from Mount Vernon Washington wrote to his manager:

     Although it is last mentioned, it is foremost in my thoughts to
     desire you will be particularly attentive to my negroes in their
     sickness, and to order every overseer positively to be so likewise;
     for I am sorry to observe that the generality of them view these
     poor creatures in scarcely any other light than they do a draught
     horse or an ox, neglecting them as much when they are unable to
     work instead of comforting and nursing them when they lie in a sick

       *       *       *       *       *

A part of each day was always set apart for meditation and devotion; nor
this in time of peace only, for we are told that one day while the
Americans were encamped at Valley Forge, the owner of the house occupied
by the General, a Quaker, strolled up the creek, and when not far from
his mill, heard a solemn voice. He walked quietly in the direction of it
and saw Washington's horse tied to a sapling. In a thicket near by was
the chief, upon his knees in prayer, his cheeks suffused with tears.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the Revolutionary War, General Washington's army was reduced at
one time to great straits, and the people were greatly dispirited. One
of them who left his home with an anxious heart one day, as he was
passing the edge of a wood near the camp, heard the sound of a voice. He
stopped to listen, and looking between the trunks of the large trees he
saw General Washington engaged in prayer. He passed quietly on, that he
might not disturb him; and on returning home, told his family, "America
will prevail," and then related what he had heard and seen.

       *       *       *       *       *



On the last day in office Washington wrote to Knox comparing himself to
"the weary traveler who sees a resting-place, and is bending his body to
lean thereon. To be suffered to do this in peace," he added, "is too
much to be endured by some." Accordingly on that very day a Philadelphia
newspaper dismissed him with a final tirade, worth remembering by all
who think that political virulence is on the increase:

     "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes
     have seen thy salvation" was the exclamation of a man who saw a
     flood of blessedness breaking in upon mankind. If ever there was a
     time that allowed this exclamation to be repeated, that time is the
     present. The man who is the source of all our country's misery is
     this day reduced to the rank of his fellow-citizens, and has no
     longer the power to multiply the woes of these United States. Now
     more than ever is the time to rejoice. Every heart which feels for
     the liberty, and the happiness of the people must now beat with
     rapture at the thought that this day the name of Washington ceases
     to give currency to injustice and to legalize corruption.... When
     we look back upon the eight years of Washington's administration,
     it strikes us with astonishment that one man could thus poison the
     principles of republicanism among our enlightened people, and carry
     his designs against the public liberty so far as to endanger its
     very existence. Yet such is the fact, and if this is apparent to
     all, this day they should form a jubilee in the United States.

       *       *       *       *       *



From _The Independent_

At this season of the anniversary of Washington's birth, it seems
especially appropriate to recall certain singular circumstances in the
life of the greatest of Americans--events remarkable in themselves in
whatever light they may be viewed; whether, in accordance with the
tenets of modern Spiritism and, to a certain extent, in harmony with the
doctrines of Swedenborg and his followers in human affairs of departed
spirits; or if, on the other hand, we adopt the simple teachings of the
Sacred Scriptures, and acknowledge the truth with men and their

Authentic history records no less than six marvelous instances in which
the life of Washington was saved under circumstances seemingly little
less than miraculous. The first of these wonderful escapes from
impending peril occurred during the period of Washington's sole recorded
absence from the American continent--when he accompanied his brother
Lawrence, then fatally ill with consumption, to the Barbadoes.


They sailed in September of 1751, George being then in the twentieth
year of his age. Before the brothers had been a fortnight in the island
the younger, the future hero of the Revolution, was attacked with
smallpox in its "natural" and virulent form. This disease was not then
the fangless monster with which we are familiar, but was terrific in its
assaults and almost invariably fatal; yet Washington recovered in
something less than three weeks, and retained through his life but
slight marks of the malady.

One of General Washington's biographers well says, in reference to this
incident, in the life of the first President, that, "it may well be
doubted whether in any of his battles he was in equal danger. If the
disease entered an army, it was a foe more to be dreaded than embattled
hosts.... But it belongs to that class of diseases of which, by a
mysterious law of our nature, our frames are, generally speaking,
susceptible but once.... Thus it came to pass, that, in the morning of
his days, Washington became (humanly speaking) safe from all future
danger from this formidable disease."

The reader of American history will remember that the smallpox appeared
among the British troops in Boston in the fall of 1775; that it ravaged
our army in Canada in the following spring; that it prevailed the same
year at Ticonderoga, and in 1777 at Morristown. Regarding this last
occasion of its appearance, Washington said, in a letter to Governor
Henry, of Virginia, where vaccination was not permitted:

     You will pardon my observation on smallpox because I know it is
     more destructive to the army than the enemies' sword and because I
     shudder whenever I reflect upon the difficulties of keeping it out.

This was the tremendous peril from which Washington was comparatively
safe after his twentieth year. "If," says a very eminent writer, "to
refer this to an overruling Providence be a superstition, I desire to be
accounted superstitious."

_The Journey to Venango_, 1753

The next imminent danger to which Washington was exposed, and from which
his escape was well-nigh miraculous, was on the occasion of his historic
expedition to the headquarters of the French Governor at Venango, in
1753. The journey itself, in the winter season, of five or six hundred
miles through an unsettled country, most of it constantly traveled by
natives at enmity with the English, was one continued story of danger
and escape. It was but two years after this trip of Washington's to
Venango that English soldiers--surrendered prisoners of war--were
tortured to death by the savage natives within sight of Fort Duquesne.
On his return from the fulfillment of his mission, Washington traversed
the forest with a single companion and an Indian guide. Just at
nightfall, on one of the days of their perilous journey, their savage
attendant suddenly turned, and at a distance of but fifteen paces fired
on Washington, happily without evil result.

After this alarming experience the two companions pursued their way
alone, footsore and weary, through the woods, with the sure knowledge
that the savages were on their trail. Reaching the Alleghany River on a
night of December, they found it encumbered with drifting ice, and only
to be crossed by means of a raft which, with only "one poor hatchet,"
cost them an entire day's labor to construct. When crossing the river,
Washington, while using the setting pole, was thrown violently into the
water at a depth of ten feet, and saved his life by grasping a log. They
spent the night, in their frozen clothing, on a little island on which,
had they been forced to stay till sunrise, they would, beyond question,
have fallen into the hands of the Indians; but the intense cold which
froze the feet of Washington's companion, also sealed the river and
enabled them to escape on the ice.

_Another Mission_

The year following the mission to Venango (1754) Colonel Washington was
sent in command of a small force in the same direction; but by reason of
the greatly superior strength of the enemy, the expedition resulted in a
calamitous retreat. By a singular coincidence, the compulsory evacuation
of the English stronghold--"Fort Necessity," as it was called--occurred
on the _Fourth of July_, 1754--a date afterward made forever glorious in
great measure by the inestimable services of the young commander of this
earlier and ill-fated military expedition. But such were the ability,
energy, and power evinced by its youthful commander, that the disaster
resulted in his own greatly enhanced reputation as a born leader of men.

_Braddock and Washington_

In the following year (1755) a gigantic effort was made by England to
recover lost ground, and to repair the military misadventures of 1754.
The history of Braddock's disastrous expedition is familiar to every
schoolboy in the land. At this period, Colonel Washington had retired
from the army in disgust at the unjust regulations which gave undue
preference to officers holding commissions from the Crown over abler
men--some of them their seniors of the same rank--in the service of the
provinces. He was, however, at length induced--in great measure from
motives of the purest patriotism, and partly, no doubt, from his strong
leaning toward a military career--to accept a position on the staff of
the commanding General, Braddock, a soldier of courage and large
experience, but, as events afterward proved, a haughty, self-willed, and
passionate man.

During the passage of Braddock's forces through the Alleghany Mountains,
Washington was attacked by so violent and alarming a sickness that its
result was for a time extremely uncertain; on his partial recovery the
General caused him to move with the heavy artillery and baggage. In this
position Washington remained two weeks, returning to the General's
headquarters on the eighth of July, the day preceding the fatal battle
of the Monongahela.

On the morning of this day--forever and sadly memorable in American
annals--Washington mounted his horse, weak and worn by sickness, but
strong in hope and courage. These are his own words uttered in other and
better days:

     The most beautiful spectacle I had ever beheld was the display of
     the British troops on that eventful morning.... The sun gleamed
     from their burnished arms, the river flowed tranquilly on their
     right, and the deep forest overshadowed them with solemn grandeur
     on the left.

_Braddock's Defeat_

It is needless to repeat here the tale of that day of defeat and
slaughter. Historians have recorded its events, and poets have sung its
story. Throughout the action Washington was in the thickest of the
fight. "I expected every moment to see him fall," wrote Dr. Craik, his
physician and friend. It was during this disastrous battle that
Washington escaped perhaps the most imminent peril of his life. In
company with Dr. Craik, in the year 1770, he descended the Ohio River on
a journey of observation to the Great Kanawha, and it was there that an
incident occurred, which is thus described by Irving:

     Here Washington was visited by an old sachem, who approached him
     with great reverence and addressed him through Nicholson, the
     interpreter. He had come, he said, a great distance to see him. On
     further discourse, the sachem made known that he was one of the
     warriors in the service of the French, who lay in ambush on the
     banks of the Monongahela, and wrought such havoc to Braddock's
     army. He declared that he and his young men had singled out
     Washington, as he made himself conspicuous riding about the field
     of battle with the General's orders, and fired at him repeatedly,
     but without success; whence they concluded that he was under the
     protection of the Great Spirit, that he had a charmed life, and
     could not be slain in battle.

Washington himself wrote thus to his brother:

     By all the powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been
     protected beyond all human probability and expectations; for I had
     four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me; yet I
     escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every

His marvelous preservation was the subject of general remark; Mr.
Davies, later President of Princeton College, used these words in an
address a few weeks after the Braddock defeat:

     That heroic youth, Colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope
     Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner for some
     important service to his country.

