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Title: From Farm House to the White House - The life of George Washington, his boyhood, youth, manhood, - public and private life and services
Author: Thayer, William Makepeace, 1820-1898
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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[Illustration: George Washington]


    From Farm House to the White House



    _By_ William M. Thayer

    Author of "From Log Cabin to White House,"
    "From Pioneer Home to White House,"
    "From Tannery to White House,"
    "From Boyhood to Manhood," etc., etc.



Log Cabin to White House Series.



    From Boyhood to Manhood--Life of Benjamin Franklin.

    From Farm House to White House--Life of George Washington.

    From Log Cabin to White House--Life of James A. Garfield,
    with eulogy by Hon. James G. Blaine.

    From Pioneer Home to White House--Life of Abraham Lincoln,
    with eulogy by Hon. Geo. Bancroft.

    From Tannery to White House--Life of Ulysses S. Grant.


    From Ranch to White House--Life of Theodore Roosevelt.

_Price Post-Paid, 75¢. each, or $4.50 for the set._


Copyright, 1890, By JAMES H. EARLE.

    This Volume,
    From Boyhood to Manhood
    IN THE
    Is Sincerely and Affectionately Dedicated.


Every American, old or young, should become familiar with the life of
Washington; it will confirm their patriotism and strengthen their
loyalty. Such a character will become an inspiration to them, eliciting
nobler aims, and impelling to nobler deeds.

Washington himself wrote to his step-son, who was in college:

    "You are now extending into that stage of life when good or bad
    habits are formed; when the mind will be turned to things useful
    and praiseworthy or to dissipation and vice. Fix on which ever
    it may, it will stick by you; for you know it has been said, and
    truly, 'The way the twig is bent the tree's inclined.' This, in
    a strong point of view, shows the propriety of letting your
    inexperience be directed by maturer advice, and in placing guard
    upon the avenues which lead to idleness and vice. The latter
    will approach like a thief, working upon your passions,
    encouraged, perhaps, by bad examples, the propensity to which
    will increase in proportion to the practice of it and your
    yielding. Virtue and vice cannot be allied, nor can idleness and
    industry; of course if you resolve to adhere to the former of
    these extremes, an intimacy with those who incline to the latter
    of them would be extremely embarrassing to you; it would be a
    stumbling block in your way, and act like a mill-stone hung to
    your neck; for it is the nature of idleness and vice to obtain
    as many votaries as they can....

    "It is to close application and perseverance that men of letters
    and science are indebted for their knowledge and usefulness; and
    you are now at the period of life when these are to be acquired,
    or lost for ever. As you know how anxious your friends are to
    see you enter upon the grand theatre of life with the advantages
    of a finished education, a highly cultivated mind, and a proper
    sense of your duties to God and man, I shall only add one
    sentiment before I close this letter and that is, to pay due
    respect and obedience to your tutors, and affectionate reverence
    for the president of the college, whose character merits your
    highest regards. Let no bad example, for such is to be met in
    all seminaries, have an improper influence upon your conduct.
    Let this be such, and let it be your pride to demean yourself
    in such a manner as to obtain the good will of your superiors
    and the love of your fellow students."

Better advice than this was never given to a youth; and to enforce it,
we present in this volume the life and character of the great man who so
lovingly tendered it. By employing the colloquial style, anecdotal
illustration, and thrilling incident, the author hopes more successfully
to accomplish his purpose.

In the preparation of this work the author has availed himself of the
abundant material furnished by Washington's well-known biographers,
Ramsey, Weems, Marshall, Sparks, Bancroft, Irving, Everett, Custis,
etc., together with the anecdotes of his earlier and later life, found
in eulogies, essays, and literary articles upon his life and character,
with which the literature of our country abounds. Incident is allowed to
tell the life story of the subject. The incidents of his boyhood and
youth are particularly narrated, that the achievements of ripe manhood
may more clearly appear to be the outcome of a life well begun. To such
an example parents and guardians can point with confidence and hope.

Believing that biography should be written and read so as to assure a
sharp analysis of character, thereby bringing the real qualities of the
subject to the front, and believing, also, that the biographies of the
noblest men only should be written for the young, since "example is more
powerful than precept," the author sends forth this humble volume,
invoking for it the considerate indulgence of critics, and the blessing
of Divine Providence.

    W. M. T.





    Ancestors in England--John and Lawrence Washington--Family of
    Note--The Washington Manor and Irving--Sir Henry Washington in
    War--English Fox Hunting--Washington and Franklin--The
    Washingtons in America--Birth of George--House where
    born--Ceremony of placing a Slab on it by Custis--Paulding
    describes the Place--The House described--George
    baptized--Removal to Banks of Rappahannock--Large Estates--Style
    of Living--Vast Wilderness--Militia--Depredations by
    Indians--Negro Slavery                                            23



    Reliable Information about it--Visit to the Orchard, and the
    Rebuke to Selfishness--George's Name growing in the Garden--Its
    Lesson about God--The Hatchet, and it Lesson about
    Lying--Raising a Regiment of Soldiers--George's Brother in
    Uniform--Effect of Military Display on George--Playing
    Soldier--His Brother Lawrence a Good Soldier--Love Greater than
    War--George's Military Spirit increasing--George's Manly
    Bearing--Excels in Athletic Sports--What Fitzhugh said--The
    Sequel                                                            36



