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Title: George Washington
Author: Thayer, William Roscoe, 1859-1923
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.

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The Riverside Library

George Washington









To obviate misunderstanding, it seems well to warn the reader that
this book aims only at giving a sketch of George Washington's life
and acts. I was interested to discover, if I could, the human residue
which I felt sure must persist in Washington after all was said. Owing
to the pernicious drivel of the Reverend Weems no other great man in
history has had to live down such a mass of absurdities and deliberate
false inventions. At last after a century and a quarter the rubbish
has been mostly cleared away, and only those who wilfully prefer to
deceive themselves need waste time over an imaginary Father of His
Country amusing himself with a fictitious cherry-tree and hatchet.

The truth is that the material about George Washington is very
voluminous. His military records cover the eight years of the
Revolutionary War. His political work is preserved officially in
the reports of Congress. Most of the public men who were his
contemporaries left memoirs or correspondence in which he figures.
Above all there is the edition, in fourteen volumes, of his own
writings compiled by Mr. Worthington C. Ford. And yet many persons
find something that baffles them. They do not recognize a definite
flesh and blood Virginian named Washington behind it all. Even so
sturdy an historian as Professor Channing calls him the most elusive
of historic personages. Who has not wished that James Boswell could
have spent a year with Wellington on terms as intimate as those he
spent with Dr. Johnson and could have left a report of that intimacy?

In this sketch I have conceived of Washington as of some superb
athlete equipped for every ordeal which life might cause him to face.
The nature of each ordeal must be briefly stated; brief also, but
sufficient, the account of the way he accomplished it. I have quoted
freely from his letters wherever it seemed fitting, first, because in
them you get his personal authentic statement of what happened as he
saw it, and you get also his purpose in making any move; and next,
because nothing so well reveals the real George Washington as those
letters do. Whoever will steep himself in them will hardly declare
that their writer remains an elusive person beyond finding out or
understanding. In the course of reading them you will come upon many
of those "imponderables" which are the secret soul of statecraft.

And so with all humility--for no one can spend much time with
Washington, and not feel profound humility--I leave this little sketch
to its fate, and hope that some readers will find in it what I strove
to put in it.






_Channing_ = Edward Channing: _History of the United States_. New
York: Macmillan Company, III, IV. 1912.

_Fiske_ = John Fiske: _The Critical Period of American History,
1783-1789_. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1897.

_Ford_ = Worthington C. Ford: _The Writings of George Washington_. 14
vols. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 1889-93.

_Ford_ = Worthington C. Ford: _George Washington_. 2 vols. Paris:
Goupil; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1900.

_Hapgood_ = Norman Hapgood: _George Washington_. New York: Macmillan
Company. 1901.

_Irving_ = Washington Irving: _Life of George Washington_. New York:
G.P. Putnam. 1857.

_Lodge_ = Henry Cabot Lodge: _George Washington_. 2 vols. American
Statesman Series. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1889.

_Marshall_ = John Marshall: _The Life of George Washington_. 5 vols.
Philadelphia. 1807.

_Sparks_ = Jared Sparks: _The Life of George Washington_. Boston.

_Wister_ = Owen Wister: _The Seven Ages of Washington_. New York:
Macmillan Company. 1909.




Zealous biographers of George Washington have traced for him a most
respectable, not to say distinguished, ancestry. They go back to
the time of Queen Elizabeth, and find Washingtons then who were
"gentlemen." A family of the name existed in Northumberland
and Durham, but modern investigation points to Sulgrave, in
Northamptonshire, as the English home of his stock. Here was born,
probably during the reign of Charles I, his great-grandfather, John
Washington, who was a sea-going man, and settled in Virginia in 1657.
His eldest son, Lawrence, had three children--John, Augustine, and
Mildred. Of these, Augustine married twice, and by his second
wife, Mary Ball, whom he married on March 17, 1730, there were six
children--George, Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, Charles, and Mildred.
The family home at Bridges Creek, near the Potomac, in Westmoreland
County, was Washington's birthplace, and (February 11, Old Style)
February 22, New Style, 1732, was the date. We hear little about his
childhood, he being a wholesomely unprecocious boy. Rumors have it
that George was coddled and even spoiled by his mother. He had very
little formal education, mathematics being the only subject in which
he excelled, and that he learned chiefly by himself. But he lived
abundantly an out-of-door life, hunting and fishing much, and playing
on the plantation. His family, although not rich, lived in easy
fashion, and ranked among the gentry.

No Life of George Washington should fail to warn the reader at the
start that the biographer labors under the disadvantage of having to
counteract the errors and absurdities which the Reverend Mason L.
Weems made current in the Life he published the year after Washington
died. No one, not even Washington himself, could live down the
reputation of a goody-goody prig with which the officious Scotch
divine smothered him. The cherry-tree story has had few rivals in
publicity and has probably done more than anything else to implant an
instinctive contempt of its hero in the hearts of four generations of
readers. "Why couldn't George Washington lie?" was the comment of a
little boy I knew, "Couldn't he talk?"

Weems pretended to an intimacy at Mount Vernon which it appears he
never had. In "Blackwood's Magazine" John Neal said of the book, "Not
one word of which we believe. It is full of ridiculous exaggerations."
And yet neither this criticism nor any other stemmed the outpouring
of editions of it which must now number more than seventy. Weems
doubtless thought that he was helping God and doing good to Washington
by his offensive and effusive support of rudimentary morals.

Weems had been dead a dozen years when another enemy sprang up. This
was the worthy Jared Sparks, an historian, a professor of history, who
collected with much care the correspondence of George Washington and
edited it in a monumental work. Sparks, however, suffered under the
delusion that something other than fact can be the best substance of
history. According to his tastes, many of Washington's letters were
not sufficiently dignified; they were too colloquial, they even let
slip expressions which no man conscious that he was the model of
propriety, the embodiment of the dignity of history, could have used.
So Mr. Sparks without blushing went through Washington's letters and
substituted for the originals words which he decided were more seemly.
Again the public came to know George Washington, not by his own words,
but by those attributed to him by an overzealous stylist-pedant. Well
might the Father of his Country pray to be delivered from the parsons.

One of the earliest records of Washington's youth is the copy, written
in his beautiful, almost copper-plate hand, of "Rules of Civility &
Decent Behavior, In Company and Conversation." These maxims were taken
from an English book called "The Young Man's Companion," by W. Mather.
It had passed through thirteen editions and contained information upon
many matters besides conduct Perhaps Washington copied the maxims as a
school exercise; perhaps he learned them by heart.

They are for the most part the didactic aphorisms which greatly
pleased our worthy ancestors during the middle of the eighteenth
century and later. Some of the entries referred to simple matters of
deportment: you must not turn your back on persons to whom you talk.
Others touch morals rather than manners. One imagines that the parson
or elderly uncles allowed themselves to bestow this indisputably
correct advice upon the youths whom they were interested in. A boy
brought up rigidly on these doctrines could hardly fail to become a
prig unless he succeeded in following the last injunction of all:
"Labor to keep alive in your heart, that little spark of celestial
fire called conscience."

When he was eleven years old, Washington's father died, and his older
half-brother, Lawrence, who inherited the estate now known as Mount
Vernon, became his guardian. Lawrence had married the daughter of a
neighbor, William Fairfax, agent for the large Fairfax estate. Fairfax
and he had served with the Colonial forces at Cartagena under Admiral
Vernon, from whom the Washington manor took its name. Lord Fairfax,
William's cousin and head of the family, offered George work on the
survey of his domain. George, then a sturdy lad of sixteen, accepted
gladly, and for more than two years he carried it on. The Fairfax
estate extended far into the west, beyond the immediate tidewater
district, beyond the fringe of sparsely settled clearings, into the
wilderness itself. The effect of his experience as surveyor lasted
throughout George Washington's life. His self-reliance and his courage
never flagged. Sometimes he went alone and passed weeks among the
solitudes; sometimes he had a companion whom he had to care for as
well as for himself. But besides the toughening of his character which
this pioneer life assured him, he got much information, which greatly
influenced, years later, his views on the development, not only of
Virginia, but of the Northwest. Perhaps from this time there entered
into his heart the conviction that the strongest bond of union must
sometime bind together the various colonies, so different in resources
and in interests, including his native commonwealth.

From journals kept during some of his expeditions we see that he was
a clear observer and an accurate reporter; far from bookish, but a
careful penman, and conscious of the obligation laid upon him to
acquire at least the minimum of polite knowledge which was expected of
a country gentleman such as he aspired to be.

Here is an extract in which he describes the squalid conditions under
which he passed some of his life as a woodsman and surveyor.

    We got our suppers and was lighted into a Room and I not being
    so good a woodsman as ye rest of my company, striped myself very
    orderly and went into ye Bed, as they calld it, when to my
    surprize, I found it to be nothing but a little straw matted
    together without sheets or any thing else, but only one thread
    bare blanket with double its weight of vermin, such as Lice,
    Fleas, etc. I was glad to get up (as soon as ye light was carried
    from us). I put on my cloths and lay as my companions. Had we not
    been very tired, I am sure we should not have slep'd much that
    night. I made a Promise not to sleep so from that time forward,
    chusing rather to sleep in ye open air before a fire, as will
    appear hereafter.

    Wednesday 16th. We set out early and finish'd about one o'clock
    and then Travelled up to Frederick Town, where our Baggage came to
    us. We cleaned ourselves (to get rid of ye game we had catched ye
    night before), I took a Review of ye Town and then return'd to our
    Lodgings where we had a good Dinner prepared for us. Wine and Rum
    Punch in plenty, and a good Feather Bed with clean sheets, which
    was a very agreeable regale.

The longest of Washington's early expeditions was the "Journey over
the Mountains, began Fryday the 11th of March 1747/8." The mountains
were the Alleghanies, and the trip gave him a closer acquaintance than
he had had with Indians in the wilds. On his return, he stayed with
his half-brother, Lawrence, at Mount Vernon, or with Lord Fairfax, and
enjoyed the country life common to the richer Virginians of the time.
Towns which could provide an inn being few and far between, travellers
sought hospitality in the homes of the well-to-do residents, and every
one was in a way a neighbor of the other dwellers in his county. So
both at Belvoir and at Mount Vernon, guests were frequent and broke
the monotony and loneliness of their inmates. I think the reputation
of gravity, which was fixed upon Washington in his mature years, has
been projected back over his youth. The actual records are lacking,
but such hints and surmises as we have do not warrant our thinking
of him as a self-centred, unsociable youth. On the contrary, he was
rather, what would be called now, a sport, ready for hunting or
riding, of splendid physical build, agile and strong. He liked
dancing, and was not too shy to enjoy the society of young women;
indeed, he wrote poems to some of them, and seems to have been popular
with them. And still, the legend remains that he was bashful.

From our earliest glimpses of him, Washington appears as a youth very
particular as to his dress. He knew how to rough it as the extracts
of his personal journals which I have quoted show, and this passage

    I seem to be in a place where no real satisfaction is to be had.
    Since you received my letter in October last, I have not sleep'd
    above three or four nights in a bed, but, after walking a good
    deal all the day, I lay down before the fire upon a little hay,
    straw, fodder, or bearskin, which ever is to be had, with man,
    wife, and children, like a parcel of dogs and cats, and happy is
    he who gets the berth nearest the fire. There's nothing would make
    it pass off tolerably but a good reward. A doubloon is my constant
    gain every day that the weather will permit my going out, and
    sometimes six pistoles. The coldness of the weather will not allow
    of my making a long stay, as the lodging is rather too cold for
    this time of year. I have never had my clothes off but lay and
    sleep in them, except the few nights I have lay'n in Frederic

[Footnote 1: Hapgood, p, 11.]

Later, when Washington became master of Mount Vernon, his servants
were properly liveried. He himself rode to hounds in the approved
apparel of a fox-hunting British gentleman, and we find in the lists
of articles for which he sends to London the names of clothes and
other articles for Mrs. Washington and the children carefully
specified with the word "fashionable" or "very best quality" added.
Still later, when he was President he attended to this matter of dress
with even greater punctilio.

One incident of this early period should not be passed by unmentioned.
Admiral Vernon offered him an appointment as midshipman in the navy,
but Washington's mother objected so strongly that Washington gave up
the opportunity. We may well wonder whether, if he had accepted it,
his career might not have been permanently turned aside. Had he served
ten or a dozen years in the navy, he might have grown to be so loyal
to the King, that, when the Revolution came, he would have been found
in command of one of the King's men-of-war, ordered to put down
the Rebels in Boston, or in New York. Thus Fate suggests amazing
alternatives to us in the retrospect, but in the actual living, Fate
makes it clear that the only course which could have happened was that
which did happen.

In 1751 the health of Washington's brother, Lawrence, became so bad
from consumption that he decided to pass the winter in a warm climate.
He chose the Island of Barbados, and his brother George accompanied
him. Shortly before sailing, George was commissioned one of the
Adjutants-General of Virginia, with the rank of Major, and the pay
of £150 a year. They sailed on the Potomac River, perhaps near Mount
Vernon, on September 28, 1751, and landed at Bridgetown on November
3d. The next day they were entertained at breakfast and dinner
by Major Clark, the British officer who commanded some of the
fortifications of the island. "We went," says George Washington, in a
journal he kept, "myself with some reluctance, as the smallpox was in
his family." Thirteen days later, George fell ill of a very strong
case of smallpox which kept him housed for six weeks and left his face
much disfigured for life with pock marks, a fact which, so far as I
have observed his portraits, the painters have carefully forgotten to

The brothers passed a fairly pleasant month and a half at the
Barbados. Major Clark, and other gentlemen and officials of the
island, showed them much attention. They enjoyed the hospitality of
the Beefsteak and Tripe Club, which seems to have been the fashionable
club. On one occasion, Washington was taken to the play to see the
"Tragedy of George Barnwell." This may have been the first time that
he went to the theatre. He refers to it in his journal with his
habitual caution:

    Was treated with a play ticket by Mr. Carter to see the Tragedy
    of George Barnwell acted: the character of Barnwell and several
    others was said to be well perform'd there was Musick a Dapted and
    regularly conducted by Mr.

But Lawrence Washington's consumption did not improve: he grew
homesick and pined for his wife and for Mount Vernon. The physicians
had recommended him to spend a full year at Barbados, in order to
give the climate and the regimen there a fair trial, but he could not
endure it so long, and he sailed from there to Bermuda, whence he
shortly returned to Virginia and Mount Vernon. George, meanwhile, had
also gone back to Virginia, sailing December 22, 1751, and arriving
February 1, 1752. Even from his much-mutilated journal, we can see
that he travelled with his eyes open, and that his interests were
many. As he mentioned in his journal thirty persons with whom
he became acquainted at the Barbados, we infer that in spite of
bashfulness he was an easy mixer. This short journey to the Barbados
marks the only occasion on which George Washington went outside of the
borders of the American Colonies, which became later, chiefly through
his genius, the United States.[1]

[Footnote 1: J.M. Toner: _The Daily Journal of Major George Washington
in 1751-2_ (Albany, N.Y., 1892).]

In July, 1752, Lawrence Washington died of the disease which he
had long struggled against. He left his fortune and his property,
including Mount Vernon, to his daughter, Sarah, and he appointed his
brother, George, her guardian. She was a sweet-natured girl, but very
frail, who died before long, probably of the same disease which
had carried her father off, and, until its infectious nature was
understood, used to decimate families from generation to generation.

To have thrust upon him, at the age of twenty, the management of a
large estate might seem a heavy burden for any young man; but George
Washington was equal to the task, and it seems as if much of his
career up to that time was a direct preparation for it. He knew every
foot of its fields and meadows, of its woodlands and streams; he knew
where each crop grew, and its rotation; he had taken great interest in
horses and cattle, and in the methods for maintaining and improving
their breed; and now, of course being master, his power of choosing
good men to do the work was put to the test. But he had not been long
at these new occupations before public duties drew him away from them.

Though they knew it not, the European settlers in North America were
approaching a life-and-death catastrophe. From the days when the
English and the French first settled on the continent, Fate ordained
for them an irrepressible conflict. Should France prevail? Should
England prevail? With the growth of their colonies, both the English
and the French felt their rivalry sharpened. Although distances often
very broad kept them apart in space, yet both nations were ready to
prove the terrible truth that when two men, or two tribes, wish
to fight each other, they will find out a way. The French, at New
Orleans, might be far away from the English at Boston; and the
English, in New York, or in Philadelphia, might be removed from the
French in Quebec; but in their hatreds they were near neighbors. The
French pushed westward along the St. Lawrence to the Great Lakes, and
from Lake Erie, they pushed southward, across the rich plains of Ohio,
to the Ohio River. Their trails spread still farther into the Western
wilderness. They set up trading-posts in the very region which the
English settlers expected to occupy in the due process of their
advance. At the junction of the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, they
planted Fort Duquesne, which not only commanded the approach to the
territory through which the Ohio flowed westward, but served notice
on the English that the French regarded themselves as the rightful
claimants of that territory.

In 1753 Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, had sent a commissioner to
warn the French to cease from encroaching on the lands in the Ohio
wilderness which belonged to the King of England, but the messenger
stopped one hundred and fifty miles short of his goal. Therefore,
the Governor decided to despatch another envoy. He selected George
Washington, who was already well known for his surveying, and for his
expedition beyond the mountains, and doubtless had the backing of the
Fairfaxes and other influential gentlemen. Washington set out on the
same day he received his appointment from Governor Dinwiddie (October
31, 1753), engaged Jacob Van Braam, a Hollander who had taught him
fencing, to be his French interpreter; and Christopher Gist, the best
guide through the Virginia wilderness, to pilot the party. In spite
of the wintry conditions which beset them, they made good time.
Washington presented his official warning to M. Joncaire, the
principal French commander in the region under dispute, but he replied
that he must wait for orders from the Governor in Quebec. One object
of Washington's mission was to win over, if possible, the Indians,
whose friendship for either the French or the English depended wholly
on self-interest. He seems to have been most successful in securing
the friendship of Thanacarishon, the great Seneca Chief, known as the
Half-King. This native left it as his opinion that

    the colonel was a good-natured man, but had no experience; he took
    upon him to command the Indians as his slaves, and would have them
    every day upon the scout and to attack the enemy by themselves,
    but would by no means take advice from the Indians. He lay in
    one place from one full moon to the other, without making any
    fortifications, except that little thing on the meadow, whereas,
    had he taken advice, and built such fortifications as I advised
    him, he might easily have beat off the French. But the French in
    the engagement acted like cowards, and the English like fools.[1]

[Footnote 1: Quoted by Lodge, I, 74.]

Believing that he could accomplish no more at that time, Washington
retraced his steps and returned to Williamsburg.

Governor Dinwiddie, being much disappointed with the outcome of the
expedition, urged the Virginian Legislature to equip another party
sufficiently strong to be able to capture Fort Duquesne, and to
confirm the British control of the Ohio. The Burgesses, however,
pleaded economy, and refused to grant funds adequate to this purpose.
Nevertheless, the Governor having equipped a small troop, under the
command of Colonel Fry, with Washington as second, hurried it forth.
During May and June they were near the Forks, and with the approach of
danger, Washington's spirit and recklessness increased. In a slight
skirmish, M. de Jumonville, the French commander, was killed. Fry died
of disease and Washington took his place as commander. Perceiving that
his own position was precarious, and expecting an attack by a large
force of the enemy, he entrenched himself near Great Meadows in a
hastily built fort, which he called Fort Necessity, and thought it
possible to defend, even with his own small force, against five
hundred French and Indians. He miscalculated, however. The enemy
exceeded in numbers all his expectations. His own resources dwindled;
and so he took the decision of a practical man and surrendered the
fort, on condition that he and his men be allowed to march out with
the honors of war. They returned to Virginia with little delay.

The Burgesses and the people of the State, though chagrined, did not
take so gloomy a view of the collapse of the expedition as Washington
himself did. His own depression equalled his previous exaltation. As
he thought over the affairs of the past half-year in the quiet of
Mount Vernon, the feeling which he had had from the start, that the
expedition had not been properly planned, or directed, or reënforced
in men and supplies, was confirmed. Governor Dinwiddie's notion that
raw volunteers would suffice to overcome trained soldiers had been
proved a delusion. The inadequate pay and provisions of the officers
irritated Washington, not only because they were insufficient, but
also because they fell far short of those of the English regulars.

In his penetrating Biography of Washington, Senator Lodge regards
his conduct of the campaign, which ended in the surrender of Great
Meadows, and his narrative as revealing Washington as a "profoundly
silent man." Carlyle, Senator Lodge says, who preached the doctrine of
silence, brushed Washington aside as a "bloodless Cromwell," "failing
utterly to see that he was the most supremely silent of the great men
of action that the world can show." Let us admit the justice of the
strictures on Carlyle, but let us ask whether Washington's letters at
this time spring from a "silent" man. He writes with perfect openness
to Governor Dinwiddie; complains of the military system under which
the troops are paid and the campaign is managed; he repeatedly
condemns the discrimination against the Virginian soldiers in favor of
the British regulars; and he points out that instead of attempting to
win the popularity of the Virginians, they are badly treated. Their
rations are poor, and he reminds the Governor that a continuous diet
of salt pork and water does not inspire enthusiasm in either the
stomach or the spirit. No wonder that the officers talk of resigning.
"For my own part I can answer, I have a constitution hardy enough to
encounter and undergo the most severe trials, and, I flatter myself,
resolution to face what any man durst, as shall be proved when it
comes to the test, which I believe we are on the borders of." In
several other passages from letters at this time, we come upon
sentiments which indicate that Washington had at least a sufficiently
high estimation of his own worth, and that his genius for silence had
not yet curbed his tongue. There is the famous boast attributed to him
by Horace Walpole. In a despatch which Washington sent back to the
Governor after the little skirmish in which Jumonville was killed,
Washington said: "'I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there
is something charming in the sound.' On hearing of this the King said
sensibly, 'he would not say so if he had been used to hear many.'"
This reply of George II deserves to be recorded if only because it is
one of the few feeble witticisms credited to the Hanoverian Kings.
Years afterward, Washington declared that he did not remember ever
having referred to the charm of listening to whistling bullets.
Perhaps he never said it; perhaps he forgot. He was only twenty-two at
the time of the Great Meadows campaign. No doubt he was as well aware
as was Governor Dinwiddie, and other Virginians, that he was the best
equipped man on the expedition, experienced in actual fighting, and
this, added to his qualifications as a woodsman, had given him a real
zest for battle. In their discussion over the campfire, he and his
fellow officers must inevitably have criticized the conduct of the
expedition, and it may well be that Washington sometimes insisted
that if his advice were followed things would go better. Not on this
account, therefore, must we lay too much blame on him for being
conceited or immodest. He knew that he knew, and he did not dissemble
the fact. Silence came later.

The result of the expeditions to and skirmishes at the Forks of the
Ohio was that England and France were at war, although they had not
declared war on each other. A chance musket shot in the backwoods of
Virginia started a conflict which reverberated in Europe, disturbed
the peace of the world for seven years, and had serious consequences
in the French and English colonies of North America. The news of
Washington's disaster at Fort Necessity aroused the British Government
to the conclusion that it must make a strong demonstration in order
to crush the swelling prestige of the French rivals in America. The
British planned, accordingly, to send out three expeditions, one
against Fort Duquesne, another against the French in Nova Scotia, and
a third against Quebec. The command of the first they gave to General
Edward Braddock. He was then sixty years old, had been in the Regular
Army all his life, had served in Holland, at L'Orient, and at
Gibraltar, was a brave man, and an almost fanatical believer in the
rules of war as taught in the manuals. During the latter half of 1754,
Governor Dinwiddie was endeavoring against many obstacles to send
another expedition, equipped by Virginia herself, to the Ohio. Only in
the next spring, however, after Braddock had come over from England
with a relatively large force of regulars, were the final preparations
for a campaign actually made. Washington, in spite of being the
commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces, had his wish of going as
a volunteer at his own expense. He wrote his friend William Byrd, on
April 20, 1755, from Mount Vernon:

    I am now preparing for, and shall in a few days set off, to serve
    in the ensuing campaign, with different views, however, from those
    I had before. For here, if I can gain any credit, or if I am
    entitled to the least countenance and esteem, it must be from
    serving my country without fee or reward; for I can truly say, I
    have no expectation of either. To merit its esteem, and the good
    will of my friends, is the sum of my ambition, having no prospect
    of attaining a commission, being well assured it is not in Gen'l
    Braddock's power to give such an one as I would accept of. The
    command of a Company is the highest commission vested in his gift.
    He was so obliging as to desire my company this campaign, has
    honoured me with particular marks of his esteem, and kindly
    invited me into his family--a circumstance which will ease me of
    expences that otherwise must have accrued in furnishing
    stores, camp equipages, etc. Whereas the cost will now be easy
    (comparatively speaking), as baggage, horses, tents, and some
    other necessaries, will constitute the whole of the charge.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, I, 146-49.]

The army began to move about the middle of May, but it went very
slowly. During June Washington was taken with an acute fever, in
spite of which he pressed on, but he became so weak that he had to be
carried in a cart, as he was unable to sit his horse. Braddock, with
the main army, had gone on ahead, and Washington feared that the
battle, which he believed imminent, would be fought before he came up
with the front. But he rejoined the troops on July 8th. The next day
they forded the Monongahela and proceeded to attack Fort Duquesne.
Writing from Fort Cumberland, on July 18th, Washington gave Governor
Dinwiddie the following account of Braddock's defeat. The one thing
happened which Washington had felt anxious about--a surprise by the
Indians. He had more than once warned Braddock of this danger, and
Benjamin Franklin had warned him too before the expedition started,
but Braddock, with perfect British contempt, had replied that though
savages might be formidable to raw Colonials, they could make
no impression on disciplined troops. The surprise came and thus
Washington reports it:

    When we came to this place, we were attacked (very unexpectedly)
    by about three hundred French and Indians. Our numbers consisted
    of about thirteen hundred well armed men, chiefly Regulars, who
    were immediately struck with such an inconceivable panick, that
    nothing but confusion and disobedience of orders prevailed among
    them. The officers, in general, behaved with incomparable bravery,
    for which they greatly suffered, there being near 60 killed and
    wounded--a large proportion, out of the number we had!

    The Virginia companies behaved like men and died like soldiers;
    for I believe out of three companies that were on the ground that
    day scarce thirty were left alive. Capt. Peyroney and all his
    officers, down to a corporal, were killed; Capt. Polson had
    almost as hard a fate, for only one of his escaped. In short, the
    dastardly behaviour of the Regular troops (so-called) exposed
    those who were inclined to do their duty to almost certain death;
    and, at length, in despite of every effort to the contrary, broke
    and ran as sheep before hounds, leaving the artillery, ammunition,
    provisions, baggage, and, in short, everything a prey to the
    enemy. And when we endeavored to rally them, in hopes of regaining
    the ground and what we had left upon it, it was with as little
    success as if we had attempted to have stopped the wild bears of
    the mountains, or rivulets with our feet; for they would break by,
    in despite of every effort that could be made to prevent it.

    The General was wounded in the shoulder and breast, of which he
    died three days after; his two aids-de-camp were both wounded, but
    are in a fair way of recovery; Colo. Burton and Sr. John St. Clair
    are also wounded, and I hope will get over it; Sir Peter Halket,
    with many other brave officers, were killed in the field. It is
    supposed that we had three hundred or more killed; about that
    number we brought off wounded, and it is conjectured (I believe
    with much truth) that two thirds of both received their shot from
    our own cowardly Regulars, who gathered themselves into a body,
    contrary to orders, ten or twelve deep, would then level, fire and
    shoot down the men before them.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, I, 173-74-75.]

In this admirable letter Washington tells nothing about his own
prowess in the battle, where he rode to all parts of the field, trying
to stem the retreat, and had two horses shot under him and four bullet
holes in his coat. He tried to get the troops to break ranks and to
screen themselves behind rocks and trees, but Braddock, helpless
without his rules, drove them back to regular formation with the flat
of his sword, and made them an easy mark for the volleys of the enemy.
Washington's personal valor could not fail to be admired, although his
audacity exposed him to unjustified risks.

On reaching Fort Cumberland he wrote to his brother John, on July

    As I have heard, since my arrival at this place, a circumstantial
    account of my death and dying speech, I take this early
    opportunity of contradicting the first, and assuring you, that
    I have not as yet composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful
    dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all
    human probability and expectation.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ibid. 175-76.]

The more he thought over the events of that day, the more was he
amazed--"I join very heartily with you in believing," he wrote Robert
Jackson on August 2d, "that when this story comes to be related in
future annals, it will meet with unbelief and indignation, for had I
not been witness to the fact on that fatal day, I should scarce have
given credit to it even _now_."[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, I, 177.]

Although Washington was thoroughly disgusted by the mismanagement of
military affairs in Virginia, he was not ready to deny the appeals
of patriotism. From Mount Vernon, on August 14, 1755, he wrote his

    Honored Madam, If it is in my power to avoid going to the Ohio
    again, I shall; but if the command is pressed upon me, by the
    general _voice_ of the country, and offered upon such terms as
    cannot be objected against, it would reflect dishonor upon me to
    refuse; and _that_, I am sure must or _ought_ to give you greater
    uneasiness, than my going in an honorable command, for upon no
    other terms I will accept of it. At present I have no proposals
    made to me, nor have I any advice of such an intention, except
    from private hands.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ibid. 180-81.]

Braddock's defeat put an end to campaigning in Virginia for some time.
The consternation it caused, not only held the people of the sparse
western settlements in alarm but agitated the tidewater towns and
villages. The Burgesses and many of the inhabitants had not yet
learned their lesson sufficiently to set about reorganizing their army
system, but the Assembly partially recognized its obligation to the
men who had fought by voting to them a small sum for losses during
their previous service. Washington received £300, but his patriotic
sense of duty kept him active. In the winter of 1758, however, owing
to a very serious illness, he resigned from the army and returned to
Mount Vernon to recuperate.

During the long and tedious weeks of sickness and recovery, Washington
doubtless had time to think over, to clarify in his mind, and to pass
judgment on the events in which he had shared during the past six or
seven years. From boyhood that was his habit. He must know the meaning
of things. An event might be as fruitless as a shooting star unless he
could trace the relations which tied it to what came before and after.
Hence his deliberation which gave to his opinions the solidity of
wisdom. Audacious he might be in battle, but perhaps what seems to us
audacity seemed to him at the moment a higher prudence. If there were
crises when the odds looked ten to one against him, he would take the
chance. He knew the incalculable value of courage. His experiences
with the British regulars and their officers left a deep impression on
him and colored his own decisions in his campaigns against the British
during the Revolutionary War. To genius nothing comes amiss, and by
genius nothing is forgotten. So we find that all that Washington saw
and learned during his years of youth--his apprenticeship as surveyor,
his vicissitudes as pioneer, tasks as Indian fighter and as companion
of the defeated Braddock--all contributed to fit him for the supreme
work for which Fate had created him and the ages had waited.



War is like the wind, nobody can tell into whose garden it may blow
desolation. The French and Indian War, generally called now the Seven
Years' War, beginning as a mere border altercation between the British
and French backwoodsmen on the banks of the upper Ohio River, grew
into a struggle which, by the year 1758, when Washington retired from
his command of the Virginia Forces, spread over the world. A new
statesman, one of the ablest ever born in England, came to control the
English Government. William Pitt, soon created Earl of Chatham, saw
that the British Empire had reached a crisis in its development.
Incompetence, inertia, had blurred its prestige, and the little
victories which France, its chief enemy, had been winning against it
piecemeal, were coming to be regarded as signs that the grandeur of
Britain was passing. Pitt saw the gloomy situation, and the still
gloomier future which it seemed to prophesy, but he saw also the
remedy. Within a few months, under his direction, English troops were
in every part of the world, and English ships of war were sailing
every ocean, to recover the slipping elements and to solidify the
British Empire. Just as Pitt was taking up his residence at Downing
Street, Robert Clive was winning the Battle of Plassey in India, which
brought to England territory of untold wealth. Two years later James
Wolfe, defeating the French commander, Montcalm, on the Plains of
Abraham, added not only Quebec, but all Canada, to the British Crown,
and ended French rivalry north of the Great Lakes. Victories like
these, seemingly so casual, really as final and as unrevisable as
Fate, might well cause Englishmen to suspect that Destiny itself
worked with them, and that an Englishman could be trusted to endure
through any difficulties to a triumphant conclusion.

Beaten at every point where they met the British, the French, even
after they had secured an alliance with Spain, which proved of little
worth, were glad to make peace. On February 10, 1763, they signed
the Treaty of Paris, which confirmed to the British nearly all their
victories and left England the dominant Power in both hemispheres.
The result of the war produced a marked effect on the people of the
British Colonies in North America. "At no period of time," says Chief
Justice Marshall, in his "Life of Washington," "was the attachment of
the colonists to the mother country more strong, or more general, than
in 1763, when the definitive articles of the treaty which restored
peace to Great Britain, France, and Spain, were signed."[1] But we
who know the sequel perceive that the Seven Years' War not only
strengthened the attachment between the Colonies and the Mother
Country, but that it also made the Colonies aware of their common
interests, and awakened among them mutual friendship, and in a very
brief time their sense of unity prevailed over their temporary
enthusiasm for England. George III, a monarch as headstrong as he was
narrow, with insanity lurking in his mind, succeeded to the throne in
1760, and he seized the first opportunity to get rid of his masterful
Minister, William Pitt. He replaced him with the Earl of Bute, a
Scotchman, and a man of ingenious parts, but with the incurable Tory
habit of insisting that it was still midnight long after the sun was
shining in the forenoon of another day.

[Footnote 1: Marshall: _The Life of George Washington_ (Philadelphia,
1805, 5 vols.), II, 68.]

Before the Treaty was signed and the world had begun to spin in a new
groove, which optimists thought would stretch on forever, an equally
serious change had come to the private life of George Washington. To
the surprise of his friends, who had begun to doubt whether he would
ever get married, he found his life's companion and married her
without delay. The notion seems to have been popular during his
lifetime, and it certainly has continued to later days, that he was
too bashful to feel easy in ladies' society. I find no evidence
for this mistaken idea. Although little has been recorded of the
intimacies of Washington's youth, there are indications of more than
one "flame" and that he was not dull and stockish with the young
women. As early as 1748, we hear of the Low-Land Beauty who had
captivated him, and who is still to be identified. Even earlier, in
his school days, he indulged in writing love verses. But we need not
infer that they were inspired by living damsels or by the Muses.

  "Oh ye Gods why should my poor resistless Heart
  Stand to oppose thy might and power--

         *       *       *       *       *

  "In deluding sleepings let my eyelids close
  That in an enraptured dream I may
  In a rapt lulling sleep and gentle repose
  Possess those joys denied by day."[1]

[Footnote 1: Quoted by Wister, 39.]

Cavour said that it was easier for him to make Italy than to write a
poem: Washington, who was also an honest man, and fully aware of his
limitations, would probably have admitted that he could make the
American Republic more easily than a love song. But he was susceptible
to feminine charms, and we hear of Betsy Fauntleroy, and of a "Mrs.
Meil," and on his return to Mount Vernon, after Braddock's defeat, he
received the following round robin from some of the young ladies at

    Dear Sir,--After thanking Heaven for your safe return I must
    accuse you of great unkindness in refusing us the pleasure of
    seeing you this night. I do assure you nothing but our being
    satisfied that our company would be disagreeable should prevent us
    from trying if our legs would not carry us to Mount Vernon this
    night, but if you will not come to us tomorrow morning very early
    we shall be at Mount Vernon.


Apparently Washington's love affairs were known and talked about among
his group. What promised to be the most serious of his experiences was
with Mary Philipse, of New York, daughter of Frederick Philipse, one
of the richest landowners in that Colony, and sister-in-law of Beverly
Robinson, one of Washington's Virginian friends. Washington was going
to Boston on a characteristic errand. One of the minor officers in
the Regular British Army, which had accompanied Braddock to Virginia,
refused to take orders from Washington, and officers of higher grade
in Virginia Troops, declaring that their commissions were assigned
only by Colonial officials, whereas he had his own from King George.
This led, of course, to insubordination and frequent quarrels. To
put a stop to the wrangling, Washington journeyed to Boston, to have
Governor Shirley, the Commander-in-Chief of the King's Forces in the
Colonies, give a decision upon it. The Governor ruled in favor of
Washington, who then rode back to Virginia. But he spent a week in New
York City in order to see his enchantress, Mary Philipse, and it is
even whispered that he proposed to her and that she refused him. Two
years afterwards she married Lieutenant-Colonel Roger Morris, and
during the Revolution the Morris house was Washington's headquarters;
the Morrises, who were Tories, having fled.

Persons have speculated why it was that so many of the young women
whom Washington took a fancy to, chilled and drew back when it came to
the question of marriage. One very clever writer thinks that perhaps
his nose was inordinately large in his youth, and that that repelled
them. I do not pretend to say. So far as I know, psychologists have
not yet made a sufficiently exact study of the nose as a determining
factor in matrimony, to warrant an opinion from persons who have
made no special study of the subject. The plain fact was that by his
twenty-fifth year, Washington was an unusually presentable young man,
more than six feet tall, broad-shouldered, very strong, slender and
athletic, carefully polite in his manners, a boon companion, though he
talked little, a sound and deliberate thinker; moreover, the part he
had taken in the war with the Indians and the French made him almost
a popular hero, and gave him a preëminent place among the Virginians,
both the young and the old, of that time. The possession of the
estate of Mount Vernon, which he had inherited from his half-brother,
Lawrence, assured to him more than a comfortable fortune, and yet
gossip wondered why he was not married. Thackeray intimates that
Washington was too evidently on the lookout for a rich wife, which, if
true, may account for some of the alleged rebuffs. I do not believe
this assertion, nor do I find evidence for it. Washington was always a
very careful, farseeing person, and no doubt had a clear idea of what
constitutes desirable qualifications in marriage, but I believe he
would have married a poor girl out of the workhouse if he had really
loved her. However, he was not put to that test.

One May day Washington rode off from Mount Vernon to carry despatches
to Williamsburg. He stopped at William's Ferry for dinner with his
friend Major Chamberlayne. At the table was Mrs. Daniel Parke Custis,
who, under her maiden name of Martha Dandridge, was well known
throughout that region for her beauty and sweet disposition. She was
now a widow of twenty-six, with two small children. Her late husband,
Colonel Custis, her elder by fifteen years, had left her a large
estate called White House, and a fortune which made her one of the
richest women in Virginia. From their first introduction, Washington
and she seemed to be mutually attracted. He lingered throughout the
afternoon and evening with her and went on to Williamsburg with his
despatches the next morning. Having finished his business at the
Capitol, he returned to William's Ferry, where he again saw Mrs.
Custis, pressed his suit upon her and was accepted. Characteristic
was it that he should conclude the matter so suddenly; but he had had
marriage in his intentions for many years.

During the summer Washington returned to his military duties and led
a troop to Fort Duquesne. He found the fort partly demolished, and
abandoned by the French; he marched in and took it, and gave it the
name of Fort Pitt, in recognition of the great statesman who had
directed the revival of British prestige. The fort, thus recovered to
English possession, stood on the present site of Pittsburgh. I quote
the following brief letter from Washington to Mrs. Custis, as it is
almost the only note of his to her during their engagement that has
been preserved:

    We have begun our March for the Ohio. A courier is starting for
    Williamsburg, and I embrace the opportunity to send a few words to
    one whose life is now inseparable from mine. Since that happy hour
    when we made our pledges to each other, my thoughts have been
    continually going to you as another Self. That an all powerful
    Providence may keep us both in safety is the prayer of your ever
    faithful and affectionate friend.[1]

[Footnote 1: P.L. Ford, _The True George Washington_, 93.]