_Escape from a Marriage_

The next apparently providential intervention in the affairs of the hero
of the Revolution is connected with very different scenes from those of
battle and carnage; it may, perhaps, be fairly described as a narrow
escape from a marriage which, while it might have proved a happy
alliance in so far as Washington himself was concerned, would almost
certainly have resulted in the loss of his inestimable services to his

Washington's attachment to Mary Philipse is a fact beyond reasonable
question; his offer of marriage to that young lady is somewhat
traditional. It is certain, however, that during his necessary absence
on military duty, Captain Morris, his associate aide-de-camp in the
Monongahela engagement, became a successful suitor for the hand of Miss

What is far less generally known is the fact that, had Washington been
successful in his early matrimonial aspirations, he would certainly
have remained a loyal adherent of the royal cause, and would thus have
been lost to his native land. Evidences of the justice of this theory
are by no means lacking. The relatives and friends of the lady were
nearly all devoted to the cause of England; Washington was the associate
of many of them; and Captain Morris, his successful rival, remained in
the British service during his life. There can be, I think, little doubt
that, in the event of his marriage with Miss Philipse, Washington, like
Captain Morris, would have returned to England and been forever lost to
America. Mrs. Morris survived her illustrious admirer twenty-five years,
dying about the year 1825.

_Washington Unrewarded_

A striking historical fact,--as strange as it is authentic--is the
treatment of Washington by the English Government after the death of
Braddock. Had General Braddock survived his terrible misfortune the
result might well have been very different; for it is matter of history
that the youthful officer had the undivided confidence of his commander.
But by the British Ministry, and even by the King himself, the young
hero of the fatal battle was treated with scarcely disguised contempt
and neglect.

In a letter to the British War Minister, Governor Dinwiddie speaks of
Colonel Washington as a man of great merit and resolution, adding:

     I am confident, that, if General Braddock had lived, he would have
     recommended him to the royal favor, which I beg your interest in

The sole results were a half-rebuke from the King, and a malicious fling
from the lips of Horace Walpole. For more than three years Washington
labored incessantly, by personal effort and by means of influential
intercessors, to secure a royal commission.

In view of what the world knows now of Washington's well-nigh matchless
ability as a soldier, and remembering especially the reputation he had
already acquired--amazing in so youthful an officer--his persistent
neglect by the military authorities "at home," and particularly the
stubborn and doltish determination on the part of the King to ignore the
man and his almost unexampled services, suggests the theory that the
heart of King George, of England, was as truly and providentially
"hardened" as was that of his royal prototype, Pharaoh, of ancient
times. For, finding that all his efforts were ineffectual and believing
that the chief object of the war was attained by the capture of Fort
Duquesne, and the final defeat of the French on the Ohio, the young hero
retired after five years of arduous and ill-requited service, in the
words of a great writer of our own land and time:

     The youthful idol of his countrymen, but without so much as a civil
     word from the fountain of honor. And so, when after seventeen years
     of private life he next appeared in arms, it was as the
     "Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the United Colonies, and of all
     the forces now raised, or to be raised by them."

The same writer elsewhere remarks:

     Such was the policy by which the Horse Guards occasionally saved a
     Major's commission for a fourth son of a Duke, by which the Crown
     lost a continent; and the people of the United States gained a
     place in the family of nations. The voice of history cries aloud to
     powerful Governments, in the administration of their colonies:
     "Discite justitiam moniti."

_A Furious Conflict_

The last of the six marvelous escapes of our hero from impending and
fatal disaster occurred during the historic night march of Washington
and the American Army on Princeton, where, on the third of January,
1776, he compassed the entire destruction of one regiment of the enemy,
and captured or forced to ignoble retreat two others. This battle was
the subject of one of Colonel Trumbull's most famous paintings; and it
was during this engagement--as Washington himself told the illustrious
artist--that he was in greater peril than even at the time of Braddock's

In the height of the battle the two armies were for a brief season in
furious conflict, and Washington between them within range of both
fires. Washington Irving writes:

     His Aide, Colonel Fitzgerald, losing sight of him in the heat of
     the fight when enveloped in smoke and dust, dropped the bridle on
     the neck of his horse and drew his hat over his eyes, giving him up
     for lost. When he saw him, however, emerging from the cloud, waving
     his hat, and beheld the enemy giving way, he spurred up to his
     side: "Thank God," cried he, "your Excellency is safe!" "Away, my
     dear Colonel, and bring up the troops," was Washington's reply;
     "the day is our own."

Trumbull's immortal picture shows us the hero of that decisive battle
standing on the memorable day of Princeton by the side of his white
war-horse. Says an eloquent writer:

     Well might he exult in the event of the day, for it was the last of
     a series of bold and skilful manoeuvres and successful actions, by
     which, in three weeks, he had rescued Philadelphia, driven the
     enemy from the banks of the Delaware, recovered the State of New
     Jersey, and, at the close of a disastrous campaign, restored hope
     and confidence to the country.

Such are the six memorable events which it well becomes the American
people to recall with devout gratitude and awe, realizing anew the
Providence that watches alike over human beings and the affairs of
nations, and recognizing the solemn truth that ever, as, signally, in
those times that tried the souls of men,

  "God fulfills Himself in many ways."

       *       *       *       *       *


_Von Braam and Washington_

Washington began to be a soldier in his boyhood. During the British
campaign against the West Indies, Lawrence Washington, George's
half-brother, made the acquaintance of a Dutchman, named Jacob von
Braam, who afterwards came to Virginia. These young men were great
heroes to the ten-year-old George. Von Braam took the lad in hand and
began his military education. He drilled him in the manual of arms and
sword exercise, and taught him fortification and engineering. All the
theory of war which Washington knew was gained from von Braam; the
practice he was soon to gain in the field.

_Washington's Athletic Skill_

Many stories are told which show Washington's athletic skill. During a
surveying expedition he first visited the Natural Bridge, in Virginia.
Standing almost directly under it, he tossed a stone on top, a distance
of about two hundred feet. He scaled the rocks and carved his name far
above all others. He was said to be the only man who could throw a stone
across the Potomac River. Washington was never more at home than when in
the saddle. "The general is a very excellent and bold horseman," wrote a
contemporary, "leaping the highest fences and going extremely quick,
without standing on his stirrups, bearing on his bridle, or letting his
horse run wild."

After his first battle Washington wrote to his brother, "I heard the
bullets whistle about me, and, believe me, there is something charming
in the sound." But years after, when he had learned all there was to
know of the horrors of war, he said, sadly, "I said that when I was


Punctuality was one of Washington's strong points. When company was
invited to dinner, he made an allowance of only five minutes for
variation in watches. If the guests came late he would say: "We are too
punctual for you. I have a cook who does not ask if the company has
come, but if the hour has come."

In a letter to a friend he wrote: "I begin my diurnal course with the
sun; if my hirelings are not in their places by that time I send them
messages of sorrow for their indisposition."

A letter to his sister, Betty, shows his businesslike manner: "If your
son Howell is with you and not usefully employed in your own affairs,
and should incline to spend a few months with me in my office as a
writer (if he is fit for it), I will allow him at the rate of 300 a
year, provided he is diligent in discharging the duties of it from
breakfast till dinnertime.... I am particular in declaring beforehand
what I require, so that there may be no disappointment or false
expectations on either side."

_His Stepchildren_

Washington's relations with his stepchildren show a very pleasant side
of his character. We find him ordering from London such articles as "10
shillings' worth of toys, 6 little books for children beginning to read,
1 fashionable-dressed baby to cost 10 shillings, and a box of
gingerbread toys and sugar images, or comfits." Later he sent for "1
very good spinet," for Patsey, as Martha Parke Custis was called.

His niece, Hariot, who lived in the Washington home from 1785 to 1796,
was a great trial to him. "She has," he wrote, "no disposition to be
careful of her clothes, which she dabs about in every hole and corner,
and her best things always in use, so that she costs me enough."

One of the characteristics of a truly great man is his readiness to ask
pardon. Once when Nelly Custis, Mrs. Washington's granddaughter, was
severely reprimanded for walking alone by moonlight in the grounds of
Mount Vernon, Washington tried to intercede for the girl.

"Perhaps she was not alone; I would say no more," he said.

"Sir," said Nelly Custis, "you have brought me up to speak the truth,
and when I told grandmamma that I was alone, I hoped that you would
believe me."

"My child," said Washington, bowing in his courtly fashion, "I beg your

_His Temper_

Stuart, the portrait painter, once said to General Lee that Washington
had a tremendous temper, but that he had it under wonderful control.
While dining with the Washingtons, General Lee repeated the first part
of Stuart's remark. Mrs. Washington flushed and said that Mr. Stuart
took a great deal upon himself. Then General Lee said that Mr. Stuart
had added that the President had his temper under wonderful control.
Washington seemed to be thinking for a moment, then he smiled and said,
"Mr. Stuart is right."

_His Smile_

The popular idea that Washington never laughed is well-nigh exploded.
Nelly Custis said, "I have sometimes made him laugh most heartily from
sympathy with my joyous and extravagant spirits."

When the news came from Dr. Franklin in France that help was promised
from that country, General Washington broke into a laugh, waved his
cocked hat, and said to his officers, "The day is ours!" Another story
is to the effect that while present at the baptism of a child of a Mr.
Wood, he was so surprised to hear the name given as George Washington
that he smiled. Senator Maclay tells of his smiling at a state dinner,
and even toying with his fork. Various sources testify that a smile lent
an unusual beauty to his face.

At one time, as Washington entered a shop in New York, a Scotch
nursemaid followed him, carrying her infant charge. "Please, sir, here's
a bairn was named after you."

"What is his name?" asked the President.

"Washington Irving, sir."

Washington put his hand upon the child's head and gave him his blessing,
little thinking that "the bairn" would write, as a labor of love, a life
of Washington.

While at his Newburgh headquarters the General was approached by Aaron
Burr, who stealthily crept up as he was writing, and looked over his
shoulder. Although Washington did not hear the footfall, he saw the
shadow in the mirror. He looked up, and said only, "Mr. Burr!" But the
tone was enough to make Burr quail and beat a hasty retreat.