    His Brother Lawrence educated in England--Leaving Home--George
    at School when Five Years Old--His Teacher, Hobby--What a
    Biographer says of his Progress--The Homeschool--His
    Writing-book and Thoroughness--A Good Speller--Studying and
    Playing with all his Might--Best Runner, Wrestler, etc.--The
    School Grounds a Military Camp--An English and Spanish Army of
    Boys--Juvenile Commander-in-chief--A Quarrel that George could
    not Conquer--Truth-teller and Peacemaker--At Mr. Williams'
    School, and a Mother's Lesson--Studying Surveying--Mimic
    War--Surveying School-grounds--Later Surveying--Settling a
    Difficulty--Acting as Umpire--What Mr. Weems says--What Mrs.
    Kirkland says                                                     52



    Doing Things Well--Dialogue with Lawrence--His "Book of Forms,"
    and what a Schoolmate thought of it--His "Book of Problems:" its
    Use and Abuse--His "Book of Drawing"--Odd Moments--Preserving
    Bits of Prose and Verse--What Irving says--His "Rules of
    Behavior"--What Lawrence Washington and his Wife thought of
    them--Their Influence over him--Part of them Quoted--What
    Everett says of them--Author's Opinion--Sample Extract from his
    Copy-book--These show his Character--His Heart made a Level
    Head                                                              72



    His Father's Sudden Sickness--George at Chotauk--The Doctor's
    Opinion--Growing Worse, and Startling Revelation--George sent
    for--He arrived when his Father was dying--Affecting
    Scene--Death and Will--The Arabian Colt--Attempt to ride
    him--The Animal killed--George confessing his Wrong-doing--The
    "Lowland Beauty"--George in Love--A Human Heart after All--What
    Irving says about it--Naval Officers at Vernon--Wants to be a
    Midshipman--His Mother's Opposition, and Lawrence's
    Approval--Enlists--Appears before his Mother in Naval
    Costume--Her Grief--He does not go--His True Manliness asserts
    itself                                                            82



    Her Views of Correct Family Government--Secret of George's
    Correct Life--What Custis says about it--What Lawrence
    Washington said--Obedience commanded--How she commanded her
    Servants--Her One Book, next to the Bible, consulted--What
    Everett said of it--Quotations from it--They teach Honesty,
    Industry, Fidelity, Religion, etc.--Her
    Ancestry--Courage--Afraid of Lightning--Her Singular
    Dream--Weems' Explanation--Care of her Family--Mr. Sparks'
    Tribute--Irving's Tribute--Her Son visits her before going to
    War--Her Patriotism--Taking Charge of her Own Business--Her Joy
    over Cornwallis' Surrender--Her Son's Visit to her--The Ball,
    and his Staff introduced to her--Compared with Napoleon's
    Mother--Lafayette's Visit to her--Her Son's Visit to her before
    becoming President--Custis' description of the Scene--Her Death,
    Burial, and Monument--Jackson's Eulogy--John Adams' Words--The
    Mother of Such a Son, and the Son of Such a Mother               103



    His Mother's Views about his Future--The Plea of Lawrence--Goes
    to Live at Mount Vernon--Lawrence's Eye on a Military Life for
    him--Lessons in "The Manual Exercise"--Lessons in
    "Fencing"--Reading Military Treatises--In the Family of William
    Fairfax--What the Latter thought of him--Meets Lord
    Fairfax--What Everett says of him--What Irving says--Reading
    Books and Fox Hunting--An Unexpected Proposition--Becomes a
    Surveyor--His Appearance now--Keeping a Journal--Extracts from
    Letter and Journal--Mode of Life described--Hardships--What
    Abbott and Everett say of his Hardships--Camping Out--In Indian
    Wigwam--His Journal describes a Scene--Other Entries--What he
    recorded--Sparks' Tribute to his Thoroughness as a
    Surveyor--Everett's Tribute--The Stevenson Family--Sports with
    the Seven Sons--Among his Officers, Later--Greenaway
    Court--Appointed Public Surveyor--In Training for the War of
    Seventy-six                                                      132



    The Proposition of Lawrence, and Discussion of it--Appointed
    Adjutant-general--Ill Health of Lawrence--Decides to spend the
    Winter in Barbadoes--George goes with him--Lawrence no
    Better--George has the Small-pox--Returns to Virginia in
    April--Lawrence returns in June and dies in Six Weeks--George
    one of his Executors--What Everett says of it--Enters Masonic
    Lodge--His Commission renewed--Duties pressing upon him--Signs
    of War--Encroachments by the French--The Claims of the
    Indians--What a Chief said--The Governor's Conference with
    Gist--Mission to the French proposed--George offers his
    Services--Interview with Governor Dinwiddie--A Copy of his
    Commission--His Companions--Visits his Mother--Letter to French
    Commander                                                        150



    The Journey begun--Route--A Storm--A Torrent--Baggage on
    Canal--Visit to Shingiss--Tanacharisson--Monochatica--Meeting
    Deserters--Learning of the Forts from there to New Orleans--The
    Half-king--Describes his Visit to Pierre Paul, now Dead--His
    Speech--Pierre Paul's Reply--Indian Council and Washington's
    Speech--Indian's Reply--Results of the Council--Indians to
    conduct them to the Fort--Journey delayed--Way to
    Venango--Arrival and Conference with the French--Dinner
    Scene--Information 163



    The Next Fort--Introduction to Commander--Arrival of Paul's
    Successor--Receives Dinwiddie's Letter--Washington draws Plan of
    the Fort--His Inquiries about Certain Captures--Reparti's Reply
    to Dinwiddie--French attempt to bribe Indians--Injury to White
    Thunder, and Delay--Return Journey--Snow--Washington and Gist
    leave the Party--Their Adventure--The Indian Guide--He proves
    False--A Startling Episode--The Indian disposed of--Reaching the
    River--Building a Raft--Attempt to Cross--Washington straggling
    in the Water--They reach an Island--Escape--Twenty Indian
    Warriors--The Indian Queen--Arrival at Williamsburg--Interview
    with the Governor--His Journal printed                           178