Late in that autumn Washington returned for good from his Western
fighting. On January 6, 1759 (Old Style), his marriage to Mrs. Custis
took place in St. Peter's Church, near her home at the White House.
Judging from the fine writing which old historians and new have
devoted to describing it, Virginia had seen few such elegant pageants
as upon that occasion. The grandees in official station and in social
life were all there. Francis Fauquier was, of course, gorgeous in his
Governor's robes but he could not outshine the bridegroom, in blue and
silver with scarlet trimmings, and gold buckles at his knees, with his
imperial physique and carriage. The Reverend Peter Mossum conducted
the Episcopal service, after which the bride drove back with a coach
and six to the White House, while Washington, with other gentlemen,
rode on horseback beside her acting as escort.

The bridal couple spent two or three months at the White House. The
Custis estates were large and in so much need of oversight that if
Washington had not appeared at this time, a bailiff, or manager, would
have had to be hired for them. Henceforth Washington seems to have
added the care of the White House to that of Mount Vernon, and the two
involved a burden which occupied most of his time, for he had retired
from the army. His fellow citizens, however, had elected him a member
of the House of Burgesses, a position he held for many years; going to
Williamsburg every season to attend the sessions of the Assembly.
On his first entrance to take his seat, Mr. Robinson, the Speaker,
welcomed him in Virginia's name, and praised him for his high
achievements. This so embarrassed the modest young member that he was
unable to reply, upon which Speaker Robinson said, "Sit down, Mr.
Washington, your modesty is equal to your valor, and that surpasses
the power of any language that I possess." In all his life, probably,
Washington never heard praise more genuine or more deserved. He had
just passed his twenty-seventh year. In the House of Burgesses he had
the reputation of being the silent member. He never acquired the art
of a debater. He was neither quick at rebuttal nor at repartee, but
so surely did his character impress itself on every one that when he
spoke the Assembly almost took it for granted that he had said the
final word on the subject under discussion. How careful he was to
observe the scope and effects of parliamentary speaking appears from a
letter which he wrote many years later.

Agriculture has always been a particularly fine training-ground
for statesmen. To persons who do not watch it closely, it may seem
monotonous. In reality, while the sum of the conditions of one year
tally closely with those of another, the daily changes and variations
create a variety which must be constantly watched and provided for. A
sudden freshet and unseasonable access of heat or cold, a scourge of
hail, a drought, a murrain among the cattle, call for ingenuity and
for resourcefulness; and for courage, a higher moral quality. Constant
comradeship with Nature seems to beget placidity and quiet assurance.
From using the great natural forces which bring to pass crops and the
seasons, they seem to work in and through him also. The banker, the
broker, even the merchant, lives in a series of whirlwinds, or seems
to be pursuing a mirage or groping his way through a fog. The
farmer, although he be not beyond the range of accident, deals more
continually with causes which regularly produce certain effects. He
knows a rainbow by sight and does not waste his time and money in
chasing it.

No better idea of Washington's activity as a planter can be had than
from his brief and terse journals as an agriculturist. He sets down
day by day what he did and what his slaves and the free employees did
on all parts of his estate. We see him as a regular and punctual man.
He had a moral repugnance to idleness. He himself worked steadily and
he chided the incompetent, the shirkers, and the lazy.

A short experience as landowner convinced him that slave labor was the
least efficient of all. This conviction led him very early to believe
in the emancipation of the slaves. I do not find that sentiment or
abstract ideals moved him to favor emancipation, but his sense of
fitness, his aversion to wastefulness and inefficiency made him
disapprove of a system which rendered industry on a high plane
impossible. Experience only confirmed these convictions of his, and in
his will he ordered that many slaves should be freed after the death
of Mrs. Washington. He was careful to apportion to his slaves the
amount of food they needed in order to keep in health and to work the
required stint. He employed a doctor to look after them in sickness.
He provided clothing for them which he deemed sufficient. I do not
gather that he ever regarded the black man as being essentially made
of the same clay as the white man, the chief difference being the
color of their skin. To Washington, the Slave System seemed bad, not
so much because it represented a debased moral standard, but because
it was economically and socially inadequate. His true character
appears in his making the best of a system which he recognized as most
faulty. Under his management, in a few years, his estate at Mount
Vernon became the model of that kind of plantation in the South.

Whoever desires to understand Washington's life as a planter should
read his diaries with their brief, and one might almost say brusque,
entries from day to day.[1] Washington's care involved not only
bringing the Mount Vernon estate to the highest point of prosperity
by improving the productiveness of its various sections, but also by
buying and annexing new pieces of land. To such a planter as he was,
the ideal was to raise enough food to supply all the persons who lived
or worked on the place, and this he succeeded in doing. His chief
source of income, which provided him with ready money, was the tobacco
crop, which proved to be of uncertain value. By Washington's time the
Virginians had much diminished the amount and delicacy of the tobacco
they raised by the careless methods they employed. They paid little
attention to the rotation of crops, or to manuring, with the result
that the soil was never properly replenished. In his earlier days
Washington shipped his year's product to an agent in Glasgow or in
London, who sold it at the market price and sent him the proceeds. The
process of transportation was sometimes precarious; a leaky ship might
let in enough sea water to damage the tobacco, and there was always
the risk of loss by shipwreck or other accident. Washington sent out
to his brokers a list of things which he desired to pay for out of
the proceeds of the sale, to be sent to him. These lists are most
interesting, as they show us the sort of household utensils and
furniture, the necessaries and the luxuries, and the apparel used in a
mansion like Mount Vernon. We find that he even took care to order a
fashionably dressed doll for little Martha Custis to play with.

[Footnote 1: See for instance in W.C. Ford's edition of _The Writings
of George Washington_, II, 140-69. Diary for 1760, 230-56. Diary for

The care and education of little Martha and her brother, John Parke
Custis, Washington undertook with characteristic thoroughness and
solicitude. He had an instinct for training growing creatures. He
liked to experiment in breeding horses and cattle and the farmyard
animals. He watched the growth of his plantations of trees, and he
was all the more interested in studying the development of mental and
moral capacities in the little children.

In due time a tutor was engaged, and besides the lessons they learned
in their schoolbooks, they were taught both music and dancing. Little
Patsy suffered from epilepsy, and after the prescriptions of the
regular doctors had done no good, her parents turned to a quack named
Evans, who placed on the child's finger an iron ring supposed to have
miraculous virtues, but it brought her no relief, and very suddenly
little Martha Custis died. Washington himself felt the loss of his
unfortunate step-daughter, but he was unflagging in trying to console
the mother, heartbroken at the death of the child.

Jack Custis was given in charge of the Reverend Jonathan Boucher,
an Anglican clergyman, apparently well-meaning, who agreed with
Washington's general view that the boy's training "should make him fit
for more useful purposes than horse-racing." In spite of Washington's
carefully reasoned plans, the youth of the young man prevailed over
the reason of his stepfather. Jack found dogs, horses, and guns, and
consideration of dress more interesting and more important than
his stepfather's theories of education. Washington wrote to Parson
Boucher, the teacher:

    Had he begun, or rather pursued his study of the Greek language,
    I should have thought it no bad acquisition; ... To be acquainted
    with the French Tongue is become a part of polite education;
    and to a man who has the prospect of mixing in a large circle,
    absolutely necessary. Without arithmetic, the common affairs of
    life are not to be managed with success. The study of Geometry,
    and the mathematics (with due regard to the limits of it) is
    equally advantageous. The principles of Philosophy, Moral,
    Natural, etc. I should think a very desirable knowledge for a

[Footnote 1: W.C. Ford, _George Washington_ (1900), I, 136-37.]

There was nothing abstract in young Jack Custis's practical response
to his stepfather's reasoning; he fell in love with Miss Nelly Calvert
and asked her to marry him. Washington was forced to plead with the
young lady that the youth was too young for marriage by several years,
and that he must finish his education. Apparently she acquiesced
without making a scene. She accepted a postponement of the engagement,
and Custis was enrolled among the students of King's College
(subsequently Columbia) in New York City. Even then, his passion for
an education did not develop as his parents hoped. He left the college
in the course of a few months. Throughout John Custis's perversities,
and as long as he lived, Washington's kindness and real affection
never wavered. Although he had now taught himself to practice complete
self-control, he could treat with consideration the young who had it

By nature Washington was a man of business. He wished to see things
grow, not so much for the actual increase in value which that
indicated, as because increase seemed to be a proof of proper methods.
Not content, therefore, with rounding out his holdings at Mount Vernon
and Mrs. Washington's estate at the White House, he sought investment
in the unsettled lands on the Ohio and in Florida, and on the
Mississippi. It proved to be a long time before the advance of
settlement in the latter regions made his investments worth much, and
during the decade after his marriage in 1759, we must think of him
as a man of great energy and calm judgment who was bent not only
on making Mount Vernon a model country place on the outside, but a
civilized home within. In its furnishings and appointments it did not
fall behind the manors of the Virginia men of fashion and of wealth
in that part of the country. Before Washington left the army, he
recognized that his education had been irregular and inadequate, and
he set himself to make good his defects by studying and reading for
himself. There were no public libraries, but some of the gentlemen
made collections of books. They learned of new publications in England
from journals which were few in number and incomplete. Doubtless
advertising went by word of mouth. The lists of things desired which
Washington sent out to his agents, Robert Cary and Company, once a
year or oftener, usually contained the titles of many books, chiefly
on architecture, and he was especially intent on keeping up with new
methods and experiments in farming. Thus, among the orders in May,
1759, among a request for "Desert Glasses and Stand for Sweetmeats
Jellies, etc.; 50 lbs. Spirma Citi Candles; stockings etc.," he asks
for "the newest and most approved Treatise of Agriculture--besides
this, send me a Small piece in Octavo--called a New System of
Agriculture, or a Speedy Way to Grow Rich; Longley's Book of
Gardening; Gibson upon Horses, the latest Edition in Quarto." This
same invoice contains directions for "the Busts--one of Alexander the
Great, another of Charles XII, of Sweden, and a fourth of the King of
Prussia (Frederick the Great); also of Prince Eugene and the Duke of
Marlborough, but somewhat smaller." Do these celebrities represent
Washington's heroes in 1759?

As time went on, his commissions for books were less restricted to
agriculture, and comprised also works on history, biography, and

But although incessant activity devoted to various kinds of work was a
characteristic of Washington's life at Mount Vernon, his attention to
social duties and pleasures was hardly less important. He aimed to be
a country gentleman of influence, and he knew that he could achieve
this only by doing his share of the bountiful hospitality which was
expected of such a personage. Virginia at that time possessed no large
cities or towns with hotels. When the gentry travelled, they put up
overnight at the houses of other gentry, and thus, in spite of very
restricted means of transportation, the inhabitants of one part of the
country exchanged ideas with those of another. In this way also the
members of the upper class circulated among themselves and acquired
a solidarity which otherwise would hardly have been possible. We are
told that Mount Vernon was always full of guests; some of these being
casual strangers travelling through, and others being invited friends
and acquaintances on a visit. There were frequent balls and parties
when neighbors from far and near joined in some entertainment at the
great mansion. There were the hunt balls which Washington himself
particularly enjoyed, hunting being his favorite sport. Fairfax
County, where Mount Vernon lay, and its neighboring counties, Fauquier
and Prince William, abounded in foxes, and the land was not too
difficult for the hunters, who copied as far as possible the dress
and customs of the foxhunters in England. Possibly there might be a
meeting at Mount Vernon of the local politicians. At least once a year
Washington and his wife--"Lady," as the somewhat florid Virginians
called her--went off to Williamsburg to attend the session of the
House of Burgesses. Washington seldom missed going to the horse-races,
one of the chief functions of the year, not only for jockeys and
sporting men, but for the fashionable world of the aristocracy. Thanks
to his carefulness and honesty in keeping his accounts, we have his
own record of the amounts he spent at cards--never large amounts, nor
indicative of the gamester's passion.

Thus Washington passed the first ten years of his married life. A
stranger meeting him at that time might have little suspected that
here was the future founder of a nation, one who would prove himself
the greatest of Americans, if not the greatest of men. But if you had
spent a day with Washington, and watched him at work, or listened to
his few but decisive words, or seen his benign but forcible smile,
you would have said to yourself--"This man is equal to any fate that
destiny may allot to him."



Meanwhile the course of events was leading toward a new and unexpected
goal. Chief Justice Marshall said, as I have quoted, that 1763, the
end of the French-Indian War, marked the greatest friendship and
harmony between the Colonies and England. The reason is plain. In
their incessant struggles with the French and the Indians, the
Colonists had discovered a real champion and protector. That
protector, England, had found that she must really protect the
Colonies unless she was willing to see them fall into the hands of
her rival, France. Putting forth her strength, she crushed France in
America, and remained virtually in control not only of the Colonies
and territory from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, but also of
British America. In these respects the Colonies and the Mother Country
seemed destined to be bound more closely together; but the very spirit
by which Britain had conquered France in America, and France in India,
and had made England paramount throughout the world, prevented the
further fusion, moral, social, and political, of the Colonies with the
Mother Country.

That spirit was the Imperial Spirit, which Plassey and Quebec had
called to life. The narrow Hanoverian King, who now ruled England,
could not himself have devised the British Empire, but when the Empire
crystallized, George III rightly surmised that, however it had come
about, it meant a large increase in power for him. The Colonies and
Dependencies were to be governed like conquered provinces. Evidently,
the Hindus of Bengal could hardly be treated in the same fashion as
were the Colonists of Massachusetts or Virginia. The Bengalese knew
that there was no bond of language or of race between them and their
conquerors, whereas American Colonists knew that they and the British
sprang from the same race and spoke the same language. One of the
first realizations that came to the British Imperialists was that the
ownership of the conquered people or state warranted the conquerors in
enriching themselves from the conquered. But while this might do very
well in India, and be accepted there as a matter of course, it would
be most ill-judged in the American Colonies, for the Colonists were
not a foreign nor a conquered people. They originally held grants of
land from the British Crown, but they had worked that land themselves
and settled the wilderness by their own efforts, and had a right to
whatever they might earn.

The Tory ideals, which took possession of the British Government when
Lord Bute succeeded to William Pitt in power, were soon applied to
England's relations to the American Colonies. The Seven Years' War
left England heavily in debt. She needed larger revenues, and being
now swayed by Imperialism, she easily found reasons for taxing the
Colonies. In 1765 she passed the Stamp Act which caused so much bad
feeling that in less than a year she decided to repeal it, but new
duties on paper, glass, tea, and other commodities were imposed
instead. In the North, Massachusetts took the lead in opposing what
the Colonists regarded as the unconstitutional acts of the Crown. The
patriotic lawyer of Boston, James Otis, shook the Colony with his
eloquence against the illegal encroachments and actual tyranny of the
English. Other popular orators of equal eminence, John and Samuel
Adams and Josiah Quincy, fanned the flames of discontent. Even the
most radical did not yet whisper the terrible word Revolution, or
suggest that they aspired to independence. They simply demanded their
"rights" which the arrogant and testy British Tories had shattered and
were withholding from them. At the outset rebels seldom admit that
their rebellion aims at new acquisitions, but only at the recovery of
the old.

Next to Massachusetts, Virginia was the most vigorous of the Colonies
in protesting against British usurpation of power, which would deprive
them of their liberty. Although Virginia had no capital city like
Boston, in which the chief political leaders might gather and discuss
and plan, and mobs might assemble and equip with physical force the
impulses of popular indignation, the Old Dominion had means, just as
the Highland clans or the Arab tribes had, of keeping in touch with
each other. Patrick Henry, a young Virginia lawyer of sturdy Scotch
descent, by his flaming eloquence was easily first among the spokesmen
of the rights of the Colonists in Virginia. In the "Parsons Cause," a
lawsuit which might have passed quickly into oblivion had he not seen
the vital implications concerned in it, he denied the right of the
King to veto an act of the Virginia Assembly, which had been passed
for the good of the people of Virginia. In the course of the trial
he declared, "Government was a conditional compact between the King,
stipulating protection on the one hand, and the people, stipulating
obedience and support on the other," and he asserted that a violation
of these covenants by either party discharged the other party from its
obligations. Doctrines as outspoken as these uttered in court, whether
right or wrong, indicated that the attorney who uttered them, and the
judge who listened, and the audience who applauded, were not blind
worshippers of the illegal rapacity of the Crown.

Patrick Henry was the most spectacular of the early champions of the
Colonists in Virginia, but many others of them agreed with him. Among
these the weightiest was the silent George Washington. He said little,
but his opinions passed from mouth to mouth, and convinced many. In
1765 he wrote to Francis Dandridge, an uncle of Mrs. Washington:

    The Stamp Act imposed on the colonies by the Parliament of Great
    Britain, engrosses the conversation of the speculative part of the
    colonists, who look upon this unconstitutional method of taxation,
    as a direful attack upon their liberties, and loudly exclaim
    against the violation. What may be the result of this, and of
    some other (I think I may add) ill-judged measures, I will not
    undertake to determine; but this I may venture to affirm, that the
    advantage accruing to the mother country will fall greatly short
    of the expectations of the ministry; for certain it is, that an
    whole substance does already in a manner flow to Great Britain,
    and that whatsoever contributes to lessen our importations must
    be hurtful to their manufacturers. And the eyes of our people,
    already beginning to open, will perceive, that many luxuries,
    which we lavish our substance in Great Britain for, can well be
    dispensed with, whilst the necessaries of life are (mostly) to
    be had within ourselves. This, consequently, will introduce
    frugality, and be a necessary stimulation to industry. If Great
    Britain, therefore, loads her manufacturies with heavy taxes,
    will it not facilitate these measures? They will not compel us, I
    think, to give our money for their exports, whether we will or
    not; and certain I am, none of their traders will part from them
    without a valuable consideration. Where then, is the utility of
    the restrictions? As to the Stamp Act, taken in a single view, one
    and the first bad consequence attending it, I take to be this,
    our courts of judicature must inevitably be shut up; for it
    is impossible, (or next of kin to it), under our present
    circumstances, that the act of Parliament can be complied with,
    were we ever so willing to enforce the execution; for, not to say,
    which alone would be sufficient, that we have not money to pay the
    stamps, there are many other cogent reasons, to prevent it; and if
    a stop be put to our judicial proceedings, I fancy the merchants
    of Great Britain, trading to the colonies, will not be among the
    last to wish for a repeal of it.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, II, 209-10.]

This passage would suffice, were there not many similar which might be
quoted, to prove that Washington was from the start a loyal American.
A legend which circulated during his lifetime, and must have been
fabricated by his enemies, for I find no evidence to support it either
in his letters or in other trustworthy testimony, insinuated that he
was British at heart and threw his lot in with the Colonists only when
war could not be averted. In 1770 the merchants of Philadelphia
drew up an agreement in which they pledged themselves to practise
non-importation of British goods sent to America. Washington's wise
neighbor and friend, George Mason, drafted a plan of association of
similar purport to be laid before the Virginia Burgesses. But Lord
Botetourt, the new Royal Governor, deemed some of these resolutions
dangerous to the prerogative of the King, and dissolved the Assembly.
The Burgesses, however, met at Anthony Hay's house and adopted
Mason's Association. Washington, who was one of the signers of the
Association, wrote to his agents in London: "I am fully determined to
adhere religiously to it."

Five years had now elapsed since the British Tories attempted to fix
on the Colonies the Stamp Act, and although they had withdrawn
that hateful law, the relations between the Mother Country and the
Colonists had not improved. Far from it. The English issued a series
of irritating provisions which convinced the Colonists that the
Government had no real desire to be friendly, and that, on the
contrary, it intended to make no distinction between them and the
other conquered provinces of the Crown. Then and always, the English
forgot that the Colonists were men of their own stock, equally
stubborn in their devotion to principles, and probably more accessible
to scruples of conscience. So they were not likely to be frightened
into subjection. The governing class in England was in a state of mind
which has darkened its judgment more than once; the state of mind
which, when it encounters an obstacle to its plans, regards that
obstacle as an enemy, and remarks in language brutally frank, though
not wholly elegant: "We will lick him first and then decide who is
right." In 1770 King George III, who fretted at all seasons at the
slowness with which he was able to break down the ascendency of the
Whigs, manipulated the Government so as to make Lord North Prime
Minister. Lord North was a servant, one might say a lackey, after
the King's own heart. He abandoned lifelong traditions, principles,
fleeting whims, prejudices even, in order to keep up with the King's
wish of the moment. After Lord North became Prime Minister, the
likelihood of a peaceful settlement between the crown and the Colonies
lessened. He ran ahead of the King in his desire to serve the King's
wishes, and George III, by this time, was wrought up by the persistent
tenacity of the Whigs--he wished them dead, but they would not
die--and he was angered by the insolence of the Colonists who showed
that they would not shrink from forcibly resisting the King's command.
On both sides of the Atlantic a vehement and most enlightening debate
over constitutional and legal fundamentals still went on. Although
the King had packed Parliament, not all the oratory poured out at
Westminster favored the King. On the contrary, the three chief masters
of British eloquence at that time, and in all time--Edmund Burke,
William Pitt, and Charles James Fox--spoke on the side of the
Colonists. Reading the magnificent arguments of Burke to-day, we ask
ourselves how any group in Parliament could have withstood them. But
there comes a moment in every vital discussion when arguments and
logic fail to convince. Passions deeper than logic controlled motives
and actions. The Colonists contended that in proclaiming "no taxation
without representation," they were appealing to a principle of
Anglo-Saxon liberty inherent in their race. When King George, or any
one else, denied this principle, he denied an essential without which
Anglo-Saxon polity could not survive, but neither King George nor Lord
North accepted the premises. If they had condescended to reply at all,
they might have sung the hymn of their successors a hundred years

  "We don't want to fight,
  But by jingo! if we do,
  We've got the men, we've got the ships,
  We've got the money too."

Meanwhile, the Virginia Planter watched the course of events, pursued
his daily business regularly, attended the House of Burgesses when it
was in session, said little, but thought much. He did not break
out into invective or patriotic appeals. No doubt many of his
acquaintances thought him lukewarm in spirit and non-committal; but
persons who knew him well knew what his decision must be. As early as
April 5, 1769, he wrote his friend, George Mason:

    At a time, when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be
    satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American
    freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done
    to avert the stroke, and maintain the liberty, which we have
    derived from our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer
    the purpose effectually, is the point in question.

    That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment, to use a--ms in
    defence of so valuable a blessing, on which all the good and evil
    of life depends, is clearly my opinion. Yet a--ms, I would beg
    leave to add, should be the last resource, the dernier resort.
    Addresses to the throne, and remonstrances to Parliament, we have
    already, it is said, proved the inefficiency of. How far, then,
    their attention to our rights and privileges is to be awakened or
    alarmed, by starving their trade and manufacturers, remains to be

[Footnote 1: Ford, II, 263-64.]

Thus wrote the Silent Member six years before the outbreak of
hostilities, and he did not then display any doubt either of his
patriotism, or of the course which every patriot must take. To his
intimates he spoke with point-blank candor. Years later, George Mason
wrote to him:

    I never forgot your declaration, when I had last the pleasure of
    being at your house in 1768, that you were ready to take your
    musket upon your shoulder whenever your country called upon you.

Some writers point out that Washington excelled rather as a critic of
concrete plans than of constitutional and legal aspects. Perhaps this
is true. Assuredly he had no formal legal training. There were many
other men in Massachusetts, in Virginia, and in some of the other
Colonies, who could and did analyze minutely the Colonists' protest
against taxation without representation, and the British rebuttal
thereof; but Washington's strength lay in his primal wisdom, the
wisdom which is based not on conventions, even though they be laws and
constitutions, but on a knowledge of the ways in which men will react
toward each other in their primitive, natural relations. In this
respect he was one of the wisest among the statesmen.

He does not seem to have joined in such clandestine methods as those
of the Committees of Correspondence, which Samuel Adams and some of
the most radical patriots in the Bay State had organized, but he said
in the Virginia Convention, in 1774: "I will raise one thousand men,
subsist them at my own expense and march myself at their head for the
relief of Boston."[1] The ardor of Washington's offer matched the
increasing anger of the Colonists. Lord North, abetted by the British
Parliament, had continued to exasperate them by passing new bills
which could have produced under the best circumstances only a
comparatively small revenue. One of these imposed a tax on tea. The
Colonists not only refused to buy it, but to have it landed. In Boston
a large crowd gathered and listened to much fiery speech-making.
Suddenly, a body of fifty men disguised as Mohawk Indians rushed
down to the wharves, rowed out to the three vessels in which a large
consignment of tea had been sent across the ocean, hoisted it out of
the holds to the decks and scattered the contents of three hundred and
forty chests in Boston Harbor.

[Footnote 1: _John Adams's Diary_, August 31, 1774, quoting Lynch.]

The Boston Tea Party was as sensational as if it had sprang from
the brain of a Paris Jacobin in the French Revolution. It created
excitement among the American Colonists from Portsmouth to Charleston.
Six more of the Colonies enrolled Committees of Correspondence,
Pennsylvania alone refusing to join. In every quarter American
patriots felt exalted. In England the reverse effects were signalized
with equal vehemence. The Mock Indians were denounced as incendiaries,
and the town meetings were condemned as "nurseries of sedition."
Parliament passed four penal laws, the first of which punished Boston
by transferring its port to Salem and closing its harbor. The second
law suspended the charter of the Province and added several new and
tyrannical powers to the British Governor and to Crown officials.

On September 5, 1774, the first Continental Congress met in
Philadelphia. Except Georgia, every Colony sent delegates to it. The
election of those delegates was in several cases irregular, because
the body which chose them was not the Legislature but some temporary
body of the patriots. Nevertheless, the Congress numbered some of
the men who were actually and have remained in history, the great
engineers of the American Revolution. Samuel Adams and John Adams went
from Massachusetts; John Jay and Philip Livingston from New York;
Roger Sherman from Connecticut; Thomas Mifflin and Edward Biddle from
Pennsylvania; Thomas McKean from Delaware; George Washington, Patrick
Henry, Peyton Randolph, Edmund Pendleton, and Richard H. Lee from
Virginia; and Edward and John Rutledge from South Carolina. Although
the Congress was made up of these men and of others like them, the
petitions adopted by it and the work done, not to mention the freshets
of oratory, were astonishingly mild. Probably many of the delegates
would have preferred to use fiery tongues. Samuel Adams, for instance,
though "prematurely gray, palsied in hand, and trembling in voice,"
must have had difficulty in restraining himself. He wrote as viciously
as he spoke. "Damn that Adams," said one of his enemies. "Every dip of
his pen stings like a horned snake." Patrick Henry, being asked when
he returned home, "Who is the greatest man in Congress," replied: "If
you speak of eloquence, Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina is by far the
greatest orator; but if you speak of solid information and sound
judgment, Colonel Washington is unquestionably the greatest man on
that floor." The rumor had it that Washington said, he wished to God
the Liberties of America were to be determined by a single Combat
between himself and George. One other saying of his at this time is
worth reporting, although it cannot be satisfactorily verified.
"_More blood will be spilled on this occasion_, if the ministry are
determined to push matters to extremity, _than history has ever yet
furnished instances of_ in the annals of North America." The language
and tone of the "Summary View"--a pamphlet which Thomas Jefferson had
issued shortly before--probably chimed with the emotions of most of
the delegates. They adopted (October 14, 1774) the "Declaration
of Rights," which may not have seemed belligerent enough for the
Radicals, but really leaves little unsaid. A week later Congress
agreed to an "Association," an instrument for regulating, by
preventing, trade with the English. Having provided for the assembling
of a second Congress, the first adjourned.

As a symbol, the First Congress has an integral importance in the
growth of American Independence. It marked the first time that the
American Colonies had acted together for their collective interests.
It served notice on King George and Lord North that it repudiated the
claims of the British Parliament to govern the Colonies. It implied
that it would repel by force every attempt of the British to exercise
an authority which the Colonists refused to recognize. In a very real
sense the Congress thus delivered an ultimatum. The winter of 1774/5
saw preparations being pushed on both sides. General Thomas Gage, the
British Commander-in-Chief stationed at Boston, had also thrust upon
him the civil government of that town. He had some five thousand
British troops in Boston, and several men-of-war in the harbor.
There were no overt acts, but the speed with which, on more than one
occasion, large bodies of Colonial farmers assembled and went swinging
through the country to rescue some place, which it was falsely
reported the British were attacking, showed the nervous tension under
which the Americans were living. As the enthusiasm of the Patriots
increased, that of the Loyalists increased also. Among the latter were
many of the rich and aristocratic inhabitants, and, of course, most
of the office-holders. Until the actual outbreak of hostilities they
upheld the King's cause with more chivalry than discretion, and then
they migrated to Nova Scotia and to England, and bore the penalty of
confiscation and the corroding distress of exile. In England during
this winter, Pitt and Burke had defended the Colonies and the Whig
minority had supported them. Even Lord North used conciliatory
suggestions, but with him conciliation meant that the Colonies should
withdraw all their offensive demands and kneel before the Crown in
penitent humiliation before a new understanding could be thought of.

Meanwhile Colonel Washington was in Virginia running his plantations
to the best of his ability and with his mind made up. He wrote to his
friend Bryan Fairfax (July 20, 1774):

    As I see nothing, on the one hand, to induce a belief that the
    Parliament would embrace a favorable opportunity of repealing
    acts, which they go on with great rapidity to pass, and in order
    to enforce their tyrannical system; and on the other, I observe,
    or think I observe, that government is pursuing a regular plan at
    the expense of law and justice to overthrow our constitutional
    rights and liberties, how can I expect any redress from a measure,
    which has been ineffectually tried already? For, Sir, what is it
    we are contending against? Is it against paying the duty of three
    pence per pound on tea because burthensome? No, it is the right
    only, we have all along disputed, and to this end we have already
    petitioned his Majesty in as humble and dutiful manner as subjects
    could do[1]....

    And has not General Gage's conduct since his arrival, (in stopping
    the address of his Council, and publishing a proclamation more
    becoming a Turkish bashaw, than an English governor, declaring it
    treason to associate in any manner by which the commerce of Great
    Britain is to be affected) exhibited an unexampled testimony of
    the most despotic system of tyranny, that ever was practised in
    a free government? In short, what further proofs are wanted to
    satisfy one of the designs of the ministry, than their own acts,
    which are uniform and plainly tending to the same point, nay, if I
    mistake not, avowedly to fix the right of taxation? What hope then
    from petitioning, when they tell us, that now or never is the time
    to fix the matter? Shall we after this, whine and cry for relief,
    when we have already tried it in vain? Or shall we supinely sit
    and see one province after another fall a prey to despotism?[2]

[Footnote 1: Ford, II, 421-22.]

[Footnote 2: _Ibid_., 423-24.]

In the early autumn Washington wrote to Captain Robert MacKenzie, who
was serving in the Regular British Army with Gage at Boston:

    I think I can announce it as a fact, that it is not the wish or
    intent of that government, (Massachusetts) or any other upon this
    continent, separately or collectively, to set up for independence;
    but this you may at the same time rely on, that none of them will
    ever submit to the loss of these valuable rights and privileges,
    which are essential to the happiness of every free state, and
    without which, life, liberty, and property are rendered totally

[Footnote 1: _Ibid_., 443.]

In the following spring the battles of Lexington and Concord, on April
19th, began the war of the American Revolution. A few weeks later, a
Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. The delegates to it,
understanding that they must prepare for war, proceeded to elect
a Commander-in-Chief. There was some jealousy between the men of
Virginia and those of Massachusetts. The former seemed to think that
the latter assumed the first position, and indeed, most of the angry
gestures had been made in Boston, and Boston had been the special
object of British punishment. Still, with what may seem unexpected
self-effacement, they did not press strongly for the choice of a
Massachusetts man as Commander-in-Chief. On June 15, 1775, Congress
having resolved "that a general be appointed to command all the
continental forces raised or to be raised for the defence of American
liberty," proceeded to a choice, and the ballots being taken, George
Washington, Esq., was unanimously elected. On the next day the
President of the Congress, Mr. John Hancock, formally announced the
election to Colonel Washington, who replied:

    Mr. President, though I am truly sensible of the high honor
    done me in this appointment, yet I feel great distress from a
    consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not
    be equal to the extensive and important trust. However, as the
    Congress desire it, I will enter upon the momentous duty and exert
    every power I possess in the service and for the support of the
    glorious cause. I beg they will accept my most cordial thanks for
    this distinguished testimony of their approbation. But lest some
    unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it
    may be remembered by every gentleman in the room, that I this day
    declare with the utmost sincerity I do not think myself equal to
    the command I am honored with.

    As to pay, Sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress, that as no
    pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to accept this
    arduous employment at the expense of my domestic ease and
    happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it. I will keep
    an exact account of my expenses. Those I doubt not they will
    discharge, and that is all I desire.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, II, 477-78-79, 480-81.]

Accompanied by Lee and Schuyler and a brilliant escort, he set forth
on June 21st for Boston. Before they had gone twenty miles a messenger
bringing news of the Battle of Bunker Hill crossed them. "Did the
Militia fight?" Washington asked. On being told that they did, he
said: "Then the liberties of the country are safe." Then he pushed on,
stopping long enough in New York to appoint General Schuyler military
commander of that Colony, and so through Connecticut to the old Bay
State. There, at Cambridge, he found the crowd awaiting him and some
of the Colonial troops. On the edge of the Common, under a large elm
tree broad of spread, he took command of the first American army. It
was the second of July, 1775.



Thus began what seems to us now an impossible war. Although it had
been brooding for ten years, since the Stamp Act, which showed that
the ties of blood and of tradition meant nothing to the British
Tories, now that it had come, the Colonists may well have asked
themselves what it meant. Probably, if the Colonists had taken a poll
on that fine July morning in 1775, not one in five of them would have
admitted that he was going to war to secure Independence, but all
would have protested that they would die if need be to recover their
freedom, the old British freedom, which came down to them from
Runnymede and should not be wrested from them.

A British Tory, at the same time, might have replied: "We fight, we
cannot do less, in order to discipline and punish these wretches who
assume to deny the jurisdiction of the British Crown and to rebel
against the authority of the British Parliament." A few years before,
an English general had boasted that with an army of five thousand
troops he would undertake a march from Canada, through the Colonies,
straight to the Gulf of Mexico. And Colonel George Washington, who had
seen something of the quality of the British regulars, remarked that
with a thousand seasoned Virginians he would engage to block the five
thousand wherever he met them. The test was now to be made.

The first thing that strikes us is the great extent of the field of
war. From the farthest settlements in the northeast, in what is now
Maine, to the border villages in Georgia was about fifteen hundred
miles; but mere distance did not represent the difficulty of the
journey. Between Boston and Baltimore ran a carriage road, not always
kept in good repair. Most of the other stretches had to be traversed
on horseback. The country along the seaboard was generally well
supplied with food, but the supply was nowhere near large enough to
furnish regular permanent subsistence for an army. A lack of munitions
seriously threatened the Colonists' ability to fight at all, but the
discovery of lead in Virginia made good this deficiency until the year
1781, when the lead mine was exhausted.

More important than material concerns, however, was the diversity
in origin and customs among the Colonists themselves. The total
population numbered in 1775 nearly two and one half million souls. Of
these, the slaves formed about 500,000. The three largest Colonies,
Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania contained 900,000
inhabitants, of which a little more than one half were slaves.
Pennsylvania, the third Colony, had a total of 300,000, mostly white,
while South Carolina had 200,000, of whom only 65,000 were white.
Connecticut, on the other hand, had 200,000 with scarcely any blacks.
The result was a very mottled population. The New Englanders had
already begun to practise manufacturing, and they continued to raise
under normal conditions sufficient food for their subsistence. South
of the Mason and Dixon line, however, slave labor prevailed and the
three great staples--tobacco, indigo, and rice--were the principal
crops. Where these did not grow, the natives got along as best they
could on scanty common crops, and by raising a few sheep and hogs. As
the war proceeded, it taught with more and more force the inherent
wastefulness of slave labor in the South. It was inefficient, costly,
and unreliable.

The Battle of Bunker Hill was at once hailed as a Patriot victory,
but the rejoicing was premature, for the Americans had been forced
to retreat, giving up the position they had bravely defended.
Nevertheless, the opinion prevailed that they had won a real victory
by withstanding through many hours of a bloody fight some of the best
of the British regiments.

Washington took command of the American army at Cambridge, he was
faced with the great task of organizing it and of forming a plan
of campaign. The Congress had taken over the charge of the army at
Boston, and the events had so shaped themselves that the first
thing for Washington to do was to drive out the British troops. To
accomplish this he planned to seal up all the entrances into the town
by land so that food could not be smuggled in. The British had a
considerable fleet in Boston Harbor, and they had to rely upon it to
bring provisions and to keep in touch with the world outside.

Washington had his headquarters at the Craigie House in Cambridge,
some half a mile from Harvard Square and the College. He was now
forty-three years old, a man of commanding presence, six feet three
inches tall, broad-shouldered but slender, without any signs of the
stoutness of middle age. His hands and feet were large. His head was
somewhat small. The blue-gray eyes, set rather far apart, looked out
from heavy eyebrows with an expression of attentiveness. The most
marked feature was the nose, which was fairly large and straight and
vigorous. The mouth shut firmly, as it usually does where decision
is the dominant trait. The lips were flat. His color was pale but
healthy, and rarely flushed, even under great provocation.

All that had gone before seemed to be strangely blended in his
appearance. The surveyor lad; the Indian fighter and officer; the
planter; the foxhunter; the Burgess; you could detect them all. But
underlying them all was the permanent Washington, deferent, plain of
speech, direct, yet slow in forming or expressing an opinion. Most
men, after they had been with him awhile, felt a sense of his majesty
grow upon them, a sense that he was made of common flesh like them,
but of something uncommon besides, something very high and very

Washington found that he had sixteen thousand troops under his
command near Boston. Of these two thirds came from Massachusetts, and
Connecticut halved the rest. During July Congress added three thousand
men from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. They lacked everything.
In order to give them some uniformity in dress, Washington suggested
hunting-shirts, which he said "would have a happier tendency to unite
the men and abolish those Provincial Distinctions which lead to
jealousy and dissatisfaction." Among higher officers, jealousy, which
they made no attempt to dissemble or to disguise, was common. Two of
the highest posts went to Englishmen who proved themselves not only
technically unfit, but suspiciously near disloyalty. One of these
was Charles Lee, who thought the major-generalship to which Congress
appointed him beneath his notice; the other was also an Englishman,
Horatio Gates, Adjutant-General. A third, Thomas, when about to retire
in pique, received from Washington the following rebuke:

    In the usual contests of empire and ambition, the conscience of a
    soldier has so little share, that he may very properly insist
    upon his claims of rank, and extend his pretensions even to
    punctilio;--but in such a cause as this, when the object is
    neither glory nor extent of territory, but a defense of all that
    is dear and valuable in private and public life, surely every
    post ought to be deemed honorable in which a man can serve his

[Footnote 1: Ford, _George Washington_, I, 175.]

Besides the complaints which reached Washington from all sides, he had
also to listen to the advice of military amateurs. Some of these had
never been in a battle and knew nothing about warfare except from
reading, but they were not on this account the most taciturn. Many
urged strongly that an expedition be sent against Canada, a design
which Washington opposed. His wisdom was justified when Richard
Montgomery, with about fifteen hundred men, took Montreal--November
12, 1775--and after waiting several weeks formed a junction with
Benedict Arnold near Quebec, which they attacked in a blinding
snowstorm, December 31, 1775. Arnold had marched up the Kennebec River
and through the Maine wilderness with fifteen hundred men, which were
reduced to five hundred before they came into action with Montgomery's
much dwindled force. The commander of Quebec repulsed them and sent
them flying southward as fast as the rigors of the winter and the
difficulties of the wilderness permitted.