A man who, well for himself, is nameless, made a wager with some friends
that he could approach Washington familiarly. The President was walking
up Chestnut Street, in Philadelphia, when the would-be wag, in full view
of his companions, slapped him on the back and said, "Well, old fellow,
how are you this morning?" Washington looked at him, and in a freezing
tone asked, "Sir, what have I ever said or done which induces you to
treat me in this manner?"


After Washington's retirement from the Presidency, Elkanah Watson was a
guest at Mount Vernon. He had a serious cold, and after he retired he
coughed severely. Suddenly the curtains of his bed were drawn aside,
and there stood Washington with a huge bowl of steaming herb tea. "Drink
this," he said, "it will be good for that cough."

Washington possessed in a peculiar degree the great gift of remembering
faces. Once, while visiting in Newburyport, he saw at work in the
grounds of his host an old servant whom he had not seen since the French
and Indian war, thirty years before. He knew the man at once, and
stopped and spoke kindly to him.


Any collection of anecdotes about Washington is sure to refer to his
extreme modesty. Upon one occasion, when the speaker of the Assembly
returned thanks in glowing terms to Colonel Washington for his services,
he rose to express his acknowledgments, but he was so embarrassed that
he could not articulate a word. "Sit down, Mr. Washington," said the
speaker, "your modesty equals your valor, and that surpasses the power
of any language which I possess."

When Adams suggested that Congress should appoint a general, and hinted
plainly at Washington, who happened to sit near the door, the latter
rose, "and, with his usual modesty, darted into the library room."

Washington's favorite quotation was Addison's "'Tis not in mortals to
command success," but he frequently quoted Shakespeare.

_Taste for Literature_

His taste for literature is indicated by the list of books which he
ordered for his library at the close of the war: "Life of Charles the
Twelfth," "Life of Louis the Fifteenth," "Life and Reign of Peter the
Great," Robertson's "History of America," "Voltaire's Letters," Vertol's
"Revolution of Rome," "Revolution of Portugal," Goldsmith's "Natural
History," "Campaigns of Marshal Turenne," Chambaud's "French and English
Dictionary," Locke "On the Human Understanding," and Robertson's
"Charles the Fifth." "Light reading," he wrote to his step-grandson,
"(by this I mean books of little importance) may amuse for the moment,
but leaves nothing behind."

_His Dress_

Although always very particular about his dress, Washington was no
dandy, as some have supposed. "Do not," he wrote to his nephew in 1783,
"conceive that fine clothes make fine men any more than fine feathers
make fine birds. A plain, genteel dress is more admired and obtains more
credit than lace or embroidery in the eyes of the judicious and

Sullivan thus describes Washington at a levee: "He was dressed in black
velvet, his hair full dress, powdered, and gathered behind in a large
silk bag, yellow gloves on his hands; holding a cocked hat, with a
cockade in it, and the edges adorned with a black feather about an inch
deep. He wore knee and shoe buckles, and a long sword.... The scabbard
was of white polished leather."

After Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown, Washington said to his army:
"My brave fellows, let no sensation of satisfaction for the triumphs you
have gained induce you to insult your fallen enemy. Let no shouting, no
clamorous huzzaing increase their mortification. It is sufficient for us
that we witness their humiliation. Posterity will huzza for us."

While there are many stories which show Washington's
straightforwardness, here is one which shows much diplomacy. He was
asked by Volney, a Frenchman and a revolutionist, for a letter of
recommendation to the American people. This request put him in an
awkward position, for there were good reasons why he could not give it,
and other good reasons why he did not wish to refuse. Taking a sheet of
paper, he wrote:

C. Volney needs no recommendation from

Geo. Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *



All this time while George Washington had been growing up,--first a
little boy, then a larger boy, and then a young surveyor,--all this time
the French and English and Indians were unhappy and uncomfortable in the
country north of Virginia. The French wanted all the land, so did the
English, and the Indians saw that there would be no room for them,
whichever had it, so they all began to trouble each other, and to
quarrel and fight.

These troubles grew so bad at last that the Virginians began to be
afraid of the French and Indians, and thought they must have some
soldiers of their own ready to fight.

George Washington was only nineteen then, but everybody knew he was wise
and brave, so they chose him to teach the soldiers near his home how to
march and to fight.

Then the king and the people of England grew very uneasy at all this
quarreling, and they sent over soldiers and cannon and powder, and
commenced to get ready to fight in earnest. Washington was made a major,
and he had to go a thousand miles, in the middle of winter, into the
Indian and French country, to see the chiefs and the soldiers, and find
out about the troubles.

When he came back again, all the people were so pleased with his
courage and with the wise way in which he had behaved, that they made
him lieutenant-colonel.

Then began a long war between the French and the English, which lasted
seven years. Washington fought through all of it, and was made a
colonel, and by and by commander of all the soldiers in Virginia. He
built forts and roads, he gained and lost battles, he fought the Indians
and the French; and by all this trouble and hard work he learned to be a
great soldier.

In many of the battles of this war, Washington and the Virginians did
not wear a uniform, like the English soldiers, but a buckskin shirt and
fringed leggings, like the Indians.

From beginning to end of some of the battles, Washington rode about
among the men, telling them where to go and how to fight; the bullets
were whistling around him all the time, but he said he liked the music.

By and by the war was over; the French were driven back to their own
part of the country, and Washington went home to Mount Vernon to rest,
and took with him his wife, lovely Martha Washington, whom he had met
and married while he was fighting the French and Indians.

While he was at Mount Vernon he saw all his horses again,--"Valiant" and
"Magnolia" and "Chinkling" and "Ajax,"--and had grand gallops over the

He had some fine dogs, too, to run by his side, and help him hunt the
bushy-tailed foxes. "Vulcan" and "Ringwood" and "Music" and "Sweetlips"
were the names of some of them. You may be sure the dogs were glad when
they had their master home again.

But Washington did not have long to rest, for another war was coming,
the great war of the Revolution.

Little children cannot understand all the reasons for this war, but I
can tell you some of them.

You remember in the story of Thanksgiving I told you about the Pilgrim
fathers, who came from England to this country because their king would
not let them pray to God as they liked. That king was dead now, and
there was another in his place, a king with the name of George, like our

Now our great-grandfathers had always loved England and Englishmen,
because many of their friends were still living there, and because it
was their old home.

The king gave them governors to help take care of their people, and
soldiers to fight for them, and they sent to England for many things to
wear and to eat.

But just before this Revolutionary War, the king and the great men who
helped him began to say that things should be done in this country that
our people did not think right at all. The king said they must buy
expensive stamps to put on all their newspapers and almanacs and
lawyer's papers, and that they must pay very high taxes on their tea and
paper and glass, and he sent soldiers to see that this was done.

This made our great-grandfathers very angry. They refused to pay the
taxes, they would not buy anything from England any more, and some men
even went on board the ships, as they came into Boston Harbor, and threw
the tea over into the water.

So fifty-one men were chosen from all over the country, and they met at
Philadelphia, to see what could be done. Washington was sent from
Virginia. And after they had talked very solemnly, they all thought
there would be great trouble soon, and Washington went home to drill the

Then the war began with the battle of Lexington, in New England, and
soon Washington was made commander-in-chief of the armies.

He rode the whole distance from Philadelphia to Boston on horseback,
with a troop of officers; and all the people on the way came to see him,
bringing bands of music and cheering him as he went by. He rode into
camp in the morning. The soldiers were drawn up in the road, and men and
women and children who had come to look at Washington were crowded all
about. They saw a tall, splendid, handsome man in a blue coat with buff
facings, and epaulets on his shoulders. As he took off his hat, drew his
shining sword, and raised it in sight of all the people, the cannon
began to thunder, and all the people hurrahed and tossed their hats in
the air.

Of course, he looked very splendid, and they all knew how brave he was,
and thought he would soon put an end to the war.

But it did not happen as they expected, for this was only the beginning,
and the war lasted seven long years.

Fighting is always hard, even if you have plenty of soldiers and plenty
for them to eat; but Washington had very few soldiers, and very little
powder for the guns, and little food for the men to eat.

The soldiers were not in uniform, as ours are to-day; but each was
dressed just as he happened to come from his shop or his farm.

Washington ordered hunting shirts for them, such as he wore when he went
to fight the Indians, for he knew they would look more like soldiers if
all were dressed alike.

Of course many people thought that our men would be beaten, as the war
went on; but Washington never thought so, for he was sure our side was

I hardly know what he would have done, at last, if the French people had
not promised to come over and help us, and to send us money and men and
ships. All the people in the army thanked God when they heard it, and
fired their guns for joy.

A brave young man named Lafayette came with the French soldiers, and he
grew to be Washington's great friend, and fought for us all through the

Many battles were fought in this war, and Washington lost some of them,
and a great many of his men were killed.

You could hardly understand how much trouble he had. In the winter, when
the snow was deep on the ground, he had no houses or huts for his men to
sleep in; his soldiers were ragged and cold by day, and had not blankets
enough to keep them warm by night; their shoes were old and worn, and
they had to wrap cloths around their feet to keep them from freezing.

When they marched to the Delaware River, one cold Christmas night, a
soldier who was sent after them, with a message for Washington, traced
them by their footprints on the snow, all reddened with the blood from
their poor cut feet.

They must have been very brave and patient to have fought at all, when
they were so cold and ragged and hungry.

Washington suffered a great deal in seeing his soldiers so wretched, and
I am sure that with all his strength and courage, he would sometimes
have given up hope, if he had not talked and prayed to God a great deal,
and asked Him to help him.

In one of the hardest times of the whole war, Washington was staying at
a farmer's house. One morning he rode out very early to visit the
soldiers. The farmer went into the fields soon after, and as he was
passing a brook where a great many bushes were growing, he heard a deep
voice from the thicket. He looked through the leaves, and saw Washington
on his knees, on the ground, praying to God for his soldiers. He had
fastened his horse to a tree, and come away by himself to ask God to
help them.

At last the war came to an end; the English were beaten, and our armies
sent up praise and thanks to God.