    Effect of Washington's Mission--Orders from the
    King--Recruiting--The Governor's Bounty to Soldiers--Washington
    offered the Command--Talk with a Friend--Letter to Colonel
    Corbin--Does not accept Command--Payne knocks Washington
    down--How the Affair ended--What McGuire says of Washington's
    Magnanimity--Washington takes up his March--Meeting Captain
    Trent--Need of More Men--Courier announces Surrender of
    Fort--Declaration of War--Washington's Prompt Action--March to
    Red Stone Creek and Great Meadows--The French surprised, and a
    Battle--Jumonville killed--Entrenching at Great Meadows--Short
    of Supplies--His Own Chaplain--Order against Swearing--Marching
    to meet the Foe--Retreat to Great Meadows--A Hot
    Battle--Washington surrenders--Return to Williamsburg--Honors,
    and Larger Provisions--Death of Jumonville
    justified--Dinwiddie's Words                                     194



    Governor Dinwiddie's Proposition--Washington dissents--Dinwiddie
    insists--Washington's Letter--His Rank reduced from Colonel to
    Captain--He resigns, and retires to Mount Vernon--The Enterprise
    abandoned--A Convention of the Colonies--The King sends General
    Braddock with Army--He demands the Services of Washington--Their
    Correspondence and Interview--Washington's Motive--On the
    Staff--Meeting with his Mother--The March begins--Grand
    Spectacle--Braddock's Talk with Dr. Franklin--Underrating Indian
    Tactics--Washington disabled by Sickness--Talk with Braddock
    about Indians--Army Wagons Useless--Braddock's Temper and Love
    of Drink--Good Disciplinarian--Washington's Advice
    rejected--Indian Allies--How deserted--What Scarvoyadi
    said--Surprised by Indians--Terrible Battle--Washington's
    Bravery--Dr. Craik's Word--An Eye-witness--How British
    fought--Braddock mortally wounded--Whole Command on
    Washington--Retreat--Braddock's Confession--Dies at Fort
    Necessity--Burial--Horrible Scenes at Duquesne--Testimony of a
    Prisoner--Words of Washington--Letter to his Mother--Letter to
    his Brother                                                      211



    General Dunbar a Coward--Goes into Winter Quarters in
    Philadelphia--Assembly meets--Washington's Advice to the
    Governor--The Assembly Timid--Washington appointed
    Commander-in-chief of Virginia Forces--Failure of the Other
    Expeditions--Conference with Fairfax--Headquarters at
    Winchester--A Great Scare--Its Funny Termination--Washington's
    Appeal to Dinwiddie--Trouble with Captain Dagworthy--Goes to
    Boston on Horseback--Meets Miss Phillips in New
    York--Honors--His Return--Love in New York--Sudden Alarm calls
    him to Winchester--Hurried Steps at Defence--Letter to Loudoun
    describing the Condition of Frontier--Appeal to Dinwiddie for
    the Terrified People--Indian Atrocities--Dreadful Scenes
    described by Washington--Washington Sick Four
    Months--Changes                                                  232



    Great Need of the Hour--The People Timid--Washington's Mother
    again--Another Expedition against Duquesne--Size of the
    Army--Goes to Williamsburg--Mr. Chamberlain's Salutation--Stops
    to Dine--Meets Mrs. Custis--A Widow Bewitching--Business
    done--Returning, stops to see Mrs. Custis--A Treaty of Love--The
    New Road Project--Washington opposes it--Elected to House of
    Burgesses--Delay--Army moved in September--Braddock's Folly
    repeated--Washington overruled--His Prophecy--Major Grant--His
    Reckless Course--Conceit of Grant and Forbes--Marching into an
    Indian Ambuscade--A Bloody Battle--Defeat of the
    English--Retreat--Where was Washington--His Views--Forbes
    proposes Winter Quarters--Washington proposes and leads Another
    Attack--The Enemy escapes from the Fort--Washington plants Flag
    over it--Leaves Force to rebuild--French War ended--Washington
    resigns--Goes to Mount Vernon--Testimonial of Officers           249



    Who was Mrs. Custis--Rich and Beautiful--Washington's
    Marriage--What Negro said of him--Took Seat in House of
    Burgesses--Happy Man--The Legislature do him Honor--Removes to
    Mount Vernon--His Estates described--Sixteen Spinning
    Wheels--Mrs. Washington at the Head--Irving's Description--Rank
    necessarily maintained--Company, and English Style--Mrs.
    Washington's Wardrobe--His Wardrobe--Education of her
    Children--Their Wardrobe--Her Kindness to Slaves--Domestic
    Habits--Washington labored on Farm--Systematic
    Habits--Improvements on Farm--Reclaiming Dismal Swamp--Hunting
    in Winter--Interlopers, and the War against them--The Hunter
    conquered--Attending Episcopal Church--Mrs. Washington a Devout
    Christian--Building a House of Worship--Washington at
    Church--Death of Mrs. Washington's Daughter--The Son
    Wayward--Letter about Love--King's College, and
    Incident--Keeping his Books--In her Husband's Headquarters in
    Winter--Death--Mount Vernon now                                  270