By the end of July, meanwhile, Washington had brought something like
order into the undisciplined and untrained masses who formed his
army, but now another lack threatened him: a lack of gunpowder. The
cartridge boxes of his soldiers contained on an average only nine
charges of ball and gunpowder apiece, hardly enough to engage in
battle for more than ten minutes. Washington sent an urgent appeal
to every town, and hearing that a ship at Bermuda had a cargo of
gunpowder, American ships were despatched thither to secure it. In
such straits did the army of the United Colonies go forth to war. By
avoiding battles and other causes for using munitions, they not only
kept their original supply, but added to it as fast as their appeals
were listened to. Washington kept his lines around Boston firm. In the
autumn General Gage was replaced, as British Commander-in-Chief, by
Sir William Howe, whose brother Richard, Lord Howe, became Admiral of
the Fleet. But the Howes knew no way to break the strangle hold of the
Americans. How Washington contrived to create the impression that
he was master of the situation is one of the mysteries of his
campaigning, because, although he had succeeded in making soldiers of
the raw recruits and in enforcing subordination, they were still a
very skittish body. They enlisted for short terms of service, and even
before their term was completed, they began to hanker to go home. This
caused not only inconvenience, but real difficulty. Still, Washington
steadily pushed on, and in March, 1776, by a brilliant manoeuvre at
Dorchester Heights, he secured a position from which his cannons could
bombard every British ship in Boston Harbor. On the 17th of March all
those ships, together with the garrison of eight thousand, and with
two thousand fugitive Loyalists, sailed off to Halifax. Boston has
been free from foreign enemies from that day to this.



Howe's retreat from Boston freed Massachusetts and, indeed, all New
England from British troops. It also gave Washington the clue to his
own next move. He was a real soldier and therefore his instinct told
him that his next objective must be the enemy's army. Accordingly
he prepared to move his own troops to New York. He passed through
Providence, Norwich, and New London, reaching New York on April 13th.
Congress was then sitting in Philadelphia and he was requested to
visit it.

He spent a fortnight during May in Philadelphia where he had
conferences with men of all kinds and seems to have been particularly
impressed, not to say shocked, by the lack of harmony which he
discovered. The members of the Congress, although they were ostensibly
devoting themselves to the common affairs of the United Colonies, were
really intriguing each for the interests of his special colony or
section. Washington thought this an ominous sign, as indeed it was,
for since the moment when he joined the Revolution he threw off all
local affiliation. He did his utmost to perform his duty, clinging as
long as he could to the hope that there would be no final break with
England. Throughout the winter, however, from almost every part of the
country the demands of the Colonists for independence became louder
and more urgent and these he heard repeated and discussed during his
visit to the Congress. On May 31st he wrote his brother John Augustine

    Things have come to that pass now, as to convince us, that we have
    nothing more to expect from the justice of Great Britain; also,
    that she is capable of the most delusive acts; for I am satisfied,
    that no commissioners ever were designed, except Hessians and
    other foreigners; and that the idea was only to deceive and throw
    us off our guard. The first has been too effectually accomplished,
    as many members of Congress, in short, the representation of whole
    provinces, are still feeding themselves upon the dainty food
    of reconciliation; and though they will not allow, that the
    expectation of it has any influence upon their judgment, (with
    respect to their preparations for defence,) it is but too obvious,
    that it has an operation upon every part of their conduct, and is
    a clog to their proceedings. It is not in the nature of things to
    be otherwise; for no man, that entertains a hope of seeing this
    dispute speedily and equitably adjusted by commissioners, will go
    to the same expense and run the same hazards to prepare for the
    worst event, as he who believes that he must conquer, or submit to
    unconditional terms, and its concomitants, such as confiscation,
    hanging, etc. etc.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, iv, 106.]

The Hessians to whom Washington alludes were German mercenaries
hired by the King of England from two or three of the princelings of
Germany. These Hessians turned a dishonest penny by fighting in behalf
of a cause in which they took no immediate interest or even knew what
it was about. During the course of the Revolution there were thirty
thousand Hessians in the British armies in America, and, as their
owners, the German princelings, received £5 apiece for them it was a
profitable arrangement for those phlegmatic, corpulent, and braggart
personages. The Americans complained that the Hessians were brutal and
tricky fighters; but in reality they merely carried out the ideals of
their German Fatherland which remained behind the rest of Europe in
its ideals of what was fitting in war. Being uncivilized, they could
not be expected to follow the practice of civilized warfare.

When Washington returned to his headquarters in New York, he left the
Congress in Philadelphia simmering over the question of Independence.
Almost simultaneously with Washington's return came the British fleet
under Howe, which passed Sandy Hook and sailed up New York Harbor. He
brought an army of twenty-five thousand men. Washington's force was
nominally nineteen thousand men, but it was reduced to not more than
ten thousand by the detachment of several thousand to guard Boston
and of several thousand more to take part in the struggle in Canada,
besides thirty-six hundred sick. The Colonists clung as if by
obsession to their project of capturing Quebec. The death of
Montgomery and the discomfiture of Benedict Arnold, which really gave
a quietus to the success of the expedition, did not suffice to crush
it. Only too evident was it that Quebec could be taken. Canada would
fall permanently into American control, and cease to be a constant
menace and the recruiting ground for new expeditions against the
central Colonies.

August was drawing to a close when the two armies were in a position
to begin fighting. The British, who had originally camped upon Staten
Island where Nature provided them with a shelter from attack, had now
moved across the bay to Long Island. There General Sullivan, having
lost eleven or twelve hundred men, was caught between two fires and
compelled to surrender with the two thousand or more of his army which
remained after the attack of the British. Washington watched the
disaster from Brooklyn, but was unable to detach any regiments to
bring aid to Sullivan, as it now became clear to him that his whole
army on Long Island might easily be cut off. He decided to retreat
from the island. This he did on August 29th, having commandeered every
boat that he could find. He ferried his entire force across to the
New York side with such secrecy and silence that the British did not
notice that they were gone. A heavy fog, which settled over the water
during the night, greatly aided the adventure. The result of
the Battle of Long Island gave the British great exultation and
correspondingly depressed the Americans. On the preceding fourth
of July they had declared their Independence; they were no longer
Colonies but independent States bound together by a common interest.
They felt all the more keenly that in this first battle after their
Independence they should be so ignominiously defeated. They might have
taken much comfort in the thought that had Howe surprised them on
their midnight retreat across the river, he might have captured most
of the American army and probably have ended the war. Washington's
disaster sprang not from his incompetence, but from his inadequate
resources. The British outnumbered him more than two to one and they
had control of the water; an advantage which he could not offset. One
important fact should not be forgotten: New York, both City and State,
had been notoriously Loyalist--that is, pro-British--ever since the
troubles between the Colonists and the British grew angry. Governor
Tryon, the Governor of the State, made no secret of his British
preferences; indeed, they were not preferences at all, but downright
British acts.

Having won the Battle of Long Island, Lord Howe thought the time
favorable for acting in his capacity as a peacemaker, because he had
come over with authority to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the
Colonists' quarrel. He appealed, therefore, to the Congress of
Philadelphia, which appointed a committee of three--Benjamin Franklin,
John Adams, and Edward Rutledge to confer with Lord Howe. The
conference, which exhibited the shrewd quality of John Adams and of
Franklin, the politeness of Rutledge, and the studied urbanity of Lord
Howe, simply showed that there was no common ground on which they
could come to an agreement. The American Commissioners returned to
Philadelphia and Lord Howe to New York City and there were no further
attempts at peacemaking.

Having brought his men to New York, Washington may well have debated
what to do next. The general opinion seemed to be that New York must
be defended at all costs. Whether Washington approved of this plan, I
find it hard to say. Perhaps he felt that if the American army could
hold its own on Manhattan for several weeks, it would be put into
better discipline and prepared either to risk a battle with the
British, or to retreat across the Hudson toward New Jersey. He decided
that for the moment at least he would station his army on the heights
of Harlem. From the house of Colonel Morris, where he made his
headquarters, he wrote on September 4, 1776, to the President of the
Congress: "We are now, as it were, upon the eve of another dissolution
of our army." The term of service of most of the soldiers under
Washington would expire at the end of the year, and he devoted the
greater part of the letter to showing up the evils of the military
system existing in the American army.

    A soldier [he said] reasoned with upon the goodness of the cause
    he is engaged in, and the inestimable rights he is contending
    for, hears you with patience, and acknowledges the truth of your
    observations, but adds that it is of no more importance to him
    than to others. The officer makes you the same reply, with this
    further remark, that his pay will not support him and he cannot
    ruin himself and family to serve his country, when every member of
    the community is equally interested, and benefited by his labors.
    The few, therefore, who act upon principles of disinterestedness,
    comparatively speaking, are no more than a drop in the ocean.

    It becomes evident to me then, that, as this contest is not
    likely to be the work of a day, as the war must be carried on
    systematically, and to do it you must have good officers, there
    are in my judgment no other possible means to obtain them but by
    establishing your army upon a permanent footing and giving your
    officers good pay. This will induce gentlemen and men of character
    to engage; and, till the bulk of your officers is composed of such
    persons as are actuated by principles of honor and a spirit of
    enterprise, you have little to expect from them.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, IV, 440.]

Washington proceeds to argue that the soldiers ought not to be engaged
for a shorter time than the duration of the war, that they ought to
have better pay and the offer of a hundred or a hundred and fifty
acres of land. Officers' pay should be increased in proportion. "Why
a captain in the Continental service should receive no more than five
shillings currency per day for performing the same duties that an
officer of the same rank in the British service receives ten shillings
for, I never could conceive." He further speaks strongly against the
employment of militia--"to place any dependence upon [it] is assuredly
resting upon a broken staff."

Washington wrote thus frankly to the Congress which seems to have read
his doleful reports without really being stimulated, as it ought to
have been, by a determination to remove their causes. Probably the
delegates came to regard the jeremiads as a matter of course and
assumed that Washington would pull through somehow. Very remarkable is
it that the Commander-in-Chief of any army in such a struggle should
have expressed himself as he did, bluntly, in regard to its glaring
imperfections. Doing this, however, he managed to hold the loyalty and
spirit of his men. In the American Civil War, McClellan contrived to
infatuate his troops with the belief that his plans were perfect, and
that only the annoying fact that the Confederate generals planned
better caused him to be defeated; and yet to his obsessed soldiers
defeat under McClellan was more glorious than victory under Lee or
Stonewall Jackson. I take it that Washington's frankness simply
reflected his passion for veracity, which was the cornerstone of his
character. The strangest fact of all was that it did not lessen his
popularity or discourage his troops.

To his intimates Washington wrote with even more unreserve. Thus he
says to Lund Washington (30th September):

    In short, such is my situation that if I were to wish the
    bitterest curse to an enemy on this side of the grave, I should
    put him in my stead with my feelings; and yet I do not know what
    plan of conduct to pursue. I see the impossibility of serving
    with reputation, or doing any essential service to the cause by
    continuing in command, and yet I am told that if I quit the
    command, inevitable ruin will follow from the distraction that
    will ensue. In confidence I tell you that I never was in such an
    unhappy, divided state since I was born. To lose all comfort and
    happiness on the one hand, whilst I am fully persuaded that under
    such a system of management as has been adopted, I cannot have the
    least chance for reputation, nor those allowances made which the
    nature of the case requires; and to be told, on the other, that if
    I leave the service all will be lost, is, at the same time that I
    am bereft of every peaceful moment, distressing to a degree. But I
    will be done with the subject, with the precaution to you that it
    is not a fit one to be publicly known or discussed. If I fall,
    it may not be amiss that these circumstances be known, and
    declaration made in credit to the justice of my character. And
    if the men will stand by me (which by the by I despair of), I am
    resolved not to be forced from this ground while I have life;
    and a few days will determine the point, if the enemy should not
    change their place of operations; for they certainly will not--I
    am sure they ought not--to waste the season that is now fast
    advancing, and must be precious to them.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, IV, 458.]

The British troops almost succeeded in surrounding Washington's force
north of Harlem. Washington retreated to White Plains, where, on
October 28th, the British, after a severe loss, took an outpost
and won what is called the "Battle of White Plains." Henceforward
Washington's movements resembled too painfully those of the proverbial
toad under the harrow; and yet in spite of Lord Howe's efforts to
crush him, he succeeded in escaping into New Jersey with a small
remnant--some six thousand men--of his original army. The year 1776
thus closed in disaster which seemed to be irremediable. It showed
that the British, having awakened to the magnitude of their task, were
able to cope with it. Having a comparatively unlimited sea-power, they
needed only to embark their regiments, with the necessary provisions
and ammunition, on their ships and send them across the Atlantic,
where they were more than a match for the nondescript, undisciplined,
ill-equipped, and often badly nourished Americans. The fact that
at the highest reckoning hardly a half of the American people were
actively in favor of Independence, is too often forgotten. But from
this fact there followed much lukewarmness and inertia in certain
sections. Many persons had too little imagination or were too sordidly
bound by their daily ties to care. As one planter put it: "My business
is to raise tobacco, the rest doesn't concern me."

Over the generally level plains of New Jersey, George Washington
pushed the remnant of the army that remained to him. He had now hardly
five thousand men, but they were the best, most seasoned, and in
many respects the hardiest fighters. In addition to the usual
responsibility of warfare, of feeding his troops, finding quarters
for them, and of directing the line of march, he had to cope with
wholesale desertions and to make desperate efforts to raise money and
to persuade some of those troops, whose term was expiring, to stay on.
His general plan now was to come near enough to the British centre and
to watch its movements. The British had fully twenty-five thousand men
who could be centred at a given point. This centre was now Trenton,
and the objective of the British was so plainly Philadelphia that the
Continental Congress, after voting to remain in permanence there, fled
as quietly as possible to Baltimore. On December 18th Washington wrote
from the camp near the Falls of Trenton to John Augustine Washington:

    If every nerve is not strained to recruit the new army with all
    possible expedition, I think the game is pretty near up, owing,
    in great measure, to the insidious acts of the Enemy, and
    disaffection of the Colonies before mentioned, but principally to
    the accursed policy of short enlistments, and placing too great
    a dependence on the militia, the evil consequences of which were
    foretold fifteen months ago, with a spirit almost Prophetic. ...
    You can form no idea of the perplexity of my situation. No man, I
    believe, ever had a greater choice of difficulties, and less means
    to extricate himself from them. However, under a full persuasion
    of the justice of our cause, I cannot entertain an idea that it
    will finally sink, though it may remain for some time under a

[Footnote 1: Ford, V, 111.]

Washington stood with his forlorn little array on the west bank of
the Delaware above Trenton. He had information that the British had
stretched their line very far and thin to the east of the town.
Separating his forces into three bodies, he commanded one of these
himself, and during the night of Christmas he crossed the river in
boats. The night was stormy and the crossing was much interrupted by
floating cakes of ice; in spite of which he landed his troops safely
on the eastern shore. They had to march nine miles before they reached
Trenton, taking Colonel Rall and his garrison of Hessians by surprise.
More than a thousand surrendered and were quickly carried back over
the river into captivity.

The prestige of the Battle of Trenton was enormous. For the first time
in six months Washington had beaten the superior forces of the British
and beaten them in a fortified town of their own choosing. The result
of the victory was not simply military; it quickly penetrated the
population of New Jersey which had been exasperatingly Loyalist, had
sold the British provisions, and abetted their intrigues. Now the New
Jersey people suddenly bethought them that they might have chosen the
wrong side after all. This feeling was deepened in them a week later
when, at Princeton, Washington suddenly fell upon and routed several
British regiments. By this success he cleared the upper parts of New
Jersey of British troops, who were shut once more within the limits of
New York City and Long Island.

In January, 1777, no man could say that the turning-point in the
American Revolution had been passed. There were still to come long
months, and years even, of doubt and disillusion and suffering; the
agony of Valley Forge; the ignominy of betrayal; and the slowly
gnawing pain of hope deferred. But the fact, if men could have but
seen it, was clear--Trenton and Princeton were prophetic of the
end. And what was even clearer was the supreme importance of George
Washington. Had he been cut off after Princeton or had he been forced
to retire through accident, the Revolution would have slackened, lost
head and direction, and spent itself among thinly parcelled rivulets
without strength to reach the sea. Washington was a Necessary Man.
Without him the struggle would not then have continued. Sooner
or later America would have broken free from England, but he was
indispensable to the liberty and independence of the Colonies then.
This thought brooded over him at all times, not to make him boastful
or imperious, but to impress him with a deeper awe, and to impress
also his men with the supreme importance of his life to them all. They
grew restive when, at Princeton, forgetful of self, he faced a volley
of muskets only thirty feet away. One of his officers wrote after the
Trenton campaign:

    Our army love their General very much, but they have one thing
    against him, which is the little care he takes of himself in any
    action. His personal bravery, and the desire he has of animating
    his troops by example, makes him fearless of danger. This
    occasions us much uneasiness. But Heaven, which has hitherto been
    his shield, I hope will still continue to guard so valuable a

[Footnote 1: Hapgood, 171.]

Robert Morris, who had already achieved a very important position
among the Patriots of New York, wrote to Washington:

    Heaven, no doubt for the noblest purposes, has blessed you with
    a firmness of mind, steadiness of countenance, and patience in
    sufferings, that give you infinite advantages over other men. This
    being the case, you are not to depend on other people's exertions
    being equal to your own. One mind feeds and thrives on misfortunes
    by finding resources to get the better of them; another sinks
    under their weight, thinking it impossible to resist; and, as the
    latter description probably includes the majority of mankind, we
    must be cautious of alarming them.

Washington doubtless thanked Morris for his kind advice about issuing
reports which had some streaks of the rainbow and less truth in them.
He did not easily give up his preference for truth.

    Common prudence [he said] dictates the necessity of duly attending
    to the circumstances of both armies, before the style of
    conquerors is assumed by either; and I am sorry to add, that this
    does not appear to be the case with us; nor is it in my power to
    make Congress fully sensible of the real situation of our affairs,
    and that it is with difficulty (if I may use the expression) that
    I can, by every means in my power, keep the life and soul of this
    army together. In a word, when they are at a distance, they think
    it is but to say, Presto begone, and everything is done. They
    seem not to have any conception of the difficulty and perplexity
    attending those who are to execute.

After the Battle of Princeton, Washington drew his men off to the
Heights of Morristown where he established his winter quarters. The
British had gone still farther toward New York City. Both sides seemed
content to enjoy a comparative truce until spring should come with
better weather; but true to his characteristic of being always
preparing something, Howe had several projects in view, any one of
which might lead to important activity. If ever a war was fought at
long range, that war was the American Revolution. Howe received his
orders from the War Office in London. Every move was laid down; no
allowance was made for the change which unforeseeable contingencies
might render necessary; the young Under-Secretaries who carefully
drew up the instructions in London knew little or nothing about the
American field of operations and simply relied upon the fact that
their callipers showed that it was so many miles between Point X and
Point Y and that the distance should ordinarily be covered in so many

With Washington himself the case was hardly better. There were few
motions that he could make of his own free will. He had to get
authority from the Continental Congress at Philadelphia. The Congress
was not made up of military experts and in many cases it knew nothing
about the questions he asked. The members of the Congress were
talkers, not doers, and they sometimes lost themselves in endless
debate and sometimes they seemed quite to forget the questions
Washington put to them. We find him writing in December to beg them to
reply to the urgent question which he had first asked in the preceding
October. He was scrupulous not to take any step which might seem
dictatorial. The Congress and the people of the country dreaded
military despotism. That dread made them prefer the evil system
of militia and the short-term enlistments to a properly organized
standing army. To their fearful imagination the standing army would
very quickly be followed by the man on horseback and by hopeless

The Olympians in London who controlled the larger issues of war and
peace whispered to the young gentlemen in the War Office to draw up
plans for the invasion, during the summer of 1777, of the lower Hudson
by British troops from Canada. General Burgoyne should march down and
take Ticonderoga and then proceed to Albany. There he could meet a
smaller force under Colonel St. Leger coming from Oswego and following
the Mohawk River. A third army under Sir William Howe could ascend
the Hudson and meet Burgoyne and St. Leger at the general
rendezvous--Albany. It was a brave plan, and when Burgoyne started
with his force of eight thousand men high hopes flushed the British
hearts. These hopes seemed to be confirmed when a month later Burgoyne
took Ticonderoga. The Americans attributed great importance to this
place, an importance which might have been justified at an earlier
time, but which was now really passed, and it proved of little value
to Burgoyne. Pursuing his march southward, he found himself entangled
in the forest and he failed to meet boats which were to ferry him over
the streams.

The military operations during the summer and autumn of 1777 might
well cause the Americans to exult. The British plan of sending three
armies to clear out the forces which guarded or blocked the road from
Canada to the lower Hudson burst like a bubble. The chief contingent
of 8000 men, under General Burgoyne, seems to have strayed from its
route and to have been in need of food. Hearing that there were
supplies at Bennington, Burgoyne turned aside to that place. He
little suspected the mettle of John Stark and of his Green Mountain
volunteers. Their quality was well represented by Stark's address to
his men: "They are ours to-night, or Molly Stark is a widow." He did
not boast. By nightfall he had captured all of Burgoyne's men who were
alive (August 16, 1777).

Only one reverse marred the victories of the summer. This was at
Oriskany in August, 1777. An American force of 400 or 500 men fell
into an ambush, and its leader, General Herkimer, though mortally
wounded, refused to retire, but continued to give directions to the
end. Oriskany was reputed to be the most atrocious fight of the
Revolution. Joseph Brant, the Mohawk chief, led the Indians, who were
allies of the English.

In spite of this, Burgoyne seemed to lose resolution, uncertain
whither to turn. He instinctively groped for a way that would take him
down the Hudson and bring him to Albany, where he was to meet British
reënforcements. But he missed his bearings and found himself near
Saratoga. Here General Gates confronted him with an army larger than
his own in regulars. On October 7th they fought a battle, which the
British technically claimed as a victory, as they were not driven from
their position, but it left them virtually hemmed in without a line
of escape. Burgoyne waited several days irresolute. He hoped that
something favorable to him might turn up. He had a lurking hope that
General Clinton was near by, coming to his rescue. He wavered, gallant
though he was, and would not give the final order of desperation--to
cut their way through the enemy lines. Instead of that he sought a
truce with Gates, and signed the Convention of Saratoga (October
17th), by which he surrendered his army with the honors of war, and it
was stipulated that they should be sent to England by English ships
and paroled against taking any further part in the war.

The victory of Saratoga had much effect on America; it reverberated
through Europe. Only the peculiar nature of the fighting in America
prevented it from being decisive. Washington himself had never dared
to risk a battle which, if he were defeated in it, would render it
impossible for him to continue the war. The British, on the other
hand, spread over much ground, and the destruction of one of their
armies would not necessarily involve the loss of all. So it was
now; Burgoyne's surrender did little to relieve the pressure on
Washington's troops on the Hudson, but it had a vital effect across
the sea.

Since the first year of the war the Americans had hoped to secure a
formal alliance with France against England, and among the French who
favored this scheme there were several persons of importance. Reasons
were easily found to justify such an alliance. The Treaty of Paris in
1763 had dispossessed France of her colonies in America and had left
her inferior to England in other parts of the world. Here was her
chance to take revenge. The new King, Louis XVI, had for Foreign
Minister Count de Vergennes, a diplomat of some experience, who warmly
urged supporting the cause of the American Colonists. He had for
accomplice Beaumarchais, a nimble-witted playwright and seductive man
of the world who talked very persuasively to the young King and many

The Americans on their side had not been inactive, and early in 1776
Silas Deane, a member of Congress from Connecticut, was sent over
to Paris with the mission to do his utmost to cement the friendship
between the American Colonies and France. Deane worked to such good
purpose that by October, 1776, he had sent clothing for twenty
thousand men, muskets for thirty thousand and large quantities of
ammunition. A fictitious French house, which went by the name of
Hortalaz et Cie, acted as agent and carried on the necessary business
from Paris. By this time military adventurers in large numbers began
to flock to America to offer their swords to the rebellious Colonials.
Among them were a few--de Kalb, Pulaski, Steuben, and Kosciuszko--who
did good service for the struggling young rebels, but most of them
were worthless adventurers and marplots.

Almost any American in Paris felt himself authorized to give a letter
of introduction to any Frenchman or other European who wished to try
his fortunes in America. One of the notorious cases was that of a
French officer named Ducoudray, who brought a letter from Deane
purporting to be an agreement that Ducoudray should command the
artillery of the Continental army with the rank and pay of a
major-general. Washington would take no responsibility for this
appointment, which would have displaced General Knox, a hardy veteran,
an indefectible patriot, and Washington's trusted friend. When
the matter was taken up by the Congress, the demand was quickly
disallowed. The absurdity of allowing Silas Deane or any other
American in Paris, no matter how meritorious his own services might
be, to assign to foreigners commissions of high rank in the American
army was too obvious to be debated.

To illustrate the character of Washington's miscellaneous labors in
addition to his usual household care of the force under him, I borrow
a few items from his correspondence. I borrow at random, the time
being October, 1777, when the Commander-in-Chief is moving from place
to place in northern New Jersey, watching the enemy and avoiding an
engagement. A letter comes from Richard Henry Lee, evidently intended
to sound Washington, in regard to the appointment of General Conway to
a high command in the American army. Washington replies with corroding

    [Matuchin Hill, 17 October, 1777.] If there is any truth in
    the report that Congress hath appointed ... Brigadier Conway a
    Major-general in this army, it will be as unfortunate a measure as
    ever was adopted. I may add, (and I think with truth) that it
    will give a fatal blow to the existence of the army. Upon so
    interesting a subject, I must speak plain. The duty I owe my
    country, the ardent desire I have to promote its true interests,
    and justice to individuals, requires this of me. General Conway's
    merit, then, as an officer, and his importance in this army,
    exists more in his imagination, than in reality. For it is a maxim
    with him, to leave no service of his own untold, nor to want
    anything, which is to be obtained by importunity.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, vi, 121.]

It does not appear that Lee fished for letters of introduction for
himself or any of his friends after this experiment. He needed no
further proof that George Washington had the art of sending _complete_

[Footnote 2: For the end of Conway and his cabal see _post_, 112,

On October 25, 1777, desertions being frequent among the officers and
men, Washington issued this circular to Pulaski and Colonels of Horse:

    I am sorry to find that the liberty I granted to the light
    dragoons of impressing horses near the enemy's line has been most
    horribly abused and perverted into a mere plundering scheme.
    I intended nothing more than that the horses belonging to the
    disaffected in the neighborhood of the British Army, should be
    taken for the use of the dismounted dragoons, and expected, that
    they would be regularly reported to the Quartermaster General,
    that an account might be kept of the number and the persons from
    whom they were taken, in order to a future settlement.--Instead of
    this, I am informed that under pretence of the authority derived
    from me, they go about the country plundering whomsoever they are
    pleased to denominate tories, and converting what they get to
    their own private profit and emolument. This is an abuse that
    cannot be tolerated; and as I find the license allowed them, has
    been made a sanction for such mischievous practices, I am under
    the necessity of recalling it altogether. You will therefore
    immediately make it known to your whole corps, that they are not
    under any pretence whatever to meddle with the horses or other
    property of any inhabitant whatever on pain of the severest
    punishment, for they may be assured as far as it depends upon me
    that military execution will attend all those who are caught in
    the like practice hereafter.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, vi, 141.]

One finds nothing ambiguous in this order to Pulaski and the Colonels
of Horse. A more timid commander would have hesitated to speak so
curtly at a time when the officers and men of his army were deserting
at will; but to Washington discipline was discipline, and he would
maintain it, cost what it might, so long as he had ten men ready to
obey him.

Passing over three weeks we find Washington writing from Headquarters
on November 14th to Sir William Howe, the British Commander-in-Chief,
in regard to the maltreatment of prisoners and to proposals of
exchanging officers on parole.

    I must also remonstrate against the maltreatment and confinement
    of our officers--this, I am informed, is not only the case of
    those in Philadelphia, but of many in New York. Whatever plausible
    pretences may be urged to authorize the condition of the former,
    it is certain but few circumstances can arise to justify that of
    the latter. I appeal to you to redress these several wrongs; and
    you will remember, whatever hardships the prisoners with us may be
    subjected to will be chargeable on you. At the same time it is but
    justice to observe, that many of the cruelties exercised towards
    prisoners are said to proceed from the inhumanity of Mr.
    Cunningham, provost-martial, without your knowledge or

[Footnote 1: Ford, vi, 195.]

The letter was sufficiently direct for Sir William to understand it.
If these extracts were multiplied by ten they would represent more
nearly the mass of questions which came daily to Washington for
decision. The decision had usually to be made in haste and always
with the understanding that it would not only settle the question
immediately involved, but it would serve as precedent.

The victory of Saratoga gave a great impetus to the party in France
which wished Louis XVI to come out boldly on the side of the Americans
in their war with the British. The King was persuaded. Vergennes also
secured the coöperation of Spain with France, for Spain had views
against England, and she agreed that if a readjustment of sovereignty
were coming in America, it would be prudent for her to be on hand to
press her own claims. On February 6, 1778, the treaty between France
and America was signed.[1] Long before this, however, a young French
enthusiast who proved to be the most conspicuous of all the foreign
volunteers, the Marquis de Lafayette, had come over with magnificent
promises from Silas Deane. On being told, however, that the Congress
found it impossible to ratify Deane's promises, he modestly requested
to enlist in the army without pay. Washington at once took a fancy to
him and insisted on his being a member of the Commander's family.

[Footnote 1: The treaty was ratified by Congress May 4, 1778.]

While Burgoyne's surrendered army was marching to Boston and
Cambridge, to be shut up as prisoners, Washington was taking into
consideration the best place in which to pass the winter. Several were
suggested, Wilmington, Delaware, and Valley Forge--about twenty-five
miles from Philadelphia--being especially urged upon him. Washington
preferred the latter, chiefly because it was near enough to
Philadelphia to enable him to keep watch on the movements of the
British troops in that city. Valley Forge! One of the names in human
history associated with the maximum of suffering and distress, with
magnificent patience, sacrifice, and glory.

    The surrounding hills were covered with woods and presented an
    inhospitable appearance. The choice was severely criticised, and
    de Kalb described it as a wilderness. But the position was central
    and easily defended. The army arrived there about the middle of
    December, and the erection of huts began. They were built of logs
    and were 14 by 15 feet each. The windows were covered with oiled
    paper, and the openings between the logs were closed with clay.
    The huts were arranged in streets, giving the place the appearance
    of a city. It was the first of the year, however, before they
    were occupied, and previous to that the suffering of the army had
    become great. Although the weather was intensely cold, the men
    were obliged to work at the buildings, with nothing to support
    life but flour unmixed with water, which they baked into cakes at
    the open fires ... the horses died of starvation by hundreds, and
    the men were obliged to haul their own provisions and firewood. As
    straw could not be found to protect the men from the cold ground,
    sickness spread through their quarters with fearful rapidity. "The
    unfortunate soldiers," wrote Lafayette in after years, "they were
    in want of everything; they had neither coats, hats, shirts nor
    shoes; their feet and their legs froze till they became black, and
    it was often necessary to amputate them." ... The army frequently
    remained whole days without provisions, and the patient endurance
    of the soldiers and officers was a miracle which each moment
    served to renew ... while the country around Valley Forge was so
    impoverished by the military operations of the previous summer as
    to make it impossible for it to support the army. The sufferings
    of the latter were chiefly owing to the inefficiency of

[Footnote 1: F.D. Stone, _Struggle for the Delaware_, vi, ch. 5.]

No one felt more keenly than did Washington the horrors, of Valley
Forge. He had not believed in forming such an encampment, and from the
start he denounced the neglect and incompetence of the commissions.
In a letter to the President of the Congress on December 3, 1777, he

    Since the month of July we have had no assistance from the
    quartermaster-general, and to want of assistance from this
    department the commissary-general charges great part of his
    deficiency. To this I am to add, that, notwithstanding it is a
    standing order, and often repeated that the troops shall always
    have two days' provisions by them, that they might be ready at
    any sudden call; yet an opportunity has scarcely ever offered of
    taking an advantage of the enemy, that has not either been totally
    obstructed or greatly impeded, on this account. And this, the
    great and crying evil, is not all. The soap, vinegar, and other
    articles allowed by Congress, we see none of, nor have we seen
    them, I believe, since the Battle of Brandywine. The first,
    indeed, we have now little occasion for; few men having more than
    one shirt, many only the moiety of one, and some none at all. In
    addition to which, as a proof of the little benefit received from
    a clothier-general, and as a further proof of the inability of
    an army, under the circumstances of this, to perform the common
    duties of soldiers, (besides a number of men confined to hospitals
    for want of shoes, and others in farmers' houses on the same
    account,) we have, by a field-return this day made, no less than
    two thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight men now in camp unfit
    for duty, because they are barefoot and otherwise naked. By the
    same return it appears, that our whole strength in Continental
    troops, including the eastern brigades, which have joined us since
    the surrender of General Burgoyne, exclusive of the Maryland
    troops sent to Wilmington, amounts to no more than eight thousand
    two hundred in camp fit for duty; notwithstanding which, and that
    since the 4th instant our numbers fit for duty, from the hardships
    and exposures they have undergone, particularly on account of
    blankets (numbers having been obliged, and still are, to sit
    up all night by fires, instead of taking comfortable rest in a
    natural and common way), have decreased near two thousand men.

    We find gentlemen, without knowing whether the army was really
    going into winter-quarters or not (for I am sure no resolution of
    mine would warrant the Remonstrance), reprobating the measure as
    much as if they thought the soldiers were made of stocks or stones
    and equally insensible of frost and snow; and moreover, as if they
    conceived it easily practicable for an inferior army, under the
    disadvantages I have described ours to be, which are by no
    means exaggerated, to confine a superior one, in all respects
    well-appointed and provided for a winter's campaign within the
    city of Philadelphia, and to cover from depredation and waste the
    States of Pennsylvania and Jersey. But what makes this matter
    still more extraordinary in my eye is, that these very
    gentlemen,--who were well apprized of the nakedness of the troops
    from ocular demonstration, who thought their own soldiers worse
    clad than others, and who advised me near a month ago to postpone
    the execution of a plan I was about to adopt, in consequence of a
    resolve of Congress for seizing clothes, under strong assurances
    that an ample supply would be collected in ten days agreeably to a
    decree of the State (not one article of which, by the by, is yet
    come to hand)--should think a winter's campaign, and the covering
    of these States from the invasion of an enemy, so easy and
    practicable a business. I can assure those gentlemen, that it is a
    much easier and less distressing thing to draw remonstrances in a
    comfortable room by a good fireside, than to occupy a cold, bleak
    hill, and sleep under frost and snow, without clothes or blankets.
    However, although they seem to have little feeling for the naked
    and distressed soldiers, I feel superabundantly for them, and,
    from my soul, I pity those miseries, which it is neither in my
    power to relieve or prevent.

    It is for these reasons, therefore, that I have dwelt upon the
    subject, and it adds not a little to my other difficulties and
    distress to find, that much more is expected of me than is
    possible to be performed, and that upon the ground of safety and
    policy I am obliged to conceal the true state of the army
    from public view, and thereby expose myself to detraction and

[Footnote 1: Ford, VI, 259, 262.]

Mrs. Washington, as was her custom throughout the war, spent part of
the winter with the General. Her brief allusions to Valley Forge would
hardly lead the reader to infer the horrors that nearly ten thousand
American soldiers were suffering.

    "Your Mamma has not yet arrived," Washington writes to Jack
    Custis, "but ...expected every hour. [My aide] Meade set off
    yesterday (as soon as I got notice of her intention) to meet her.
    We are in a dreary kind of place, and uncomfortably provided." And
    of this reunion Mrs. Washington wrote: "I came to this place, some
    time about the first of February when I found the General very
    well, ... in camp in what is called the great valley on the Banks
    of the Schuylkill. Officers and men are chiefly in Hutts, which
    they say is tolerably comfortable; the army are as healthy as
    can be well expected in general. The General's apartment is very
    small; he has had a log cabin built to dine in, which has made our
    quarters much more tolerable than they were at first."[1]

[Footnote 1: P.L. Ford, _The True George Washington_, 99.]

While the Americans languished and died at Valley Forge during the
winter months, Sir William Howe and his troops lived in Philadelphia
not only in great comfort, but in actual luxury. British gold paid out
in cash to the dealers in provisions bought full supplies from one of
the best markets in America. And the people of the place, largely made
up of Loyalists, vied with each other in providing entertainment for
the British army. There were fashionable balls for the officers and
free-and-easy revels for the soldiers. Almost at any time the British
army might have marched out to Valley Forge and dealt a final blow to
Washington's naked and starving troops, but it preferred the good food
and the dissipations of Philadelphia; and so the winter dragged on to

Howe was recalled to England and General Sir Henry Clinton succeeded
him in the command of the British forces. He was one of those
well-upholstered carpet knights who flourished in the British army at
that time, and was even less energetic than Howe. We must remember,
however, that the English officers who came over to fight in America
had had their earlier training in Europe, where conditions were quite
different from those here. Especially was this true of the terrain.
Occasionally a born fighter like Wolfe did his work in a day, but this
was different from spending weeks and months in battleless campaigns.
The Philadelphians arranged a farewell celebration for General Howe
which they called the _Meschianza_, an elaborate pageant, said to be
the most beautiful ever seen in America, after which General Howe and
General Clinton had orders to take their army back to New York. As
much as could be shipped on boats went that way, but the loads that
had to be carried in wagons formed a cavalcade twelve miles long, and
with the attending regiment advanced barely more than two and a half
miles a day. Washington, whose troops entered Philadelphia as soon as
the British marched out, hung on the retreating column and at Monmouth
engaged in a pitched battle, which was on the point of being a
decisive victory for the Americans when, through the blunder
of General Lee, it collapsed. The blunder seemed too obviously
intentional, but Washington appeared in the midst of the mêlée and
urged on the men to retrieve their defeat. This was the battle of
which one of the soldiers said afterwards, "At Monmouth the General
swore like an angel from Heaven." He prevented disaster, but that
could not reconcile him to the loss of the victory which had been
almost within his grasp. Those who witnessed it never forgot
Washington's rage when he met Lee and asked him what he meant and then
ordered him to the rear. Washington prepared to renew the battle on
the following day, but during the night Clinton withdrew his army, and
by daylight was far on his way to the seacoast.

Washington followed up the coast and took up his quarters at White



This month of July, 1778, marked two vital changes in the war. The
first was the transfer by the British of the field of operations to
the South. The second was the introduction of naval warfare through
the coming of the French. The British seemed to desire, from the day
of Concord and Lexington on, to blast every part of the Colonies with
military occupation and battles. After Washington drove them out
of Boston in March, 1776, they left the seaboard, except Newport,
entirely free. Then for nearly three years they gave their chief
attention to New York City and its environs, and to Jersey down to,
and including, Philadelphia. On the whole, except for keeping their
supremacy in New York, they had lost ground steadily, although they
had always been able to put more men than the Americans could match in
the field, so that the Americans always had an uphill fight. Part of
this disadvantage was owing to the fact that the British had a fleet,
often a very large fleet, which could be sent suddenly to distant
points along the seacoast, much to the upsetting of the American

The French Alliance, ratified during the spring, not only gave the
Americans the moral advantage of the support of a great nation, but
actually the support of a powerful fleet. It opened French harbors to
American vessels, especially privateers, which could there take refuge
or fit out. It enabled the Continentals to carry on commerce, which
before the war had been the monopoly of England. Above all it brought
a large friendly fleet to American waters, which might aid the land
forces and must always be an object of anxiety to the British.