Then the soldiers went quietly back to their homes, and Washington bade
all his officers good-by, and thanked them for their help and their

The little room in New York where he said farewell is kept to show to
visitors now, and you can see it some day yourselves.

Then Washington went home to Mount Vernon to rest; but before he had
been there long, the people found out that they must have someone to
help take care of them, as they had nothing to do with the king of
England any more; and they asked Washington to come and be the first
President of the United States.

So he did as they wished, and was as wise and good, and as careful and
fine a President as he had been surveyor, soldier, and general.

You know we always call Washington the Father of his Country, because he
did so much for us, and helped to make the United States so great.

After he died, there were parks and mountains and villages and towns and
cities named for him all over the land, because people loved him so, and
prized so highly what he had done for them.

In the city of Washington there is a building where you can see many of
the things that belonged to the first President, when he was alive.
There is his soldier's coat, his sword, and in an old camp chest are
the plates and knives and forks that he used in the Revolution.

There is a tall, splendid monument of shining gray stone in that city,
that towers far, far, above all the highest roofs and spires. It was
built in memory of George Washington by the people of the United States,
to show that they loved and would always remember the Father of his


[25] From "The Story Hour" by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith.
Houghton, Mifflin & Co., publishers.

       *       *       *       *       *



On September 15, a group of horsemen, occupying a slight eminence of
ground on the island of Manhattan, were gazing eastward. Below and
nearer the water were spread lines of soldiers behind intrenchments,
while from three men-of-war lying in the river came a heavy cannonade
that swept the shore line and spread over the water a pall of smoke
which, as it drifted to leeward, obscured the Long Island shore from

"'Tis evidently a feint, your Excellency," presently asserted one of the
observers, "to cover a genuine attack elsewhere--most likely above the

The person addressed--a man with an anxious, care-worn face that made
him look fifty at least--lowered his glass, but did not reply for some
moments. "You may be right, sir," he remarked, "though to me it has the
air of an intended attack. What think you, Reed?"

"I agree with Mifflin. The attack will be higher up. Hah! Look there!"

A rift had come in the smoke, and a column of boats, moving with
well-timed oars, could for a moment be seen as it came forward.

"They intend a landing at Kip's Bay, as I surmised," exclaimed the
general. "Gentlemen, we shall be needed below." He turned to Reed and
gave him an order concerning reinforcements, then wheeled, and, followed
by the rest, trotted over the plowed field. Once on the highway, he
spurred his horse, putting him to a sharp canter.

"What troops hold the works on the bay, Mifflin?" asked one of the

"Fellows' and Parsons' brigades, Brereton."

"If they are as good at fighting as at thieving, they'll distinguish

"Ay," laughed Mifflin. "If the red coats were but chickens or cattle,
the New England militia would have had them all captured ere now."

"They'll be heard from to-day," said a third officer. "They've
earthworks to git behind, and they'll give the British anuther Bunker

"Then you ought to be quick, General Putnam," said Brereton, "for that's
the fighting you like."

The road lay in the hollow of the land, and not till the party reached a
slight rise were they able once more to get a glimpse of the shores of
the bay. Then it was to find the flotilla well in toward its intended
landing-place, and the American troops retreating in great disorder from
their breastworks.

Exclamations of surprise and dismay sprang from the lips of the riders,
and their leader, turning his horse, jumped the fence and galloped
across the fields to intercept the fugitives. Five minutes brought them
up to the runaways, who, out of breath with the sharpness of their race,
had come to a halt, and were being formed by their officers into a
little less disorder.

"General Fellows, what was the reason for this shameful retreat?"
demanded the general, when within speaking distance.

"The men were seized with a panic on the approach of the boats, your
Excellency, and could not be held in the lines."

Washington faced the regiments, his face blazing with scorn. "You ran
before a shot had been fired! Before you lost a man, you deserted works
that have taken weeks to build, and which could be held against any such
force." He paused for a moment, and then, drawing his sword, called with
spirit: "Who's for recovering them?"

A faint cheer passed down the lines; but almost as it sounded, the red
coats of fifty or sixty light infantry came into view on the road, a
skirmishing party thrown forward from the landing to reconnoiter. Had
they been Howe's whole army, however, they could not have proved more
effective, for instantly the two brigades broke and dissolved once more
into squads of flying men.

At such cowardice, Washington lost all control of himself, and, dashing
in among the fugitives, he passionately struck right and left with the
flat of his sword, thundering curses at them; while Putnam and Mifflin,
as well as the aides, followed his example. It was hopeless, however, to
stay the rush; the men took the blows and the curses unheeding, while
throwing away their guns and scattering in every direction.

Made frantic by such conduct, Washington wheeled his horse. "Charge!" he
cried, and rode toward the enemy, waving his sword.

If the commander-in-chief had hoped to put some of his own courage into
the troops by his example, he failed. Not a man of the runaways ceased
fleeing. None the less, as if regardless of consequences in his
desperation, Washington rode on, until one of the aides dashed his spurs
into his horse and came up beside his general at a mad gallop.

"Your Excellency!" he cried, "'tis but hopeless, and will but end in--"
Then, as his superior did not heed him, he seized the left rein of his
horse's bridle, and, pulling on it, swung him about in a large circle,
letting go his hold only when they were riding away from the enemy.

Washington offered no resistance, and rode the hundred yards to where
the rest of his staff were standing, with bowed head. Nothing was said
as he rejoined the group, and Blueskin, disappointed in the charge for
which he had shown as much eagerness as his rider, let his mind recur to
thoughts of oats; finding no control in the hand that held his bridle,
he set out at an easy trot toward headquarters.

They had not ridden many yards ere Washington lifted his head, the
expression of hopelessness, which had taken the place of that of
animation, in turn succeeded by one of stern repose. He issued three
orders to as many of the riders, showing that his mind had not been
dwelling idly on the disaster, slipped his sword into its scabbard, and
gathered up his reins again.

"There!" thought Blueskin, as a new direction was indicated by his bit,
"I'm going to have another spell of it riding all ways of a Sunday, just
as we did last night. And it's coming on to rain."

Rain it did very quickly; but from post to post the horsemen passed, the
sternly silent commander speaking only when giving the necessary orders
to remedy so far as possible the disaster of the afternoon. Not till
eleven, and then in a thoroughly drenched condition, did they reach the
Morris House on Haarlem Heights. It was to no rest, however, that the
general arrived; for, as he dismounted, Major Gibbs of his life guards
informed him that the council of war he had called was gathered, and
only awaited his attendance.

"Get you some supper, gentlemen," he ordered, to such of his aides as
were still of the party, "for 'tis likely that you will have more riding
when the council have deliberated."

"'Tis advice he might take himself to proper advantage," said one of
the juniors, while they were stripping off their wet coverings in a side

"Ay," asserted Brereton. "The general uses us hard, Tilghman, but he
uses himself harder." Then aloud he called, "Billy!"

"Yis, sah!"

"Make a glass of rum punch and take it in to his Excellency."

"Foh de Lord, sah, I doan dar go in, an' yar know marse neber drink no
spirits till de day's work dun."

"Make a dish of tea, then, you old coward, and I'll take it to him so
soon as I get these slops off me. 'Fore George! How small-clothes stick
when they're wet!"

The make-shift meal was still unfinished when the general's body-servant
appeared with the tea. Taking it, Brereton marched boldly to the council
door, and, giving a knock, he went in without awaiting a reply.

The group of anxious-faced men about the table looked up, and
Washington, with a frown, demanded, "For what do you interrupt us, sir?"

The young officer put the tea down on the map lying in front of the
general. "Billy didn't dare take this to your Excellency, so I made bold
to e'en bring it myself."

"This is no time for tea, Colonel Brereton."

"'Tis no time for the army to lose their general," replied the aide. "I
pray you drink it, sir, for our sake, if you won't for your own."

A kindly look supplanted the sternness of the previous moment on the
general's face. "I thank you for your thoughtfulness, Brereton," he
said, raising the cup and pouring some of the steaming drink into the


[26] From "Janice Meredith." Dodd, Mead & Co.




     [Copied by Washington at the age of fourteen from an old
     translation of a French book of 1595. "Washington was entirely
     aware," writes Owen Wister, "of the great influence for good
     exerted upon his own character by the Rules of Civility. It is a
     misfortune for all American boys in all our schools to-day, that
     they should be told the untrue and foolish story of the hatchet and
     the cherry tree, and denied the immense benefit of instruction from
     George Washington's authentic copy-book."]

Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your

When you see a crime punished you may be inwardly pleased; but always
show pity to the suffering offender.

Superfluous compliments and all affectation of ceremony are to be
avoided, yet, where due, they are not to be neglected.

Do not express joy before one sick or in pain, for that contrary passion
will aggravate his misery.

When a man does all he can, though it succeed not well, blame not him
that did it.

Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of any.

In your apparel be modest, and endeavor to accommodate Nature, rather
than to procure admiration; keep to the fashion of your equals.

Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own
reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company.

Speak not injurious words neither in jest nor in earnest; scoff at none,
although they give occasion.

Gaze not at the marks or blemishes of others, and ask not how they came.
What you may speak in secret to your friend, deliver not before others.

Nothing but harmony, honest industry, and frugality are necessary to
make us a great people. First impressions are generally the most
lasting. It is therefore absolutely necessary, if you mean to make any
figure upon the stage, that you should take the first steps right.

There is a destiny which has the control of our actions not to be
resisted by the strongest efforts of Human Nature.

Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distresses of everyone, and
let your hand give in proportion to your purse; remembering always the
widow's mite, but that it is not everyone who asketh that deserveth
charity; all, however, are worthy the inquiry, or the deserving may

I consider storms and victory under the direction of a wise Providence
who no doubt directs them for the best purposes, and to bring round the
greatest degree of happiness to the greatest number.

Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person's mind, than
on the externals in the world.

The thinking part of mankind do not form their judgments from events,
and that chief equity will ever attach equal glory to those actions
which deserve success, as to those which have been crowned with it.

To see plants rise from the earth and flourish by the superior skill and
bounty of the laborer, fills a contemplative mind with ideas which are
more easy to be conceived than expressed.