    More Indian Depredations, and War--Washington's Conference with
    Mason on English Tyranny--Taxation without
    Representation--Oppressive Acts multiplied--The Stamp
    Act--Patrick Henry in the Assembly--Treason--Governor dissolved
    the Assembly--A Re-election--Washington stands with Patrick
    Henry--Discussion with Fairfax on the State of Affairs--Dr.
    Franklin before a Committee of Parliament--Friends of America in
    Parliament--Next Assembly Bolder, and dissolved by
    Governor--Washington's Plan to use no Articles taxed--The Tax
    removed except on Tea--Tea thrown into Boston Harbor--Action of
    the Citizens against British Soldiers--Day of Fasting and
    Prayer--Effigies and Mock Processions Boston Port
    Bill--Washington's Journey to Ohio in Behalf of his Old
    Soldiers--First American Congress--The Chaplain Memorial to the
    King--Chatham's Defence of the Colonies--British Soldiers sent
    to Boston--The Patriots aroused--Battles of Lexington and
    Concord--The Revolution begun--Putnam and the Grand
    Rally--Second American Congress--Washington and Adams--Raise an
    Army, and choose Washington for Commander-in-chief--Adams'
    Opinion of him                                                   295



    Adams to Washington--Prepares to Take Command--Letter to Mrs.
    Washington--His Will--Another Letter--Starts--Meets a
    Courier--His Journey--Legislature--Assumes Command--Mrs. Adams'
    Opinion--Talk with Gen. Ward--Order and Discipline--Condition of
    the Army--Washington's first Order--Change Wrought--Scarcity of
    Powder--Feat of Knox--Washington's Headquarters--Day of
    Fasting--Arrival of Supplies--Cruelty of British to
    Prisoners--Remonstrance Against--Retaliation--Army
    Reduced--Feelings of Washington--Proposed Attack on Boston--His
    Plan--Cannonading Described--British Repulsed by Storm--Boston
    Evacuated--British Depredation--Washington Provides for Charity
    at Home--Mrs. Washington in Cambridge--His Rigid Discipline, an
    Incident--Old South and North Church--A Theatre and a
    Scare--British Pride Humbled--Action of Congress                 321



    Where the Enemy is going--General Putnam in Command at New
    York--Washington Goes There--Hears from the Enemy--Condition of
    our Army in New York--Words of Washington--Letter to his
    Brother--Action of Congress--Plot to Seize Washington--A
    Conspirator Hung--Enemy in the Harbor--Declaration of
    Independence Read to the Army--Statue of George III.
    destroyed--Putnam and Hamilton--Sir Henry Clinton--Attacking
    Fort Moultrie--Cudjo--The Army encouraged--The Corporal
    rebuked--The Sabbath honored--Washington's Address--Army in Bad
    plight--Order against Profanity--The Enemy moving to capture
    Brooklyn Heights--Livingston's Message--Washington's Address to
    Army--Terrible Battle--Americans retreat under cover of
    Storm--What Sparks says of it--A Council of
    War--Deserters--Retreat from New York--Stand at Harlem--Nathan
    Hale--Washington's Daring--Great Fire in New York--Loss in
    Canada--Disaffection in Army--General Lee returns to
    Harlem--Council of War--Another Retreat necessary                349



    Fort Washington and Allies--Retreat to White Plains--Looking for
    a Position--The Enemy in Camp--A Battle--Falling back to North
    Castle--The Enemy withdraw--What Washington suspected--Advised
    to evacuate Fort Washington--The Enemy capture the Fort--Gloomy
    Times--Retreat over the Hackensack--Retreat to Newark--General
    Lee disobeying Orders--Further Retreat--Boats for Seventy Miles
    collected--Disappointment and a Plot--Opposition to
    Washington--Retreat to Trenton--Darkest Hour yet--Washington
    still hopeful--Will retreat over every River and
    Mountain--General Lee's Treasonable Course--General Heath's
    Firmness--Crossing the Delaware--Skill of Washington in
    Retreating--Lee still disobeys Orders--Lee's Folly and
    Capture--Magnanimity of Washington                               372



    Putnam fortifying Philadelphia--Congress investing Washington
    with More Power--Arrival of Troops--Startling Proposition by
    Washington--Recrosses the Delaware to Fight--His Address to his
    Army--The Battle--The Enemy driven--The Hessian Commander
    mortally wounded--Fruits of this Victory--The Welcome News
    spreads--Washington sees the Time for Another Blow--Over the
    Delaware again--Raises Money for the Army--Action of
    Congress--The Enemy marching from Princeton--A
    Battle--Cornwallis outwitted--God on the Side of the Weak
    Battalions--Battle of Princeton--An Affecting
    Incident--Cornwallis at his Wits End--Results of the
    Battle--Fall of General Mercer--His Bravery to the
    End--Washington goes to Morristown for Winter Quarters--The
    Enemy Panic-stricken--Driven out of Jersey--Wonderful
    Achievements in Ten Days--Tributes of Praise--Camp at Morristown
    broken up--Celebrating the Lord's Supper--Encamped at
    Germantown--British Fleet appears--Washington meets Lafayette,
    and appoints him on his Staff--Some Account of the Young
    Nobleman                                                         389



    Plans of the British for 1777--A Temperance Officer--Battle of
    Bennington--Grand Victory--Battle at Fort Schuyler--Indian
    Butchery--Miss McCrea murdered by them--Battle of
    Brandywine--Lafayette wounded--Providential Care--Battle of
    Germantown, and Results--Washington's Daring--Forts reduced, and
    the Enemy take Philadelphia--Burgoyne captured, and his
    Supplies--Kosciusko--The British revelling in
    Philadelphia--Washington in Winter Quarters at Valley
    Forge--Famine in Camp, and Great Sufferings--Washington feeding
    a Soldier--A Conspiracy against the Chief--Dr.
    Craik--Hamilton--Mrs. Washington in Camp--Her Pity for
    Soldiers--Washington engaged in Prayer--Baron
    Stuben--Pulaski--Exchange of Distinguished Prisoners--Alliance
    with France--Council of War--British evacuate
    Philadelphia--Pursued--Battle of Monmouth--A Thrilling Incident,
    and Dr. Griffith--The Fifer Boy--Lee's Cowardly
    Conduct--Hamilton--Washington's Exposure to Death--Grand
    Victory--Enemy retreat--Lee Court-martialed--Arrival of French
    Fleet--Winter Quarters at Middlebrook--Cruelties of the
    Enemy--Massacres of Cherry Valley and Wyoming--Scenes at close
    of 1779--British Cruelty to Prisoners in the "Sugar House" and
    "Jersey Prison-ship"                                             405