Such a fleet was that under Count d'Estaing, who reached the mouth of
Delaware Bay on July 8, 1778, with twelve ships of the line and four
frigates. He then went to New York, but the pilots thought his heavy
draught ships could not cross the bar above Sandy Hook; and so he
sailed off to Newport where a British fleet worsted him and he was
obliged to put into Boston for repairs. Late in the autumn he took up
his station in the West Indies for the winter. This first experiment
of French naval coöperation had not been crowned by victory as the
Americans had hoped, but many of the other advantages which they
expected from the French Alliance did ensue. The opening of the
American ports to the trade of the world, and incidentally the
promotion of American privateering, proved of capital assistance to
the cause itself.

The summer and autumn of 1778 passed uneventfully for Washington and
his army. He was not strong enough to risk any severe fighting, but
wished to be near the enemy's troops to keep close watch on them and
to take advantage of any mistake in their moves. We cannot see how he
could have saved himself if they had attacked him with force. But that
they never made the attempt was probably owing to orders from London
to be as considerate of the Americans as they could; for England in
that year had sent out three Peace Commissioners who bore the most
seductive offers to the Americans. The Government was ready to pledge
that there should never again be an attempt to quell the Colonists by
an army and that they should be virtually self-governing. But while
the Commissioners tried to persuade, very obviously, they did not
receive any official recognition from the Congress or the local
conventions, and when winter approached, they sailed back to England
with their mission utterly unachieved. Rebuffed in their purpose of
ending the war by conciliation, the British now resorted to treachery
and corruption. I do not know whether General Sir Henry Clinton was
more or less of a man of honor than the other high officers in the
British army at that time. We feel instinctively loath to harbor a
suspicion against the honor of these officers; and yet, the truth
demands us to declare that some one among them engaged in the
miserable business of bribing Americans to be traitors. Where the full
guilt lies, we shall never know, but the fact that so many of the
trails lead back to General Clinton gives us a reason for a strong
surmise. We have lists drawn up at British Headquarters of the
Americans who were probably approachable, and the degree of ease with
which it was supposed they could be corrupted. "Ten thousand guineas
and a major-general's commission were the price for which West Point,
with its garrison, stores, and outlying posts, was to be placed in the
hands of the British."[1] The person with whom the British made this
bargain was Benedict Arnold, who had been one of the most efficient of
Washington's generals, and of unquestioned loyalty. Major John André,
one of Clinton's adjutants, served as messenger between Clinton
and Arnold. On one of these errands André, somewhat disguised, was
captured by the Americans and taken before Washington, who ordered a
court-martial at once. Fourteen officers sat on it, including Generals
Greene, Lafayette, and Steuben. In a few hours they brought in a
verdict to the effect that "Major André ought to be considered a spy
from the enemy, and that agreeable to the law and usage of nations,
it is their opinion he ought to suffer death." [2] Throughout the
proceedings André behaved with great dignity. He was a young man
of sympathetic nature. Old Steuben, familiar with the usage in the
Prussian army, said: "It is not possible to save him. He put us to no
proof, but a premeditated design to deceive."[3]

[Footnote 1: Channing, III, 305.]

[Footnote 2: Channing, III, 307.]

[Footnote 3: _Ibid_., 307.]

He was sentenced to death by hanging--the doom of traitors. He did
not fear to die, but that doom repelled him and he begged to be shot
instead. Washington, however, in view of his great crime and as a
most necessary example in that crisis, firmly refused to commute the
sentence. So, on the second of October, 1780, André was hanged.

This is an appropriate place to refer briefly to one of the most
trying features of Washington's career as Commander-in-Chief. From
very early in the war jealousy inspired some of his associates with a
desire to have him displaced. He was too conspicuously the very head
and front of the American cause. Some men, doubtless open to dishonest
suggestions, wished to get rid of him in order that they might carry
on their treasonable conspiracy with greater ease and with a better
chance of success. Others bluntly coveted his position. Perhaps some
of them really thought that he was pursuing wrong methods or policy.
However it may be, few commanders-in-chief in history have had to
suffer more than Washington did from malice and faction.

The most serious of the plots against him was the so-called Conway
Cabal, whose head was Thomas Conway, an Irishman who had served in the
French army and had come over early in the war to the Colonies to make
his way as a soldier of fortune. He seems to have been one of the
typical Irishmen who had no sense of truth, who was talkative and
boastful, and a mirthful companion. It happened that Washington
received a letter from one of his friends which drew from him the
following note to Brigadier-General Conway:

    A letter, which I received last night, contained the following

    "In a letter from General Conway to General Gates he says, 'Heaven
    has been determined to save your country, or a weak General and
    bad counsellors would have ruined it.'"[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, vi, 180.]

It was characteristic of Washington that he should tell Conway at once
that he knew of the latter's machinations. Nevertheless Washington
took no open step against him. The situation of the army at Valley
Forge was then so desperately bad that he did not wish to make it
worse, perhaps, by interjecting into it what might be considered a
matter personal to himself. In the Congress also there were members
who belonged to the Conway Cabal, and although it was generally known
that Washington did not trust him, Congress raised his rank to that of
Major-General and appointed him Inspector-General to the Army. On this
Conway wrote to Washington: "If my appointment is productive of any
inconvenience, or otherwise disagreeable to your Excellency, as I
neither applied nor solicited for this place, I am very ready to
return to France." The spice of this letter consists in the fact that
Conway's disavowal was a plain lie; for he had been soliciting for the
appointment "with forwardness," says Mr. Ford, "almost amounting to
impudence." Conway did not enjoy his new position long. Being wounded
in a duel with an American officer, and thinking that he was going to
die, he wrote to Washington: "My career will soon be over, therefore
justice and truth prompt me to declare my last sentiments. You are
in my eyes the great and good man. May you long enjoy the love,
veneration, and esteem of these states, whose liberties you have
asserted by your virtues."[1] But he did not die of his wound, and in
a few months he left for France. After his departure the cabal, of
which he seemed to be the centre, died.

[Footnote 1: Sparks, 254.]

The story of this cabal is still shrouded in mystery. Whoever had the
original papers either destroyed them or left them with some one who
deposited them in a secret place where they have been forgotten.
Persons of importance, perhaps of even greater importance than some of
those who are known, would naturally do their utmost to prevent being
found out.

Two other enemies of Washington had unsavory reputations in their
dealings with him. One of these was General Horatio Gates, who was
known as ambitious to be made head of the American army in place
of Washington. Gates won the Battle of Saratoga at which Burgoyne
surrendered his British army. Washington at that time was struggling
to keep his army in the Highlands, where he could watch the other
British forces. It was easy for any one to make the remark that
Washington had not won a battle for many months, whereas Gates was
the hero of the chief victory thus far achieved by the Americans.
The shallow might think as they chose, however: the backbone of the
country stood by Washington, and the trouble between him and Gates
came to no further outbreak.

The third intriguer was General Charles Lee, who, like Gates, was
an Englishman, and had served under General Braddock, being in the
disaster of Fort Duquesne. When the Revolution broke out, he took
sides with the Americans, and being a glib and forth-putting person he
talked himself into the repute of being a great general. The Americans
proudly gave him a very high commission, in which he stood second to
Washington, the Commander-in-Chief. But being taken prisoner by the
British, he had no opportunity of displaying his military talents for
more than two years. Then, when Washington was pursuing the enemy
across Jersey, Lee demanded as his right to lead the foremost
division. At Monmouth he was given the post of honor and he attacked
with such good effect that he had already begun to beat the British
division opposed to him when he suddenly gave strange orders which
threw his men into confusion.

Lafayette, who was not far away, noticed the disorder, rode up to Lee
and remarked that the time seemed to be favorable for cutting off a
squadron of the British troops. To this Lee replied: "Sir, you do not
know the British soldiers; we cannot stand against them; we shall
certainly be driven back at first, and we must be cautious."[1]
Washington himself had by this time perceived that something was wrong
and galloped up to Lee in a towering passion. He addressed him words
which, so far as I know, no historian has reported, not because there
was any ambiguity in them, and Lee's line was sufficiently re-formed
to save the day. Lee, however, smarted under the torrent of reproof,
as well he might. The next day he wrote Washington a very insulting
letter. Washington replied still more hotly. Lee demanded a
court-martial and was placed under arrest on three charges: "First,
disobedience of orders in not attacking the enemy agreeably to
repeated instructions; secondly, misbehavior before the enemy, in
making an unnecessary, disorderly and shameful retreat; thirdly,
disrespect to the Commander-in-Chief in two letters written after the
action."[2] By the ruling of the court all the charges against General
Lee were sustained with the exception that the word "shameful" was
omitted. Lee left the army, retired to Philadelphia, and died before
the end of the Revolution. General Mifflin, another conspicuous member
of the cabal, resigned at the end of the year, December, 1777. So the
traducers of Washington were punished by the reactions of their own

[Footnote 1: Sparks, 275, note 1.]

[Footnote 2: Sparks, 278. Sparks tells the story that when Washington
administered the oath of allegiance to his troops at Valley Forge,
soon after Lee had rejoined the army, the generals, standing together,
held a Bible. But Lee deliberately withdrew his hand twice. Washington
asked why he hesitated. He replied, "As to King George, I am ready
enough to absolve myself from all allegiance to him, but I have some
scruples about the Prince of Wales." (Ibid., 278.)]

That the malicious hostility of his enemies really troubled
Washington, such a letter as the following from him to President
Laurens of the Congress well indicates. He says:

    I cannot sufficiently express the obligation I feel to you, for
    your friendship and politeness upon an occasion in which I am so
    deeply interested. I was not unapprized that a malignant faction
    had been for some time forming to my prejudice; which, conscious
    as I am of having ever done all in my power to answer the
    important purposes of the trust reposed in me, could not but give
    me some pain on a personal account. But my chief concern arises
    from an apprehension of the dangerous consequences, which
    intestine dissensions may produce to the common cause.

    As I have no other view than to promote the public good, and
    am unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my
    country, I would not desire in the least degree to suppress a free
    spirit of inquiry into any part of my conduct, that even faction
    itself may deem reprehensible. The anonymous paper handed to you
    exhibits many serious charges, and it is my wish that it should
    be submitted to Congress. This I am the more inclined to
    the suppression or concealment may possibly involve you in
    embarrassments hereafter, since it is uncertain how many or who
    may be privy to the contents.

    My enemies take an ungenerous advantage of me. They know the
    delicacy of my situation, and that motives of policy deprive me
    of the defence, I might otherwise make against their insidious
    attacks. They know I cannot combat their insinuations, however
    injurious, without disclosing secrets, which it is of the utmost
    moment to conceal. But why should I expect to be exempt from
    censure, the unfailing lot of an elevated station? Merit and
    talents, with which I can have no pretensions of rivalship, have
    ever been subject to it. My heart tells me, that it has been my
    unremitted aim to do the best that circumstances would permit; yet
    I may have been very often mistaken in my judgment of the means,
    and may in many instances deserve the imputation of error. (Valley
    Forge, 31 January, 1778.)[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, vi, 353.]

Such was the sort of explanation which was wrung from the Silent Man
when he explained to an intimate the secrets of his heart.

To estimate the harassing burden of these plots we must bear in mind
that, while Washington had to suffer them in silence, he had also to
deal every day with the Congress and with an army which, at Valley
Forge, was dying slowly of cold and starvation. There was literally no
direction from which he could expect help; he must hold out as long as
he could and keep from the dwindling, disabled army the fact that some
day they would wake up to learn that the last crumb had been eaten
and that death only remained for them. On one occasion, after he had
visited Philadelphia and had seen the Congress in action, he unbosomed
himself about it in a letter which contained these terrible words:

    If I was to be called upon to draw a picture of the times and of
    men, from what I have seen, and heard, and in part know, I should
    in one word say that idleness, dissipation and extravagance
    seems to have laid fast hold of most of them. That
    speculation--peculation--and an insatiable thirst for riches seems
    to have got the better of every other consideration and almost of
    every order of men. That party disputes and personal quarrels are
    the great business of the day whilst the momentous concerns of an
    empire--a great and accumulated debt--ruined finances--depreciated
    money--and want of credit (which in their consequences is the want
    of everything) are but secondary considerations, and postponed
    from day to day--from week to week as if our affairs wear the
    most-promising aspect.

The events of 1778 made a lasting impression on King George III.
The alliance of France with the Americans created a sort of reflex
patriotism which the Government did what it could to foster. British
Imperialism flamed forth as an ideal, one whose purposes must be to
crush the French. The most remarkable episode was the return of the
Earl of Chatham, much broken and in precarious health, to the King's
fold. To the venerable statesman the thought that any one with British
blood in his veins should stand by rebels of British blood, or by
their French allies, was a cause of rage. On April 7, 1778, the great
Chatham appeared in the House of Lords and spoke for Imperialism and
against the Americans and French. There was a sudden stop in his
speaking, and a moment later, confusion, as he fell in a fit. He never
spoke there again, and though he was hurried home and cared for by the
doctors as best they could, he died on the eleventh of May. At the
end he reverted to the dominant ideal of his life--the supremacy of
England. So his chief rival in Parliament, Edmund Burke, who shocked
more than half of England by seeming to approve the nascent French
Revolution, died execrating it.

The failure of the Commission on Reconciliation to get even an
official hearing in America further depressed George III, and there
seemed to have flitted through his unsound mind more and more frequent
premonitions that England might not win after all. Having made
friendly overtures, which were rejected, he now planned to be more
savage than ever. In 1779 the American privateers won many victories
which gave them a reputation out of proportion to the importance of
the battles they fought, or the prizes they took. Chief among the
commanders of these vessels was a Scotchman, John Paul Jones, who
sailed the Bonhomme Richard and with two companion ships attacked the
Serapis and the Scarborough, convoying a company of merchantmen off
Flamborough Head. Night fell, darkness came, the Bonhomme Richard and
the Serapis kept up bombarding each other at short range. During a
brief pause, Pearson, the British captain, called out, "Have you
struck your colors?" at which Jones shouted back, "I have not yet
begun to fight." Before morning the Serapis surrendered and in the
forenoon the victorious Bonhomme Richard sank. Europe rang with the
exploit; not merely those easily thrilled by a spectacular engagement,
but those who looked deeper began to ask themselves whether the naval
power that must be reckoned with was not rising in the West.

Meanwhile, Washington kept his uncertain army near New York. The city
swarmed with Loyalists, who at one time boasted of having a volunteer
organization larger than Washington's army. These later years seem
to have been the hey-day of the Loyalists in most of the Colonies,
although the Patriots passed severe laws against them, sequestrating
their property and even banishing them. In places like New York, where
General Clinton maintained a refuge, they stayed on, hoping, as they
had done for several years, that the war would soon be over and the
King's authority restored.

In the South there were several minor fights, in which now the British
and now the Americans triumphed. At the end of December, 1779, Clinton
and Cornwallis with nearly eight thousand men went down to South
Carolina intending to reduce that State to submission. One of
Washington's lieutenants, General Lincoln, ill-advisedly thought that
he could defend Charleston. But as soon as the enemy were ready, they
pressed upon him hard and he surrendered. The year ended in gloom. The
British were virtually masters in the Carolinas and in Georgia. The
people of those States felt that they had been abandoned by the
Congress and that they were cut off from relations with the Northern
States. The glamour of glory at sea which had brightened them all
the year before had vanished. John Paul Jones might win a striking
sea-fight, but there was no navy, nor ships enough to transport troops
down to the Southern waters where they might have turned the tide
of battle on shore. During the winter the British continued their
marauding in the South. For lack of troops Washington was obliged
to stay in his quarters near New York and feel the irksomeness of
inactivity. General Nathanael Greene, a very energetic officer, next
indeed to Washington himself in general estimation, commanded in
the South. At the Cowpens (January 17, 1781) one of his
lieutenants--Morgan, a guerilla leader--killed or captured nearly all
of Tarleton's men, who formed a specially crack regiment. A little
later Washington marched southward to Virginia, hoping to coöperate
with the French fleet under Rochambeau and to capture Benedict Arnold,
now a British Major-General, who was doing much damage in Virginia.
Arnold was too wary to be caught. Cornwallis, the second in command of
the British forces, pursued Lafayette up and down Virginia. Clinton,
the British Commander-in-Chief, began to feel nervous for the
safety of New York and wished to detach some of his forces thither.
Cornwallis led his army into Yorktown and proceeded to fortify it, so
that it might resist a siege. Now at last Washington felt that he
had the enemy's army within his grasp. Sixteen thousand American and
French troops were brought down from the North to furnish the fighting
arm he required.

Yorktown lay on the south shore of the York River, an estuary of
Chesapeake Bay. On the opposite side the little town of Gloucester
projected into the river. In Yorktown itself the English had thrown up
two redoubts and had drawn some lines of wall. The French kept up an
unremitting cannonade, but it became evident that the redoubts must be
taken in order to subdue the place. Washington, much excited, took his
place in the central battery along with Generals Knox and Lincoln and
their staff. Those about him recognized the peril he was in, and one
of his adjutants called his attention to the fact that the place was
much exposed. "If you think so," said he, "you are at liberty to
step back." Shortly afterward a musket ball struck the cannon in the
embrasure and rolled on till it fell at his feet. General Knox took
him by the arm. "My dear General," he exclaimed, "we can't spare you
yet." "It is a spent ball," Washington rejoined calmly; "no harm is
done." When the redoubts were taken, he drew a long breath and said to
Knox: "The work is done, and well done."[1] Lord Cornwallis saw that
his position was desperate, if not hopeless. And on October 16th
he made a plucky attempt to retard the final blow, but he did not
succeed. That evening he thought of undertaking a last chance. He
would cross the York River in flatboats, land at Gloucester, and march
up the country through Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Any one who knew the actual state of that region understood that
Cornwallis's plan was crazy; but it is to be judged as the last
gallantry of a brave man. During the night he put forth on his
flatboats, which were driven out of their course and much dispersed by
untoward winds. They had to return to Yorktown by morning, and at ten
o'clock Cornwallis ordered that a parley should be beaten. Then he
despatched a flag of truce with a letter to Washington proposing
cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours. Washington knew that
British ships were on their way from New York to bring relief and he
did not wish to grant so much delay. He, therefore, proposed that the
formal British terms should be sent to him in writing; upon which he
would agree to a two hours' truce. It was the morning of the 10th of
October that the final arrangement was made. Washington, on horseback,
attended by his staff, headed the American line. His troops, in
worn-out uniforms, but looking happy and victorious, were massed near
him. Count Rochambeau, with his suite, held place on the left of the
road, the French troops all well-uniformed and equipped; and they
marched on the field with a military band playing--the first time, it
was said, that this had been known in America. "About two o'clock the
garrison sallied forth and passed through with shouldered arms, slow
and solemn steps, colors cased, and drums beating a British march."[2]
General O'Hara, who led them, rode up to Washington and apologized for
the absence of Lord Cornwallis, who was indisposed. Washington pointed
O'Hara to General Lincoln, who was to receive the submission of the
garrison. They were marched off to a neighboring field where they
showed a sullen and dispirited demeanor and grounded their arms so
noisily and carelessly that General Lincoln had to reprove them.

[Footnote 1: Irving, iv, 378.]

[Footnote 2: Irving, iv, 383.]

With little delay Washington went back to the North with his army,
expecting to see the first fruits of the capitulation. There were
nearly seventeen thousand Allied troops at Yorktown of whom three
thousand were militia of Virginia. The British force under Cornwallis
numbered less than eight thousand men.

Months were required before the truce between the two belligerents
resulted in peace. But the people of America hailed the news of
Yorktown as the end of the war. They had hardly admitted to themselves
the gravity of the task while the war lasted, and being now
relieved of immediate danger, they gave themselves up to surprising
insouciance. A few among them who thought deeply, Washington above
all, feared that the British might indulge in some surprise which they
would find it hard to repel.

But the American Revolution was indeed ended, and the American
Colonies of 1775 were indeed independent and free. Even in the brief
outline of the course of events which I have given, it must appear
that the American Revolution was almost the most hare-brained
enterprise in history. After the first days of Lexington and Concord,
when the farmers and country-folk rushed to the centres to check
the British invaders, the British had almost continuously a large
advantage in position and in number of troops. And in those early days
the Colonists fought, not for Independence, but for the traditional
rights which the British Crown threatened to take from them. Now they
had their freedom, but what a freedom! There were thirteen unrelated
political communities bound together now only by the fact of having
been united in their common struggle against England. Each had adopted
a separate constitution, and the constitutions were not uniform nor
was there any central unifying power to which they all looked up and
obeyed. The vicissitudes of the war, which had been fought over the
region of twelve hundred miles of coast, had proved the repellent
differences of the various districts. The slave-breeder and the
slave-owner of Virginia and the States of the South had little in
common with the gnarled descendants of the later Puritans in New
England. What principle could be found to knit them together? The war
had at least the advantage of bringing home to all of them the evils
of war which they all instinctively desired to escape. The numbers of
the disaffected, particularly of the Loyalists who openly sided with
the King and with the British Government, were much larger than we
generally suppose, and they not only gave much direct help and comfort
to the enemy, but also much indirect and insidious aid. In the great
cities like New York and Philadelphia they numbered perhaps two fifths
of the total population, and, as they were usually the rich and
influential people, they counted for more than their showing in the
census. How could they ever be unified in the American Republic? How
many of them, like the traitorous General Charles Lee, would confess
that, although they were willing to pass by George III as King, they
still felt devotion and loyalty to the Prince of Wales?

Some of those who had leaned toward Loyalism, to be on what they
supposed would prove the winning side, quickly forgot their lapse and
were very enthusiastic in acclaiming the Patriotic victory. Those
Irreconcilables who had not already fled did so at once, leaving their
property behind them to be confiscated by the Government. On only one
point did there seem to be unanimity and accord. That was that the
dogged prosecution of the war and the ultimate victory must be
credited to George Washington. Others had fought valiantly and endured
hardships and fatigues and gnawing suspense, but without him, who
never wavered, they could not have gone on. He had among them some
able lieutenants, but not one who, had he himself fallen out of the
command by wound or sickness for a month, could have taken his place.
The people knew this and they now paid him in honor and gratitude for
what he had done for them. If there were any members of the old cabal,
any envious rivals, they either held their peace or spoke in whispers.
The masses were not yet weary of hearing Aristides called the Just.



Nearly two years elapsed before the real settlement of the war. The
English held New York City, Charleston, and Savannah, the strong
garrisons. It seemed likely that they would have been glad to arrange
the terms of peace sooner, but there was much inner turmoil at home.
The men who, through thick and thin, had abetted the King in one plan
after another to fight to the last ditch had nothing more to propose.
Lord North, when he heard of the surrender of Yorktown, almost
shrieked, "My God! It is all over; it is all over!" and was plunged in
gloom. A new ministry had to be formed. Lord North had been succeeded
by Rockingham, who died in July, 1782, and was followed by Shelburne,
supposed to be rather liberal, but to share King George's desire to
keep down the Whigs. Negotiations over the terms of peace were carried
on with varying fortune for more than a year. John Adams, John Jay,
and Benjamin Franklin were the American Peace Commissioners. The
preliminaries between Great Britain and America were signed on
December 30, 1782, and with France and Spain nearly two months
later. The Dutch held out still longer into 1783. Washington, at his
Headquarters in Newburgh, New York, had been awaiting the news of
peace, not lazily, but planning for a new campaign and meditating upon
the various projects which might be undertaken. To him the news of the
actual signing of the treaty came at the end of March. He replied at
once to Theodorick Bland; a letter which gave his general views
in regard to the needs and rights of the army before it should be

    It is now the bounden duty of every one to make the blessings
    thereof as diffusive as possible. Nothing would so effectually
    bring this to pass as the removal of those local prejudices which
    intrude upon and embarrass that great line of policy which alone
    can make us a free, happy and powerful People. Unless our Union
    can be fixed upon such a basis as to accomplish these, certain
    I am we have toiled, bled and spent our treasure to very little

    We have now a National character to establish, and it is of the
    utmost importance to stamp favorable impressions upon it; let
    justice be then one of its characteristics, and gratitude another.
    Public creditors of every denomination will be comprehended in the
    first; the Army in a particular manner will have a claim to the
    latter; to say that no distinction can be made between the claims
    of public creditors is to declare that there is no difference in
    circumstances; or that the services of all men are equally alike.
    This Army is of near eight years' standing, six of which they have
    spent in the Field without any other shelter from the inclemency
    of the seasons than Tents, or such Houses as they could build for
    themselves without expense to the public. They have encountered
    hunger, cold and nakedness. They have fought many Battles and bled
    freely. They have lived without pay and in consequence of it,
    officers as well as men have subsisted upon their Rations.

    They have often, very often, been reduced to the necessity of
    eating Salt Porke, or Beef not for a day, or a week only but
    months together without Vegetables or money to buy them; or a
    cloth to wipe on.

    Many of them do better, and to dress as Officers have contracted
    heavy debts or spent their patrimonies. The first see the Doors of
    gaols open to receive them, whilst those of the latter are shut
    against them. Is there no discrimination then--no extra exertion
    to be made in favor of men in these peculiar circumstances, in the
    event of their military dissolution? Or, if no worse cometh of it,
    are they to be turned adrift soured and discontented, complaining
    of the ingratitude of their Country, and under the influence of
    these passions to become fit subjects for unfavorable impressions,
    and unhappy dissentions? For permit me to add, tho every man in
    the Army feels his distress--it is not every one that will reason
    to the cause of it.

    I would not from the observations here made, be understood to mean
    that Congress should (because I know they cannot, nor does
    the army expect it) pay the full arrearages due to them till
    Continental or State funds are established for the purpose. They
    would, from what I can learn, go home contented--nay--_thankful_
    to receive what I have mentioned in a more public letter of this
    date, and in the manner there expressed. And surely this may be
    effected with proper exertions. Or what possibility was there of
    keeping the army together, if the war had continued, when the
    victualls, clothing, and other expenses of it were to have been
    added? Another thing, Sir, (as I mean to be frank and free in my
    communications on this subject,) I will not conceal from you--it
    is the dissimilarity in the payments to men in Civil and Military
    life. The first receive everything--the others get nothing but
    bare subsistence--they ask what this is owing to? and reasons have
    been assigned, which, say they, amount to this--that men in Civil
    life have stronger passions and better pretensions to indulge
    them, or less virtue and regard for their Country than
    us,--otherwise, as we are all contending for the same prize and
    equally interested in the attainment of it, why do we not bear the
    burthen equally?[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, X, 203.]

The army was indeed the incubus of the Americans. They could not fight
the war without it, but they had never succeeded in mastering the
difficulties of maintaining and strengthening it. The system of a
standing army was of course not to be thought of, and the uncertain
recruits who took its place were mostly undisciplined and unreliable.
When the exigencies became pressing, a new method was resorted to, and
then the usual erosion of life in the field, the losses by casualties
and sickness, caused the numbers to dwindle. Long ago the paymaster
had ceased to pretend to pay off the men regularly so that there was
now a large amount of back pay due them. Largely through Washington's
patriotic exhortations had they kept fighting to the end; and, with
peace upon them, they did not dare to disband because they feared
that, if they left before they were paid, they would never be paid.
Washington felt that, if thousands of discontented and even angry
soldiers were allowed to go back to their homes without the means of
taking up any work or business, great harm would be done. The love of
country, which he believed to be most important to inculcate, would
not only be checked but perverted. They already had too many reasons
to feel aggrieved. Why should they, the men who risked their lives
in battle and actually had starved or frozen in winter quarters, go
unpaid, whereas every civilian who had a post under the Government
lived at least safely and healthily and was paid with fair
promptitude? They felt now that their best hope for justice lay in
General Washington's interest in their behalf; and that interest of
his seems now one of the noblest and wisest and most patriotic of his

Washington had need to be prepared for any emergency. Thus a body
of officers deliberated not only a mutiny of the army, but a _coup
d'état_, in which they planned to overthrow the flimsy Federation of
the thirteen States and to set up a monarchy. They wrote to Washington
announcing their intention and their belief that he would make an
ideal monarch. He was amazed and chagrined. He replied in part as
follows, to the Colonel who had written him:

    I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct could have
    given encouragement to an address, which to me seems big with
    the greatest mischiefs, that can befall my country. If I am not
    deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a
    person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. I must add,
    that no man possesses a more sincere wish to see ample justice
    done to the army than I do; and, as far as my powers and
    influence, in a constitutional way, extend, they shall be employed
    to the extent of my abilities to effect it, should there be any
    occasion. Let me conjure you, then, if you have any regard for
    your country, concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for
    me, to banish these thoughts from your mind and never communicate,
    as from yourself to any one else, a sentiment of the like

[Footnote 1: Sparks, 355.]

The turmoil of the army continued throughout the year and into the
next. The so-called "Newburgh Address" set forth the quarrel of the
soldiers and Washington's discreet reply. On April 19, 1783, the
eighth anniversary of the first fighting at Concord, a proclamation
was issued to the American army announcing the official end of all
hostilities. In June Washington issued a circular letter to the
Governors of the States, bidding them farewell and urging them to
guard their precious country. Many of the American troops were allowed
to go home on furlough. In company with Governor Clinton he went up
the Hudson to Ticonderoga and then westward to Fort Schuyler. Being
invited by Congress, which was then sitting at Annapolis, he journeyed
thither. Before he left New York City arrangements were made for a
formal farewell to his comrades in arms. I quote the description of it
from Chief Justice Marshall's "Life of Washington":

    This affecting interview took place on the 4th of December. At
    noon, the principal officers of the army assembled at Frances'
    tavern; soon after which, their beloved commander entered the
    room. His emotions were too strong to be concealed. Filling a
    glass, he turned to them and said, "with a heart full of love and
    gratitude, I now take leave of you; I most devoutly wish that your
    latter days may be as prosperous and happy, as your former ones
    have been glorious and honorable." Having drunk, he added, "I
    cannot come to each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged
    to you, if each of you will come and take me by the hand." General
    Knox, being nearest, turned to him. Incapable of utterance,
    Washington grasped his hand, and embraced him. In the same
    affectionate manner, he took leave of each succeeding officer. In
    every eye was the tear of dignified sensibility; and not a
    word was articulated to interrupt the majestic silence and the
    tenderness of the scene. Leaving the room, he passed through the
    corps of light infantry, and walked to White hall, where a barge
    waited to convey him to Powles' hook (Paulus Hook). The whole
    company followed in mute and solemn procession, with dejected
    countenances, testifying feelings of delicious melancholy, which
    no language can describe. Having entered the barge, he turned to
    the company; and waving his hat, bade them a silent adieu. They
    paid him the same affectionate compliment, and after the barge had
    left them, returned in the same solemn manner to the place where
    they had assembled.[1]

[Footnote 1: Marshall, IV, 561.]

Marshall's description, simple but not commonplace, reminds one of
Ville-Hardouin's pictures, so terse, so rich in color, of the Barons
of France in the Fifth Crusade. The account once read, you can never
forget that majestic, silent figure of Washington being rowed across
to Paulus Hook with no sound but the dignified rhythm of the oars. Not
a cheer, not a word!

His reception by Congress took place on Tuesday, the twenty-third
of December, at twelve o'clock. Again I borrow from Chief Justice
Marshall's account:

    When the hour arrived for performing a ceremony so well calculated
    to recall to the mind the various interesting scenes which had
    passed since the commission now to be returned was granted, the
    gallery was crowded with spectators, and many respectable persons,
    among whom were the legislative and executive characters of the
    state, several general officers, and the consul general of France,
    were admitted on the floor of Congress.

    The representatives of the sovereignty of the union remained
    seated and covered. The spectators were standing and uncovered.
    The General was introduced by the secretary and conducted to a
    chair. After a decent interval, silence was commanded, and a short
    pause ensued. The President (General Mifflin) then informed him
    that "the United States in Congress assembled were prepared to
    receive his communications." With a native dignity improved by
    the solemnity of the occasion, the General rose and delivered the
    following address:

    "_Mr. President_:

    "The great events on which my resignation depended, having at
    length taken place, I have now the honor of offering my sincere
    congratulations to Congress, and on presenting myself before them,
    to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me and to
    claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.

    "Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty
    and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States, of
    becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the
    appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my
    abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was
    superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the
    support of the supreme power of the union, and the patronage of

    "The successful termination of the war has verified the most
    sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of
    Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen,
    increases with every review of the momentous contest.

    "While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do
    injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place, the
    peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who
    have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible
    the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should
    have been more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in
    particular, those who have continued in the service to the present
    moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of

    "I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last act
    of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest
    country, to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the
    superintendence of them to his holy keeping.

    "Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great
    theatre of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this
    august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer
    my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public

    After advancing to the chair, and delivering his commission to the
    President, he returned to his place, and received standing, the
    answer of Congress which was delivered by the President. In the
    course of his remarks, General Mifflin said:

    "Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world: having
    taught a new lesson useful to those who inflict, and to those who
    feel oppression, you retire from the great theatre of action,
    with the blessings of your fellow citizens; but the glory of your
    virtues will not terminate with your military command: it will
    continue to animate remotest ages."[1]

[Footnote 1: Marshall, IV, 563.]

The meeting then broke up, and Washington departed. He went that same
afternoon to Virginia and reached Mount Vernon in the evening. We can
imagine with what satisfaction and gratitude he, to whom home was the
dearest place in the world, returned to the home he had seen only once
by chance since the beginning of the Revolution, eight years before.
Probably few of those who had risen to the highest station in their
country said, and felt more honestly, that they were grateful at being
allowed by Fate to retire from office, than did Washington. To be
relieved of responsibility, free from the hourly spur, day and night,
of planning and carrying out, of trying to find food for starving
soldiers, of leading forlorn hopes against the truculent enemy, must
have seemed to the weary and war-worn General like a call from the
Hesperides. Men of his iron nature, and of his capacity for work and
joy in it, do not, of course, really delight in idleness. They may
think that they crave idleness, but in reality they crave the power of
going on.

It took comparatively little effort for Washington to fall into
his old way of life at Mount Vernon, although there, too, much was
changed. Old buildings had fallen out of repair. There were new
experiments to be tried, and the general purpose to be carried out of
making Mount Vernon a model place in that part of the country. Whether
he would or not, he was sought for almost daily by persons who came
from all parts of the United States, and from overseas. Hospitality
being not merely a duty, but a passion with him, he gladly received
the strangers and learned much from them. From their accounts of their
interviews we see that, although he was really the most natural of
men, some of them treated him as if he were some strange creature--a
holy white elephant of Siam, or the Grand Lama of Tibet. Age had
brought its own deductions and reservations. It does not appear that
parties rode to hounds after the fox any more at Mount Vernon. And
then there were the irreparable gaps that could not be filled. At
Belvoir, where his neighbors the Fairfaxes, friends of a lifetime,
used to live, they lived no more. One of them, more than ninety years
old, had turned his face to the wall on hearing of the surrender at
Yorktown. Another had gone back to England to live out his life there,
true to his Tory convictions.

Washington had sincerely believed, no doubt, that he was to spend the
rest of his life in dignified leisure, and especially that he would
mix no more in political or public worries; but he soon found that he
had deceived himself. The army, until it officially disbanded at the
end of 1783, caused him constant anxiety interspersed with fits of
indignation over the indifference and inertia of the Congress, which
showed no intention of being just to the soldiers. The reason for its
attitude seems hard to state positively. May it be that the Congress,
jealous since the war began of being ruled by the man on horseback,
feared at its close to grant Washington's demands for it lest they
should bring about the very thing they had feared and avoided--the
creation of a military dictatorship under Washington? When Vergennes
proposed to entrust to Washington a new subsidy from France, the
Congress had taken umbrage and regarded such a proposal as an insult
to the American Government. Should they admit that the Government
itself was not sufficiently sound and trustworthy, and that,
therefore, a private individual, even though he had been a leader of
the Revolution, must be called into service?

From among persons pestered by this obsession, it was not surprising
that the idea should spring up that Washington was at heart a believer
in monarchy and that he might, when the opportunity favored, allow
himself to be proclaimed king. Several years later he wrote to his
trusted friend, John Jay:

    I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical
    form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds
    speaking; thence to acting is often but a single step. But how
    irrevocable and tremendous! What a triumph for our enemies to
    verify their predictions! What a triumph for the advocates of
    despotism to find, that we are incapable of governing ourselves,
    and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely
    ideal and fallacious! Would to God, that wise measures may be
    taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much
    reason to apprehend.[1]

[Footnote 1: Hapgood, 285.]

In the renewal of his life at Mount Vernon, Washington gave almost
as much attention to the cultivation of friendship as to that of his
estate. He pursued with great zest the career of planter-farmer. "I
think," he wrote a friend, "with you, that the life of a husbandman
of all others is the most delectable. It is honorable, it is amusing,
and, with judicious management, it is profitable. 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."[1]

[Footnote 1: Hapgood, 288.]

The cultivation of his friendships he carried on by letters and by
entertaining his friends as often as he could at Mount Vernon. To
Benjamin Harrison he wrote: "My friendship is not in the least
lessened by the difference, which has taken place in our political
sentiments, nor is my regard for you diminished by the part you have

[Footnote 1: _Ibid_., 289.]

How constantly the flock of guests frequented Mount Vernon we can
infer from this entry in his diary for June 30, 1785: "Dined with only
Mrs. Washington which, I believe, is the first instance of it since my
retirement from public life." To his young friend Lafayette he wrote
without reserve in a vein of deep affection:

    At length, my dear Marquis, I am become a private citizen on the
    banks of the Potomac; and under the shadow of my own vine and my
    own fig-tree, free from the bustle of a camp, and the busy
    scenes of public life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil
    enjoyments, of which the soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame,
    the statesman, whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent
    in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the
    ruin of other countries, as if this globe was insufficient for us
    all, and the courtier, who is always watching the countenance of
    his prince, in hopes of catching a gracious smile, can have
    very little conception. I have not only retired from all public
    employments, but I am retiring within myself, and shall be able to
    view the solitary walk, and tread the paths of private life, with
    heartful satisfaction. Envious of none, I am determined to be
    pleased with all; and this, my dear friend, being the order of my
    march, I will move gently down the stream of life, until I sleep
    with my fathers.[1]

[Footnote 1: Hapgood, 287.]

In September, 1784, he made a journey on horseback, with a pack-train
to carry his tents and food, into the Northwestern country, which had
especially interested him since the early days when Fort Duquesne was
the goal of his wandering. He observed very closely and his mind was
filled with large imaginings of what the future would see in the
development of the Northwest. Since his youth he had never lost
the conviction that an empire would spring up there; only make the
waterways easy and safe and he felt sure that a very large commerce
would result and with it the extension of civilization. In a memorial
to the legislature he urged that Virginia was the best placed
geographically of all the States to undertake the work of establishing
connection with the States of the Northwest, and he suggested various
details which, when acted upon later, proved to be, as Sparks
remarked, "the first suggestion of the great system of internal
improvements which has since been pursued in the United States."

On returning to Mount Vernon, he entertained Lafayette for the last
time before he sailed for France. After he had gone, Washington wrote
him this letter in which appears the affection of a friend and the
reverie of an old man looking somewhat wistfully towards sunset, "and
after that the dark":

    In the moment of our separation, upon the road as I travelled,
    and every hour since, I have felt all that love, respect, and
    attachment for you, with which length of years, close connection,
    and your merits have inspired me. I often asked myself as our
    carriages separated, whether that was the last sight I ever should
    have of you? And, though I wished to say No, my fears answered
    Yes. I called to mind the days of my youth, and found they had
    long since fled to return no more; that I was now descending the
    hill I had been fifty-two years climbing, and that, though I was
    blest with a good constitution, I was of a short-lived family and
    might soon expect to be entombed in the mansion of my fathers.
    These thoughts darkened the shades, and gave a gloom to the
    picture, and consequently to my prospect of seeing you again.