To constitute a dispute there must be two parties. To understand it
well, both parties and all the circumstances must be fully heard; and to
accommodate differences, temper and mutual forbearance are requisite.

Idleness is disreputable under any circumstances; productive of no good,
even when unaccompanied by vicious habits.

It is not uncommon in prosperous gales to forget that adverse winds

Economy in all things is as commendable in the manager, as it is
beneficial and desirable to the employer.

It is unfortunate when men cannot or will not see danger at a distance;
or seeing it, are undetermined in the means which are necessary to avert
or keep it afar off.

Every man who is in the vigor of life ought to serve his country in
whatever line it requires, and he is fit for.

Rise early, that by habit it may become familiar, agreeable, healthy,
and profitable. It may, for a while, be irksome to do this, but that
will wear off; and the practice will produce a rich harvest forever
thereafter, whether in public or in private walks of life.

       *       *       *       *       *


To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be
withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness.

       *       *       *       *       *

The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that
disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has

       *       *       *       *       *

The very idea of the power and right of the people to establish
government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the
established government.

       *       *       *       *       *

If there was the same propensity in mankind for investigating the
motives, as there is for censuring the conduct, of public characters, it
would be found that the censure so freely bestowed is oftentimes
unmerited and uncharitable.

       *       *       *       *       *

Where is the man to be found who wishes to remain indebted for the
defense of his own person and property to the exertions, the bravery,
and the blood of others, without making one generous effort to repay the
debt of honor and gratitude?

There is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in
the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue
and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of
an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public
prosperity and felicity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence the jealousy of a free
people ought to be constantly awake.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any
portion of the foreign world.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is to have
with them as little political connection as possible.

       *       *       *       *       *

There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real
favors from nation to nation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe,
entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition,
rivalship, interest, humor? or caprice?

       *       *       *       *       *

The name American must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism.

       *       *       *       *       *

To the efficacy and permanency of your union a government for the whole
is indispensable.

Every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest
should be indignantly frowned upon.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us impart all the blessings we possess, or ask for ourselves, to the
whole family of mankind.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us erect a standard to which the wise and honest may repair.

       *       *       *       *       *

'Tis substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of
popular government.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is incumbent upon every person of every description to contribute to
his country's welfare.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be repugnant to the vital principles of our government
virtually to exclude from public trusts, talents and virtue, unless
accompanied by wealth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Give such encouragements to our own navigation as will render our
commerce less dependent on foreign bottoms.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have never made an appointment from a desire to serve a friend or

       *       *       *       *       *

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire,

       *       *       *       *       *


The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether
Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any
property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to
be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of
wretchedness from which no human effort will deliver them. The fate of
unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct
of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice
of a brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have,
therefore, to resolve to conquer or to die.

Our own, our country's honor, calls upon us for a vigorous and manly
exertion; and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the
whole world. Let us, then, rely on the goodness of our cause and the aid
of the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory is, to animate and
encourage us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all our countrymen
are now upon us; and we shall have their blessings and praises if,
happily, we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny
meditated against them. Let us, therefore, animate and encourage each
other, and show the whole world that a freeman contending for liberty on
his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.

Liberty, property, life, and honor are all at stake. Upon your courage
and conduct rest the hopes of our bleeding and insulted country. Our
wives, children, and parents expect safety from us only; and they have
every reason to believe that Heaven will crown with success so just a
cause. The enemy will endeavor to intimidate by show and appearance; but
remember they have been repulsed on various occasions by a few brave
Americans. Their cause is bad,--their men are conscious of it; and, if
opposed with firmness and coolness on their first onset, with our
advantage of works and knowledge of the ground, the victory is most
assuredly ours. Every good soldier will be silent and attentive, wait
for orders, and reserve his fire until he is sure of doing execution.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To the Captains of Several Independent Companies in Virginia.
Philadelphia, June, 1775_


"I am now about to bid adieu to the companies under your respective
commands, at least for a time. I have launched into a wide and extensive
field, too boundless for my abilities, and far, very far, beyond my
experience. I am called by the unanimous voice of the Colonies to the
command of the Continental army; an honor I did not aspire to, an honor
I was solicitous to avoid, upon a full conviction of my inadequacy to
the importance of the service. I have only to beg of you, therefore,
before I go, by no means to relax in the discipline of your respective

"I cannot doubt but the asserters of freedom and the right of the
Constitution are possessed of your most favorable regards and wishes for
success. As descendants of freedom, and heirs with us of the same
glorious inheritance, we flatter ourselves that, though divided by our
situation, we are firmly united in sentiment. The cause of virtue and
liberty is confined to no continent or climate. It comprehends within
its capacious limits the wise and good, however dispersed and separated
in space and distance."

_To the Inhabitants of the Island of Bermuda_

"While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious
not to violate the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that
God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to Him only they are

_To Colonel Benedict Arnold, 1775_

"The man who means to commit no wrong will never be guilty of
enormities; consequently he can never be unwilling to learn what is
ascribed to him as foibles. If they are really such, the knowledge of
them in a well-disposed mind will go half way towards a reform. If they
are not errors he can explain and justify the motives of his actions."

_To Patrick Henry, Valley Forge, 27th March, 1778_

"I have ever been happy in supposing that I had a place in your esteem,
and the proof you have afforded makes me peculiarly so. The favorable
light in which you hold me is truly flattering; but I should feel much
regret, if I thought the happiness of America so intimately connected
with my personal welfare as you so obligingly seem to consider it. All I
can say is, that she has ever had, and I trust she ever will have, my
honest exertions to promote her interest. I cannot hope that my services
have been the best; but my heart tells me they have been the best that I
could render.

"However it may be the practice of the world and those who see objects
but partially or through a false medium, to consider _that_ only as
meritorious which is attended with success, I have accustomed myself to
judge human actions very differently, and to appreciate them by the
manner in which they are conducted more than by the event; which it is
not in the power of human foresight and prudence to command.

"My political creed is, to be wise in the choice of delegates, support
them like gentlemen while they are our representatives, give them
complete powers for all federal purposes, support them in the due
exercise thereof, and lastly, to compel them to close attendance in
Congress during their delegation.

"We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from
past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought
experience. To enveigh against things that are past and irremediable is
unpleasing; but to steer clear of the shelves and rocks we have struck
upon is the part of wisdom, equally as incumbent on political as other
men who have their own little bark or that of others to navigate through
the intricate paths of life, or the trackless ocean, to the haven of
security or rest."

_Extracts from a Circular Letter Addressed to the Governors of All the
States on Disbanding the Army, Newburgh, 8 June, 1783_

"Sir:--The great object for which I had the honor to hold an appointment
in the service of my country, being accomplished, I am now preparing to
resign it into the hands of Congress, and to return to that domestic
retirement which it is well known I left with the greatest reluctance; a
retirement for which I have never ceased to sigh, through a long and
painful absence, and in which I meditate to pass the remainder of life,
in a state of undisturbed repose. But before I carry this resolution
into effect, I think it a duty incumbent on me to make this, my last
official communication; to congratulate you on the glorious events which
Heaven has been pleased to produce in our favor; to offer my sentiments
respecting some important subjects which appear to me to be intimately
connected with the tranquillity of the United States, to take my leave
of your excellency as a public character, and to give my final blessing
to that country in whose service I have spent the prime of my life, for
whose sake I have consumed so many anxious days and watchful nights, and
whose happiness, being so extremely dear to me, will always constitute
no inconsiderable part of my own."

From the same circular letter:

"The foundation of our empire was not laid in the gloomy age of
ignorance and superstition, but at an epoch when the rights of mankind
were better understood and more clearly defined than at any former
period. The researches of the human mind after social happiness have
been carried to a great extent; the treasures of knowledge, acquired by
the labors of philosophers, sages, and legislators through a long
succession of years, are laid open for our use, and their collected
wisdom may be happily applied in the establishment of our forms of

From the same:

"The free cultivation of letters, the unbounded extension of commerce,
the progressive refinement of manners, the growing liberality of
sentiment, and, above all, the power and benign light of revelation,
have had a meliorating influence on mankind, and increased the blessings
of society. An indissoluble union of the states under one federal
head--a sacred regard to public justice--the adoption of a proper peace
establishment, and the prevalence of that pacific and friendly
disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them
to forget their local prejudices and politics; to make those mutual
concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some
instances to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of
the community--these are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our
independence and national character must be supported. Liberty is the
basis, and whoever would dare to sap the foundation or overturn the
structure, under whatever specious pretext he may attempt it, will merit
the bitterest execration, and the severest punishment which can be
inflicted by his injured country."

From the same:

"I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you and the State
over which you preside in His holy protection, that He would incline the
hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and
obedience to the government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love
for one another and for their fellow-citizens of the United States at
large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field,
and finally that He would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all
to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity,
humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of
the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble
imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a
happy nation."

_Washington on Slavery_

"There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a
plan adopted for the abolition of slavery; but there is only one proper
and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is by
legislative authority, and this as far as my suffrage will go shall
never be wanting."

_In a Letter to Lafayette, Washington Expresses His Views on Commerce_

"Although I pretend to no peculiar information respecting commercial
affairs, nor any foresight into the scenes of futurity, yet, as a member
of an infant empire, as a philanthropist by character, and if I may be
allowed the expression, as a citizen of the great republic of humanity
at large, I cannot help turning my attention sometimes to this subject.
I would be understood to mean I cannot avoid reflecting with pleasure on
the probable influence that commerce may hereafter have on human manners
and society in general. On these occasions I consider how mankind may be
connected like this one great family of fraternal ties. I indulge a
fond, perhaps an enthusiastic idea, that as the world is evidently much
less barbarous than it has been, its melioration must still be
progressive; that nations are becoming more humanized in their policy,
that the subjects of ambition and causes for hostility are daily
diminishing, and in fine, that the period is not very remote when the
benefits of a liberal and free commerce will pretty generally succeed to
the devastations and horrors of war.