    Treason of Arnold--How Accomplished--Capture and Execution
    of André--Arnold serving in the British Army--Ravages in
    Virginia--Attacking Mount Vernon--Washington goes South--Calls
    at Mount Vernon--Joins Lafayette at Williamsburg--Attacks
    Cornwallis at Yorktown--Bombardment--Governor Nelson--Taking
    of Two Redoubts--Washington's Narrow Escape--Surrender of
    Cornwallis--Washington's Order--Fruits of the Victory--The
    Formal Delivery of Cornwallis' Sword--Delivery of Flags--Divine
    Service--Sickness and Death of his Step-son--Sad Scene--Help of
    French Fleet--God for Small Battalions again--Washington's
    War-horse--News of Cornwallis' Surrender in Philadelphia--Action
    of Congress, and Day of Thanksgiving--News in
    England--Washington's Plan to Push the War                       426



    Conference with Lafayette--Negotiations for War--Sir Henry
    Clinton--Treaty of Peace--What America Won, and England
    Lost--Washington Parting with his Soldiers--Meets Congress at
    Annapolis--Retires to Mount Vernon--Improvement of his Mansion
    and Plantations--Encourages Education--Refuses Gift of
    $40,000--Generosity to the Poor--A Pleasing Incident--Meeting
    Payne again--His Industry--In Convention to Form
    Constitution--Elected President--Reluctance to Accept--Journey
    to New York--Ovation at Trenton--At New York--His Cabinet--Style
    of Living--Grooming Horses--His Sickness--Tour through New
    England--Example of Punctuality--Too Late for Dinner--The Pair
    of Horses--Presidential Mansion--The Injured Debtor--Urged for
    Second Presidential Term--Elected--Fruits of it--Tour South, and
    Punctuality--Amount of his Work--Thoroughness--Civil Service
    Reform--Lafayette in Exile--Washington's Maxims--Offered a Third
    Term--Farewell Address--Retirement--His Opposition to
    Slavery--Emancipation of them--The Result                        440



    Exposure and Cold--Ignores Wise Suggestions--Severe
    Attack--Rawlins bleeds him--Believes his End is Near, and
    Resignation--His Will--The Physicians arrive--All Remedies
    fail--His Last Request--Death--Mrs. Washington's Words--What
    Custis says of her--Sad Tidings spread--Action of Congress--The
    Senate's Letter to President Adams--The Funeral at Mount
    Vernon--Sorrow Universal--What Irving says--Eulogy by Fisher
    Ames--Lord Brougham's Estimate--Everett's Final Conclusion, and
    Father of His Country                                            484


    Eulogy by General Henry Lee                                      491




More than two hundred years ago, when America was chiefly inhabited by
Indians two brothers, in England, John and Lawrence Washington, resolved
to remove hither. As they were not poor, doomed to eke out a miserable
existence from a reluctant soil, it is supposed that _politics_ was the
immediate cause of their removal. It was during the reign of Cromwell,
and he made it hot for his enemies. In 1655 a general insurrection was
attempted, and the vengeance of Cromwell descended upon the heads of all
the participants and not a few of their friends, making their land an
uncomfortable place for a residence. There is no evidence that these
brothers were engaged in the insurrection; but there is quite sufficient
proof that the political situation was stormy, subjecting the Washington
family to frequent molestation.

Edward Everett says: "There is no doubt that the politics of the family
determined the two brothers, John and Lawrence, to emigrate to Virginia;
that colony being the favorite resort of the Cavaliers, during the
government of Cromwell, as New England was the retreat of the Puritans,
in the period which preceded the Commonwealth."

We suspect that these brothers did not understand Indians as well as they
did Cromwell, or they would not have been so willing to exchange the
latter for the former. However, English colonists had settled in the
wilderness of Virginia, and, possibly, some of their own acquaintances
were already there. They knew somewhat of that particular portion of the
new world, and what they knew was generally favorable. Being young men,
too, unmarried, intelligent, adventurous and fearless, life in America
appeared to them romantic rather than otherwise. Be this as it may, John
and Lawrence Washington removed to this country in 1657, and settled in
Westmoreland County, Virginia.

One fact indicates that they belonged to a noble ancestry. Lawrence was
educated at Oxford University, and was a lawyer by profession, and
therefore was a young man of rank and promise, while John was engaged in
business and resided on a valuable estate at South Cove in Yorkshire.
They were young men of brains and tact, fitted by natural endowments and
education to lay the foundation of things in a new country. They
descended from an ancestry of honor and influence from the twelfth
century. That ancestry lived in warlike times. Some of them were
renowned for deeds of heroism. All of them were known for loyalty,
intelligence and solidity of character. Washington Irving paid a visit
to the ancient "Washington's manor" at Sulgrave, several years before he
wrote the "Life of George Washington," and he said,--

"It was in a rural neighborhood, where the farm-houses were quaint and
antiquated. A part only of the manor-house remained, and was inhabited by
a farmer. The Washington crest, in colored glass, was to be seen in a
window of what is now the buttery. A window, on which the whole family
arms was emblazoned, had been removed to the residence of the actual
proprietor of the manor. Another relic of the ancient manor of the
Washingtons was a rookery in a venerable grove hard by. The rooks, those
staunch adherents to old family abodes, still hovered and cawed about
their hereditary nests. In the pavement of the parish church we were
shown a stone slab, bearing effigies, on plates of brass, of Lawrence
Washington, gent., and Anne his wife, and their four sons and eleven
daughters. The inscription, in black letters, was dated 1564."