We should not overlook the fact that Washington declined all gifts,
including a donation from Virginia, for his services as General during
the war. He had refused to take any pay, merely keeping a strict
account of what he spent for the Government from 1775 to 1782. This
amounted to over £15,000 and covered only sums actually disbursed by
him for the army. Unlike Marlborough, Nelson, and Wellington, and
other foreign chieftains on whom grateful countrymen conferred
fortunes and high titles, Washington remains as the one great
state-founder who literally _gave_ his services to his country.

Sparks gives the following interesting account of the way in which
Washington spent his days after his return to Mount Vernon:

    His habits were uniform, and nearly the same as they had been
    previous to the war. He rose before the sun and employed himself
    in his study, writing letters or reading, till the hour of
    breakfast. When breakfast was over, his horse was ready at the
    door, and he rode to his farms and gave directions for the day to
    the managers and laborers. Horses were likewise prepared for
    his guests, whenever they chose to accompany him, or to amuse
    themselves by excursions into the country. Returning from his
    fields, and despatching such business as happened to be on hand,
    he went again to his study, and continued there till three
    o'clock, when he was summoned to dinner. The remainder of the day
    and the evening were devoted to company, or to recreation in the
    family circle. At ten he retired to rest. From these habits
    he seldom deviated, unless compelled to do so by particular

[Footnote 1: Sparks, 389, 390.]

This list does not include the item which Washington soon found the
greatest of his burdens--letter-writing. His correspondence increased
rapidly and to an enormous extent.

    Many mistakenly think [he writes to Richard Henry Lee] that I am
    retired to ease, and to that kind of tranquility which would grow
    tiresome for want of employment; but at no period of my life, not
    in the eight years I served the public, have I been obliged to
    write so much myself, as I have done since my retirement.... It
    is not the letters from my friends which give me trouble, or add
    aught to my perplexity. It is references to old matters, with
    which I have nothing to do; applications which often cannot
    be complied with; inquiries which would require the pen of a
    historian to satisfy; letters of compliment as unmeaning perhaps
    as they are troublesome, but which must be attended to; and the
    commonplace business which employs my pen and my time often
    disagreeably. These, with company, deprive me of exercise, and
    unless I can obtain relief, must be productive of disagreeable

[Footnote 1: Irving, IV, 466.]

When we remember that Washington used to write most of his letters
himself, and that from boyhood his handwriting was beautifully neat,
almost like copper-plate, in its precision and elegance, we shall
understand what a task it must have been for him to keep up his
correspondence. A little later he employed a young New Hampshire
graduate of Harvard, Tobias Lear, who graduated in 1783, who served
him as secretary until his death, and undoubtedly lightened the
epistolary cares of the General. But Washington continued to carry on
much of the letter-writing, especially the intimate, himself;
and, like the Adamses and other statesmen of that period, he kept
letter-books which contained the first drafts or copies of the letters

Another source of annoyance, to which, however, he resigned himself as
contentedly as he could, was the work of the artists who came to him
to beg him to sit for his picture or statue. Of the painters the most
eminent were Charles Peale and his son Rembrandt. Of the sculptors
Houdon undoubtedly made the best life-sized statue--that which still
adorns the Capitol at Richmond, Virginia--and from the time it was
first exhibited has been regarded as the best, most lifelike. Another,
sitting statue, was made for the State of North Carolina by the
Italian, Canova, the most celebrated of the sculptors of that day. The
artist shows a Roman costume, a favorite of his, unless, as in the
case of Napoleon, he preferred complete nudity. This statue was much
injured in a fire which nearly consumed the Capitol at Raleigh.
The English sculptor, Chantrey, executed a third statue in which
Washington was represented in military dress. This work used to be
shown at the State House in Boston.

Of the many painted portraits of Washington, those by Gilbert Stuart
have come to be accepted as authentic; especially the head in the
painting which hung in the Boston Athenaeum as a pendant to that of
Martha Washington, and is now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. But
as I remarked earlier, the fact that none of the painters indicate the
very strong marks of smallpox (which he took on his trip to Barbados)
on Washington's face creates a natural suspicion as to accuracy in
detail of any of the portraits. Perhaps the divergence among them
is not greater than that among those of Mary, Queen of Scots, and
indicates only the marked incapacity of some of the painters who did
them. We are certainly justified in saying that Washington's features
varied considerably from his early prime to the days when he was
President. We have come to talk about him as an old man because
from the time when he was sixty years old he frequently used that
expression himself; although, as he died at sixty-seven, he was never
really "an old man." One wonders whether those who lived among pioneer
conditions said and honestly believed that they were old at the time
when, as we think, middle age would hardly have begun. Thus Abraham
Lincoln writes of himself as a patriarch, and no doubt sincerely
thought that he was, at a time when he had just reached forty. The two
features in Washington's face about which the portraitists differ most
are his nose and his mouth. In the early portrait by Charles Peale,
his nose is slightly aquiline, but not at all so massive and
conspicuous as in some of the later works. His mouth, and with it the
expression of the lower part of his face, changed after he began to
wear false teeth. Is it not fair to suppose that the effigies of
Washington, made in later years and usually giving him a somewhat
stiff and expansive grin, originated in the fact that his false set of
teeth lacked perfect adjustment?

Thus Washington dropped into the ways of peace; working each day what
would have been a long stint for a strong young man, and thinking,
besides, more than most men thought of the needs and future of the
country to which he had given liberty and independence. His chief
anxiety henceforth was that the United States of America should not
miss the great destiny for which he believed the Lord had prepared it.



The doubt, the drifting, the incongruities and inconsistencies, the
mistakes and follies which marked the five years after 1783 form what
has been well called "The Critical Period of American History." They
proved that the conquests of peace may not only be more difficult than
the conquests of war, but that they may outlast those of war. Who
should be the builders of the Ship of State? Those who had courage
and clear vision, who loved justice, who were patient and humble and
unflagging, and who believed with an ineluctable conviction that
righteousness exalteth a nation; they were the simple fishermen who
in the little church at Torcello predicted the splendor and power of
Venice; they were the stern pioneers of Plymouth and Boston who laid
the foundations of an empire greater than that of Rome.

It happened that during the American Revolution and immediately
afterward, a larger number of such men existed in what had been the
American Colonies than anywhere else at any other time in history. At
the beginning of the Revolution, within a few weeks of the Declaration
of Independence, some of these men, impelled by a common instinct,
adopted Articles of Confederation which should hold the former
Colonies together and enable them to maintain a common front against
the enemy during the war. The Congress controlled military and civic
affairs, but the framers of the Articles were wary and too timid to
grant the Congress sufficient powers, with the result that Washington,
who embodied the dynamic control of the war, was always most
inadequately supported; and as he fared, so fared his subordinates.

At the end of the war the Americans found that they had won, not only
freedom, but also Independence, the desire for which was not among
their original motives. Each of the thirteen States was independent;
they all felt the need of a union which would enable them to protect
themselves; of a common coinage and postage; of certain common laws
for criminal and similar cases; of a common government to direct their
affairs with other nations. But by habit and by training each was
local rather than National in its outlook. The Georgian had nothing
in common with the men of Massachusetts Bay whose livelihood depended
upon fisheries, or with the Virginian of the Western border, to whom
his relations with the Indians were his paramount concern. The Rhode
Islander, busy with his manufactures, knew and cared nothing for the
South Carolinian with his rice plantations. How to find a common
denominator for all these? That was the business of them all.

The one thing which Washington regarded as likely and against which he
wished to have every precaution taken, was a possible attempt of
the English to pick a quarrel over some small matter and bring on
a renewal of the war. Fortunately for the Americans, this did not
happen. Washington knew our weakness so well that he could see how
easy it would be for a bold and determined enemy to do us great if not
fatal harm. But he did not know that the English themselves were in
an almost desperate plight. By Rodney's decisive victory at sea they
began to recover their ascendancy against the Coalition, but it was
then too late to disavow the treaty. In Parliament George III had been
defeated; the defeat meaning a very serious check to the policy which
he had pursued for more than twenty years to fix royal tyranny on the
British people. King George's system of personal government, himself
being the person, had broken down and he could not revive it. Nearly
seventy years were to elapse before Queen Victoria, who was as putty
in the hands of her German husband, Prince Albert, rejoiced that she
had restored the personal power of the British sovereign to a pitch it
had not known since her grandfather George III.

The American Revolution had illustrated the fatal weakness of the
Congress as an organ of government, and the Articles merely embodied
the vagueness of the American people in regard to any real régime. The
Congress has been much derided for its shortcomings and its blunders,
although in truth not so much the Congress, as those who made it, was
to blame. They had refused, in their timidity, to give it power to
exercise control. It might not compel or enforce obedience. It did
require General Washington during the war to furnish a regular report
of his military actions and it put his suggestions on file where
many of them grew yellow and dusty; but he might not strike, do that
decisive act by which history is born. Their timidity made them see
what he had accomplished not nearly so plainly as the dictator on
horseback whom their fears conjured up.

During the war the sense of a common danger had lent the Congress a
not easily defined but quite real coherence, which vanished when
peace came, and the local ideals of the States took precedence. Take
taxation. Congress could compute the quota of taxes which each State
ought to pay, but it had no way of collecting or of enforcing payment.
It took eighteen months to collect five per cent of the taxes laid in
1783. Of course a nation could not go on with such methods. No law
binding all the States could be adopted unless every one of the
thirteen States assented. Unanimity was almost unattainable; as when
Governor Clinton of New York withheld his approval of a measure to
improve a system of taxation to which the other twelve States had
assented; so Rhode Island, the smallest of all, blocked another reform
which twelve States had approved. Our foreign relations must be
described as ignominious. Jefferson had taken Franklin's place as
Minister to France, but we had no credit and he could not secure the
loan he was seeking. John Adams in London, and John Jay in Madrid,
were likewise balked. Jay had to submit to the closing of the lower
Mississippi to American shipping. He did this in the hope of thereby
conciliating Spain to make a commercial treaty which he thought
was far more important than shipping. Our people in the Southwest,
however, regarded the closing of the river as portending their ruin,
and they threatened to secede if it were persisted in. Pennsylvania
and New Jersey threw their weight with the Southerners and Congress
voted against the Jay treaty. That was the time when the corsairs of
the Barbary States preyed upon American shipping in the Mediterranean
and seized crews of our vessels and sold them into slavery in Northern
Africa. That there was not in the thirteen States sufficient feeling
of dignity to resent and punish these outrages marks both their
dispersed power and lack of regard for National honor.

After 1783 the States, virtually bankrupt at home, discordant, fickle,
and aimless, and without credit or prestige abroad, were filled with
many citizens who recognized that the system was bad and must be
amended. The wise among them wrote treatises on the remedies they
proposed. The wisest went to school of experience and sought in
history how confederations and other political unions had fared.
Washington wrote for his own use an account of the classical
constitutions of Greece and Rome and of the more modern states; of the
Amphictyonic Council among the ancient, and the Helvetic, Belgic, and
Germanic among the more recent. John Adams devoted two massive volumes
to an account of the medieval Italian republics. James Madison studied
the Achaian League and other ancient combinations. There were many
other men less eminent than these--there was a Peletiah Webster, for

Washington viewed the situation as a pessimist. Was it because the
high hopes that he had held during the war, that America should be the
noblest among the nations, had been disappointed, or was it because he
saw farther into the future than his colleagues saw? On May 18, 1786,
he writes intimately to John Jay:

    ... We are certainly in a delicate situation; but my fear is that
    the people are not yet sufficiently _misled_ to retract from
    error. To be plainer, I think there is more wickedness than
    ignorance mixed in our councils. Under this impression I scarcely
    know what opinion to entertain of a general convention. That it
    is necessary to revise and amend the Articles of Confederation, I
    entertain no doubt; but what may be the consequences of such an
    attempt is doubtful. Yet something must be done, or the fabric
    must fall, for it certainly is tottering.

    Ignorance and design are difficult to combat. Out of these proceed
    illiberal sentiments, improper jealousies, and a train of evils
    which oftentimes in republican governments must be sorely felt
    before they can be removed. The former, that is ignorance, being
    a fit soil for the latter to work in, tools are employed by them
    which a generous mind would disdain to use; and which nothing but
    time, and their own puerile or wicked productions, can show
    the inefficacy and dangerous tendency of. I think often of our
    situation, and view it with concern. From the high ground we stood
    upon, from the plain path which invited our footsteps, to be so
    fallen! so lost! it is really mortifying.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, xi, 31.]

One of the chief causes of the discontents which troubled the public
was the increasing number of persons who had been made debtors after
the war by the more and more pressing demands of their creditors.
These debtors knew nothing about economics; they only knew that
they were being crushed by persons more lucky than themselves. In
Massachusetts they broke out in actual rebellion named after the man
who led it, Daniel Shays. They were put down by the more or less
doubtful appeal to veterans of the National Army, but their ebullition
was not forgotten as a symptom of a very dangerous condition. In 1786
representatives from five States met in a convention at Annapolis
to consider the hard times and the troubles in trade. Washington,
Hamilton, and Madison were thought to be behind the convention, which
accomplished little, but made it clear that a large general convention
ought to meet and to discuss the way of securing a strong central
government. This convention was discussed during that summer and
autumn, and a call was issued for a meeting in the following spring
at Philadelphia. Virginia turned first to Washington to be one of its
delegates, but he had sincere scruples against entering public life
again. He wrote to James Madison on November 18th:

    Although I had bid adieu to the public walks of life in a public
    manner, and had resolved never more to tread upon public ground,
    yet if, upon an occasion so interesting to the well-being of the
    confederacy, it should have appeared to have been the wish of the
    Assembly to have employed me with other associates in the business
    of revising the federal system, I should, from a sense of
    obligation I am under for repeated proof of confidence in me, more
    than from any opinion I should have entertained of my usefulness,
    have obeyed its call; but it is now out of my power to do so with
    any degree of consistency.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, XI, 87.]

Washington's disinclination to abandon the quiet of Mount Vernon
and the congenial work he found there, and to be plunged again into
political labors, was perhaps his strongest reason for making this
decision. But a temporary aggravation ruled him. The Society of the
Cincinnati, of which he was president, had aroused much odium in the
country among those who were jealous or envious that such a special
privileged class should exist, and among those who really believed
that it had the secret design of establishing an aristocracy if not
actually a monarchy. Washington held that its original avowed purpose,
to keep the officers who had served in the Revolution together, would
perpetuate the patriotic spirit which enabled them to win, and might
be a source of strength in case of further ordeals. But when he found
that public sentiment ran so strongly against the Cincinnati, he
withdrew as its president and he told Madison that he would vote to
have the Society disbanded if it were not that it counted a minority
of foreign members. Stronger than a desire for a private life and for
the ease of Mount Vernon was his sense of duty as a patriot; so that
when this was strongly urged upon him he gave way and consented.

Spring came, the snows melted in the Northern States, and through the
month of April the delegates to this Convention started from their
homes in the North and in the South for Philadelphia. The first
regular session was held on May 25th, although some of the delegates
did not arrive until several weeks later. They sat in Independence
Hall in the same room where, eleven years before, the Declaration of
Independence had been adopted and signed. Of the members in the new
Convention, George Washington was easily the first. His commanding
figure, tall and straight and in no wise impaired by eight years'
campaigns and hardships, was almost the first to attract the attention
of any one who looked upon that assembly. He was fifty-five years old.
Next in reputation was the patriarch, Benjamin Franklin, twenty-seven
years his senior, shrewd, wise, poised, tart, good-natured; whose
prestige was thought to be sufficient to make him a worthy presiding
officer when Washington was not present. James Madison of Virginia was
among the young men of the Convention, being only thirty-six years
old, and yet almost at the top of them all in constitutional learning.
More precocious still was Alexander Hamilton of New York, who was
only thirty, one of the most remarkable examples of a statesman who
developed very early and whom Death cut off before he showed any
signs of a decline. One figure we miss--that of Thomas Jefferson of
Virginia, tall and wiry and red-curled, who was absent in Paris as
Minister to France.

Massachusetts sent four representatives, important but not
preëminent--Elbridge Gerry, Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King, and Caleb
Strong. New York had only two besides Hamilton; Robert Yates and John
Lansing. Pennsylvania trusted most to Benjamin Franklin, but she sent
the financier of the Revolution, Robert Morris, and Gouverneur Morris;
and with them went Thomas Mifflin, George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimmons,
Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson--all conspicuous public men at the time,
although their fame is bedraggled or quite faded now. Wilson ranked as
the first lawyer of the group. Of the five from little Delaware sturdy
John Dickinson, a man who thought, was no negligible quantity.

Connecticut also had as spokesmen two strong individualities--Roger
Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth. Maryland spoke through James McHenry and
Daniel Carroll and three others of greater obscurity. Virginia had
George Washington, President of the Convention, and James Madison,
active, resourceful, and really accomplishing; and in addition to
these two: Edmund Randolph, the Governor; George Mason, Washington's
hard-headed and discreet lawyer friend; John Blair, George Wythe, and
James McClurg. From South Carolina went three unusual orators, John
Rutledge, C.C. Pinckney and Charles Pinckney, and Pierce Butler.
Georgia named four mediocre but useful men.

In this gathering of fifty-five persons, the proportion between those
who were preëminent for common sense and those who were remarkable for
special knowledge and talents was very fairly kept. Most of them had
had experience in dealing with men either in local government offices
or in the army. Socially, they came almost without exception from
respectable if not aristocratic families. Of the fifty-five,
twenty-nine were university or college bred, their universities
comprising Oxford, Glasgow, and Edinburgh besides the American
Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia. The two
foremost members, Washington and Franklin, were not college bred.
Among the fifty-five we do not find John Adams and Thomas Jefferson,
who, as I have said, were in Europe on official business. John Jay
also was lacking, because, as it appears, the Anti-Federalists did
not wish him to represent them in the Convention; but his influence
permeated it and the wider public, who later read his unsigned
articles in "The Federalist." Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and Richard
Henry Lee stayed at home. General Nathanael Greene, the favorite
son of Rhode Island, would have been at the Convention but for his
untimely death a few weeks before the preceding Christmas.

Owing to delays the active business of the Convention halted, although
for at least a fortnight the members who had come promptly carried on
unofficial discussions. Washington, being chosen President without a
competitor, presided, with perhaps more than his habitual gravity and
punctilio. The members took their work very seriously. The debates
lasted five or six hours a day, and, as they were continued
consecutively until the autumn, there was ample time to discuss many
subjects. The Convention adopted strict secrecy as its rule, so that
its proceedings were not known by the public nor was any satisfactory
report of them kept and published. At the time there was objection to
this provision, and now, after more than a century and a third, we
must regret that we can never know many points in regard to the
actual give and take of discussion in this the most fateful of all
assemblies. But from Madison's memoranda and reminiscences we can
infer a good deal as to what went on.

The wisdom of keeping the proceedings secret was fully justified. The
framers of the Constitution knew that it was to a large degree a new
experiment, that it would be subjected to all kinds of criticism, but
that it must be judged by its entirety and not by its parts; and that
therefore it must be presented entire. At the outset some of the
members, foreseeing opposition, were for suggesting palliatives and
for sugar-coating. Some of the measures they feared might excite
hostility. To these suggestions Washington made a brief but very noble
remonstrance which seemed deeply to impress his hearers. And no one
could question that it gave the keynote on which he hoped to maintain
the business of the Convention. "It is too probable that no plan we
propose will be adopted," Washington said very gravely. "Perhaps
another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If, to please the
people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward
defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest
can repair; the event is in the hand of God."[1] Among the obstacles
which seemed very serious--and many believed they would wreck the
Convention--was the question of slavery. By this time all the northern
part of the country favored its abolition. Even Virginia was on that
side. For practical planters like George Washington knew that it was
the most costly and least productive form of labor. They opposed it on
economic rather than moral grounds. Farther South, however, especially
in South Carolina where the negroes seemed to be the only kind
of laborers for the rice-fields, and in those regions where they
harvested the cotton, the whites insisted that slavery should be
maintained. The contest seemed likely to be very fierce between the
disputants, and then, with true Anglo-Saxon instinct, they sought
for a compromise. The South had regarded slaves as chattels. The
compromise brought forward by Madison consisted in agreeing that five
slaves should count in population as three. By this curious device a
negro was equivalent to three fifths of a white man. Such a compromise
was, of course, illogical, leaving the question whether negroes were
chattels or human beings with even a theoretical civil character
undecided. But many of the members, who saw the illogic quite plainly,
voted for it, being dazzled if not seduced by the thought that it was
a compromise which would stave off an irreconcilable conflict at least
for the present; so Washington, who wished the abolition of slavery,
voted for the compromise along with Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, the
South Carolinian who regarded slavery as higher than any of the Ten

[Footnote 1: Fiske, _Critical Period_, 250.]

The second compromise referred to the slave trade, which was
particularly defended by South Carolina and Georgia. The raising of
rice and indigo in those States caused an increasing death-rate among
the slaves. The slave trade, which brought many kidnapped slaves from
Africa to those States was needed to replenish the number of slaves
who died. Virginia had not yet become an important breeding-place of
slaves who were sold to planters farther south. The members of the
Convention who wished to put an end to this hideous traffic proposed
that it should be prohibited, and that the enforcement of the
prohibition should be assigned to the General Government. Pinckney,
however, keen to defend his privileged institution and the special
interests of his State, bluntly informed the Convention that if they
voted to abolish the slave trade, South Carolina would regard it as a
polite way of telling her that she was not wanted in the new Union. To
think of attempting to form a Union without South Carolina amazed them
all and made them pliable. Although there was considerable opposition
to giving the General Government control over shipping, this provision
was passed. The Northerners saw in it the germs of a tariff act which
would benefit their manufacturers, and they agreed that the slave
trade should not be interfered with before 1808 and that no export tax
should be authorized.

The third compromise affected representation. The Convention had
already voted that the Congress should consist of two parts, a Senate
and a House of Representatives. By a really clever device each State
sent two members to the Senate, thus equalizing the small and large
States in that branch of the Government. The House, on the other hand,
represented the People, and the number of members elected from each
State corresponded, therefore, to the population.

As I do not attempt to make even a summary of the details of the
Convention, I should pass over many of the other topics which it
considered, often with very heated discussion. The fundamental problem
was how to preserve the rights of the States and at the same time give
the Central Government sufficient power. By devices which actually
worked, and for many years continued to work, this conflict was
smoothed over, although sixty years later the question of State
rights, intertwined with that of slavery, nearly split the Nation in
the War of Secession. There was much question as to the term for
which the President should be elected and whether by the People or by
Congress. Some were for one, two, three, four, ten, and even fifteen
years. Rufus King, grown sarcastic, said: "Better call it twenty--it's
the average reign of princes." Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur
Morris stood for a life service with provision for the President's
removal in case of malfeasance. These gentlemen, in spite of their
influence in the Convention, stirred up a deep-seated enmity to their
plan. Few instincts were more general than that which drew back from
any arrangement which might embolden the monarchists to make a man
President for a ten or fifteen years' term or for life. This could not
fail to encourage those who wished for the equivalent of an hereditary
prince. The Convention soon made it evident that they would have none
but a short term, and they chose, finally, four years. There was a
debate over the question of his election; should he be chosen directly
by the legislature, or by electors? The strong men--Mason,
Rutledge, Roger Sherman, and Strong--favored the former; stronger
men--Washington, Madison, Gerry, and Gouverneur Morris--favored the
latter, and it prevailed. Nevertheless, the Electoral College thus
created soon became, and has remained, as useless as a vermiform

Towards the end of the summer the Convention had completed its first
draft of the Constitution; then they handed their work over to a
Committee for Style and Arrangement, composed of W.S. Johnson of North
Carolina, Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris, Madison, and King. Then, on
September 17th, the Constitution of the United States was formally
published. This document, done "by the Unanimous Consent of the States
present," was sent to the Governor or Legislature of each State with
the understanding that its ratification by nine States would be
required before it was proclaimed the law of the land.

In his diary for Monday, the seventeenth of September, 1787,
Washington makes this entry:

    Met in Convention, when the Constitution received the unanimous
    consent of 11 States and Colo. Hamilton's from New York [the only
    delegate from thence in Convention], and was subscribed to by
    every member present, except Governor Randolph and Colo. Mason
    from Virginia, & Mr. Gerry from Massachusetts.

    The business being thus closed, the members adjourned to the City
    Tavern, dined together, and took a cordial leave of each other.
    After which I returned to my lodgings, did some business with,
    and received the papers from the Secretary of the Convention, and
    retired to meditate on the momentous wk. which had been executed,
    after not less than five, for a large part of the time six and
    sometimes 7 hours sitting every day, [except] Sundays & the ten
    days adjournment to give a Comee. [Committee] opportunity & time
    to arrange the business for more than four months.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, XI, 155.]

One likes to think of Washington presiding over that Convention for
more than four months, seeing one suggestion after another brought
forward and debated until finally disposed of, he saying little except
to enforce the rules of parliamentary debate. No doubt his asides (and
part of his conversation) frankly gave his opinion as to each measure,
because he never disguised his thoughts and he seems to have voted
when the ballots were taken--a practice unusual to modern presiding
officers except in case of a tie. His summing-up of the Constitution,
which he wrote on the day after the adjournment in a hurried letter to
Lafayette, is given briefly in these lines:

    It is the result of four months' deliberation. It is now a child
    of fortune, to be fostered by some and buffeted by others. What
    will be the general opinion, or the reception of it, is not for me
    to decide; nor shall I say anything for or against it. If it be
    good, I suppose it will work its way; if bad, it will recoil on
    the framers.

A month later, in the seclusion of Mount Vernon, he spread the same
news before his friend General Knox:

    ... The Constitution is now before the judgment-seat. It has,
    as was expected, its adversaries and supporters. Which will
    preponderate is yet to be decided. The former more than probably
    will be most active, as the major part of them will, it is to be
    feared, be governed by sinister and self-important motives, to
    which everything in their breasts must yield....

The other class, he said, would probably ask itself whether the
Constitution now submitted was not better than the inadequate and
precarious government under which they had been living. If there
were defects, as doubtless there were, did it not provide means for
amending them? Then he concludes with a gleam of optimism:

    ... Is it not likely that real defects will be as readily
    discovered after as before trial? and will not our successors be
    as ready to apply the remedy as ourselves, if occasion should
    require it? To think otherwise will, in my judgment, be ascribing
    more of the amor patriae, more wisdom and more virtue to
    ourselves, than I think we deserve.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, XI, 173.]

Nearly five months later, February 7, 1788, he wrote Lafayette what we
may consider a more deliberate opinion:

    As to my sentiments with respect to the merits of the new
    constitution, I will disclose them without reserve, (although by
    passing through the post-office they should become known to
    all the world,) for in truth I have nothing to conceal on that
    subject. It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that
    the delegates from so many different States (which States you
    know are also different from each other), in their manners,
    circumstances, and prejudices, should unite in forming a system of
    national government, so little liable to well-founded objections.
    Nor am I yet such an enthusiastic, partial, or indiscriminating
    admirer of it, as not to perceive it is tinctured with some real
    (though not radical) defects. The limits of a letter would not
    suffer me to go fully into an examination of them; nor would the
    discussion be entertaining or profitable. I therefore forbear to
    touch upon it. With regard to the two great points (the pivots
    upon which the whole machine must move), my creed is simply,

    1st. That the general government is not invested with more powers,
    than are indispensably necessary to perform the functions of a
    good government; and consequently, that no objection ought to be
    made against the quantity of power delegated to it.

    2nd. That these powers (as the appointment of all rulers will for
    ever arise from, and at short, stated intervals recur to, the free
    suffrage of the people), are so distributed among the legislative,
    executive, and judicial branches, into which the general
    government is arranged, that it can never be in danger of
    degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any
    other despotic or oppressive form, so long as there shall remain
    any virtue in the body of the people.

    I would not be understood, my dear Marquis, to speak of
    consequences, which may be produced in the revolution of ages, by
    corruption of morals, profligacy of manners and listlessness for
    the preservation of the natural and unalienable rights of mankind,
    nor of the successful usurpations, that may be established at
    such an unpropitious juncture upon the ruins of liberty, however
    providently guarded and secured; as these are contingencies
    against which no human prudence can effectually provide. It will
    at least be a recommendation to the proposed constitution, that it
    is provided with more checks and barriers against the introduction
    of tyranny, and those of a nature less liable to be surmounted,
    than any government hitherto instituted among mortals hath
    possessed. We are not to expect perfection in this world; but
    mankind, in modern times, have apparently made some progress in
    the science of government. Should that which is now offered to the
    people of America, be found on experiment less perfect than it
    can be made, a constitutional door is left open for its

[Footnote 1: Ford, XI, 218-21.]

Thus was accomplished the American Constitution. Gladstone has said of
it in well-known words that, just "as the British Constitution is the
most subtle organism which has proceeded from the womb and the long
gestation of progressive history, so the American Constitution is so
far as I can see the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given
time by the brain and purpose of man."[1] Note that Gladstone does
not name a single or an individual man, which would have been wholly
untrue, for the American Constitution was struck off by the wisdom and
foresight of fifty-five men collectively. There were among them two
or three who might be called transcendent men. It gained its peculiar
value from the fact that it represents the composite of many divergent
opinions and different characters.

[Footnote 1: W.E. Gladstone, _North American Review_, September,

Just before the members broke up at their final meeting in
Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin amused them with a characteristic
bit of raillery. On the back of the President's black chair, a
half sun was carved and emblazoned. "During all these weeks," said
Franklin, "I have often wondered whether that sun was rising or
setting. I know now that it is a rising sun."

The first State to ratify the Constitution was Delaware, on December
6, 1787. Pennsylvania followed on December 12th, and New Jersey
on December 18th. Ratifications continued without haste until New
Hampshire, the ninth State, signed on June 21, 1788. Four days later,
Virginia, a very important State, ratified. New York, which had been
Anti-Federalist throughout, joined the majority on July 26th. North
Carolina waited until November 21st, and little Rhode Island, the
last State of all, did not come in until May 29, 1790. But, as the
adherence of nine States sufficed, the affirmative action of New
Hampshire on June 21, 1788, constituted the legal beginning of the
United States of America.

No test could be more winnowing than that to which the Constitution
was subjected during more than eighteen months before its adoption. In
each State, in each section, its friends and enemies discussed it at
meetings and in private gatherings. In New York, for instance, it was
only the persistence of Alexander Hamilton and his unfailing oratory,
unmatched until then in this country, that routed the Anti-Federalists
at Poughkeepsie and caused the victory of the Federalists in the
State. In Virginia, Patrick Henry, who had said on the eve of the
Revolution, "I am not a Virginian, but an American," still held out.
Nevertheless, the more the people of the country discussed the matter,
the surer was their conviction that Washington was right when he
intimated that they must prefer the new Constitution unless they could
show reason for supposing that the anarchy towards which the old order
was swiftly driving them was preferable.

During the autumn of 1788 peaceful electioneering went on throughout
the country. Among the last acts of that thin wraith, the Continental
Congress, was a decree that Presidential Electors should be chosen
on the first Wednesday of January, 1789; that they should vote for
President on the first Wednesday in February, and that the new
Congress should meet on the first Wednesday in March. The State of New
York, where Anti-Federalists swarmed, did not follow the decree--with
the result that that State, which had been behindhand in signing the
Declaration of Independence, failed through the intrigues of the
Anti-Federalists to choose electors, and so had no part in the choice
of Washington as President of the United States. The other ten States
performed their duty on time. They elected Washington President by a
unanimous vote of sixty-nine out of sixty-nine votes cast.

The Vice-Presidential contest was perplexing, there being many
candidates who received only a few votes each. Many persons thought
that it would be fitting that Samuel Adams, the father of the
Revolution, should be chosen to serve with Washington, the father of
his country; but too many remembered that he had been hostile to the
Federalists until almost the end of the preliminary canvass and so
they did not think that he ought to be chosen. The successful man was
John Adams, who had been a robust Patriot from the beginning and had
served honorably and devotedly in every position which he had held
since 1775.

On April 14th Washington's election was notified to him, and on the
16th he bade farewell to Mount Vernon, where he had hoped to pass the
rest of his days in peace and home duties and agriculture, and he rode
in what proved to be a triumphal march to New York. That city was
chosen the capital of the new Nation. Streams of enthusiastic and
joyous citizens met and acclaimed him at every town through which
he passed. At Trenton a party of thirteen young girls decked out
in muslin and wreaths represented the thirteen States, and perhaps
brought to his mind the contrast between that day and thirteen years
before when he crossed the Delaware on boats amid floating cakes of
ice and the pelting of sleet and rain. On April 23d he entered New
York City. A week later at noon a military escort attended him from
his lodging to Federal Hall at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets,
where a vast crowd awaited him. Washington stood on a balcony. All
could witness the ceremony. The Secretary of the Senate bore a Bible
upon a velvet cushion, and Chancellor Livingston administered the oath
of office. Washington's head was still bowed when Livingston shouted:
"Long live George Washington, President of the United States!" The
crowds took up the cheer, which spread to many parts of the city and
was repeated in all parts of the United States.



The inauguration of Washington on April 30, 1789, brought a new type
of administration into the world. The democracy which it initiated was
very different from that of antiquity, from the models of Greece and
of Rome, and quite different from that of the Italian republics during
the Middle Age. The head of the new State differed essentially
from the monarchs across the sea. Although there were varieties of
traditions and customs in what had been the Colonies, still their
dominant characteristic was British. According to the social
traditions of Virginia, George Washington was an aristocrat, but in
contrast with the British, he was a democrat.

He believed, however, that the President must guard his office from
the free-and-easy want of decorum which some of his countrymen
regarded as the stamp of democracy. At his receptions he wore a black
velvet suit with gold buckles at the knee and on his shoes, and yellow
gloves, and profusely powdered hair carried in a silk bag behind. In
one hand he held a cocked hat with an ostrich plume; on his left thigh
he wore a sword in a white scabbard of polished leather. He shook
hands with no one; but acknowledged the courtesy of his visitors by
a very formal bow. When he drove, it was in a coach with four or six
handsome horses and outriders and lackeys dressed in resplendent

After his inauguration he spoke his address to the Congress, and
several days later members of the House and of the Senate called on
him at his residence and made formal replies to his Inaugural Address.
After a few weeks, experience led him to modify somewhat his daily
schedule. He found that unless it was checked, the insatiate public
would consume all his time. Every Tuesday afternoon, between three and
four o'clock, he had a public reception which any one might attend.
Likewise, on Friday afternoons, Mrs. Washington had receptions of her
own. The President accepted no invitations to dinner, but at his own
table there was an unending succession of invited guests, except on
Sunday, which he observed privately. Interviews with the President
could be had at any time that suited his convenience. Thus did he
arrange to transact his regular or his private business.

Inevitably, some of the public objected to his rules and pretended to
see very strong monarchical leanings in them. But the country took
them as he intended, and there can be no doubt that it felt the
benefit of his promoting the dignity of his office. Equally beneficial
was his rule of not appointing to any office any man merely because he
was the President's friend. Washington knew that such a consideration
would give the candidate an unfair advantage. He knew further that
office-holders who could screen themselves behind the plea that they
were the President's friends might be very embarrassing to him. As
office-seekers became, with the development of the Republic, among
the most pernicious of its evils and of its infamies, we can but feel
grateful that so far as in him lay Washington tried to keep them
within bounds.

In all his official acts he took great pains not to force his personal
wishes. He knew that both in prestige and popularity he held a place
apart among his countrymen, and for this reason he did not wish to
have measures passed simply because they were his. Accordingly, in
the matter of receiving the public and in granting interviews and of
ceremonials at the Presidential Residence, he asked the advice of John
Adams, John Jay, Hamilton, and Jefferson, and he listened to many
of their suggestions. Colonel Humphreys, who had been one of his
aides-de-camp and was staying in the Presidential Residence, acted as
Chamberlain at the first reception. Humphreys took an almost childish
delight in gold braid and flummery. At a given moment the door of the
large hall in which the concourse of guests was assembled was opened
and he, advancing, shouted, with a loud voice: "The President of the
United States!" Washington followed him and went through the paces
prescribed by the Colonel with punctilious exactness, but with evident
lack of relish. When the levee broke up and the party had gone,
Washington said to Colonel Humphreys: "Well, you have taken me in
once, but, by God, you shall never take me in a second time."[1]
Irving, who borrows this story from Jefferson, warns us that perhaps
Jefferson was not a credible witness.

[Footnote 1: Irving, V, 14.]

Congress transacted much important business at this first session.
It determined that the President should have a Cabinet of men whose
business it was to administer the chief departments and to advise the
President. Next in importance were the financial measures proposed by
the Secretary of the Treasury. Washington chose for his first Cabinet
Ministers: Thomas Jefferson, who had not returned from Paris, as
Secretary of State, or Foreign Minister as he was first called;
Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury; General Henry Knox,
Secretary of War; and Edmund Randolph, Attorney-General. Of these,
Hamilton had to face the most bitter opposition. Throughout the
Revolution the former Colonies had never been able to collect enough
money to pay the expense of the war and the other charges of the
Confederation. The Confederation handed over a considerable debt to
the new Government. Besides this many of the States had paid each its
own cost of equipping and maintaining its contingent. Hamilton now
proposed that the United States Government should assume these various
State debts, which would aggregate $21,000,000 and bring the National
debt to a total of $75,000,000. Hamilton's suggestion that the State
debts be assumed caused a vehement outcry. Its opponents protested
that no fair adjustment could be reached. The Assumptionists
retorted that this would be the only fair settlement, but the
Anti-Assumptionists voted them down by a majority of two. In other
respects, Hamilton's financial measures prospered, and before many
months he seized the opportunity of making a bargain by which the next
Congress reversed its vote on Assumption. In less than a year the
members of Congress and many of the public had reached the conclusion
that New York City was not the best place to be the capital of the
Nation. The men from the South argued that it put the South to a
disadvantage, as its ease of access to New York, New Jersey, and
the Eastern States gave that section of the country a too favorable
situation. There was a strong party in favor of Philadelphia, but
it was remembered that in the days of the Confederation a gang of
turbulent soldiers had dashed down from Lancaster and put to flight
the Convention sitting at Philadelphia. Nevertheless, Philadelphia was
chosen temporarily, the ultimate choice of a situation being farther
south on the Potomac.