"Men's minds are as varied as their faces, and where the motives to
their actions are pure, the operation of the former is no more to be
imputed to them as a crime than the appearance of the latter; for both
being the work of nature, are equally unavoidable. Liberality and
charity, instead of clamor and misrepresentation, which latter only
serve to foment the passions without enlightening the understanding,
ought to govern in all disputes about matters of importance."

_From a Letter, 1793_

"If it can be esteemed a happiness to live in an age productive of great
and interesting events, we of the present age are very highly favored.
The rapidity of national revolutions appears no less astonishing than
their magnitude. In what they will terminate is known only to the Great
Ruler of events; and confiding in His wisdom and goodness, we may safely
trust the issue to Him, without perplexing ourselves to seek for that
which is beyond human ken, only taking care to perform the parts
assigned to us in a way that reason and our own conscience approve."

_From a Speech to Both Houses of Congress, 1790_

"To administer justice to and receive it from every power with whom they
are connected will, I hope, be always found the prominent feature in the
administration of this country; and I flatter myself that nothing short
of imperious necessity can occasion a breach with any of them.

"Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In
one of which the measures of government receive their impression so
immediately from the sense of the community as in ours, it is
proportionably essential. To the security of a free constitution it
contributes in various ways; by convincing those who are entrusted with
the public administration that every valuable end of government is best
answered by the enlightened confidence of the people, and by teaching
the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern
and to provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between
oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; to
discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness,
cherishing the first, avoiding the latter, and uniting a speedy but
temperate vigilance against encroachment with an inviolable respect to
the laws."

_From a Speech to Both Houses of Congress, 1794_

"Let praise be given to every description of citizens. Let them
persevere in their affectionate vigilance over that precious depository
of American happiness, the Constitution of the United States. Let them
cherish it, too, for the sake of those, from every clime, daily seeking
a dwelling in our land.

"Let us unite, therefore, in imploring the Supreme Ruler of nations to
spread His holy protection over these United States; to enable us at all
times to root out internal seditions and put invasion to flight; to
perpetuate to our country that prosperity which His goodness has already
conferred; and to verify the anticipations of this government being a
safeguard to human rights."

       *       *       *       *       *


_Dated at Rocky Hill, near Princeton, New Jersey, November 2, 1783_

It is universally acknowledged that the enlarged prospects of happiness,
opened by the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, almost
exceed the power of description. And shall not the brave men who have
contributed so essentially to these inestimable acquisitions, retiring
from the field of war to the field of agriculture, participate in all
the blessings which have been obtained? In such a republic, who will
exclude them from the rights of citizens and the fruits of their labors?

To those hardy soldiers who are actuated by the spirit of adventure, the
fisheries will afford ample and profitable employment, and the
extensive and fertile regions of the West will yield a most happy asylum
to those who, fond of domestic employment, are seeking personal

Little is now wanting to enable the soldier to change the military
character into that of a citizen but that steady and decent behavior
which has distinguished not only the army under this immediate command,
but the different detachments and separate armies through the course of
the war. To the various branches of the army the general takes this last
and solemn opportunity of professing his inviolable attachment and
friendship. He can only again offer in their behalf his recommendations
to their grateful country and his prayers to the God of armies. May
ample justice be done them here, and may favors, both here and
hereafter, attend those who, under the divine auspices, have secured
innumerable blessings for others!

With these wishes and this benediction the commander-in-chief is about
to retire from service. The curtain of separation will soon be drawn,
and the military scene to him will be closed forever!

       *       *       *       *       *


Born, sir, in a land of liberty, having early learned its value, having
engaged in a perilous conflict to defend it, having, in a word, devoted
the best years of my life to secure it a permanent establishment in our
own country, my anxious recollections, my sympathetic feelings, and my
best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever, in any country, I see
an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom. But above all, the
events of the French Revolution have produced the deepest solicitude as
well as the highest admiration. To call your nation brave were to
pronounce but common praise. Wonderful people! Ages to come will read
with astonishment the history of your brilliant exploits.

I rejoice that the period of your toils and of your immense sacrifices
is approaching. I rejoice that the interesting revolutionary movements
of so many years have issued in the formation of a constitution
designated to give permanency to the great object for which you have
contended. I rejoice that liberty, which you have so long embraced with
enthusiasm, liberty, of which you have been the invincible defenders,
now finds an asylum in the bosom of a regularly organized government; a
government which, being formed to secure the happiness of the French
people, corresponds with the ardent wishes of my heart, while it
gratifies the pride of every citizen of the United States by its
resemblance to their own. On these glorious events accept, sir, my
sincere congratulations.

In delivering to you these sentiments, I express not my own feelings
only, but those of my fellow-citizens, in relation to the commencement,
the progress, and the issue of the French Revolution; and they will
cordially join with me in purest wishes to the Supreme Being that the
citizens of our sister republic, our magnanimous allies, may soon enjoy,
in peace, that liberty which they have purchased at so great a price,
and all the happiness which liberty can bestow.

I receive, sir, with lively sensibility, the symbol of the triumphs and
of the enfranchisements of your nation, the colors of France, which you
have now presented to the United States. The transaction will be
announced to Congress, and the colors will be deposited with those
archives of the United States which are at once the evidences and the
memorials of their freedom and independence. May these be perpetual; and
may the friendship of the two republics be commensurate with their

       *       *       *       *       *


_To the People of the United States. September 17, 1796_

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive
Government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time
actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the
person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me
proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of
the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I
have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out
of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that
this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the
considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful
citizen to his country; and that, in withdrawing the tender of service
which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no
diminution of zeal for your future interest; no deficiency of grateful
respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction
that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in the office to which your
suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of
inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared
to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much
earlier in my power, consistently with motives, which I was not at
liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement, from which I had
been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this,
previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an
address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then
perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and
the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me
to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal,
no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the
sentiment of duty, or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever partiality
may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of
our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions, with which I first undertook the arduous trust, were
explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will
only say, that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the
organization and administration of the government the best exertions of
which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the
outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own
eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the
motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of
years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as
necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied, that, if any
circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were
temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that, while choice and
prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not
forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate the
career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the
deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude, which I owe to my beloved
country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the
steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the
opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable
attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness
unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these
services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an
instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the
passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst
appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often
discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success
has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support
was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by
which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall
carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows
that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence;
that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free
Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly
maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped
with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of
these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so
careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will
acquire for them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the
affection and adoption of every nation, which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, which
cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to
that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to
your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review,
some sentiments, which are the result of much reflection, of no
inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all important to the
permanency of your felicity as a People. These will be offered to you
with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested
warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive
to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it, your
indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts,
no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the

The unity of Government, which constitutes you one people, is also now
dear to you. It is justly so: for it is a main pillar in the edifice of
your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your
peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty,
which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee, that, from
different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken,
many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this
truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the
batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and
actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of
infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of
your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that
you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it;
accustoming yourself to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of
your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with
jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion,
that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the
first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country
from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together
the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens,
by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to
concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you,
in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of
Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local
discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same
religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a
common cause fought and triumphed together; the Independence and Liberty
you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts, of common
dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to
your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those, which apply more
immediately to your interest. Here, every portion of our country finds
the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the
Union of the whole.

The _North_, in an unrestrained intercourse with the _South_ protected
by the equal laws of a common Government, finds, in the productions of
the latter, great additional resources of maritime and commercial
enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The
_South_, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the
_North_, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning
partly into its own channels the seamen of the _North_, it finds its
particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes in
different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national
navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength,
to which itself is unequally adapted. The _East_, in a like intercourse
with the _West_, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of
interior communications by land and water, will more and more find, a
valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or
manufactures at home. The _West_ derives from the _East_ supplies
requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still
greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the _secure_ enjoyment of
indispensable _outlets_ for its own productions to the weight,
influences, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the
Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as _one_
nation. Any other tenure by which the _West_ can hold this essential
advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an
apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be
intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and
particular interest in Union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find
in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater
resource, proportionally greater security from external danger, a less
frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations; and, what is of
inestimable value, they must derive from Union an exemption from those
broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict
neighboring countries not tied together by the same Governments, which
their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which
opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate
and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those
overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government,
are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as
particularly hostile to Republican Liberty. In this sense it is, that
your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and
that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and
virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the UNION as a primary
object of Patriotic desire. Is there a doubt, whether a common
government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To
listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are
authorized to hope, that a proper organization of the whole, with the
auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will
afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full
experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to Union, affecting
all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated
its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the
patriotism of those who, in any quarter, may endeavor to weaken its