A nephew of John and Lawrence Washington, Sir Henry Washington,
distinguished himself in the civil wars, under Prince Rupert, at the
storming of Bristol, where he broke through the wall with a handful of
infantry after the assailants had been beaten off, and led the forces to
victory. For his prowess he was promoted, and was in command at
Worcester, when that place was stormed, at a time when the king fled
from Oxford in disguise and the loyal cause was in peril. He received a
letter from General Fairfax, whose victorious army was at Haddington,
demanding the immediate surrender of Worcester. Colonel Washington

    "SIR,--It is acknowledged by your books, and by report of your
    own quarter, that the king is in some of your armies. That
    granted, it may be easy for you to procure his majesty's
    commands for the disposal of this garrison. Till then, I shall
    make good the trust reposed in me. As for conditions, if I
    shall be necessitated, I shall make the best I can. The worst
    I know, and fear not; if I had, the profession of a soldier
    had not been begun, nor so long continued by your
    Excellency's humble servant."      HENRY WASHINGTON.

For three months he withstood the siege, experiencing hunger and
hardship, until his Majesty ordered capitulation.

Irving says of this heroic stand, "Those who believe in hereditary
virtues may see foreshadowed in the conduct of this Washington of
Worcester, the magnanimous constancy of purpose, the disposition to
'hope against hope,' which bore our Washington triumphantly through the
darkest days of our revolution."

It appears that the Washingtons were first in war as well as in peace,
centuries ago. There was wealth, fame and influence in the family, from
generation to generation. Their prominence in the grand hunt of those
times proves their high social and public position.

Irvington says, "Hunting came next to war in those days, as the
occupation of the nobility and gentry. The clergy engaged in it equally
with the laity. The hunting establishment of the Bishop of Durham (who
belonged to the Washington family) was on a princely scale. He had his
forests, chases and parks, with their train of foresters, rangers and
park-keepers. A grand hunt was a splendid pageant, in which all his
barons and knights attended him with horse and hound."

Later, the famous English fox-hunting, in which noblemen engaged with
great pomp and expense, engaged the attention of the Washingtons. We
refer to the fact here, because it will explain certain things connected
with the life and times of our George Washington in Virginia.

Everett says, "It may be mentioned as a somewhat striking fact, and one
I believe not hitherto adverted to, that the families of Washington and
Franklin--the former the great leader of the American Revolution, the
latter not second to any of his patriotic associates--were established
for several generations in the same central county of Northamptonshire,
and within a few miles of each other; the Washingtons at Brighton and
Sulgrave, belonging to the landed gentry of the county, and in the great
civil war supporting the royal side; the Franklins, at the village of
Ecton, living on the produce of a farm of thirty acres, and the earnings
of their trade as blacksmiths, and espousing,--some of them, at least,
and the father and uncle of Benjamin Franklin among the number,--the
principles of the non-conformists. Their respective emigrations, germs
of great events, in history, took place,--that of John Washington, the
great-grandfather of George, in 1657, to loyal Virginia,--that of Josiah
Franklin, the father of Benjamin, about the year 1685, to the metropolis
of Puritan New England."

This brief sketch of the Washington family in the mother country must
suffice. Its history in our country began in 1657, on the West Bank of
the Potomac, about fifty miles from its entrance into Chesapeake Bay, in
Westmoreland County. The two brothers, John and Lawrence, purchased an
estate of several thousand acres there, and erected thereon a
comfortable dwelling. In process of time, John married Miss Anne Pope,
and went to reside on Bridge's Creek. Two sons, Lawrence and John, and a
daughter, were the fruits of his union. Lawrence, the oldest son,
married Mildred Warner, daughter of Colonel Augustus Warner, by whom he
had three children, John, Augustine and Mildred. The second son,
Augustine, became the father of George Washington. He married Jane
Butler, by whom he had four children--Butler, Lawrence, Augustine and
Jane. His wife died; and two years thereafter, Mary Ball, a young lady
of great beauty, became his second wife. They were married March 6,
1730. Their first child was George, who was born February 22, 1732. Five
other children--Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, Charles and
Mildred--were added to the family.

John Washington, grandfather of Augustine, distinguished himself in
military affairs, and became lieutenant-colonel in the wars against the
Indians. He was one of the largest planters in the colony, and became
one of the most influential men. In time he became a magistrate and a
member of the House of Burgesses. The name of the parish in which he
lived--Washington--was derived from him.

Augustine Washington, father of George, lived on Pope's Creek when the
latter was born, about one-half mile from the Potomac. The house in
which George was born was pulled down or burned before the Revolution.

The site is now designated by a slab, bearing the inscription:

                 GEORGE WASHINGTON
                     WAS BORN.

The slab was placed there by George Washington Parke Custis--his
grandson--sixty-seven years ago. Thirty-six years after he performed
the grateful act, he published the following account of it in the
_Alexandria Gazette_:

"In June, 1815, I sailed on my own vessel, the 'Lady of the Lake,' a
fine top-sail schooner of ninety tons, accompanied by two gentlemen,
Messrs. Lewis and Grimes, bound to Pope's Creek, in the county of
Westmoreland, carrying with us a slab of freestone, having the following

                 GEORGE WASHINGTON
                     WAS BORN.