Jefferson returned from France in the early winter. The discussion
over Assumption was going on very virulently. It happened that one day
Jefferson met Hamilton, and this is his account of what followed:

    As I was going to the President's one day, I met him [Hamilton]
    in the street. He walked me backwards and forwards before the
    President's door for half an hour. He painted pathetically the
    temper into which the legislature had been wrought; the disgust
    of those who were called the creditor States; the danger of the
    secession of their members, and the separation of the States. He
    observed that the members of the administration ought to act in
    concert; that though this question was not of my department, yet
    a common duty should make it a common concern; that the President
    was the centre on which all administrative questions ultimately
    rested, and that all of us should rally around him and support,
    with joint efforts, measures approved by him; and that the
    question having been lost by a small majority only, it was
    probable that an appeal from me to the judgment and discretion of
    some of my friends, might effect a change in the vote, and the
    machine of government now suspended, might be again set into
    motion. I told him that I was really a stranger to the whole
    subject, that not having yet informed myself of the system of
    finance adopted, I knew not how far this was a necessary sequence;
    that undoubtedly, if its rejection endangered a dissolution of our
    Union at this incipient stage, I should deem it most unfortunate
    of all consequences to avert which all partial and temporary evils
    should be yielded, I proposed to him, however, to dine with me the
    next day, and I would invite another friend or two, bring them
    into conference together, and I thought it impossible that
    reasonable men, consulting together coolly, could fail, by some
    mutual sacrifices of opinion, to form a compromise which was to
    save the Union. The discussion took place. I could take no part
    in it but an exhortatory one, because I was a stranger to the
    circumstances which should govern it. But it was finally agreed,
    that whatever importance had been attached to the rejection of
    this proposition, the preservation of the Union and of concord
    among the States was more important, and that, therefore, it would
    be better that the vote of rejection should be rescinded, to
    effect which some members should change their votes. But it was
    observed that this pill would be peculiarly bitter to the Southern
    States, and that some concomitant measure should be adopted to
    sweeten it a little to them. There had before been projects to fix
    the seat of government either at Philadelphia or at Georgetown on
    the Potomac; and it was thought that, by giving it to Philadelphia
    for ten years, and to Georgetown permanently afterwards, this
    might, as an anodyne, solve in some degree the ferment which might
    be excited by the other measure alone. So two of the Potomac
    members (White and Lee, but White with a revulsion of stomach
    almost convulsive) agreed to change their votes, and Hamilton
    undertook to carry the other point. In doing this, the influence
    he had established over the eastern members, with the agency of
    Robert Morris with those of the Middle States, effected his side
    of the engagement.[1]

[Footnote 1: _Jefferson's Works_, IX, 93.]

As a result of Hamilton's bargain, the bill for Assumption was passed,
and it was agreed that Philadelphia should be the capital for ten
years and that afterwards a new city should be built on the banks of
the Potomac and made the capital permanently.

During the summer of 1789 Washington suffered the most serious
sickness of his entire life. The cause was anthrax in his thigh, and
at times it seemed that it would prove fatal. For many weeks he was
forced to lie on one side, with frequent paroxysms of great pain.
After a month and a half he began to mend, but very slowly, so that
autumn came before he got up and could go about again. His medical
adviser was Dr. Samuel Bard of New York, and Irving reports the
following characteristic conversation between him and his patient:
"Do not flatter me with vain hopes," said Washington, with placid
firmness; "I am not afraid to die, and therefore can bear the worst."
The doctor expressed hope, but owned that he had apprehensions.
"Whether to-night or twenty hence, makes no difference," observed
Washington. "I know that I am in the hands of a good Providence."[1]
His friends thought that he never really recovered his old-time vigor.
That autumn, as soon as Congress had adjourned, he took a journey
through New England, going as far as Portsmouth and returning in time
for the opening of the Second Congress.

[Footnote 1: Irving, V, 22.]

The Government was now settling down into what became its normal
routine. The Cabinet was completed by the appointment of Jefferson as
Secretary of State and Edmund Randolph as Attorney-General. Jefferson
would have preferred to go back to France as American Minister, but
in a fulsome letter he declared himself willing to accept any office
which Washington wished him to fill. The Supreme Court was organized
with John Jay as Chief Justice, and five Associate Justices.
Washington could not fail to be aware that parties were beginning to
shape themselves. At first the natural divisions consisted of the
Federalists, who believed in adopting the Constitution, and those
who did not. As soon as the thirteen States voted to accept the
Constitution, the Anti-Federalists had no definite motive for
existing. Their place was taken principally by the Republicans over
against whom were the Democrats. A few years later these parties
exchanged names. A fundamental difference in the ideas of the
Americans sprang from their views in regard to National and State
rights. Some of them regarded the State as the ultimate unit. Others
insisted that the Nation was sovereign. These two conflicting views
run through American history down to the Civil War, and even in
Washington's time they existed in outline. Washington himself was
a Federalist, believing that the Federation of the former Colonies
should be made as compact and strongly knit as possible. He had
had too much evidence during the Revolution of the weakness of
uncentralized government, and yet his Virginia origin and training had
planted in him a strong sympathy for State rights. In Washington's
own Cabinet dwelt side by side the leaders of the two parties: Thomas
Jefferson, the Secretary of State, though born in Virginia of high
aristocratic stock, was the most aggressive and infatuated of
Democrats. Alexander Hamilton, born in the West Indies and owing
nothing to family connections, was a natural aristocrat. He believed
that the educated and competent few must inevitably govern the
incompetent masses. His enemies suspected that he leaned strongly
towards monarchy and would have been glad to see Washington crowned

President Washington, believing in Assumption, took satisfaction in
Hamilton's bargain with Jefferson which made Assumption possible. For
the President saw in the act a power making for union, and union was
one of the chief objects of his concern. The foremost of Hamilton's
measures, however, for good or for ill, was the protective tariff on
foreign imports. Experience has shown that protection has been much
more than a financial device. It has been deeply and inextricably
moral. It has caused many American citizens to seek for tariff favors
from the Government. Compared with later rates, those which Hamilton's
tariff set were moderate indeed. The highest duties it exacted on
foreign imports were fifteen per cent, while the average was only
eight and a half per cent. And yet it had not been long in force when
the Government was receiving $200,000 a month, which enabled it to
defray all the necessary public charges. Hamilton, in the words of
Daniel Webster, "smote the rock of National resources and copious
streams of wealth poured forth. He touched the dead corpse of public
credit and it stood forth erect with life." The United States of all
modern countries have been the best fitted by their natural resources
to do without artificial stimulation, in spite of which fact they
still cling, after one hundred and thirty-five years, to the easy
and plausible tariff makeshift. Washington himself believed that the
tariff should so promote industries as to provide for whatever the
country needed in time of war.

Two other financial measures are to be credited to Hamilton. The first
was the excise, an internal revenue on distilled spirits. It met with
opposition from the advocates of State rights, but was passed after
heated debate. The last was the establishment of a United States Bank.
All of Hamilton's measures tended directly to centralization, the
object which he and Washington regarded as paramount.

In 1790 Washington made a second trip through the Eastern States,
taking pains to visit Rhode Island, which was the last State to ratify
the Constitution (May 29, 1790). These trips of his, for which the
hostile might have found parallels in the royal progresses of the
British sovereigns, really served a good purpose; for they enabled the
people to see and hear their President; which had a good effect in a
newly established nation. Washington lost no opportunity for teaching
a moral. Thus, when he came to Boston, John Hancock, the Governor of
Massachusetts, seemed to wish to indicate that the Governor was the
highest personage in the State and not at all subservient even to
the President of the United States. He wished to arrange it so that
Washington should call on him first, but this Washington had no idea
of doing. Hancock then wrote and apologized for not greeting the
President owing to an unfortunate indisposition. Washington replied
regretting the Governor's illness and announcing that the schedule on
which he was travelling required him to quit Boston at a given time.
Governor Hancock, whose spectacular signature had given him prominence
everywhere, finding that he could not make the President budge, sent
word that he was coming to pay his respects. Washington replied that
he should be much pleased to welcome him, but expressed anxiety lest
the Governor might increase his indisposition by coming out. This
little comedy had a far-reaching effect. It settled the question as to
whether the Governor of a State or the President of the United States
should take precedence. From that day to this, no Governor, so far
as I am aware, has set himself above the President in matters of

One of the earliest difficulties which Washington's administration had
to overcome was the hostility of the Indians. Indian discontent and
even lawlessness had been going on for years, with only a desultory
and ineffectual show of vigor on the part of the whites. Washington,
who detested whatever was ineffectual and lacking in purpose,
determined to beat down the Indians into submission. He sent out a
first army under General St. Clair, but it was taken in ambush by the
Indians and nearly wiped out--a disaster which caused almost a panic
throughout the Western country. Washington felt the losses deeply, but
he had no intention of being beaten there. He organized a second army,
gave it to General Wayne to command, who finally brought the Six
Nations to terms. The Indians in the South still remained unpacified
and lawless.

Washington made another prolonged trip, this time through the Southern
States, which greatly improved his health and gave an opportunity of
seeing many of the public men, and enabled the population to greet for
the first time their President. Meanwhile the seeds of partisan feuds
grew apace, as they could not fail to do where two of the ablest
politicians ever known in the United States sat in the same Cabinet
and pursued with unremitting energy ideas that were mutually
uncompromising. Thomas Jefferson, although born of the old
aristocratic stock of Virginia, had early announced himself a
Democrat, and had led that faction throughout the Revolution. His
facile and fiery mind gave to the Declaration of Independence an
irresistible appeal, and it still remains after nearly one hundred and
fifty years one of the most contagious documents ever drawn up. Going
to France at the outbreak of the French Revolution, he found the
French nation about to put into practice the principles on which he
had long fed his imagination--principles which he accepted without
qualification and without scruple. Returning to America after the
organization of the Government, he accepted with evident reluctance
the position of Secretary of State which Washington offered to him. In
the Cabinet his chief adversary or competitor was Alexander Hamilton,
his junior by fourteen years, a man equally versatile and equally
facile--and still more enthralling as an orator. Hamilton harbored the
anxiety that the United States under their new Constitution would be
too loosely held together. He promoted, therefore, every measure
that tended to strengthen the Central Government and to save it
from dissolution either by the collapse of its unifying bonds or
by anarchy. In the work of the first two years of Washington's
administration, Hamilton was plainly victorious. The Tariff Law, the
Excise, the National Bank, the National Funding Bill, all centralizing
measures, were his. Washington approved them all, and we may believe
that he talked them over with Hamilton and gave them his approval
before they came under public discussion.

Thus, as Hamilton gained, Jefferson plainly lost. But Washington
did not abandon his sound position as a neutral between the two. He
requested Jefferson and Edmund Randolph to draw up objections to some
of Hamilton's schemes, so that he had in writing the arguments of very
strong opponents.

Meanwhile the French Revolution had broken all bounds, and Jefferson, as
the sponsor of the French over here, was kept busy in explaining and
defending the Gallic horrors. The Americans were in a large sense
law-abiding, but in another sense they were lawless. Nevertheless, they
heard with horror of the atrocities of the French Revolutionists--of the
drownings, of the guillotining, of the imprisonment and execution of the
King and Queen--and they had a healthy distrust of the Jacobin Party,
which boasted that these things were natural accompaniments of Liberty
with which they planned to conquer the world. Events in France
inevitably drove that country into war with England. Washington and his
chief advisers believed that the United States ought to remain neutral
as between the two belligerents. But neutrality was difficult. In spite
of their horror at the French Revolution, the memory of our debt to
France during our own Revolution made a very strong bond of sympathy,
whereas our long record of hostility to England during our Colony days,
and since the Declaration of Independence, kept alive a traditional
hatred for Great Britain. While it was easy, therefore, to preach
neutrality, it was very difficult to enforce it. An occurrence which
could not have been foreseen further added to the difficulty of

In the spring of 1793 the French Republic appointed Edmond Charles
Genêt, familiarly called "Citizen Genêt," Minister to the United
States. He was a young man, not more than thirty, of very quick parts,
who had been brought up in the Bureau of Foreign Affairs, had an
exorbitant idea of his own importance, and might be described without
malice as a master of effrontery. The ship which brought him to this
country was driven by adverse winds to Charleston and landed him there
on April 8th. He lost no time in fitting out a privateer against
British mercantile vessels. The fact that by so doing he broke the
American rule of neutrality did not seem to trouble him at all; on the
contrary, he acted as if he were simply doing what the United States
would do if they really did what they wished. As soon as he had made
his arrangements, he proceeded by land up the coast to Philadelphia.
Jefferson was exuberant, and he wrote in exultation to Madison on the
fifth of May, concluding with the phrase, "I wish we may be able
to repress the spirit of the people within the limits of a fair
neutrality." If there be such things as crocodile tears, perhaps there
may also be crocodile wishes, of which this would seem to be one. A
friend of Hamilton's, writing about the same time, speaks in different
terms, as follows:

    He has a good person, a fine ruddy complexion, quite active, and
    seems always in a bustle, more like a busy man than a man of
    business. A Frenchman in his manners, he announces himself in all
    companies as the Minister of the Republic, etc., talks freely of
    his commission, and, like most Europeans, seems to have adopted
    mistaken notions of the penetration and knowledge of the people of
    the United States. His system, I think, is to laugh us into war if
    he can.[1]

[Footnote 1: Irving, V, 151.]

Citizen Genêt did not allow his progress up the coast to be so
rapid that he was deprived of any ovation. The banquets, luncheons,
speech-makings, by which he was welcomed everywhere, had had no
parallel in the country up to that time. They seemed to be too
carefully prepared to be unpremeditated, and probably many of those
who took part in them did not understand that they were cheering for a
cause which they had never espoused. One wonders why he was allowed to
carry on this personal campaign and to show rude unconcern for good
manners, or indeed for any manners except those of a wayward and
headstrong boy. It might be thought that the Secretary of State
abetted him and in his infatuation for France did not check him; but,
so far as I have discovered, no evidence exists that Jefferson was
in collusion with the truculent and impertinent "Citizen." No doubt,
however, the shrewd American politician took satisfaction in observing
the extravagances of his fellow countrymen in paying tribute to the
representative of France. At Philadelphia, for instance, the city
which already was beginning to have a reputation for spinster
propriety which became its boast in the next century, we hear that
"... before Genêt had presented his credentials and been acknowledged
by the President, he was invited to a grand republican dinner, 'at
which,' we are told, 'the company united in singing the Marseillaise
Hymn. A deputation of French sailors presented themselves, and were
received by the guests with the fraternal embrace.' The table was
decorated with the 'tree of liberty,' and a red cap, called the cap
of liberty, was placed on the head of the minister, and from his
travelled in succession from head to head round the table."[1]

[Footnote 1: Jay's _Life_, I, 30.]

But not all the Americans were delirious enthusiasts. Hamilton kept
his head amid the whirling words which, he said, might "do us much
harm and could do France no good." In a letter, which deserves to be
quoted in spite of its length, he states very clearly the opinions of
one of the sanest of Americans. He writes to a friend:

    It cannot be without danger and inconvenience to our interests, to
    impress on the nations of Europe an idea that we are actuated by
    the same spirit which has for some time past fatally misguided the
    measures of those who conduct the affairs of France, and sullied
    a cause once glorious, and that might have been triumphant. The
    cause of France is compared with that of America during its late
    revolution. Would to Heaven that the comparison were just! Would
    to Heaven we could discern, in the mirror of French affairs, the
    same decorum, the same gravity, the same order, the same dignity,
    the same solemnity, which distinguished the cause of the American
    Revolution! Clouds and darkness would not then rest upon the
    issue as they now do. I own I do not like the comparison. When I
    contemplate the horrid and systematic massacres of the 2nd and 3rd
    of September, when I observe that a Marat and a Robespierre, the
    notorious prompters of those bloody scenes, sit triumphantly in
    the convention, and take a conspicuous part in its measures--that
    an attempt to bring the assassins to justice has been obliged to
    be abandoned--when I see an unfortunate prince, whose reign was
    a continued demonstration of the goodness and benevolence of his
    heart, of his attachment to the people of whom he was the monarch,
    who, though educated in the lap of despotism, had given repeated
    proofs that he was not the enemy of liberty, brought precipitately
    and ignominiously to the block without any substantial proof of
    guilt, as yet disclosed--without even an authentic exhibition of
    motives, in decent regard to the opinions of mankind; when I find
    the doctrine of atheism openly advanced in the convention, and
    heard with loud applause; when I see the sword of fanaticism
    extended to force a political creed upon citizens who were invited
    to submit to the arms of France as the harbingers of liberty; when
    I behold the hand of rapacity outstretched to prostrate and ravish
    the monuments of religious worship, erected by those citizens and
    their ancestors; when I perceive passion, tumult, and violence
    usurping those seats, where reason and cool deliberation ought to
    preside, I acknowledge that I am glad to believe there is no real
    resemblance between what was the cause of America and what is the
    cause of France; that the difference is no less great than that
    between liberty and licentiousness. I regret whatever has a
    tendency to confound them, and I feel anxious, as an American,
    that the ebullitions of inconsiderate men among us may not tend to
    involve our reputation in the issue.[1]

[Footnote 1: _Hamilton's Works_, 566.]

Citizen Genêt continued his campaign unabashed. He attempted to force
the United States to give arms and munitions to the French. Receiving
cool answers to his demands, he lost patience, and intended to appeal
to the American People, over the head of the Government. He sent his
communication for the two Houses of Congress, in care of the Secretary
of State, to be delivered. But Washington, whose patience had seemed
inexhaustible, believed that the time had come to act boldly. By his
instruction Jefferson returned the communication to Genêt with a note
in which he curtly reminded the obstreperous Frenchman of a diplomat's
proper behavior. As the American Government had already requested the
French to recall Genêt, his amazing inflation collapsed like a pricked
bladder. He was too wary, however, to return to France which he had
served so devotedly. He preferred to remain in this country, to become
an American citizen, and to marry the daughter of Governor Clinton of
New York. Perhaps he had time for leisure, during the anticlimax of
his career, to recognize that President Washington, whom he had
looked down upon as a novice in diplomacy, knew how to accomplish his
purpose, very quietly, but effectually. A century and a quarter later,
another foreigner, the German Ambassador, Count Bernstorff, was
allowed by the American Government to weave an even more menacing
plot, but the sound sense of the country awoke in time to sweep him
and his truculence and his conspiracies beyond the Atlantic.

The intrigues of Genêt emphasized the fact that a party had arisen and
was not afraid to speak openly against President Washington. He held
in theory a position above that of parties, but the theory did not
go closely with fact, for he made no concealment of his fundamental
Federalism, and every one saw that, in spite of his formal neutrality,
in great matters he almost always sided with Hamilton instead of with
Jefferson. When he himself recognized that the rift was spreading
between his two chief Cabinet officers, he warned them both to avoid
exaggerating their differences and pursuing any policy which must be
harmful to the country. Patriotism was the chief aim of every one, and
patriotism meant sinking one's private desires in order to achieve
liberty through unity. Washington himself was a man of such strict
virtue that he could work with men who in many matters disagreed with
him, and as he left the points of disagreement on one side, he
used the more effectively points of agreement. I do not think that
Jefferson could do this, or Hamilton either, and I cannot rid myself
of the suspicion that Jefferson furnished Philip Freneau, who came
from New York to Philadelphia to edit the anti-Washington newspaper,
with much of his inspiration if not actual articles. The objective
of the "Gazette" was, of course, the destruction of Hamilton and his
policy of finance. If Hamilton could be thus destroyed, it would be
far easier to pull down Washington also. Lest the invectives in the
"Gazette" should fail to shake Washington in his regard for Hamilton,
Jefferson indited a serious criticism of the Treasury, and he took
pains to have friends of his leave copies of the indictment so that
Washington could not fail to see them. The latter, however, by a
perfectly natural and characteristic stroke which Jefferson could not
foresee, sent the indictment to Hamilton and asked him to explain.
This Hamilton did straightforwardly and point-blank--and Jefferson had
the mortification of perceiving that his ruse had failed. Hamilton,
under a thin disguise, wrote a series of newspaper assaults on
Jefferson, who could not parry them or answer them. He was no match
for the most terrible controversialist in America; but he could wince.
And presently B.F. Bache, the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, brought
his unusual talents in vituperation, in calumny, and in nastiness to
the "Aurora," a blackguard sheet of Philadelphia. Washington doubtless
thought himself so hardened to abuse by the experience he had had of
it during the Revolution that nothing which Freneau, Bache, and their
kind could say or do, would affect him. But he was mistaken. And one
cannot fail to see that they saddened and annoyed him. He felt
so keenly the evil which must come from the deliberate sowing of
dissensions. He cared little what they might say against himself, but
he cared immensely for their sin against patriotism. Before his term
as President drew to a close, he was already deciding not to be
a candidate for a second term. He told his intention to a few
intimates--from them it spread to many others. His best friends were
amazed. They foresaw great trials for the Nation and a possible
revolution. Hamilton tried to move him by every sort of appeal.
Jefferson also was almost boisterous in denouncing the very idea. He
impressed upon him the importance of his continuing at that crisis. He
had not been President long enough to establish precedents for the new
Nation. There were many volatile incidents which, if treated with less
judgment than his, might do grievous harm. One wonders how sincere all
the entreaties to Washington were, but one cannot doubt that the great
majority of the country was perfectly sincere in wishing to have him
continue; for it had sunk deep into the hearts of Americans that
Washington was himself a party, a policy, an ideal above all the rest.
And when the election was held in the autumn of 1792, he was reëlected
by the equivalent of a unanimous vote.



There is no doubt that Washington in his Olympian quiet took a real
satisfaction in his election. On January 20, 1793, he wrote to
Governor Henry Lee of Virginia:

    A mind must be insensible indeed not to be gratefully impressed by
    so distinguished and honorable a testimony of public approbation
    and confidence; and as I suffered my name to be contemplated on
    this occasion, it is more than probable that I should, for a
    moment, have experienced chagrin, if my reëlection had not been
    by a pretty respectable vote. But to say I feel pleasure from the
    prospect of commencing another term of duty would be a departure
    from the truth,--for, however it might savor of affectation in
    the opinion of the world (who, by the by, can only guess at my
    sentiments, as it never has been troubled with them), my
    particular and confidential friends well know, that it was after a
    long and painful conflict in my own breast, that I was withheld,
    (by considerations which are not necessary to be mentioned), from
    requesting in time, that no vote might be thrown away upon me, it
    being my fixed determination to return to the walks of private
    life at the end of my term.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, XII, 256.]

Washington felt at his reëlection not merely egotistic pleasure for
a personal success, but the assurance that it involved a triumph of
measures which he held to be of far more importance than any success
of his own. The American Nation's new organism which he had set
in motion could now continue with the uniformity of its policy
undisturbed by dislocating checks and interruptions. Much, very much
depended upon the persons appointed to direct its progress, and
they depended upon the President who appointed them. In matters of
controversy or dispute, Washington upheld a perfectly impartial
attitude. But he did not believe that this should shackle his freedom
in appointing. According to him a man must profess right views in
order to be considered worthy of appointment. The result of this was
that Washington's appointees must be orthodox in his definition of

His first important act in his new administration was to issue a
Proclamation of Neutrality on April 22d. Although this document was
clear in intent and in purpose, and was evidently framed to keep
the United States from being involved in the war between France and
England, it gave offence to partisans of either country. They used it
as a weapon for attacking the Government, so that Washington found to
his sorrow that the partisan spites, which he had hoped would vanish
almost of their own accord, were become, on the contrary, even more
formidable and irritating. At this juncture the coming of Genêt and
his machinations added greatly to the embarrassment, and, having no
sense of decency, Genêt insinuated that the President had usurped the
powers of Congress and that he himself would seek redress by appealing
to the people over the President. I have already stated that, having
tolerated Genêt's insults and menaces as far as he deemed necessary,
Washington put forth his hand and crushed the spluttering Frenchman
like a bubble.

Persons who like to trace the sardonic element in history--the element
which seems to laugh derisively at the ineffectual efforts of us poor
mortals to establish ourselves and lead rational lives in the world as
it is--can find few better examples of it than these early years of
the American Republic. In the war which brought about the independence
of the American Colonies, England had been their enemy and France
their friend. Now their instinctive gratitude to France induced many,
perhaps a majority of them, to look with effusive favor on France,
although her character and purpose had quite changed and it was very
evident that for the Americans to side with France would be against
sound policy and common sense. Neutrality, the strictest neutrality,
between England and France was therefore the only rational course; but
the American partisans of these rivals did their utmost to render this
unachievable. Much of Washington's second term see-sawed between one
horn and the other of this dilemma. The sardonic aspect becomes more
glaring if we remember that the United States were a new-born nation
which ought to have been devoting itself to establishing viable
relations among its own population and not to have been dissipating
its strength taking sides with neighbors who lived four thousand miles

In the autumn of 1793 Jefferson insisted upon resigning as Secretary
of State. Washington used all his persuasiveness to dissuade him, but
in vain. Jefferson saw the matter in its true light, and insisted.
Perhaps it at last occurred to him, as it must occur to every
dispassionate critic, that he could not go on forever acting as
an important member of an administration which pursued a policy
diametrically opposed to his own. After all, even the most adroit
politicians must sometimes sacrifice an offering to candor, not to say
honesty. At the end of the year he retired to the privacy of his home
at Monticello, where he remained in seclusion, not wholly innocuous,
until the end of 1796. Edmund Randolph succeeded him as Secretary of

Whether it was owing to the departure of Jefferson from the Cabinet or
not, the fact remains that Washington concluded shortly thereafter
the most difficult diplomatic negotiation of his career. This was
the treaty with England, commonly called Jay's Treaty. The President
wished at first to appoint Hamilton, the ablest member of the Cabinet,
but, realizing that it would be unwise to deprive himself and his
administration of so necessary a supporter, he offered the post to
John Jay, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The quality, deemed
most desirable, which it was feared Jay might lack, was audacity. But
he had discretion, tact, and urbanity in full share, besides that
indefinable something which went with his being a great gentleman.

The President, writing to Gouverneur Morris, who had recently been
recalled as Minister to France, said:

    My primary objects, to which I have steadily adhered, have been to
    preserve the country in peace, if I can, and to be prepared for
    war if I cannot, to effect the first, upon terms consistent with
    the respect which is due to ourselves, and with honor, justice and
    good faith to all the world.

    Mr. Jay (and not Mr. Jefferson) as has been suggested to you,
    embarked as envoy extraordinary for England about the middle of
    May. If he succeed, well; if he does not, why, knowing the worst,
    we must take measures accordingly.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, XII, 436. Mount Vernon, June 25, 1794.]

Jay reached London early in June, 1794, and labored over the treaty
with the British negotiators during the summer and autumn, started for
home before Christmas, and put the finished document in Washington's
hands in March. From the moment of his going enemies of all kinds
talked bitterly against him. The result must be a foregone conclusion,
since John Jay was regarded as the chief Anglo-maniac in America after
Hamilton. They therefore condemned in advance any treaty he might
agree to. But their criticism went deeper than mere hatred of him: it
sprang from an inveterate hatred of England, which dated from before
the Revolution. Since the Treaty of 1783 the English seemed to act
deliberately with studied truculence, as if the Americans would not
and could not retaliate. They were believed to be instigating the
Indians to continuous underhand war. They had reached that dangerous
stage of truculence, when they did not think it mattered whether
they spoke with common diplomatic reticence. Lord Dorchester, the
Governor-General of Canada, and to-day better known as Sir Guy
Carleton, his name before they made him a peer, addressed a gathering
of Indian chiefs at Quebec on the assumption that war would come in a
few weeks. President Washington kept steady watch of every symptom,
and he knew that it would not require a large spark to kindle a
conflagration. "My objects are, to prevent a war," he wrote to Edmund
Randolph, on April 15, 1794, "if justice can be obtained by fair and
strong representations (to be made by a special envoy) of the injuries
which this country has sustained from Great Britain in various ways,
to put it into a complete state of military defence, and to provide
_eventually_ for such measures as seem to be now pending in
Congress for execution, if negotiations in a reasonable time proves

[Footnote 1: Ford, XIII, 4-9.]

The year 1794 marked the sleepless anxiety of the Silent President.
Day and night his thoughts were in London, with Jay. He said little;
he had few letters from Jay--it then required from eight to ten weeks
for the mail clippers to make a voyage across the Atlantic. Opposition
to the general idea of such a treaty as the mass of Republicans and
Anti-Federalists supposed Washington hoped to secure, grew week by
week. The Silent Man heard the cavil and said nothing.

At last early in 1795 Jay returned. His Treaty caused an uproar. The
hottest of his enemies found an easy explanation on the ground that
he was a traitor. Stanch Federalists suffered all varieties of
mortification. Washington himself entered into no discussion, but he
ruminated over those which came to him. I am not sure that he
invented the phrase "Either the Treaty, or war," which summed up the
alternatives which confronted Jay; but he used it with convincing
emphasis. When it came before the Senate, both sides had gathered
every available supporter, and the vote showed only a majority of
one in its favor. Still, it passed. But that did not satisfy its
pertinacious enemies. Neither were they restrained by the President's
proclamation. The Constitution assigned the duty of negotiating and
ratifying treaties to the President and Senate; but to the perfervid
Anti-Britishers the Constitution was no more than an old cobweb to be
brushed away at pleasure. The Jay Treaty could not be put into effect
without money for expenses; all bills involving money must pass the
House of Representatives; therefore, the House would actually control
the operation of the Treaty.

The House at this time was Republican by a marked majority. In March,
1796, the President laid the matter before the House. In a twinkling
the floodgates of speechifying burst open; the debates touched
every aspect of the question. James Madison, the wise supporter of
Washington and Hamilton in earlier days and the fellow worker on "The
Federalist," led the Democrats in their furious attacks. He was ably
seconded by Albert Gallatin, the high-minded young Swiss doctrinaire
from Geneva, a terrible man, in whose head principles became two-edged
weapons with Calvinistic precision and mercilessness. The Democrats
requested the President to let them see the correspondence in
reference to the Treaty during its preparation. This he wisely
declined to do. The Constitution did not recognize their right to make
the demand, and he foresaw that, if granted by him then, it might be
used as a harmful precedent.

For many weeks the controversy waxed hot in the House. Scores of
speakers hammered at every argument, yet only one speech eclipsed
all the rest, and remains now, after one hundred and thirty years, a
paragon. There are historians who assert that this was the greatest
speech delivered in Congress before Daniel Webster spoke there--an
implication which might lead irreverent critics to whisper that too
much reading may have dulled their discrimination. But fortunately not
only the text of the speech remains; we have also ample evidence of
the effect it produced on its hearers. Fisher Ames, a Representative
from Massachusetts, uttered it. He was a young lawyer, feeble in
health, but burning, after the manner of some consumptives, with
intellectual and moral fire which strangely belied his slender thread
of physical life. Ames pictured the horrors which would ensue if the
Treaty were rejected. Quite naturally he assumed the part of a man
on the verge of the grave, which increased the impressiveness of his
words. He spoke for three hours. The members of the House listened
with feverish attention; the crowds in the balconies could not smother
their emotion. One witness reports that Vice-President John Adams sat
in the gallery, the tears running down his cheeks, and that he said to
the friend beside him, "My God, how great he is!"

When Ames began, no doubt the Anti-British groups which swelled
the audience turned towards him an unsympathetic if not a scornful
attention--they had already taken a poll of their members, from which
it appeared that they could count on a majority of six to defeat the
Treaty. As he proceeded, however, and they observed how deeply he was
moving the audience, they may have had to keep up their courage by
reflecting that speeches in Congress rarely change votes. They are
intended to be read by the public outside, which is not under the
spell of the orator or the crowd. But when Fisher Ames, after what
must have seemed to them a whirlwind speech, closed with these solemn,
restrained words, they must have doubted whether their victory was

    Even the minutes I have spent in expostulating, have their value [he
    said] because they protract the crisis and the short period in which
    alone we may resolve to escape it. Yet I have, perhaps, as little
    personal interest in the event as any one here. There is, I believe, no
    member, who will not think his chance to be a witness of the
    consequences greater than mine. If, however, the vote should pass to
    reject--even I, slender and almost broken as my hold on life is, may
    outlive the government and Constitution of my country.[1]

[Footnote 1: Elson, 359.]

The next day when the vote was taken it appeared that the Republicans,
instead of winning by a majority of six, had lost by three.

The person who really triumphed was George Washington, although Fisher
Ames, who won the immediate victory, deserved undying laurel. The
Treaty had all the objections that its critics brought against it
then, but it had one sterling virtue which outweighed them all. It not
only made peace between the United States and Great Britain the normal
condition, but it removed the likelihood that the wrangling over petty
matters might lead to war. For many years Washington had a fixed idea
that if the new country could live for twenty years without a conflict
with its chief neighbors, its future would be safe; for he felt that
at the end of that time it would have grown so strong by the natural
increase in population and by the strength that comes from developing
its resources, that it need not fear the attack of any people in the
world. The Jay Treaty helped towards this end; it prevented war for
sixteen years only; but even that delay was of great service to the
Americans and made them more ready to face it than they would have
been in 1795.



The Treaty with England had scarely been put in operation before the
Treaty with France, of which Washington also felt the importance, came
to the front. Monroe was not an aggressive agent. Perhaps very
few civilized Americans could have filled that position to the
satisfaction of his American countrymen. They wished the French to
acknowledge and explain various acts which they qualified as outrages,
whereas the French regarded as glories what they called grievances.
The men of the Directory which now ruled France did not profess the
atrocious methods of the Terrorists, but they could not afford in
treating with a foreigner to disavow the Terrorists. In the summer of
'96, Washington, being dissatisfied with Monroe's results, recalled
him, and sent in his place Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, to whom
President Adams afterwards added John Marshall and Elbridge Gerry,
forming a Commission of three. Some of the President's critics have
regarded his treatment of Monroe as unfair, and they imply that it
was inspired by partisanship. He had always been an undisguised
Federalist, whereas Monroe, during the past year or more, had followed
Jefferson and become an unswerving Democrat. The publication here of
a copy of Monroe's letter to the French Committee of Public Safety
caused a sensation; for he had asserted that he was not instructed to
ask for the repeal of the French decrees by which the spoliation of
American commerce had been practised, and he added that if the decrees
benefited France, the United States would submit not only with
patience but with pleasure. What wonder that Washington, in reading
this letter and taking in the full enormity of Monroe's words, should
have allowed himself the exclamation, "Extraordinary!" What wonder
that in due course of time he recalled Monroe from Paris and replaced
him with a man whom he could trust!

The settlement of affairs with France did not come until after
Washington ceased to be President. I will, therefore, say no more
about it, except to refer to the outrageous conduct of the French, who
hurried two of the Commissioners out of France, and, apparently at the
instigation of Talleyrand, declared that they must pay a great deal of
money before they made any arrangement, to which Charles Pinckney made
the famous rejoinder, "Millions for defence, but not one cent for
tribute." The negotiations became so stormy that war seemed imminent.
Congress authorized President Adams to enlist ten thousand men to be
put into the field in case of need, and he wrote to Washington: "We
must have your name, if you will in any case permit us to use it.
There will be more efficacy in it than in many an army." McHenry, the
Secretary of War, wrote: "You see how the storm thickens, and that our
vessel will soon require its ancient pilot. Will you--may we flatter
ourselves, that in a crisis so awful and important, you will accept
the command of all our armies? I hope you will, because you alone can
unite all hearts and all hands, if it is possible that they can be

[Footnote 1: Irving, V, 290.]

To President Adams Washington replied on July 4, 1799: "As my whole
life has been dedicated to my country in one shape or another, for the
poor remains of it, it is not an object to contend for ease and quiet,
when all that is valuable is at stake, further than to be satisfied
that the sacrifice I should make of these, is acceptable and desired
by my country."[1]

[Footnote 1: _Ibid_., 291.]

Congress voted to restore for Washington the rank of
Commander-in-Chief, and he agreed with the Secretary of War that the
three Major-Generals should be Alexander Hamilton, Inspector-General;
Charles C. Pinckney, who was still in Europe; and Henry Knox. But a
change came over the passions of France; Napoleon Bonaparte, the new
despot who had taken control of that hysterical republic for himself,
was now aspiring to something higher and larger than the humiliation
of the United States and his menace in that direction ceased.

We need to note two or three events before Washington's term ended
because they were thoroughly characteristic. First of these was the
Whiskey Insurrection in western Pennsylvania. The inhabitants first
grew surly, then broke out in insurrection on account of the Excise
Law. They found it cheaper to convert their corn and grain into
whiskey, which could be more easily transported, but the Government
insisted that the Excise Law, being a law, should be obeyed. The
malcontents held a great mass meeting on Braddock's Field, denounced
the law and declared that they would not obey it. Washington issued a
proclamation calling upon the people to resume their peaceable life.
He called also on the Governors of Pennsylvania, Maryland, New
Jersey, and Virginia for troops, which they furnished. His right-hand
lieutenant was Alexander Hamilton, who felt quite as keenly as he
did himself the importance of putting down such an insurrection.
Washington knew that if any body of the people were allowed unpunished
to rise and disobey any law which pinched or irritated them, all law
and order would very soon go by the board. His action was one of the
great examples in government which he set the people of the United
States. He showed that we must never parley or haggle with sedition,
treason, or lawlessness, but must strike a blow that cannot be
parried, and at once. The Whiskey Insurrectionists may have imagined
that they were too remote to be reached in their western wilderness,
but he taught them a most salutary lesson that, as they were in the
Union, the power of the Union could and would reach them.

One of the matters which Washington could not have foreseen was the
outrageous abuse of the press, which surpassed in virulence and
indecency anything hitherto known in the United States. At first the
journalistic thugs took care not to vilify Washington personally,
but, as they became more outrageous, they spared neither him nor his
family. Freneau, Bache, and Giles were among the most malignant of
these infamous men; and most suspicious is it that two of them at
least were protégés of Thomas Jefferson. Once, when the attack was
particularly atrocious, and the average citizen might well be excused
if he believed that Jefferson wrote it, Jefferson, unmindful of the
full bearing of the French proverb, _Qui s'excuse s'accuse_, wrote
to Washington exculpating himself and protesting that he was not the
author of that particular attack, and added that he had never written
any article of that kind for the press. Many years later the editor of
that newspaper, one of the most shameless of the malignants, calmly
reported in a batch of reminiscences that Jefferson did contribute
many of the most flagrant articles. Senator Lodge, in commenting
on this affair, caustically remarks: "Strict veracity was not the
strongest characteristic of either Freneau or Jefferson, and it is
really of but little consequence whether Freneau was lying in his old
age or in the prime of life."[1]

[Footnote 1: Lodge, II, 223.]

An unbiassed searcher after truth to-day will find that the
circumstantial evidence runs very strongly against Jefferson. He
brought Freneau over from New York to Philadelphia, he knew the sort
of work that Freneau would and could do, he gave him an office in the
State Department, he probably discussed the topics which the "National
Gazette" was to take up, and he probably read the proof of the
articles which that paper was to publish. In his animosities the cloak
of charity neither became him nor fitted him.

Several years later, when Bache's paper, the "Aurora," printed some
material which Washington's enemies hoped would damage him, Jefferson
again took alarm and wrote to Washington to free himself from blame.
To him, the magnanimous President replied in part:

    If I had entertained any suspicions before, that the queries,
    which have been published in Bache's paper, proceeded from you,
    the assurances you have given of the contrary would have removed
    them; but the truth is, I harbored none. I am at no loss to
    _conjecture_ from what source they flowed, through what channel
    they were conveyed, and for what purpose they and similar
    publications appear. They were known to be in the hands of Mr.
    Parker in the early part of the last session of Congress. They
    were shown about by Mr. Giles during the session, and they made
    their public exhibition about the close of it.

    Perceiving and probably hearing, that no abuse in the gazettes
    would induce me to take notice of anonymous publications against
    me, those, who were disposed to do me _such friendly offices_,
    have embraced without restraint every opportunity to weaken the
    confidence of the people; and, by having the whole game in their
    hands, they have scrupled not to publish things that do not, as
    well as those which do exist, and to mutilate the latter, so as to
    make them subserve the purposes which they have in view.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, XIII, 229.]