In contemplating the causes, which may disturb our Union, it occurs as
matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished
for characterizing parties by _Geographical_ discriminations, _Northern_
and _Southern_, _Atlantic_ and _Western_; whence designing men may
endeavor to excite a belief, that there is a real difference of local
interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire
influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions
and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much
against the jealousies and heart-burnings, which spring from these
misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who
ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of
our western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they
have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous
ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the
universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a
decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them
of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States
unfriendly to their interests in regard to the MISSISSIPPI; they have
been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great
Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could
desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their
prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of
these advantages on the UNION by which they were procured? Will they not
henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever
them from their brethren, and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole
is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be
an adequate substitute, they must inevitably experience the infractions
and interruptions, which all alliances tn all times have experienced.
Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first
essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of Government better calculated
than your former for an intimate Union and for the efficacious
management of your common concerns. This Government, the offspring of
our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation
and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the
distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing
within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to
your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance
with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the
fundamental maxims of true Liberty. The basis of our political systems
is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of
Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed
by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly
obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the
people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual
to obey the established Government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and
associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design
to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and
action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this
fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize
faction, to give an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the
place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a
small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and,
according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the
public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous
projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome
plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above descriptions may now
and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and
things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and
unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and
to usurp for themselves the reins of Government; destroying afterwards
the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your Government, and the permanency of your
present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily
discountenance irregular opposition to its acknowledged authority, but
also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its
principles, however specious the pretext. One method of assault may be
to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations, which will
impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be
directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited,
remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true
character of governments, as of other human institutions; that
experience is the surest standard, by which to test the real tendency of
the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon
the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change,
from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember,
especially, that, for the efficient management of your common interests,
in a country so extensive as ours, a Government of as much vigor as is
consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable.
Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly
distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little
else than a name, where the Government is too feeble to withstand the
enterprise of faction, to confine each member of the society within the
limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and
tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with
particular reference to the founding of them on geographical
discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you
in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of
party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable, from our nature, having its
root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under
different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled,
or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its
greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the
spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages
and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a
frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and
permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually
incline the minds of men to seek security, and repose in the absolute
power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing
faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this
disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless
ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual
mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest
and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the
Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded
jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one party against
another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door
to foreign influence and corruption which find a facilitated access to
the Government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the
policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will
of another.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks
upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the
spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in
Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence,
if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of a popular
character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be
encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always
be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being
constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public
opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it
demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest,
instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country
should inspire caution in those intrusted with its administrations, to
confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres,
avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach
upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers
of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of
Government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and
proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is
sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of the position. The necessity of
reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and
distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the
Guardian of the Public Weal against invasions by the others, has been
evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country
and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to
institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or
modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong,
let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution
designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for, though this
in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary
weapon by which free Governments are destroyed. The precedent must
always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient
benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity,
Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man
claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these
great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of
Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious men, ought
to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their
connections with private and public felcity. Let it simply be asked,
Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the
sense of religious obligation _desert_ the oaths, which are the
instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with
caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without
religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education
on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to
expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring
of a popular Government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less
force to every species of free Government. Who that is a sincere friend
to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation
of the fabric?

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the
general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a
Government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public
opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public
credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as
possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but
remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger
frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding
likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of
expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the
debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously
throwing upon posterity the burden, which we ourselves ought to bear.
The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is
necessary that the public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to
them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should
practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must
be Revenue; that to have Revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can
be devised, which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant, that
the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from this selection of the
proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a
decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the
Government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the
measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any
time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and
harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it
be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a
free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to
mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided
by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the
course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay
any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to
it? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity
of a Nation with its Virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by
every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered
impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that
permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and
passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in
place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be
cultivated. The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual
hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave to its
animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it
astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against
another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay
hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable,
when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent
collisions, obstinate, venomed, and bloody contests. The Nation prompted
by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government,
contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes
participates in the national propensity and adopts through passion what
reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the
nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride,
ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often,
sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces
a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the
illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common
interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other,
betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the
latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to
concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which
is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by
unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by
exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the
parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to
ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the
favorite Nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their
own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding,
with the appearance of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable
deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the
base of foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments
are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent
Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic
factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion,
to influence or awe the Public Councils! Such an attachment of a small
or weak, towards a great and powerful Nation, dooms the former to be the
satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to
believe me, fellow-citizens), the jealousy of a free people ought to be
constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign
influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. But
that jealousy to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the
instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense
against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign Nation, and excessive
dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on
one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the
other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are
liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp
the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in
extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little
_political_ connection as possible. So far as we have already formed
engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very
remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies,
the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence,
therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial
ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary
combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a
different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient
Government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury
from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause
the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously
respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making
acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation;
when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice,
shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own
to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that
of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of
European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any
portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty
to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing
infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable
to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best
policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in
their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be
unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, in a
respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary
alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by
policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should
hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive
favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things;
diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but
forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give
trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to
enable the Government to support them, conventional rules of
intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will
permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or
varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly
keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested
favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence
for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such
acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given
equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with
ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to
expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an
illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and
affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and
lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual
current of the passions or prevent our Nation from running the course
which has hitherto marked the destiny of Nations. But, if I may even
flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit,
some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the
fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue,
to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will
be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they
have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the
principles which have been delineated, the public records and other
evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself,
the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed
myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my Proclamation of
the 22d of April, 1793, is the index of my Plan. Sanctioned by your
approving voice, and by that of your Representatives of both Houses of
Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me
uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could
obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the
circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty
and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I
determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with
moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations, which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is
not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that,
according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from
being denied by any of the Belligerent Powers, has been virtually
admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything
more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every
Nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the
relations of peace and amity towards other Nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be
referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant
motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and
mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption
to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give
it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am
unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my
defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors.
Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or
mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me
the hope, that my Country will never cease to view them with
indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its
service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will
be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that
fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views in it
the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations,
I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise
myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in
the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under
a free Government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy
reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.




The hall in which the exercises in celebration of Washington's Birthday
are held should be decorated with all the patriotic emblems
obtainable,--flags, banners, flowers, etc.; including a portrait of
Washington centrally and prominently exhibited, with the motto, "First
in war, etc.," and the figures 1732 and 1799, the dates of his birth and
death; the former trimmed with flowers, the latter with crepe. Nothing
available should be omitted to render the hall as bright and attractive
as possible.

The orations should be delivered by boys, but the other portions of the
exercises may be rendered by girls, or by both girls and boys, as may be
found most suitable to the text and the occasion.

       *       *       *       *       *



An Exercise for Boys From "_The Popular Educator_"

_Let the scholars who represent the ghosts of the vanished years stand
in the background and come forth as they are called. Each should bear in
his hand a standard with the date of his year in large letters upon it,
or wear a badge with the same. Hang a large picture of Washington on the
wall; above it place the motto, "First in war, first in peace, first in
the hearts of his countrymen," and beneath it the dates of his birth and


This wintry month of storm and cold
Doth in its rough old heart enfold
A memory bright as burnished gold,
Which still lives on while years grow old.
It pales not with the lapse of time,
But burns with steady glow sublime--
Through all the years from age to age,
A light upon our history's page--
The name and memory of one,
Our country's hero--Washington.


Go, ring the bells and fire each gun
In honor of George Washington.


Come, boys, let's have some historic fun,
Its theme to be grand Washington,
'Tis better far than simple play,
So range yourselves in close array,
While each in turn his deeds do cite,
And thus we'll keep his memory bright.


Call up the ghosts of the vanished years,
And question each as he appears.


Aha! ye years that thought ye were gone,
We'll call you back with your faces wan.


Arise, thou ghost of seventeen thirty-two,
And to our questions give us answers true.
What knowest thou of Washington, the grave?
What canst thou tell of Washington, the brave?

(_Arise 1732_.)

In February of my year,
Unto my mind 'tis very clear,
Upon the twenty-second day,
In old Virginia far away,
Was born a sweet and gentle child,
On whom the heavens looked down and smiled.


Is that all thou canst tell?

(_1732 speaks again_.)

Ah! there's another thing, just one:
They called the child George Washington.
On all things else I am but dumb;
Ask of the years that after come.


Arise, ye ghosts of his youthful days,
And tell us of his acts and ways.

(_Arise 1733, 1735, 1738, 1741, 1743, and 1752. Each speaks in turn_.)

1733. In seventeen hundred thirty-three
He was a baby, full of glee.

1735. In seventeen hundred thirty-five
He was a child, all wide-awake, alive.

1738. I speak for seventeen thirty-eight,
He told no falsehood, small or great.

1741. Thus speak the lips of seventeen forty-one:
His work in copybooks was nearly done.

1743. In seventeen hundred forty-three
He loved in military sports to be.

1752. My days of seventeen fifty-two
No finer form could bring to view.


Away, ye years! No more, no more!
                                        [_They retire_.
Arise, thou ghost of fifty-four.

(_Arise 1754._)

The French and Indian War this year begun,
Its first gun fired by youthful Washington;
The shots flew fast from hidden foe,
And many a one was then laid low,
Yet never a wound that grand form felt,
Though shots like rain at him were dealt.
Old Indian chiefs declared a charm
Preserved his life from every harm.


Come forth, ye vanished seventeen seventy-five.
No man methinks that knew thee is alive.

(_Arise 1775._)

I proudly rise from the vanished past,
Behold a dark cloud gathering fast!
At first no bigger than a hand,
'Tis spreading over all the land,
And men are hurrying here and there,
Their brows all grave with anxious care.
Upon the green at Cambridge gaze,
List to the shouts the people raise,
As on his war-horse, proud and calm,
Sits he, the nation's strong right arm;
Beneath the spreading elm-tree's shade,
Commander-in-chief he there is made
Of young America's armies all.
Who is it thus the people call?
'Tis Washington, the star of light,
That shone through all the country's night.


Come back, ye years that now are o'er,
And tell us of this man yet more.

(_Arise 1776 and 1777. In concert_.)

Together we rise to speak his fame,
Who won a grand, immortal name
At Trenton and at Princeton too.
More brilliant deeds where can we view?
On History's page they brightly gleam.
Him "first in war" we rightly deem.


Behold a shadow dark and weighty!
Stand forth, thou ghost of seventeen eighty.

(_Arise 1780_.)

Hunger and cold, and suffering great
In my last days was the sad fate
Of Washington and his soldiers brave.
The name "hard winter" to me clave.
But still the grand old patriot fire
Within one breast did ne'er expire.
In cause so grand he placed a faith sublime,
That far outweighed the sorrows of the time.


What canst thou tell us, seventeen eighty-one,
Of this far-famed, immortal Washington?

(_Arise 1781_.)

I see the British soldiers, one by one,
Surrendering their arms to Washington.
The war of revolution now is o'er,
And joyful shouts from every hillside pour.
As soon as war's black flag is furled,
The admiration of the world,
Bearing the love of countless grateful hearts,
George Washington unto his home departs.
The "first in war," and "first in peace,"
His memory shall never cease.


Once more we call. Come forth and shine,
Spirit of seventeen eighty-nine.

(_Arise 1789_.)

My year beheld George Washington
Above all men the ruling one,
Of the United States first President,
His name a glory to our country lent.