"Our pilot approached the Westmoreland shore cautiously (as our vessel
drew nearly eight feet of water), and he was but indifferently
acquainted with so unfrequented a navigation.

"Desirous of making the ceremonial of depositing the stone as imposing
as circumstances would permit, we enveloped it in the 'star-spangled
banner' of our country, and it was borne to its resting place in the
arms of the descendants of four revolutionary patriots and
soldiers--SAMUEL LEWIS, son of George Lewis, a captain in Baylor's
regiment of horse, and a nephew of Washington; WILLIAM GRIMES, the son
of Benjamin Grimes, a gallant and distinguished officer of the
Life-guard; the CAPTAIN of the vessel, the son of a brave soldier
wounded in the battle of Guilford; and GEORGE W. P. CUSTIS, the son of
John Parke Custis, aid-de-camp to the commander-in-chief before
Cambridge and Yorktown.

"We gathered together the bricks of an ancient chimney that once formed
the hearth around which Washington in his infancy had played, and
constructed a rude kind of a pedestal, on which we reverently placed the
FIRST STONE, commending it to the attention and respect of the American
people in general, and to the citizens of Westmoreland in particular.

"Bidding adieu to those who had received us so kindly, we re-embarked
and hoisted our colors, and being provided with a piece of canon and
suitable ammunition, we fired a salute, awakening the echoes that had
slept for ages around the hallowed spot; and while the smoke of our
martial tribute to the birth-place of the _Pater Patriæ_ still lingered
on the bosom of the Potomac, we spread our sails to a favoring breeze,
and sped joyously to our homes."

Mr. Paulding, in his life of Washington, describes the place as follows:

"A few scanty relics alone remain to mark the spot, which will ever be
sacred in the eyes of posterity. A clump of old decayed fig trees,
probably coeval with the mansion, yet exists; and a number of vines and
shrubs and flowers still reproduce themselves every year, as if to mark
its site, and flourish among the hallowed ruins. The spot is of the
deepest interest, not only from its associations, but its natural
beauties. It commands a view of the Maryland shore of the Potomac, one
of the most majestic of rivers and of its course for many miles towards
the Chesapeake Bay. An aged gentlemen, still living in the neighborhood,
remembers the house in which Washington was born. It was a low-pitched,
single-storied frame building, with four rooms on the first floor, and
an enormous chimney at each end on the outside. This was the style of
the better sort of houses in those days, and they are still occasionally
seen in the old settlements of Virginia."

Irving says that "the roof was steep, and sloped down into low,
projecting eaves;" so that an artist's eye can readily see the house as
it was.

Let the reader bear in mind that John Washington was the founder of the
Washington family in America, and George Washington was his

George was baptized on the 5th of April following, when he was about six
weeks old. Mrs. Mildred Gregory acted as godmother, and Mr. Beverly
Whiting and Captain Christopher Brooks, godfathers.

When George was four or five years old, his father resolved to move to a
plantation on the banks of the Rappahannock River, opposite

"There are many advantages in that locality," he remarked to his wife;
"besides, the land is better."

"There can't be much fault found with the land anywhere in this part of
the country," responded Mrs. Washington. "It needs little but using."

"Very true; but somehow I have taken a great liking to the banks of the
Rappahannock," continued Mr. Washington. "The children will like the
change, I know."

"That may be; children like change; a novelty just suits them," answered
Mrs. Washington. "I have never known them to express dissatisfaction
with this place. They are about as happy as children can well be."

"There can be no doubt of that, judging from daily observation,"
responded her husband, somewhat facetiously. "If a change does not add
to the sum total of their happiness, I trust that it will not subtract
much from it."

"Understand me," continued Mrs. Washington, "I am not setting myself up
in opposition to your plan of removing. It may prove the very best thing
for us all. We sha'n't know till we try."

"Well, I think I shall try it," added Mr. Washington.

And he did try it. He removed to the aforesaid locality in the year
1737. The estate was already his own.

The reader must know from what has been said already, that estates of
two, three and five thousand acres, in Virginia, at that time, were
common. Many wealthy English families, fond of rural life, and coveting
ample grounds for hunting and roaming, had settled in the "Old
Dominion," where land was cheap as well as fertile. The Washington
family was one of them. From the day that John Washington and his
brother settled in Virginia, they and their numerous descendants were
large landholders. When George was forty-one years of age, just before
the stirring scenes of the Revolution, we find him writing to a Mr.
Calvert of George Washington Parke Custis:

"Mr. Custis' estate consists of about _fifteen thousand acres_ of land,
a good part of it adjoining the city of Williamsburg, and none of it
forty miles from that place; several lots in the said city; between two
and three hundred negroes, and about eight or ten thousand pounds upon
bond, and in the hands of his merchants. This estate he now holds
independent of his mother's dower, which will be an addition to it at
her death."

Wealthy families at that time lived in expensive style. They kept their
"turn-outs and liveried servants," as we call them now, and made an
imposing appearance on public occasions. The proprietors were "gentlemen
farmers," whose mansions were conducted on a grand scale of hospitality.
Everybody was welcome, even Indians.

When George's father removed to the banks of the Rappahannock, one vast,
unbroken forest, on either side, met his view. The woodman's axe had
opened only here and there a patch of the woods to the light of the sun.
These forests abounded with game, and had long been the hunting ground
of the red men. The river swarmed with water-fowl of various names and
plumage, and often the Indian's birch canoe darted over its waters like
a spirit.

The Colony supported a military organization at that time. The Indians
were friendly to the English colonists, but they might not continue to
be. England and France were friendly to each other, also, yet both had
an eye upon the same possessions in the new world. There was no telling
how soon a resort to arms might be inevitable. The militia must be
maintained against the time of need.