Washington's opinion of the scurrilous crusade against him, he
expressed in the following letter to Henry Lee:

    But in what will this abuse terminate? For the result, as it
    respects myself, I care not; for I have a consolation within that
    no earthly efforts can deprive me of, and that is, that neither
    ambition nor interested motives have influenced my conduct. The
    arrows of malevolence, therefore, however barbed and well pointed,
    never can reach the most vulnerable part of me; though, whilst I
    am up as a mark, they will be continually aimed. The publications
    in Freneau's and Bache's papers are outrages in that style in
    proportion as their pieces are treated with contempt and are
    passed by in silence by those at whom they are aimed. The tendency
    of them, however, is too obvious to be mistaken by men of cool
    and dispassionate minds, and, in my opinion, ought to alarm them,
    because it is difficult to prescribe bounds to the effect.[1]

[Footnote 1: Lodge, II, 236.]

By his refusal to take notice of these indecencies, Washington set a
high example. In other countries, in France and England, for example,
the victims of such abuse resorted to duels with their abusers: a very
foolish and inadequate practice, since it happened as often as not
that the aggrieved person was killed. In taking no notice of the
calumnies, therefore, Washington prevented the President of the United
States from being drawn into an unseemly duel. We cannot fail to
recognize also that Washington was very sensitive to the maintenance
of freedom of speech. He seems to have acted on the belief that it was
better that occasionally license should degenerate into abuse than
that liberty should be suppressed. He was the President of the first
government in the world which did not control the utterances of its
people. Perhaps he may have supposed that their patriotism would
restrain them from excesses, and there can be no doubt that the insane
gibes of the Freneaus and the Baches gave him much pain because they
proved that those scorpions were not up to the level which the new
Nation offered them.

As the time for the conclusion of Washington's second term drew near,
he left no doubt as to his intentions. Though some of his best friends
urged him to stand for reëlection, he firmly declined. He felt that he
had done enough for his country in sacrificing the last eight years to
it. He had seen it through its formative period, and had, he thought,
steered it into clear, quiet water, so that there was no threatening
danger to demand his continuance at the helm. Many persons thought
that he was more than glad to be relieved of the increasing abuse of
the scurrilous editors. No doubt he was, but we can hardly agree that
merely for the sake of that relief he would abandon his Presidential
post. But does it not seem more likely that his unwillingness to
convert the Presidency into a life office, and so to give the critics
of the American experiment a valid cause for opposition, led him to
establish the precedent that two terms were enough? More than once in
the century and a quarter since he retired in 1797, over-ambitious
Presidents have schemed to win a third election and flattering
sycophants have encouraged them to believe that they could attain it.
But before they came to the test Washington's example--"no more than
two"--has blocked their advance. In this respect also we must admit
that he looked far into the future and saw what would be best for
posterity. The second term as it has proved is bad enough, diverting
a President during his first term to devote much of his energy and
attention to setting traps to secure the second. It might be better
to have only one term to last six years, instead of four, which would
enable a President to give all his time to the duties of his office,
instead of giving a large part of it to the chase after a reëlection.

As soon as Washington determined irrevocably to retire, he began
thinking of the "Farewell Address" which he desired to deliver to his
countrymen as the best legacy he could bequeath. Several years before
he had talked it over with Madison, with whom he was then on very
friendly terms, and Madison had drafted a good deal of it. Now he
turned to Hamilton, giving him the topics as far as they had been
outlined, and bidding him to rewrite it if he thought it desirable. In
September, 1796, Washington read the "Address" before the assembled

The "Farewell Address" belongs among the few supreme utterances on
human government. Its author seems to be completely detached from all
personal or local interests. He tries to see the thing as it is, and
as it is likely to be in its American environment. His advice applies
directly to the American people, and only in so far as what he says
has in a large sense human pertinence do we find in it more than a
local application.

"Be united" is the summary and inspiration of the entire "Address."
"Be united and be American"; as an individual each person must feel
himself most strongly an American. He urges against the poisonous
effects of parties. He warns against the evils that may arise when
parties choose different foreign nations for their favorites.

    The great rule of conduct for us [he says] 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 stop.

    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 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, humour or

Compared with Machiavelli's "Prince," which must come to the mind of
every one who reads the "Farewell Address," one sees at once that the
"Prince" is more limber, it may be more spontaneous, but the great
difference between the two is in their fundamental conception. The
"Address" is frankly a preachment and much of its impressiveness comes
from that fact. The "Prince," on the other hand, has little concern
with the moral aspect of politics discussed and makes no pretence of
condemning immoral practices or making itself a champion of virtue. In
other words, Washington addresses an audience which had passed through
the Puritan Revolution, while Machiavelli spoke to men who were
familiar with the ideals and crimes of the Italian Renaissance.

Washington spread his gospel so clearly that all persons were sure to
learn and inwardly digest it, and many of them assented to it in their
minds, although they did not follow it In their conduct. His paramount
exhortations--"Be united"--"Be Americans"; "do not be drawn into
complications with foreign powers"--at times had a very real living
pertinence. The only doctrine which still causes controversy is that
which touches our attitude towards foreign countries. During the late
World War we heard it revived, and a great many persons who had never
read the "Farewell Address" gravely reminded us of Washington's
warning against "entangling alliances." As a matter of fact, that
phrase does not appear in the "Farewell Address" at all. It was first
used by Thomas Jefferson in his first Inaugural Address, March 4,
1801, sixteen months after Washington was dead and buried. No doubt
the meaning could be deduced from what Washington said in more than
one passage of his "Farewell." But to understand in 1914 what he said
or implied in 1796, we must be historical. In 1796 the country was
torn by conflicting parties for and against strong friendship, if not
an actual alliance, between the United States on one side and Great
Britain or France on the other. Any foreign alliance that could be
made in 1914, however, could not have been, for the same reason, with
either Great Britain or France. The aim proposed by its advocates was
to curb and destroy the German domination of the world. Now Washington
was almost if not quite the most actual of modern statesmen. All
his arrangements at a given moment were directed at the needs and
likelihood of the moment, and in 1914 he would have planned as 1914
demanded. He would have steered his ship by the wind that blew then
and not by the wind that had blown and vanished one hundred and twenty
years before.

Some one has remarked that, while Washington achieved a great victory
in the ratification of the Jay Treaty, that event broke up the
Federalist Party. That is probably inexact, but the break-up of
the Federalist Party was taking place during the last years of
Washington's second administration. The changes in Washington's
Cabinet were most significant, especially as they nearly all meant the
change from a more important to a less important Secretary. Thus
John Jay, the first Secretary of State, really only an incumbent _ad
interim_, gave way to Thomas Jefferson, who was replaced by Edmund
Randolph in 1794, and who in turn was succeeded by Timothy Pickering
in 1795. Alexander Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury from the
beginning in 1789 to 1795, when he made way for Oliver Wolcott, Jr.
Henry Knox, the original Secretary of War, was succeeded by Timothy
Pickering in 1795, who, after less than a year, was followed by James
McHenry. Edmund Randolph served as Attorney-General in 1789 to 1794,
then retiring for William Bradford who, after a brief year, was
replaced by Charles Lee. The Postmaster-Generalship was filled from
1789 to 1791 by Samuel Osgood, and then by Timothy Pickering. Thus at
the end of Washington's eight years we find that in the place of two
really eminent men, like Jefferson and Hamilton, he was served by
Edmund Randolph and Oliver Wolcott, Jr., and James McHenry, good
routine men at the best, mediocrities if judged by comparison with
their predecessors. Moreover, the reputation for discretion of some
of them, suffered. Thus Randolph had not long been Secretary of State
when Joseph Fauchet, the French Minister, produced some papers which
could be construed as implying that Randolph had accepted money.
Randolph was known to be impecunious, but his personal honor had never
been suspected. Washington with characteristic candor sent Randolph
the batch of incriminating letters. Randolph protested that he
"forgave" the President and tried to exculpate himself in the
newspapers. Even that process of deflation did not suffice and he
had recourse to a "Vindication," which was read by few and popularly
believed to vindicate nobody. Washington is believed to have held
Randolph as guiltless, but as weak and as indiscreet. He pitied the
ignominy, for Randolph had been in a way Washington's protégé, whose
career had much interested him and whose downfall for such a cause was
doubly poignant.



Washington's term as President ended at noon on March 4, 1797. He was
present at the inauguration of President John Adams which immediately
followed. On the 3d, besides attending to the final necessary routine,
he wrote several letters of farewell to his immediate friends,
including Henry Knox, Jonathan Trumbull, Timothy Pickering, and James
McHenry. To all he expressed his grief at personal parting, but also
immense relief and happiness in concluding his public career. He said,
for instance, in his letter to Trumbull:

    Although I shall resign the chair of government without a single
    regret, or any desire to intermeddle in politics again, yet there
    are many of my compatriots, among whom be assured I place you,
    from whom I shall part sorrowing; because, unless I meet with them
    at Mount Vernon, it is not likely that I shall ever see them more,
    as I do not expect that I shall ever be twenty miles from it,
    after I am tranquilly settled there. To tell you how glad I should
    be to see you at that place is unnecessary. To this I will add
    that it would not only give me pleasure, but pleasure also to Mrs.
    Washington, and others of the family with whom you are acquainted,
    and who all unite, in every good wish for you and yours.[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, XIII, 377.]

In a few days he returned to Mount Vernon and there indulged himself
in a leisurely survey of the plantation. He rode from one farm to
another and reacquainted himself with the localities where the various
crops were either already springing or would soon be. Indoors there
was an immense volume of correspondence to be attended to with the
aid of Tobias Lear, the faithful secretary who had lived with the
President during the New York and Philadelphia periods. When the
letters were sorted, many answers had to be written, some of which
Washington dictated and others he wrote with his own hand. He admits
to Secretary McHenry that, when he goes to his writing table to
acknowledge the letters he has received, when the lights are brought,
he feels tired and disinclined to do this work, conceiving that the
next night will do as well. "The next night comes," he adds, "and with
it the same causes for postponement, and so on." He has not had time
to look into a book. He is dazed by the incessant number of new faces
which appear at Mount Vernon. They come, he says, out of "respect"
for him, but their real reason is curiosity. He practises Virginian
hospitality very lavishly, but he cannot endure the late hours. So he
invites his nephew, Lawrence Lewis, to spend as much time as he can
at Mount Vernon while he himself and Mrs. Washington go to bed early,
"soon after candle light." Lewis accepted the invitation all the more
willingly because he found at the mansion Nelly Custis, a pretty and
sprightly young lady with whom he promptly fell in love and married
later. Nelly and her brother George had been adopted by Washington
and brought up in the family. She was his particular pet. Like other
mature men he found the boys of the younger generation somewhat
embarrassing. I suppose they felt, as well they might, a great and
awful gulf yawning between them. "I can govern men," he would say,
"but I cannot govern boys."[1] With Nelly Custis, however, he found it
easy to be chums. No one can forget the mock-serious letter in which
he wrote to her in regard to becoming engaged and gave her advice
about falling in love. The letter is unexpected and yet it bears every
mark of sincerity and reveals a genuine vein in his nature. We must
always think of Nelly as one of the refreshments of his older life and
as one of its great delights. He considered himself an old man now.
His hair no longer needed powder; years and cares had made it white.
He spoke of himself without affectation as a very old man, and
apparently he often thought, as he was engaged in some work, "this is
the last time I shall do this." He seems to have taken it for granted
that he was not to live long; but this neither slackened his industry
nor made him gloomy. And he had in truth spent a life of almost
unremitting laboriousness. Those early years as surveyor and Indian
fighter and pathfinder were years of great hardships. The eight years
of the Revolution were a continuous physical strain, an unending
responsibility, and sometimes a bodily deprivation. And finally his
last service as President had brought him disgusts, pinpricks which
probably wore more on his spirits than did the direct blows of his
opponents. Very likely he felt old in his heart of hearts, much older
than his superb physical form betokened. We cannot but rejoice that
Nelly Custis flashed some of the joyfulness and divine insouciance of
youth into the tired heart of the tired great man.

[Footnote 1: Irving, V, 277.]

Perhaps the best offhand description of Washington in these later days
is that given by an English actor, Bernard, who happened to be driving
near Mount Vernon when a carriage containing a man and a woman was
upset. Bernard dismounted to give help, and presently another rider
came up and joined in the work. "He was a tall, erect, well-made man,
evidently advanced in years, but who appeared to have retained all the
vigor and elasticity resulting from a life of temperance and exercise.
His dress was a blue coat buttoned to the chin, and buckskin
breeches."[1] They righted the chaise, harnessed the horse, and
revived the young woman who, true to her time and place, had fainted.
Then she and her companion drove off towards Alexandria. Washington
invited Bernard to come home with him and rest during the heat of the
day. The actor consented. From what the actor subsequently wrote about
that chance meeting I take the following paragraphs, some of which
strike to the quick:

[Footnote 1: Lodge, II, 277.]

    In conversation his face had not much variety of expression. A
    look of thoughtfulness was given by the compression of the mouth
    and the indentations of the brow (suggesting an habitual conflict
    with, and mastery over, passion), which did not seem so much
    to disdain a sympathy with trivialities as to be incapable of
    denoting them. Nor had his voice, so far as I could discover in
    our quiet talk, much change or richness of intonation, but he
    always spoke with earnestness, and his eyes (glorious conductors
    of the light within) burned with a steady fire which no one could
    mistake for mere affability; they were one grand expression of the
    well-known line: "I am a man, and interested in all that concerns
    humanity." In one hour and a half's conversation he touched on
    every topic that I brought before him with an even current of good
    sense, if he embellished it with little wit or verbal elegance. He
    spoke like a man who had felt as much as he had reflected, more
    than he had spoken; like one who had looked upon society rather in
    the mass than in detail, and who regarded the happiness of America
    but as the first link in a series of universal victories; for his
    full faith in the power of those results of civil liberty which
    he saw all around him led him to foresee that it would erelong,
    prevail in other countries and that the social millennium of
    Europe would usher in the political. When I mentioned to him the
    difference I perceived between the inhabitants of New England
    and of the Southern States, he remarked: "I esteem those people
    greatly, they are the stamina of the Union and its greatest
    benefactors. They are continually spreading themselves too, to
    settle and enlighten less favored quarters. Dr. Franklin is a New
    Englander." When I remarked that his observations were flattering
    to my country, he replied, with great good humor, "Yes, yes,
    Mr. Bernard, but I consider your country the cradle of free
    principles, not their armchair. Liberty in England is a sort of
    idol; people are bred up in the belief and love of it, but see
    little of its doings. They walk about freely, but then it is
    between high walls; and the error of its government was in
    supposing that after a portion of their subjects had crossed the
    sea to live upon a common, they would permit their friends at home
    to build up those walls about them."[1]

[Footnote 1: Lodge, II, 338, 339.]

We find among the allusions of several strangers who travelled in
Virginia in Washington's later days, who saw him or perhaps even
stayed at Mount Vernon, some which are not complimentary. More than
one story implies that he was a hard taskmaster, not only with the
negroes, but with the whites. Some of the writers go out of their way
to pick up unpleasant things. For instance, during his absence from
home a mason plastered some of the rooms, and when Washington returned
he found the work had been badly done, and remonstrated. The mason
died. His widow married another mason, who advertised that he would
pay all claims against his forerunner. Thereupon Washington put in a
claim for fifteen shillings, which was paid. Washington's detractors
used this as a strong proof of his harshness. But they do not inform
us whether the man was unable to pay, or whether the claim was
dishonest. Since the man paid voluntarily and did not question the
lightness of the amount, may we not at least infer that he had no
quarrel? And if he had not, who else had?

Insinuations concerning Washington's lack of sympathy for his slaves
was a form which in later days most of the references to his care of
them took. But here also there are evident facts to be taken into
account. The Abolitionists very naturally were prejudiced against
every slave-owner; they were also prejudiced in favor of every slave.
Washington, on the contrary, harbored no prepossessions for or against
the black man. He found the slaves idle, incompetent, lazy, although
he would not have denied that the very fact of slavery caused and
increased these evils. He treated the negroes justly, but without any
sentimentality. He found them in the order in which he lived. They
were the workmen of his plantation; he provided them with food,
clothing, and a lodging; in return they were expected to give him
their labor. It does not appear that the slaves on Washington's
plantation endured any special hardship. A physician attended them at
their master's expense when they were sick. That he obliged them to
do their specified work, that he punished them in case of dishonesty,
just as he would have done to white workmen, were facts which he never
would have thought a rational person would have regarded as heinous.
In his will he freed his slaves, not for the Abolitionist's reason,
but because he regarded slavery as the most pernicious form of labor,
debasing alike the slave and his master, uneconomic and most wasteful.

But in so general a matter as Washington's treatment of his slaves, we
must be careful not to take a solitary case and argue from it as if it
were habitual. By common report his slaves were so well treated that
they regretted it if there was talk of transferring them to other
planters. We have many instances cited which show his unusual
kindness. When he found, for instance, that a mulatto woman, who had
lived many years with one of the negroes, had been transferred to
another part of his domain and that the negro pined for her, he
arranged to have her brought back so that they might pass their old
age together. The old negro was his servant, Billy Lee, who suffered
an accident to his knee, which made him a cripple for the rest of
his life. This he spent at Mount Vernon well cared for. Washington
continued to the end the old custom of supplying a hogshead of rum for
the negroes to drink at harvest time, always premising that they must
partake of it sparingly.

Washington's religious beliefs and practices have also occasioned much
controversy. If we accept his own statements at their plain value, we
must regard him as a Church of England man. I do not discover that he
was in any sense an ardent believer. He preferred to say "Providence"
rather than "God," probably because it was less definite. He attended
divine service on Sundays, whenever a church was near, but for
a considerable period at one part of his life he did not attend
communion. He thoroughly believed in the good which came from
church-going in the army and he always arranged to have a service on
Sundays during his campaigns. When at Mount Vernon, on days when
he did not go out to the service, he spent several hours alone in
meditation in his study. The religious precepts which he had been
taught in childhood remained strong in him through life. He believed
moral truths, and belief with him meant putting in practice what he
professed. While he had imbibed much of the deistic spirit of the
middle of the eighteenth century it would be inaccurate to infer that
he was not fundamentally a Christian.

After Washington withdrew to Mount Vernon, early in the spring of
1797, his time was chiefly devoted to agriculture and the renewing of
his life as a planter. He declined all public undertakings except that
which President Adams begged him to assume--the supreme command of
the army in case of the expected war with France. That new duty
undoubtedly was good for him, for it proved to him that at least all
his official relations with the Government had not ceased, and it also
served to cheer the people of the country to know that in case of
military trouble their old commander would lead them once more.
Washington gave so much attention to this work, which could be in the
earlier stages arranged at Mount Vernon, that he felt justified in
accepting part of the salary which the President allotted to him. But
the war did not come. As Washington prophesied, the French thought
better of their truculence. The new genius who was ruling France
had in mind something more grandiose than a war with the American

On December 10, 1799, Washington sent a long letter to James Anderson
in regard to agricultural plans for his farm during the year 1800. He
calculates closely the probable profits, and specifies the rotation of
crops on five hundred and twenty-five acres. The next day, December
12th, he wrote a short note to Alexander Hamilton, in regard to the
organization of a National Military Academy, a matter in which the
President had long been deeply interested. The day was stormy.
"Morning snowing and about three inches drop. Wind at Northeast, and
mercury at 30. Continued snowing till one o'clock, and about four it
became perfectly clear. Wind in the same place, but not hard. Mercury
28 at night." Washington, who scorned to take any account of weather,
rode for five hours during the morning to several of the farms on his
plantations, examining the conditions at each and conferring with the

On reaching home he complained a little of chilliness. His secretary,
Tobias Lear, observed that he feared he had got wet, but Washington
protested that his greatcoat had kept him dry; in spite of which the
observant Lear saw snow hanging to his hair and remarked that his neck
was wet. Washington went in to dinner, which was waiting, without
changing his dress, as he usually did. "In the evening he appeared as
well as usual. The next day, Friday, there was a heavy fall of snow,
but having a severe cold, he went out for only a little while to mark
some trees, between the house and the river which were to be cut down.
During the day his hoarseness increased, but he made light of it, and
paid no heed to the suggestion that he should take something for it,
only replying, as was his custom, that he would 'let it go as it

Mrs. Washington went upstairs to a room on the floor above to chat
with Mrs. Lewis (Nelly Custis) who had recently been confined.
Washington remained in the parlor with Lear, and when the evening
mail was brought in from the post-office, they read the newspapers;
Washington even reading aloud, as well as his sore throat would allow,
anything "which he thought diverting or interesting." Then Lear read
the debates of the Virginia Assembly on the election of a Senator
and Governor. "On hearing Mr. Madison's observations respecting Mr.
Monroe, he appeared much affected, and spoke with some degree of
asperity on the subject, which I endeavored to moderate," says Lear,
"as I always did on such occasions. On his returning to bed, he
appeared to be in perfect health, excepting the cold before mentioned,
which he considered as trifling, and had been remarkably cheerful all
the evening."

At between two and three o'clock of Saturday morning, December 14th,
Washington awoke Mrs. Washington and told her that he was very unwell
and had had an ague. She observed that he could hardly speak and
breathed with difficulty. She wished to get up to call a servant,
but he, fearing she might take cold, dissuaded her. When daylight
appeared, the woman Caroline came and lighted the fire. Mrs.
Washington sent her to summon Mr. Lear, and Washington asked that Mr.
Rawlins, one of the overseers, should be summoned before the Doctor
could arrive. Lear got up at once, dressed hastily, and went to the
General's bedside. Lear wrote a letter to Dr. Craik, Washington's
longtime friend and physician, and sent it off post-haste by a
servant. Mrs. Washington was up. They prepared a mixture of molasses,
vinegar, and butter, but the patient could not swallow a drop;
whenever he attempted it he appeared to be distressed, convulsed, and
almost suffocated.

"Mr. Rawlins came in soon after sunrise and prepared to bleed him.
When the arm was ready, the General, observing that Rawlins appeared
to be agitated, said, as well as he could speak, 'Don't be afraid,'
and after the incision was made, he observed, 'The orifice is not
large enough,' However, the blood ran pretty freely. Mrs. Washington,
not knowing whether bleeding was proper or not in the General's
situation, begged that much might not be taken from him, lest it
should be injurious, and desired me to stop it; but when I was about
to untie the string, the General put up his hand to prevent it, and as
soon as he could speak, he said, 'More.' Mrs. Washington being still
very uneasy, lest too much blood should be taken, it was stopped after
about half a pint was taken from him.

"Finding that no relief was obtained from bleeding, and that nothing
would go down the throat, I proposed bathing the throat externally
with salvolatile which was done; during the operation, which was with
the hand, in the gentlest manner, he observed, ''Tis very sore.' A
piece of flannel dipped in salvolatile was then put round his neck.
His feet were also bathed in warm water. This, however, gave no
relief. In the meantime, before Dr. Craik arrived, Mrs. Washington
requested me to send for Dr. Brown, of Port Tobacco, whom Dr. Craik
had recommended to be called, if any case should ever occur that was
seriously alarming. I despatched a Messenger (Cyrus) to Dr. Brown
immediately (between eight and nine o'clock). Dr. Craik came in soon
after, and after examining the General, he put a blister of Cantharide
on the throat and took some more blood from him, and had some Vinegar
and hot water put into a Teapot for the General to draw in the steam
from the nozel, which he did as well as he was able. He also ordered
sage tea and Vinegar to be mixed for a Gargle. This the General used
as often as desired; but when he held back his head to let it run
down, it put him into great distress and almost produced suffocation.
When the mixture came out of his mouth some phlegm followed it, and he
would attempt to cough, which the Doctor encouraged him to do as much
as he could; but without effect--he could only make the attempt.

"About eleven o'clock, Dr. Dick was sent for. Dr. Craik requested that
Dr. Dick might be sent for, as he feared Dr. Brown would not come in
time. A message was accordingly despatched for him. Dr. Craik bled the
General again about this time. No effect, however, was produced by it,
and he continued in the same state, unable to swallow anything. Dr.
Dick came in about three o'clock, and Dr. Brown arrived soon after.
Upon Dr. Dick's seeing the General, and consulting a few minutes with
Dr. Craik, he was bled gain, the blood ran very slowly and did not
produce any symptoms of fainting. Dr. Brown came Into the chamber room
soon after, and upon feeling the General's pulse &c., the Physicians
went out together. Dr. Craik soon after returned. The General could
now swallow a little--about four o'clock Calomel and tartar emetic
were administered; but without any effect. About half past four
o'clock, he desired me to ask Mrs. Washington to come to his
bedside--when he requested her to go down into his room and take from
his desk two wills which she would find there, and bring them to him,
which she did. Upon looking at them he gave her one, which he observed
was useless, as it was superseded by the other, and desired her to
burn it, which she did, and then took the other and put it away into
her closet. After this was done, I returned again to his bedside and
took his hand. He said to me, 'I find I am going, my breath cannot
continue long; I believed from the first attack it would be
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 any one else, and let Mr. Rawlins finish recording my
other letters.' He then asked if I recollected anything which it was
essential for him to do, as he had but a very short time to continue
with us. I told him that I could recollect nothing, but that I hoped
he was not so near his end. He observed, smiling, that he certainly
was, and that, as it was the debt which we all must pay, he looked to
the event with perfect resignation.

"In the course of the afternoon he appeared to be in great pain and
distress, from the difficulty of breathing, and frequently changed
his posture in the bed. On these occasions I lay upon the bed and
endeavored to raise him, and turn him with as much ease as possible.
He appeared penetrated with gratitude for my attentions, and often
said, 'I am afraid I shall fatigue you too much'; and upon my
answering him, that I could feel nothing but a wish to give him ease,
he replied, 'Well, it is a debt we must pay to each other, and I hope,
when you want aid of this kind, you will find it.' He asked when Mr.
Lewis and Washington[1] would return. They were then in New Kent. I
told him I believed about the 20th of the month. He made no reply.

[Footnote 1: George Washington Parke Custis.]

"About five o'clock Dr. Craik came again into the room, and upon going
to the bedside the General said to him: '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 pressed his hand,
but could not utter a word. He retired from the bedside, and sat by
the fire absorbed in grief. The physicians, Dr. Dick and Dr. Brown,
again came in (between five and six o'clock), and when they came to
his bedside, Dr. Craik asked him if he could sit up in the bed.
He held out his hand to me and was raised up, when he said to the
Physicians: 'I feel myself going. I thank you for your attention--you
had better not take any more trouble about me; but let me go off
quietly; I cannot last long,' They found out that all which had been
done was of no effect. He lay down again, and all retired except Dr.
Craik. He continued in the same position, uneasy and restless, but
without complaining; frequently asking what hour it was. When I helped
to move him at this, he did not speak, but looked at me with strong
expressions of gratitude. The Doctor pressed his hand, but could
not utter a word. He retired from the bedside, and sat by the fire
absorbed in grief. About eight o'clock the Physicians came again into
the Room and applied blisters, and cataplasms of wheat bran, to his
legs and feet: but went out (except Dr. Craik) without a ray of hope.
I went out about this time, and wrote a line to Mr. Low and Mr.
Peter requesting them to come with their wives (Mrs. Washington's
granddaughters) as soon as possible.

"From this time he appeared to breathe with less difficulty than he
had done; but was very restless, constantly changing his position to
endeavor to get ease. I aided him all in my power, and was gratified
in believing he felt it: for he would look upon me with his eyes
speaking gratitude; but unable to utter a word without great distress.
About ten o'clock he made several attempts to speak to me before
he could effect it. At length, he 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.' I bowed assent, for I could not
speak. He then looked at me again, and said, 'Do you understand me?' I
replied, 'Yes, sir.'

"''Tis well,' said he. About ten minutes before he expired his
breathing became much easier; he lay quietly; he withdrew his hand
from mine and felt his own pulse. I spoke to Dr. Craik who sat by the
fire; he came to the bedside. The General's hand fell from his wrist.
I took it in mine and laid it upon my breast. Dr. Craik put his hand
on his eyes and he expired without a struggle or a Sigh! While we were
fixed in silent grief, Mrs. Washington, who was sitting at the foot of
the bed, asked, with a firm and collected voice, 'Is he gone?' I could
not speak, but held up my hand as a signal that he was. ''Tis well,'
said she in a plain voice. 'All is now over. I have no more trials to
pass through. I shall soon follow him.'"[1]

[Footnote 1: Ford, XIV, 246-52. I have copied Tobias Lear's remarkable
account of Washington's death almost verbatim.]

Once read, honest Tobias Lear's account of Washington's death will
hardly be forgotten. It has a majestic simplicity which we feel must
have accompanied Washington in his last hours. The homely sick-bed
details; his grim fortitude; his willingness to do everything which
the physicians recommended, not because he wanted to live, nor because
he thought they would help him, but because he wished to obey. We see
him there trying to force out the painful words from his constricted
throat and when he was unable to whisper even a "thank you" for some
service done, Lear read the unuttered gratitude in his eyes. The
faithful Lear, lying on the outside of the bed in order to be able to
help turn Washington with less pain, and poor old Dr. Craik, lifelong
friend, who became too moved to speak, so that he sat off near the
fire in silence except for a stifled sob, and Mrs. Washington, placed
near the foot of the bed, waiting patiently in complete self-control.
She seemed to have determined that the last look which her mate of
forty years had of her should not portray helpless grief. And from
time to time the negro slaves came to the door that led into the entry
and they peered into the room very reverently, and with their emotions
held in check, at their dying master. And then there was a ceasing of
the pain and the breathing became easier and quieter and Dr. Craik
placed his hand over the life-tired eyes and Washington was dead
without a struggle or even a sigh.

The pathos or tragedy of it lies in the fact that all the devices and
experiments of the doctors could avail nothing. The quinsy sore throat
which killed him could not be cured by any means then known to medical
art. The practice of bleeding, which by many persons was thought to
have killed him, was then so widely used that his doctors would have
been censured If they had omitted it. Sixty years later it was still
in use, and no one can doubt that it deprived Italy's great statesman
of his chance of living. The premonition of Washington on his first
seizure with the quinsy that the end had come proved fatally true.

The news of Washington's death did not reach the capital until
Wednesday, December 18th. The House immediately adjourned. On the
following day, when it reassembled, John Marshall delivered a brief
tribute and resolutions were passed to attend the funeral and to pay
honor "to the memory of the Man, first in war, first in peace, and
first in the hearts of his countrymen," The immortal phrase was by
Colonel Henry Lee, the father of General Robert E. Lee. President
Adams, in response to a letter from the Senate of the United States,
used the less happy phrase, "If a Trajan found a Pliny, a Marcus
Aurelius can never want biographers, eulogists, or historians."

During the days immediately following Washington's death, preparations
were made at Mount Vernon for the funeral. They sent to Alexandria for
a coffin and Dr. Dick measured the body, which he found to be exactly
six feet three and one half inches in length. The family vault was
on the slope of the hill, a little to the south of the house. Mrs.
Washington desired that a door should be made for the vault instead of
having it closed up as formerly, after the body should be deposited,
observing that "it will soon be necessary to open it again." Mourning
clothes were prepared for the family and servants. The ceremony took
place on Wednesday. There were many troops. Eleven pieces of artillery
were brought down from Alexandria and a schooner belonging to Mr. R.
Hamilton came down and lay off Mount Vernon to fire minute guns.
The pall-holders were Colonels Little, Charles Sims, Payne, Gilpin,
Ramsay, and Marsteller, and Colonel Blackburne walked before the
corpse. Colonel Deneal marched with the military. About three o'clock
the procession began to move. Colonels Little, Sims and Deneal and
Dr. Dick directed the arrangements of the procession. This moved out
through the gate at the left wing of the house and proceeded around
in front of the lawn and down to the vault on the right wing of the
house. The procession was as follows: The troops; horse and foot;
music playing a solemn dirge with muffled drums; the clergy, viz.:
the Reverends Mr. Davis, Mr. James Miner, and Mr. Moffatt, and Mr.
Addison; the General's horse, with his saddle, holsters, and pistols,
led by two grooms, Cyrus and Wilson, in black; the body borne by
officers and Masons who insisted upon carrying it to the grave; the
principal mourners, viz.: Mrs. Stuart and Mrs. Low, Misses Nancy and
Sally Stuart, Miss Fairfax, and Miss Dennison, Mr. Low and Mr. Peter,
Dr. Craik and T. Lear; Lord Fairfax and Ferdinando Fairfax; Lodge No.
23; Corporation of Alexandria. All other persons, preceded by Mr.
Anderson, Mr. Rawlins, the Overseers, etc., etc.

The Reverend Mr. Davis read the service and made a short extempore
speech. The Masons performed their ceremonies and the body was
deposited in the vault. All then returned to the house and partook
of some refreshment, and dispersed with the greatest good order and
regularity. The remains of the provisions were distributed among
the blacks. Mr. Peter, Dr. Craik, and Dr. Thornton tarried here all

[Footnote 1: From notes by T. Lear, Ford, XIV, 254-55.]

The Committee appointed by Congress to plan a suitable memorial
for Washington proposed a monument to be erected in the city of
Washington, to be adorned with statuary symbolizing his career as
General and as President, and containing a tomb for himself and for
Mrs. Washington. The latter replied to President Adams that "taught by
the great example which I have so long had before me, never to oppose
my private wishes to the public will, I must consent to the request
made by Congress, which you have had the goodness to transmit me,
and in doing this, I need not say, I cannot say, what a sacrifice of
individual feeling I make to a sense of public duty." The intended
monument at the capital was never erected. Martha Washington lies
beside her husband where she wished to be, in the family vault at
Mount Vernon. From her chamber window in the upper story of the Mount
Vernon house she could look across the field to the vault. She died
in 1802, a woman of rare discretion and good sense who, during forty
years, proved herself the worthiest companion of the founder of his

I have wished to write this biography of George Washington so that
it would explain itself. There is no need of eulogy. All eulogy is
superfluous. We see the young Virginia boy, born in aristocratic
conditions, with but a meagre education, but trained by the sports and
rural occupations of his home in perfect manliness, in courage, in
self-reliance, in resourcefulness. Some one instilled into him moral
precepts which fastened upon his young conscience and would not let
him go. At twenty he was physically a young giant capable of enduring
any hardship and of meeting any foe. He ran his surveyor's chain far
into the wilderness to the west of Mount Vernon. When hardly a man
in age, the State of Virginia knew of his qualities and made him
an officer in its militia. At only twenty-three he was invited to
accompany General Braddock's staff, but neither he nor angels from
heaven could prevent Braddock from plunging with typical British
bull-headedness into the fatal Indian ambush. He gave up border
warfare, but did not cease to condemn the inadequacy of the Virginia
military equipment and its training. He devoted himself to the
pursuits of a large planter, and on being elected a Burgess, he
attended regularly the sessions at Williamsburg. Wild conditions which
in his boyhood had reached almost to Fauquier County, had drifted
rapidly westward. Within less than ten years of Braddock's defeat,
Fort Duquesne had become permanently English and the name of
Pittsburgh reminded men of the great British statesman who had urged
on the fateful British encroachment on the Ohio River. For Washington
in person, the lasting effect of the early training and fighting in
western Pennsylvania was that it gave him direct knowledge of the
Indian and his ways, and that it turned his imagination to thinking
out the problem of developing the Middle West, and of keeping the
connections between the East and the West strong and open.

In the House of Burgesses Washington was a taciturn member, yet he
seemed to have got a great deal of political knowledge and wisdom so
that his colleagues thought of him as the solid man of the House
and they referred many matters to him as if for final decision. He
followed political affairs in the newspapers. Above all, at Mount
Vernon he heard all sides from the guests who passed his domain and
enjoyed his hospitality. From the moment that the irritation between
Great Britain and the Colonies became bitter he seems to have made up
his mind that the contention of the Colonists was just. After that
he never wavered, but he was not a sudden or a shallow clamorer for
Independence. He believed that the sober second sense of the British
would lead them to perceive that they had made a mistake. When at
length the Colonies had to provide themselves with an army and to
undertake a war, he was the only candidate seriously considered for
General, although John Hancock, who had made his peacock way so
successfully in many walks of life, thought that he alone was
worthy of the position. Who shall describe Washington's life as
Commander-in-Chief of the Colonial forces during the Revolutionary
War? What other commander ever had a task like his? For a few weeks
the troops led by Napoleon--the barefooted and ragged heroes of Lodi
and Arcola and Marengo--were equally destitute, but victory brought
them food and clothes and prosperity. Whereas Washington's men had no
comfort before victory and none after it.

Some of the military critics to-day deny Washington's right to be
ranked among the great military commanders of the world, but the truth
is that he commanded during nearly eight years and won one of the
supreme crucial wars of history against far superior forces. The
General who did that was no understrapper. The man whose courage
diffused itself among the ten thousand starving soldiers at Valley
Forge, and enabled them to endure against the starvation and distress
of a winter, may very well fail to be classified among the Prince
Ruperts and the Marshal Neys of battle, but he ranks first in a
higher class. His Fabian policy, which troubled so many of his
contemporaries, saved the American Revolution. His title as General
is secure. Nor should we forget that it was his scrupulous patriotism
which prevented the cropping out of militarism in this country.

Finally, a country which owed its existence to him chose him to be for
eight years its first President. He saw the planting of the roots of
the chief organs of its government. In every act he looked far forward
into the future. He shunned making or following evil precedents. He
endured the most virulent personal abuse that has ever been poured out
on American public men, preferring that to using the power which his
position gave him, and denaturing the President into a tyrant. Nor
should we fail to honor him for his insistence on dignity and a proper
respect for his office. His enemies sneered at him for that, but
we see plainly how much it meant to this new Nation to have such
qualities exemplified. Had Thomas Jefferson been our first President
in his _sans-culotte_ days, our Government might not have outlasted
the _sans-culottist_ enthusiasts in France. A man is known by his
friends. The chosen friends of Washington were among the best of his
time in America. Hamilton, Henry Knox, Nathanael Greene, John Jay,
John Marshall--these were some.

Although Washington was less learned than many of the men of his time
in political theory and history, he excelled them all in a concrete
application of principles. He had the widest acquaintance among men of
different sorts. He heard all opinions, but never sacrificed his own.
As I have said earlier, he was the most _actual_ statesman of his
time; the people in Virginia came very early to regard him as a man
apart; this was true of the later days when the Government sat in New
York and Philadelphia. If they sought a reason, they usually agreed
that Washington excelled by his character, and if you analyze most
closely you will never get deeper than that. Reserved he was, and not
a loose or glib talker, but he always showed his interest and gave
close attention. After Yorktown, when the United States proclaimed to
the world that they were an independent Republic, Europe recognized
that this was indeed a Republic unlike all those which had preceded it
during antiquity and the Middle Age. Foreigners doubted that it could
exist. They doubted that Democracy could ever govern a nation. They
knew despots, like the Prussian King, Frederic, who walked about the
streets of Berlin and used his walking-stick on the cringing persons
whom he passed on the sidewalk and did not like the looks of. They
remembered the crazy Czar, Peter, and they knew about the insane
tendencies of the British sovereign, George. The world argued from
these and other examples that monarchy was safe; it could not doubt
that the supply of monarchs would never give out; but it had no hope
of a Republic governed by a President. It was George Washington more
than any other agency who made the world change its mind and conclude
that the best President was the best kind of monarch.

It is reported that after he died many persons who had been his
neighbors and acquaintances confessed that they had always felt a
peculiar sense of being with a higher sort of person in his presence:
a being not superhuman, but far above common men. That feeling will
revive in the heart of any one to-day who reads wisely in the fourteen
volumes of "Washington's Correspondence," in which, as in a mine,
are buried the passions and emotions from which sprang the American
Revolution and the American Constitution. That George Washington lived
and achieved is the justification and hope of the United States.