Come forth, thou ghost, the last in line;
Come back, oh seventeen ninety-nine.

(_Arise 1799_.)

I rise with sorrow in my face,
Which time can never quite efface.
In the last month of the Last year
Of the LAST century (dost thou hear?)
There passed away a kingly soul,
And sadly all the bells did toll;
The people mourned their leader much;
Their feelings in one mighty rush!
Swept back o'er all the years gone by,
And heartfelt was the nation's cry
O'er Washington whom tongue and pen
Proclaim the first in hearts of countrymen.


"First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts
of his countrymen."


Who would have thought the vanished years
Could come back thus with smiles and tears!

(_The years come back in procession, 1732 in advance, and recite

Together we come farewell to say,
Ere in our graves we hide away.
Till another year hath passed its round,
Our voices shall utter forth no sound.
Our lips have only told a part
About this great and noble heart;
But go and study history's page,
You'll find him there from age to age.
Before we go a challenge brave we send
Unto this year, and on till time shall end,
To e'er produce a greater one
Than _our_ immortal Washington.
                                        [_Pass out in order, repeating_
                                         "_Farewell, farewell!_"

_If there is a bell on the school-building, have some boy at this point
ring it with bright, quick strokes_.


List! I hear the bells a-ringing,
High within their steeples swinging.
Loud let them ring, and ring, and ring,
And all abroad their music fling,
For honor doth belong to him
Whose memory ages cannot dim.


Ay, ring the bells, and raise the shout,
And drag the massive cannon out,
Let all unite as though in one
To praise immortal Washington.

_School sing in closing "Speed Our Republic"
etc., or some other patriotic hymn_.

       *       *       *       *       *



_For a Very Little Girl_

  I cannot be a Washington,
    However hard I try,
  But into something I must grow
    As fast the days go by.

  The world needs women, good and true,
    I'm glad I can be one,
  For that is even better than
    To be a Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *



_For Forty-five Children_

This exercise will require forty-five children, boys or girls, or both,
as most convenient. Where a stage and curtain are obtainable, have the
speakers grouped upon the stage at rise of curtain. If a stage and
curtain are impossible let the speakers sit near the platform, each
coming forward quickly, as the predecessor retires. A bust or framed
portrait of Washington must occupy the center of the stage or platform;
surrounding it must be an arch containing forty-five nails. Each speaker
at the close of speech hangs upon a nail the wreath he or she carries.
Where flowers cannot be obtained in the winter time, use wreaths of
evergreen. If a stage is possible, but not a curtain, the States may
form at back of schoolroom and march upon the stage in time to martial
or patriotic music. Each State may wear a badge with name if convenient.

  1. Maine comes marching on as one
  To crown immortal Washington.

  2. New Hampshire brings him honor, too,
  In offerings both sweet and true.

  3. Vermont here comes to take her stand
  To crown him with a lavish hand.

  4. Massachusetts, Pilgrim state,
  Proclaims him hero grand and great.

  5. Rhode Island comes with willing feet
  To place a garland fair and sweet.

  6. Connecticut, with laurel's light,
  Would keep our hero's honor bright.

  7. New York, a mighty empire now,
  Still crowns her gallant leader's brow.

  8. Pennsylvania holds him great,
  Who spurned a crown to make a state.

  9. New Jersey, Trenton can't forget,
  Her hero claims her honor yet.

  10. Delaware will wreathe her bays
  To tell our hero's matchless praise.

  11. Maryland crowns the peaceful heart
  Unspoiled by cruel deed or art.

  12. Virginia hails her first-born son,
  The proud and peerless Washington.

  13. West Virginia will proclaim
  The splendors of a patriot's name.

  14. North Carolina's wreath is brought
  To him who independence wrought.

  15. South Carolina follows on
  To twine a wreath for Washington.

  16. Georgia exalts him high
  Who made the flag of freedom fly.

  17. Alabama's lore is pure,
  For him whose fame shall aye endure.

  18. Florida a tribute brings
  To him exalted over kings.

  19. Ohio twines with generous hand
  The garlands of a goodly land.

  20. Indiana's wreath is green
  For him of grave and gentle mien.

  21. Illinois cannot forget
  That Washington is speaking yet.

  22. Michigan with love is stirred
  For him who always kept his word.

  23. Wisconsin hangs the victor's palm
  For him, in peace or tumult calm.

  24. Kentucky would his praise prolong,
  For fortitude and valor strong.

  25. Missouri comes with gifts of love
  For Washington's all men above.

  26. Iowa exalts the man
  Who shaped his life on honor's plan.

  27. Minnesota will revere
  The name that all the world holds dear.

  28. Nebraska brings from summits high
  Immortal gifts that cannot die.

  29. Kansas speaks of duties done,
  Of battles fought and victories won.

  30. Mississippi tells the tale
  Of glorious acts that never pale.

  31. Louisiana counts the deeds
  By duty done where valor leads.

  32. Arkansas brings an offering bright
  To him who struggled for the right

  33. Texas will her honor show
  To faithful friend and generous foe.

  34. Tennessee exultant bears
  The crown a conquering hero wears.

  35. Nevada from her mountain height
  Has plucked this garland kissed with light.

  36. California's thousand flowers
  Will crown this patriot of ours.

  37. Oregon brings offerings rare
  For him she holds in loving care.

  38 Montana, from the mountains blue,
  Has brought him love, and honor, too.

  39. North Dakota loves him well,
  And comes his valiant deeds to tell.

  40. South Dakota follows on
  To crown the patriot Washington.

  41. Washington is proud to claim
  The glory of his noble name.

  42. Colorado ever true
  Will bring him loving garlands, too.

  43. Wyoming from her mountain height
  Would crown the man who stood for right.

  44. Idaho brings garlands fair
  For him whose life's beyond compare.

  45. Utah comes with fadeless pine
  In his immortal crown to shine.

  _Chorus of States_

  We all will honor Washington,
  His fame will ever lead us on
  To better lives and nobler deeds,
  To guard our land in all her needs,
  To keep us ever kind and true
  To friends, and home, and country, too,
  In virtue strong, in honor bright,
  The foe of wrong, the friend of right.

  We all will honor Washington,
  The first in war when wrong was done.
  The first in peace when freedom came
  To crown him with immortal fame,
  The first in all our hearts to-day,
  To bind us all as one for aye,
  While battle and freedom lead us on
  We all will honor Washington.

(_Issued under the auspices of the George Washington Memorial
Association. Used by permission of the New England Publishing Co_.)

       *       *       *       *       *



_To Be Recited by a Small Boy_

  I am six years old,
    And like play and fun.
  I mean to grow up
    Like George Washington.

  So, when mother said,
    "Who ate all the pie?"
  I, spoke like a man,
    And said, "It was I."

  But she didn't say
    She'd rather lose the pie,
  And know that her boy
    Would not tell a lie.

  She just shut me up
    Where I couldn't see,
  Then sent me to bed
    Without any tea.

       *       *       *       *       *


_For Nine Pupils_

FIRST PUPIL.--To the historian few characters appear so little to have
shared the common frailties and imperfections of human nature as that of
_William Smyth_.

SECOND PUPIL.--No matter what may have been the immediate birthplace of
such a man as Washington! No clime can claim, no country can appropriate
him; the boon of Providence to the human race, his fame is eternity, his
residence creation.
_Charles Phillips_.

THIRD PUPIL.--As a ruler of mankind, he may be proposed as a model.
Deeply impressed with the original rights of human nature, he never
forgot that the end, and meaning, and aim of all just government was the
happiness of the people.
_William Smyth_.

FOURTH PUPIL.--As a general, he marshaled the peasant into a veteran,
and supplied by discipline the absence of experience. As a statesman, he
enlarged the policy of the cabinet into the most comprehensive system of
general advantage; and such was the wisdom of his views and the
philosophy of his counsels that to the soldier and the statesman he
almost added the character of the sage.
_Charles Phillips_.

FIFTH PUPIL.--Immortal man! He took from the battle its crime, and from
the conquest its chains; he left the victorious the glory of his
self-denial, and turned upon the vanquished only the retribution of his
mercy. Happy, proud America! The lightnings of heaven yielded to your
philosophy! The temptations of earth could not seduce your patriotism!
_Charles Phillips_.

SIXTH PUPIL.--It is the happy combination of rare talents and qualities,
the harmonious union of the intellectual and moral powers, rather than
the dazzling splendor of any one trait which constitutes the grandeur of
his character.
_Jared Sparks_.

SEVENTH PUPIL.--Washington did the two greatest things which, in
politics, man can have the privilege of attempting. He maintained, by
peace, that independence of his country which he had acquired by war. He
founded a free government, in the name of the principles of order, and
by re-establishing their sway.

EIGHTH PUPIL.--Greater soldiers, more intellectual statesmen, and
profounder sages have doubtless existed in the history of the English
race, perhaps in our own country, but not one who to great excellence in
the threefold composition of man--the physical, intellectual, and
moral--has added such exalted integrity, such unaffected piety, such
unsullied purity of soul, and such wondrous control of his own spirit.
He illustrated and adorned the civilization of Christianity, and
furnished an example of the wisdom and perfection of its teachings which
the subtlest arguments of its enemies cannot impeach.

He fought, but not with love of strife; he struck but to defend;
And, ere he turned a people's foe, he sought to be a friend.
He strove to keep his country's right by Reason's gentle word
And sighed when fell injustice threw the challenge sword to sword.
He stood, the firm, the calm, the wise, the patriot and sage;
He showed no deep, avenging hate, no burst of despot rage;
He stood for liberty and truth, and dauntlessly led on,
Till shouts of victory gave forth the name of Washington.
_Eliza Cook_.

Washington, the brave, the wise, the good.
Supreme in war, in council, and in peace.
Valiant without ambition, discreet without fear, confident without
In disaster, calm; in success, moderate; in all, himself.
The hero, the patriot, the Christian.
The father of nations, the friend of mankind,
Who, when he had won all, renounced all, and sought in the bosom of
  his family and of nature, retirement, and in the hope of religion,
_Inscription at Mount Vernon_.

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