Throughout the index, the initial _W_. is used for the name of George

Adams, John, his _Diary_ quoted, 57 _n_.;
  on committee to confer with Howe, 79;
  on Peace Commission, 130;
  chosen first Vice-President, 176;
  appoints _W_. Commander-in-Chief, in 1799, 217, 240;
  letter of _W_. to, 217; 49, 59, 155, 156, 162, 180, 212, 215,
     217, 231, 251, 254.

Adams, Samuel, 49, 57, 59, 60, 162, 175, 176.

Addison, Rev. Mr., 253.

Agriculturist, _W_. as an, 37 _ff_.

Albert, Prince, 153.

Alleghany Mts., 7.

American Revolution, 64-126 _passim_;
  great extent of field of operations, 67;
  really ended with surrender at Yorktown, 126;
  nature and results of, 126-128;
  proclamation of end of hostilities, 135;
  saved by _W.'s_ Fabian policy, 257.

Ames, Fisher, speech on Jay Treaty, and its effect, 211-213.

Anderson, James, 240, 253.

André, John, Clinton's messenger to Arnold, court-martialed and
     hanged, 110, 111.

Annapolis Convention, 158.

Anti-Assumptionists. _See_ State debts.

Anti-Federalists, 186.

Army, Colonial, at Boston, 69 _ff_.;
  brought into order by _W_., 72;
  lacks powder, 72;
  compels evacuation of Boston, 72,73;
  how distributed, 76, 77;
  _W_. on proper organization of, 80, 81;
  his influence over, 82,88;
  condition of, at end of 1776, 84;
  desertions from, 84, 97;
  at Valley Forge, 100 _ff_.;
  _W_. on condition of, after the war, 131, 132;
  difficulties about back pay, 133, 134, 141;
  some officers of, intrigue to make _W_. king, 134;
  _W.'s_ reply, 135;
  continued turmoil in, 135;
  _W.'s_ farewell to officers of, 136, 137;
  attitude of Congress toward, 139, 140.

Arnold, Benedict, repulsed at Quebec, 72;
  surrenders West Point, 110;
  in Virginia, 122, 123; 77.

Articles of Confederation, 152, 153, 156.
  And _see_ States of the Confederation.

Assumptionists. _See_ State debts.

_Aurora. See_ Bache, B.F.

Bache, Benjamin F., attacks _W.'s_ administration, in the
     _Aurora_, 201, 219, 221, 222.

Ball, Mary, marries Augustine Washington, 1.
  And _see_ Washington, Mary (Ball).

Barbados, _W.'s_ visit to, 9-11.

Barbary States, corsairs of, 155.

Bard, Dr. Samuel, 185, 186.

Beaumarchais, Caron de, 94.

Beefsteak and Tripe Club, 10.

Belvoir, Fairfax estate, 7.

Bennington, Battle of, 92.

Bernard, John, quoted on _W_. in retirement, 234-236.

_Blackwood's Magazine_, 3.

Blair, John, 161.

Bland, Theodorick, letter of _W_. to, 131, 132.

Bonhomme Richard, the. _See_ Jones, John Paul.

Boston, port of, transferred to Salem, 58;
  blockaded by _W_., 69;
  evacuated by Howe, 72, 73;
  _W.'s_ visit to, as President, 189, 190.

Boston Tea Party, 58.

Botetourt, Norborne Berkeley, Lord, 53.

Boucher, Rev. Jonathan, 41.

Braddock, Edward, his career, 19, 20;
  in America, 20;
  attacks Fort Duquesne, and is defeated and killed, 21, 22; 255.

Bradford, William, 229.

Brant, Joseph, 92.

British troops, position of, at end of 1776, 83, 84, 85;
  confined to New York City and Long Island, 86;
  _W_. on maltreatment of prisoners by, 98;
  field of operations of, transferred to South, 107, 121-123;
  surrender of, at Yorktown, 123 _ff_.

Brown, Dr., 244, 245, 247, 248.

Bunker Hill, Battle of, 65, 68.

Burgoyne, John, takes Ticonderoga, 91;
  defeated at Bennington, 92;
  surrenders to Gates at Saratoga, 93.

Burke, Edmund, 55, 62, 120.

Bute, John Stuart, Earl of, 29, 49.

Butler, Pierce, 162.

Byrd, William, letter of _W_. to, 20, 21.

Calvert, Nelly, 42.

Cambridge, _W_. takes command of army at, 65;
  _W.'s_ headquarters at, 69.

Canada, and Wolfe's victory at Quebec, 28.

Canova, Antonio, statue of _W_. by, 148.

Capital, national, question of location of, 182-185.

Carlyle, Thomas, 17.

Carroll, Daniel, 161.

Cavour, Camillo, Count di, 30, 251.

Chamberlayne, Major, 33.

Charming, Edward, _History of the U.S._, 111 _n_.

Chantrey, Sir F.L., statue of _W_., 148.

Cherry-tree story, absurdity of, 2.

Cincinnati, Society of the, public feeling against, 159;
  _W_. resigns presidency of, 159.

Clark, Major, 10.

Clinton, George, Governor of New York, 136, 199.

Clinton, Sir Henry, succeeds Howe as Commander-in-Chief, 105;
  takes troops to New York, 106;
  was he responsible for bribing Arnold? 109, 110;
  _W.'s_ criticism of, 118, 119; 93, 121, 123.

Clive, Robert, Lord, 28.

Clymer, George, 161.

Colonies, effect of Seven Years' War on, 29;
  opposition to taxation in, 49 _ff_.;
  at outbreak of war, 67;
  diversity in origin and customs, 67, 68;
  increasing urgency of demand for independence in, 75;
  relations of, with England, in 1763, 47;
  how affected by the Imperial Spirit, 47, 48;
  in 1770, 53, 54;
  at beginning of Revolution, 66;
  lack of ardor for Independence, 84.

Committees of Correspondence, 57, 58.

Compromises of the Constitution. _See_ Representation, Slave
    trade, Slavery.

Concord, Battle of, 64.

Congress of the U.S.:
  _First: W.'s_ first address to, 179;
  votes to assume state debts and change location of capital, 182-185.
  _Fourth_: Jay Treaty ratified by Senate, 210;
  bill to carry out treaty provisions passed by House, 210-213.
  _Sixth_: revives rank of Commander-in-Chief for _W_., 217;
  and _W_.'s death, 251, 253, 254.

Connecticut, population of, in 1775, 68.

Constitution of the U.S., in the making, 164-168;
  promulgated, 168, 169;
  _W.'s_ views of, 170, 171, 172;
  ratified by States, 173-175;
  opposition to, in N.Y. and Virginia, 174.

Constitutional Convention, call for, 158;
  first meeting of, 160;
  members of, 160-162;
  _W_. President of, 161, 163;
  proceedings of, secret, 163;
  divers questions discussed, 164-168, 169, 170.

Continental Congress:
  _First_: members of, 59;
  work of, 59-61;
  adopts Declaration of Rights, 60;
  importance of, as a symbol, 61.
  _Second_: elects _W_. Commander-in-Chief, 64;
  sectional intrigues in, 74;
  _W_. quoted on, 75;
  appoints committee to confer with Howe, 79;
  and _W.'s_ "doleful reports," 81;
  removes to Baltimore, 85;
  method of conducting the war, 90;
  _W.'s_ farewell reception by, and address to, 137-139;
  post-war attitude of, toward the army, discussed, 141, 142;
  powers of, limited by Articles of Confederation, 152, 153;
  its weakness, 153;
  lack of unanimity in, 155;
  rejects Spanish treaty, 155;
  orders first election under Constitution, 175.

Conway, Thomas, and the Cabal, 112, 113;
  letters of, to _W_., 113; 96.

Conway Cabal, The, 112-114, 116, 117.

Cornwallis, Charles, Earl, surrenders at Yorktown, 123.

Cowpens, Battle of the, 122.

Craik, Dr. James, attends _W_. in his last illness, 243 _ff_.; 253.

Critical Period of American History, 151 _ff_.

Custis, Daniel P., 33, 34.

Custis, Eleanor, _W.'s_ affection for, 233, 234.
  And _see_ Lewis, Eleanor (Custis).

Custis, George W P., 233, 247.

Custis, John Parke, _W.'s_ step-son, 40-42; 104.

Custis, Mrs. Martha (Dandridge), widow of D.P. Custis, is courted by
     _W_., 33, 34,
  and marries him, 35.
  And _see_ Washington, Martha (Custis).

Custis, Martha, W.'s step-daughter, 40, 41.

Dandridge, Francis, letter of _W_. to, 51, 52.

Davis, Rev. Mr., 252, 253.

Deane, Silas, sent to enlist aid of France, 94;
  his unauthorized promises to Ducoudray, 95,
  and Lafayette, 99.

Declaration of Independence, 78, 191.

"Declaration of Rights," 60.

Delaware River, _W.'s_ crossing of, 85, 86.

Democracy in the U.S., contrasted with earlier types, 178.

Democratic Party, 186.

Dent, Elizabeth, 31.

Dick, Dr., 245, 247, 248, 252.

Dickinson, John, 161.

Dinwiddie, Robert, sends _W_. on mission to French, 14;
  sends expedition under Fry to take Duquesne, 15; 16, 17, 18, 20, 21.

Dorchester, Guy Carleton, Lord, 208.

Dorchester Heights, occupied by Americans, 73.

Ducoudray, M., 95.

Election, first, under Constitution, 175, 176.

Ellsworth, Oliver. 161.

England, expeditions planned by, 19 _ff_.;
  effect of Chatham's administration on power and prestige of, 27, 28;
  relations with Colonies in 1763, 47;
  the Imperial Spirit in, 47 _ff_.;
  measures imposing taxation on Colonies, 49 _ff_.;
  division of opinion in, in 1770, 53, 54, 55;
  Hessians in service of, 76;
  effect of sea-power of, 84;
  plans for campaign of 1777, 90, 91;
  sends Commission to treat for peace, 109, 120;
  reconstruction of government in, after Yorktown, 130;
  and _W.'s_ proclamation of neutrality (1789), 204;
  hatred of, in U.S., and the Jay Treaty, 208 _ff_.;
  threat of war with, 208, 209;
  and the U.S. in 1796 and 1914, 227, 228.
  And _see_ Paris, Treaty of (1783).

England and France, rivalry between in North America, 12, 13;
  actually at war, 19;
  effect of Wolfe's victory at Quebec, 28;
  war between (1789), 193;
  difficulty in maintaining neutrality of U.S., 193 _ff_.

"Entangling alliances," authorship of the phrase, 227.

Estaing, Charles H, Count d', brings French fleet to America, 108.

Excise tax, on distilled spirits, 189;
  and the Whiskey Insurrection, 218.

Fairfax, Bryan, letter of _W_. to, 62, 63; 253.

Fairfax, Sally, 31.

Fairfax, Thomas, Lord, employs _W_. to survey his estate, 5; 7.

Farewell Address, the, 224 _ff_.;
  declarations of, how far applicable in 1914, 227, 228.

Fauchet, Joseph, 229.

Fauntleroy, Betsy, 30.

Fauquier, Francis, 35.

_Federalist, The_, 162.

Federalist Party, break-up of, 228; 186, 187.

Fitzsimmons, Thomas, 161.

Fort Duquesne, built by French, 13;
  unsuccessfully attacked by Braddock, 21 _ff_.;
  renamed Fort Pitt, 34, 255.

Fort Necessity, surrender of, 16, 17.

Fox, Charles James, 55.

France, steps toward alliance with, 94 _ff_.;
  effect of victory at Saratoga in, 99;
  treaty with, 99 and _n_.;
  results of alliance on American commerce and privateering, 108;
  sends fleet to America, 108;
  effect in England of alliance with, 119;
  and _W.'s_ proclamation of neutrality, 204;
  effect of feeling of gratitude to, in U.S., 205;
  later relations with, 215, 216;
  and the U.S. in 1796 and 1914, 227, 228.
  And _see_ England and France.

Franklin, Benjamin, on committee to confer with Howe, 79;
  on Peace Commission, 130;
  quoted, 173; 21, 155, 160, 161, 201, 236.

Frederick the Great, 259.

Freedom of speech, _W_. and, 222, 223.

Freemasons, at _W.'s_ funeral, 253.

French, westward and southward progress of, 13;
  build Fort Duquesne, 13.

French Committee of Public Safety, Monroe's letter to, 216.

French and Indian War. _See_ Seven Years' War.

French Revolution, reaction of, in U.S., 193 _ff_.

Freneau, Philip, and his _National Gazette_, encouraged by
    Jefferson, 200, 201, 219, 220.

Fry, Colonel, 15.

Gage, Thomas, military and civil governor of Boston, 61;
  _W_. quoted on his conduct, 63;
  recalled, 72.

Gallatin, Albert, opposes Jay Treaty, 210, 211.

Gates, Horatio, Adjutant-General, 71;
  defeats Burgoyne at Saratoga, 92, 93;
  ambitious to supplant _W_., 114; 112.

Genêt, Edmond Charles, mission of, to U.S., 194 _ff_.;
  would appeal to people over government, 198,205;
  snubbed by Jefferson, 198;
  his recall requested, 199.

George II, 18.

George III, dismisses Pitt, 29;
  and the British Empire, 48;
  makes North Prime Minister, 54;
  effect of events of 1778 on, 119;
  and of the failure of the Commission on Reconciliation, 120; 60,
    130, 153, 259.

Georgetown, proposed as seat of national capital, 184.

Georgia, only colony unrepresented in First Continental Congress, 59;
  British victories in, 122; 165.

Gerry, Elbridge, on X.Y.Z. mission to France, 215; 161, 168, 169.

Giles, William B., and newspaper attacks on _W_., 219, 221.

Gist, Christopher, 14.

Gladstone, W.E., quoted, 173.

Gorham, Nathaniel, 161.

Great Britain. _See_ England.

Great Meadows. _See_ Fort Necessity.

Greene, Nathanael, commands in South, 122; 110, 162, 163, 258.

"Half-King, the." _See_ Thanacarishon.

Hamilton, Alexander, influence of, ensures ratification of
     Constitution in N.Y., 174;
  Secretary of Treasury, 181, 228, 229;
  opposition to, 181, 182;
  favors "Assumption," 182,183;
  obtains Jefferson's support for compromise, 183, 184;
  his political status, 187;
  his protective tariff, 188;
  his measures tended to centralization, 189,192;
  quoted, on the French Revolution, 197, 198;
  _W_. seeks to keep peace between Jefferson and, 199, 200;
  attacked by Freneau, 200;
  attacks Jefferson in newspapers, 201;
  urges _W_. to accept second term, 201;
  and the Whiskey Insurrection, 218;
  and the Farewell Address, 224; 160, 167, 168, 180, 195, 208, 210,
    217, 241, 258.

Hancock, John, President of Congress, 64;
  letter of _W_. to, 80, 81;
  Governor of Massachusetts, and _W.'s_ visit to Boston, 189,
    190; 64, 256.

Harlem, Heights of, army stationed on, 80.

Harrison, Benjamin, letter of _W_. to, 143.

Hay, Anthony, 53.

Henry, Patrick, quoted, 50;
  opposed to Constitution, 174; 59, 60, 162.

Herkimer, Nicholas, 92.

Hessians, in British army, 76;
  defeated at Trenton, 86.

Hortalaz et Cie, 94.

Houdon, Jean A., statue of _W_. 148.

House of Representatives, representation of States in, 167.

Howe, Richard, Lord, takes fleet to N.Y., 76; 72, 83.

Howe, Sir William, evacuates Boston, 72, 73;
  fruitless peace overtures of, 79;
  in Phila. (1777-78), 104, 105;
  succeeded by Clinton, 105; 74, 78, 87, 91.

Humphreys, Colonel, as Chamberlain at President's receptions, 180, 181.

Imperial Spirit, effect of, on relations between England and
    Colonies, 47, 48;
  revived by events of 1778, 119.

Independence Hall, Phila., 160.

Indians, surprise attack by, 21, 22;
  difficulties of _W_.'s administration with, 190, 191.

Ingersoll, Jared, 161.

Irving, Washington, _Life of Washington_, quoted, 181, 185,
    186, 195. 217, 233.

Jackson, Robert, 24.

Jacobin Club, 193.

Jay, John, on Peace Commission, 130;
  concludes treaty with Spain, 155;
  appointed Chief Justice, 186;
  mission of, to England in 1794-95, 207;
  his character, 207;
  prejudice against, in U.S., 208;
  Secretary of State, 228;
  letters of _W_. to, 142, 157; 59, 162, 180, 258.
  And _see_ Jay Treaty.

Jay Treaty, the, negotiated, 207, 208, 209;
  opposition of Anti-Federalists to, 209;
  ratified by Senate, 210;
  violent struggle over, in House, 210-213;
  how the controversy was settled, 213;
  effect of, 214;
  and the Federalist Party, 228.

Jefferson, Thomas, _A Summary View_, 60;
  Secretary of State, 181, 186, 192, 228, 229;
  interview with Hamilton on Assumption, etc., 183-185;
  most aggressive of Democrats, 187, 191;
  rivalry with Hamilton, 192;
  and the French Revolution, 193;
  and Citizen Genêt, 194, 195, 198;
  _W_. seeks to keep peace between Hamilton and, 199, 200;
  and Freneau's attacks on _W_., 200, 219, 220, 221;
  intrigues against Hamilton, 200, 201;
  urges _W_. to accept second term, 201, 202;
  resigns as Secretary of State, 206;
  155, 160, 161, 162, 180, 181, 207, 227, 258.

Johnson, W.S., 168.

Joncaire, M., 14.

Jones, John Paul, 120, 121.

Jumonville, M. de, 15, 18.

Kalb, Baron Johann de, 95, 100.

King, Rufus, 161, 167, 168.

Knox, Henry, Secretary of War, 181, 229;
  letters of _W_. to, 170, 171, 203;
  95, 123, 124, 136, 217, 231, 258.

Kosciuszko, Tadeusz, 95.

Lafayette, Gilbert Motier, Marquis de, joins _W_.'s staff, 99;
  and Charles Lee, at Monmouth, 115;
  letters of _W_. to, 143, 144, 145, 170, 171, 172; 110, 123.

Lansing, John, 161.

Laurens, Henry, letters of _W_. to, 101-103, 117, 118.

Lear, Tobias, secretary to _W_., 148;
  quoted, 242;
  his account of _W_.'s last hours, 243-249;
  notes on _W_.'s funeral, 252, 253; 232, 241, 250.

Lee, Billy (slave), 238, 239.

Lee, Charles, appointed Major-General, 70, 71;
  at Monmouth, 106, 115;
  censured by _W_., 106, 115, 116;
  early career of, 114, 115;
  court-martialed, and leaves the army, 116;
  anecdote of, 116 _n_.; 65, 128.

Lee, Charles, Attorney-General, 229.

Lee, Henry, author of phrase, "First in war," etc., 251;
  letter of _W_. to, 221, 222.

Lee, Richard H., letters of _W_. to, 96, 147; 163.

Lewis, Mrs. Eleanor (Custis), 242.

Lewis, Lawrence, and Miss Custis, 232, 233; 247.

Lexington, Battle of, 63.

Lillo, George, _George Barnwell_, 10, 11.

Lincoln, Abraham, 149.

Lincoln,  Benjamin,  surrenders Charleston, S.C., 122;
  receives surrender of British at Yorktown, 125; 123.

Livingston, Robert R., 177.

Lodge, H.C., _George Washington_, quoted, 15, 17, 220, 235, 236.

Long Island, Battle of, 77, 78.

Louis XVI, execution of, 193; 94, 99.

Low-Land Beauty, the, 30.

Loyalists, in the Colonies, 61, 62;
  during and after the war, 127, 128.

McClellan, George B., 82.

McClurg, James, 162.

McHenry, James, Secretary of War, 229;
  letter of, to _W_., 217; 161, 231, 232.

McKean, Thomas, 59.

MacKenzie, Robert, letter of _W_. to, 63.

Machiavelli, Niccolo, _The Prince_, and _W_.'s Farewell
    Address, 226.

Madison, James, opposes Jay Treaty, 210;
  and the Farewell Address, 224;
  letter of _W_. to, 158;
  156, 159, 160, 161, 163, 165, 168, 194, 242.

Marie Antoinette, execution of, 193.

Marshall, John, _Life of Washington_, quoted, 28, 136, 137-139;
  on X.Y.Z. mission to France, 215; 47, 251, 258.

Mason, George, plan of association, 52, 53;
  letter to _W_. 56;
  letter of _W_. to, 56; 161, 168, 169.

Massachusetts, leads in opposing acts of British Crown, 49;
  charter of, suspended, 58, 59;
  population of, in 1775, 67, 68;
  and Virginia, jealousy between, 64;
  freed from British troops, 74.

Mather, W., _The Young Man's Companion_, 4.

Meil, Mrs., 30, 31.

Mifflin, Thomas, of the Conway Cabal, 116; 138, 139, 161.

Military dictatorship under _W_., fear of, 141, 142, 154.

Militia, _W_. quoted on, 81.

Miner, Rev. James, 252.

Mississippi River, Lower, closed to Americans by treaty with Spain,

Moffatt, Rev. Mr., 252.

Monarchy, fears of reversion to, 142.

Monmouth, Battle of, 106.

Monongahela River, 13.

Monroe, James, Minister to France, recalled by _W_., 216;
  his letter to Committee of Public Safety, 116; 242.

Montcalm, Louis Joseph, Marquis de, 28.

Montgomery, Richard, at Quebec, 71, 72; 77.

Morgan, Daniel, 122.

Morris, Gouverneur, 161, 167, 168, 207.

Morris, Robert, letter to _W_., 88; 161.

Morris, Roger, 32, 80.

Morristown, winter quarters at, 89.

Mossum, Rev. Peter, 35.

Mount Vernon, inherited by Lawrence Washington, 5;
  hospitality of, 7, 45;
  _W_. manager of, 12;
  inherited by _W_., 33;
  a model plantation of Its kind, 39, 43, 44;
  _W_. returns to, after the war, 139;
  his life at, 146;
  his last days at, 232 _ff_.;
  his funeral at, 251-253.

Napoleon I, 218, 240.

_National Gazette_, 220, 222.

Neal, John, quoted, 3.

Neutrality, Proclamation of, gives offense to both England and
    France, 204;
  the only rational course, 205.

New England, manufacturing in, 68;
  freed from British troops, 74.

New Jersey, 155.

New York City, _W_.'s headquarters at, 76;
  Howe's fleet arrives at, 76;
  loyalist sentiment in, 78, 79, 121;
  British troops return to, 105,106;
  _W_.'s farewell to officers at, 136, 137;
  _W_. inaugurated as President at, 176, 177;
  ceases to be national capital, 182 _ff_.

New York State, fails to choose electors in 1788, 175.

North, Frederick, Lord, Prime Minister, 54;
  his subservience to the King, 54, 55;
  retires after Yorktown, 130; 60, 61.

North Carolina, British victories in, 122.

Northwest, the, _W_.'s vision of development of, 144, 145.

Office-seekers, _W_. and, 180.

O'Hara, General, 125.

Ohio River, 13.

Oriskany, Battle of, 92.

Osgood, Samuel, 229.

Otis, James, 49.

Pall-holders at _W_.'s funeral, 252.

Paris, Treaty of (1763), 28, 29.

Paris, Treaty of (1783), 130, 131;
  _W_. quoted on, 131.

Parliament, passes and repeals Stamp Act, 49;
  lays duties on paper, tea, etc., 49;
  other irritating measures passed by, 53, 58;
  enacts penal laws, 58, 59.

"Parsons Cause, The," 50.

Parties, in _W_.'s first term, 186, 187.

Peale, Charles, portrait of _W_., 148, 150.

Peale, Rembrandt, portrait of _W_., 148.

Pearson, Captain, 120.

Pendleton, Edmund, 59.

Pennsylvania, population of, in 1775, 68; 58, 155.

Peter the Great, 259.

Philadelphia, non-importation agreement of merchants of, 52;
  Continental Congresses meet at, 59, 64;
  _W_. at, 75 _ff_.;
  British troops at, in 1777-78, 104, 105;
  _W_. takes possession of, 106;
  to be national capital for ten years, 183, 185;
  Genêt at, 196.

Philipse, Frederick, 31.

Philipse, Mary, 31, 32.

Pickering, Timothy, Cabinet offices held by, 228, 229; 231.

Pinckney, Charles, 162.

Pinckney, Charles C., on X.Y.Z. mission to France, 215, 216; 162,
     165, 166, 217.

Pitt, William, Earl of Chatham, effect of his accession to power,
    27, 28;
  dismissed by George III, 29;
  his last appearance in the Lords, 119, and death, 120.

Pitt, William, the younger, 55, 62.

Pittsburgh, on site of Fort Duquesne, 34, 255.

Plassey, Buttle of, 48.

Portraits of _W_., 148, 149, 150.

President, discussion as to term and method of election of, 167, 168;
  _W_.'s view of office of, 178;
  _W_.'s example as preventive of third term for, 223, 224.

Press, the, virulence and indecency of, 219 _ff_.

Princeton, Battle of, 86, 87.

Privateering, effect of French Alliance on, 108, 120, 121.

Protective tariff, Hamilton's, 188.

Pulaski, Count Casimir, 95, 97.

Quebec, Battle of, 28, 48;
  abortive attack on, 71, 72;
  persistence in project of capturing, 77.

Quincy, Josiah, 49.

Rall, Colonel, 86.

Randolph, Edmund, Attorney-General, 181, 186, 229;
  Secretary of State, 206,228;
  his "Vindication," 229, 230;
  letter of _W_. to, 208, 209; 161, 169, 193.

Randolph, Peyton, 59.

Rawlins, Mr., 243, 253.

Reconciliation, Commission on, 109, 120.

Representation of States in Congress, question of, settled by
    compromise, 167.

Republicans, 186.

Revolutionary War. _See_ American Revolution.

Robinson, Beverly, 31.

Robinson, Mr., Speaker of the House of Burgesses (Va.), quoted, 36.

Rochambeau, Jean B.D. de Vimeure, Count de, 122, 125.

Rockingham, Charles Wentworth, Marquis of, 130.

Rodney, George, Lord, 153.

Rutledge, Edward, on committee to confer with Howe, 79; 59.

Rutledge, John, 59, 162, 168.

St. Clair, General, 191.

St. Leger, Barry, 91.

Saratoga, Battle of, Burgoyne defeated in, 93;
  effect of, in France, 99.

Schuyler, Philip, 65.

Senate of U.S., representation of States in, 167.

Seven Years' War, 27 _ff_.;
  effect of, 29.

Shays, Daniel, 158.

Shays's Rebellion, causes of, 157,158.

Shelburne, William Petty, Earl of, 130.

Sherman, Roger, 59, 161, 168.

Shirley, William, 32.

Slave labor, _W_.'s view of, 38; 68.

Slave trade, question of, settled by compromise, 165, 166.

Slavery, why _W_. disapproved of, 38, 39, 238;
  question of, settled by compromise, 164, 165.

Slaves, _W_.'s relations with, 38, 237-239;
  number of, in Colonies, in 1775, 68.

South Carolina, population of, in 1775, 68;
  British victories in, 122; 165.

Sparks, Jared, his _Life of Washington_, defects of, 3;
  quoted, 113,116 and _n_., 146.

Spearing, Ann, 31.

Stamp Act, 49, 51, 52, 66.

Stark, John, defeats Burgoyne at Bennington, 92.

State debts, assumption of, by national government, how secured,
  favored by _W_., 188.

State rights, problem of, 167;
  a fundamental subject of difference, 187.

States of the Confederation, _W_.'s farewell letter to
    governors of, 135;
  after the Revolution, 152, 156;
  their relations to one another, 152, 153;
  lack of coherence among, 154, 155;
  foreign relations of, ignominious, 155;
  delegates of, in Constitutional Convention, 160-162;
  ratification by, 175, 174.
  And _see_ Paris, Treaty of (1783).

Statues of _W_., 148.

Steuben, Baron Frederick W. von, 95, 110, 111.

Stone, F.D., _Struggle for the Delaware_, quoted, 100, 101.

Strong, Caleb, 161, 168.

Stuart, Gilbert, portraits of _W_., 149.

Sulgrave, English home of Washington family, 1.

Sullivan, John, defeated on Long Island, 77.

Talleyrand-Périgord, Charles M. de, and the X.Y.Z. mission, 216.

Tariff, _W_.'s view of a, 189.

Tarleton, Sir Banastre, 122.

"Taxation without representation," 55, 57.

Thanacarishon, Seneca chief, quoted, on _W_. 14, 15.

Thomas, John, 71.

Ticonderoga, taken by Burgoyne, 91.

Tobacco-raising in Virginia, 39, 40.

Toner, J.M., _The Daily Journal of George Washington_, 11

Trenton, Battle of, and its effect, 86, 87.

Trumbull, Jonathan, letter of _W_. to, 231.

Tryon, William, 79.

United States, debt of Confederation turned over to, 182;
  excitement in, over Citizen Genêt, 195 _ff_.;
  anomalous position of, between France and England, 205, 206;
  the first country in which free speech existed, 222;
  effect of _W_.'s example on world's opinion of, 259.

United States Bank, 189.

Valley Forge, American army in winter quarters at, 100 _ff_., 118.

Van Braam, Jacob, 14.

Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Count de, favors cause of the Colonies, 94;
  secures coöperation of Spain, 99; 142.

Vernon, Edward, Admiral, 5, 9.

Victoria, Queen, 153.

Virginia, effect in, of Braddock's defeat, 24, 25;
  in the 1750's, 44, 45;
  fox-hunting and horse-racing, 45,46;
  opposition in, to acts of the Crown, 50, 51;
  state of opinion in, 55, 56; population of, in 1775, 67, 68;
  jealousy between Mass, and, 64; 164, 166.

Virginia House of Burgesses, _W_. a member of, 36, 37;
  adopts Mason's plan of association, 53.

Walpole, Horace, 18.

Washington, Augustine, _W.'s_ father, marries Mary Ball, 1.

Washington, George, ancestry, 1;
  birth, 1, 2;
  childhood and education, 2;
  errors of Weems's biography, 2, 3;
  absurdity of the cherry-tree story, 2;
  Sparks's ill-advised editing of letters of, 3, 4;
  and Mather's _Young Man's Companion_, 4;
  surveys Fairfax estate, 5;
  results of his experience as surveyor, 5;
  his journals, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 37, 38, 39, 169;
  his disposition, 7, 8;
  attention, to dress, 8, 9;
  declines appointment as midshipman, 9;
  commissioned major of militia, 9;
  visit to Barbados, 9, 10;
  as manager of Mt. Vernon, 12;
  sent by Dinwiddie on mission of warning to French, 14;
  and the "Half-King," 14, 15;
  second in command of Fry's expedition, 15_ff_.;
  was he a "silent man"? 17, 18;
  a volunteer on Braddock's expedition, 20, 21;
  his account of the defeat, 22, 23;
  his conduct in the battle, 23;
  moral results of his campaigning, 25, 26;
  his early love-affairs, 30, 31;
  and Mary Philipse, 31, 32;
  his physique, 32, 69;
  a sound thinker, 33, 70;
  inherits Mt. Vernon, 33;
  courts and marries Mrs. Custis, 33, 34, 35;
  in House of Burgesses, 36, 37;
  as an agriculturist, 37 _ff_.;
  his views on slave labor, 38, and slavery, 38, 39, 238;
  relations with his slaves, 38, 237-239;
  and his step-children, 40-42;
  by nature a man of business, 42, 43;
  improves his education, 43, 44;
  as a country gentleman, 44_ff_.;
  the hospitality of Mt. Vernon, 45.

  His view of the Stamp Act and other measures of the British
     Government, 51, 52;
  a loyal American, 52;
  signs Mason's plan of association, 53;
  no doubt as to his position, 55, 56, 57;
  offers to raise 1000 men at his own expense, 57;
  in first Continental Congress, 59, 60;
  his mind made up, 62, 63;
  chosen Commander-in-chief of Continental forces, 64, 65;
  takes command at Cambridge, 65, 69;
  plans to blockade Boston, 69;
  jealousy among his officers, 70, 71;
  and military amateurs, 71;
  opposes expedition against Canada, 71;
  whips his army into shape, 72;
  appeals for supply of powder, 72;
  forces evacuation of Boston, 73;
  moves troops to New York, 74;
  before Congress in Phila., 74, 75;
  his opinion of Congress, 75;
  retreats from Long Island after Sullivan's defeat, 77, 78;
  inadequacy of his resources, 78;
  moves army to Heights of Harlem, 80;
  on the evils of American military system, 80, 81;
  his troops not discouraged by his frankness, 82;
  on the difficulty of his position, 82, 83;
  his movements after battle of White Plains, 83 _ff_.;
  crosses the Delaware and wins battles of Trenton and Princeton, 86;
  a Necessary Man, 87;
  his fearlessness of danger, 87, 88;
  his movements impeded by dependence on Congress, 90, 118, 119;
  his miscellaneous labors, 95 _ff_.;
  his circular on looting by his troops, 97, 98;
  on the maltreatment of American prisoners, 98;
  takes Lafayette on his staff, 99;
  chooses Valley Forge for winter quarters, 100;
  describes its horrors, 101-103;
  enters Phila. on the heels of the British, 106;
  censures Charles Lee at Monmouth, 106;
  the uneventful summer and autumn of 1778, 109;
  refuses to commute André's sentence, 111;
  jealous ambitions of his associates: the Conway Cabal, 111 _ff_.;
  and Gates, 114;
  and C. Lee, 114-116, 116_n_.;
  on the intrigues of his enemies, 117, 118;
  difficulties of his position, 118;
  forced inactivity of, 121;
  marches South to Virginia, 123;
  lays siege to Yorktown, and forces Cornwallis to surrender, 122-125;
  the country unanimous in giving him credit for the final victory 128,

  His view of the problems to be solved after the peace, 131;
  urges payment of troops in full, 131-133, 134;
  and the plan to make him king, 134, 135;
  his letter to governors of States, 135;
  his farewell to his officers, 136, 137;
  his reception by, and address to, Congress, 137-139;
  returns to Mt. Vernon, 139;
  his life there, described,  140, 141, 143, 144, 146, 147;
  fears of military dictatorship  under, 141, 142;
  his vision of the development of the Northwest 144, 145;
  declines all gifts and pay for his services, 146;
  his correspondence, 147, 148;
  fears further trouble with England, 153;
  his pessimism over the outlook for the future, 156, 157;
  reluctantly consents to sit in Constitutional Convention, 158, 159;
  and the Society of the Cincinnati, 159;
  President of the Convention, 163, 164, 168, 169, 170;
  his view of the Constitution, 170 _ff_.;
  unanimously elected first President of the U.S., 175;
  the journey to New York and inauguration, 176, 177.

  His receptions as President, 178, 179, 180, 181;
  his inaugural address, 179;
  dealings with office-seekers, 180;
  his first Cabinet, 181, 186;
  serious illness of, 185, 186;
  appoints Justices of Supreme Court, 186;
  a Federalist, 187, 199, 215;
  favors Assumption, 187, 188;
  his tariff views, 189;
  his visit to Boston, 189, 190;
  sends expeditions against Indians, 191;
  approves Hamilton's centralizing measures, 192;
  determined to maintain neutrality as between France and England, 193;
  deals firmly with Genêt, 198;
  open criticism of, 199, 200, 201, 219 _ff_.;
  his sympathies generally with Hamilton against Jefferson, 199;
  effect on, of newspaper abuse, 201, 223;
  disinclined to serve second term, 201;
  reëlected, 202, 203, 204;
  issues Proclamation of Neutrality, 204;
  its effect, 204, 205;
  appoints Randolph to succeed Jefferson, 206;
  and the Jay Treaty, 207 _ff_.;
  sends C.C. Pinckney to replace Monroe in Paris, 215;
  why he recalled Monroe, 215, 216;
  consents to act as Commander-in-Chief in 1799, 217, 240;
  puts down Whiskey Insurrection, 218, 219;
  favors maintenance of free speech, 222;
  declines to consider a third term, 223;
  effect in later years of the precedent set by him, 223, 224;
  his "Farewell Address," 224-227;
  what would he have done in 1914? 228;
  changes in his Cabinet, 228, 229;
  and the charges against Randolph, 229, 230.

  Again in retirement at Mt. Vernon, 231 _ff_.;
  and Nelly Custis, 233;
  his career reviewed, 234, 254-260;
  Bernard quoted on, 234-236;
  his detractors, 236, 237;
  his religious beliefs, 239, 240;
  declines all public undertakings, 240;
  his last illness, 241 _ff_.;
  the last hours described by T. Lear, 243-249;
  his death, 249;
  action of Congress and President Adams, 251;
  his funeral at Mt. Vernon, 252, 253;
  project for memorial of, abandoned, 254;
  his rank as a soldier, 256, 257;
  as President, 258;
  the most _actual_ statesman of his time, 258;
  his example made the world change its mind about republics, 259.

  _Portraits and statues of_, 148-150.

  _Letters_ (quoted in whole or in part) to John Adams, 217;
  Theodorick Bland, 131;
  Rev. Mr. Boucher, 41;
  William Byrd, 20;
  Thomas Conway, 112;
  Francis Dandridge, 51;
  Robert Dinwiddie, 17, 22;
  Bryan Fairfax, 62;
  John Hancock, 9;
  Benjamin Harrison, 143;
  Sir W. Howe, 98;
  Robert Jackson, 24;
  John Jay,  142, 157;
  Thomas Jefferson, 221;
  Henry Knox, 170;
  Marquis de Lafayette, 143, 145, 170, 171;
  Henry Laurens, 101, 117;
  Henry Lee, 203, 221;
  Richard H. Lee, 96, 147;
  Robert Mackenzie, 63;
  George Mason, 56;
  Gouverneur Morris, 207;
  Edmund Randolph, 208;
  Jonathan Trumbull, 231;
  John Augustine Washington, 23, 75, 85;
  Lund Washington, 82;
  Martha (Custis) Washington, 34;
  Mary Ball Washington, 24.

Washington, John, _W_.'s great-grandfather settles in Virginia, 1.

Washington, John Augustine, _W_.'s brother, letters of _W_.
    to, 75, 85; 1, 11, 23.

Washington, Lawrence,_W.'s_ half-brother, inherits Mount Vernon, 5;
  _W_.'s guardian, 5;
  marries Lord Fairfax's daughter, 5;
  visits Barbados with _W_., 9-11;
  his death, 11, 12; 7, 33.

Washington, Lund, letter of _W_. to, 82, 83.

Washington, Mrs. Martha (Custis), quoted, 104;
  and _W_.'s last illness, 243 _ff_.;
  letter of, to President Adams, 254;
  buried at Mount Vernon, 254; 9, 38, 41, 43, 45, 252, 253.

Washington, Mrs. Mary (Ball), _W_.'s mother, 2, 9, 24.

Washington, Mildred, _W_.'s niece, _W_. guardian of, 12;
  her death, 12.

Washington family, the, 1.

Wayne, Anthony, 191.

Webster, Daniel, quoted, 188; 211.

Webster, Peletiah, 156.

Weems, Rev. Mason L., his _Life of_ _Washington_,
    discredited, 2, 3.

West Point, surrendered by Arnold, 110.

Whigs, in Parliament, favor Colonies, 54, 62.

Whiskey Insurrection, the, 218, 219.

White House (Custis estate), 34, 35, 36.

White Plains, Battle of, 83.

Wilson, James, 161.

Wister, Owen, 30 _n_.

Wolcott, Oliver, Jr., 228, 229.

Wolfe, James, 28, 105.

Wythe, George, 161.

X.Y.Z. mission to France, 215, 216.

Yates, Robert, 161.

Yorktown, Cornwallis surrenders at, 123 _ff_.;
  the war really ended at, 126;
  effect in England, 130.

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