George was almost too young to appreciate the danger when his ears first
listened to tales of Indian depredations.

"Several families murdered in cold blood by roving savages," was the
news Mr. Washington brought home one day.

"Where? Where?" Mrs. Washington inquired, with evident anxiety.

"A long way from here," her husband replied, "but it shows the murderous
spirit of Indians all the same."

"A treacherous race!" remarked Mrs. Washington.

"Yes; treacherous indeed!" her husband replied, "There is no telling
what is in store for us, in my opinion."

"There is no more reason for their murdering white men and woman so far
away than there is for their doing it near by us," suggested Mrs.

"None whatever. Revenge, or desire for plunder, prompted the deed, no
doubt; and revenge or hope of plunder is just as likely to move them
here as there to killing and burning," Mr. Washington said.

Occasional startling news of this kind, discussed in the family, was
listened to by George, whose precocity took in the situation well for
one so young. Early in life he had a good understanding of Indian
character, and of the trouble that might come to the colonists through
these savage denizens of the forest. There is good evidence that
apprehensions of Indian hostilities filled him with anxiety long before
they actually commenced.

At that time, also, negro slavery existed among the colonists. The large
estates were worked by slave labor. The Washington family held slaves.
Some planters owned several hundred. As there was no question raised
about the right or wrong of the slave system, it is probable that
George's mind was not exercised upon the subject. He grew up in the
midst of the institution without calling in question its rectitude. We
mention the fact here, because it was one of the early influences of his
ancestry and birth-place which must have been offset by home
instructions and the rapid unfolding of a singularly manly character.



It is fortunate that the materials of Washington's early life were
preserved by one who was rector of the Mount Vernon parish while members
of the family and other friends survived. Rev. M. L. Weems ministered
there seventy-five years ago, and he gathered information from a woman
who was neighbor to the Washingtons in her childhood, and from John
Fitzhugh, who was often with George in his early home. In addition,
descendants of the family, who had fondly preserved valuable incidents
of their illustrious ancestor's boyhood and manhood, furnished them for
his biography by their pastor. We are indebted to Mr. Weems for most of
the facts relating to Washington's boyhood.

In the autumn of 1737, Mr. Washington went to the door of a neighbor and
relative, leading George by the hand. The woman who related the incident
to Mr. Weems was a little girl at that time, and was visiting the

"Will you take a walk with us?" inquired George's father, addressing
himself to the girl just mentioned, and her cousin, whose name was

"We are going to take a walk in the orchard," continued Mr. Washington.
"It is a fine sight now."

Both of the parties addressed promptly accepted the invitation,
delighted to take a stroll among the trees that were bending under their
burden of fruit.

A walk of a half-mile brought them to the orchard, where an unusual
spectacle awaited them.

"Oh, see the apples!" exclaimed George. "Such a lot of them!" And he
clapped his hands and fairly danced in his excitement.

"I never saw such a sight," said the girl who accompanied them.

"It is a spectacle, indeed!" responded Mr. Washington. "It is not often
we see so much fruit in one field as we see here."

It was not so much the enormous crop of apples upon the trees, as it was
the great quantity on the ground beneath them that attracted George. The
winds had relieved the trees of a portion of their burden, and the
ground was literally covered with the luscious fruit. George had never
beheld such a display of apples, and his young heart bounded with
delight over the scene.

They roamed through the orchard for a time, chatting and enjoying the
occasion thoroughly, when Mr. Washington rather disturbed the flow of
animal spirits by saying,--

"Now, George, look here, my son! Don't you remember when this good
cousin of yours (referring to the lad who was with them) brought you
that fine large apple last spring, how hardly I could prevail on you to
divide it with your brothers and sisters, though I promised you that if
you would but do it God would give you plenty of apples this fall."

George made no reply but hung his head in shame. He had not forgotten
his selfishness on that occasion, and he was greatly mortified.

His father continued,--

"Now, look up, my son; look up, George! See how richly the blessed God
has made good my promise to you. Wherever you turn your eyes, you see
the trees loaded with fine fruit; many of them, indeed, breaking down;
while the ground is covered with mellow apples, more than you could eat,
my son, in all your life-time."

George made no reply. His young companions stood in silence, gazing at
him, as if wondering what all this counsel meant. Mr. Washington waited
for his son to speak; and just as he was concluding that George had
nothing to say for himself, the latter turned manfully to his father,
and said:

"_Well, pa, only forgive me this time, and see if I am ever stingy any

Mr. Washington had a purpose in going to the orchard, and it was well
accomplished. His son got one nobler idea into his head, and one nobler
resolve into his heart. Henceforth the noble boy would treat selfishness
as a foe instead of a friend.

Mr. Washington resorted to the following device to impress his son with
a proper conception of God as the Creator of all things. In the spring
he carefully prepared a bed in the garden, beside the walk, where George
would frequently go for pleasure. When the bed was prepared, he wrote
George's name in full in the pulverized earth, and sowed the same with
cabbage seed. In due time, of course, the seed appeared in green,
thrifty shoots, forming the letters as clearly as they stand in the
alphabet. George discovered them one day. He was then seven or eight
years old. He stood for a moment in silent wonder.

"Those are letters sure enough," he thought.

Then he read them aloud, "G-E-O-R-G-E W-A-S-H-I-N-G-T-O-N."

With wondering eyes he rushed to the house, and excitedly broke the

"Oh, pa, come here! come here!"

"What's the matter, my son? what's the matter?" responded his father.

"Oh, come here, I tell you, pa; come here!" and the boy could scarcely
contain himself, so great was his excitement.

"But what is it, my son? Can't you tell me what has happened?"

"Come here, and I'll show you the greatest sight you ever saw in your

By this time he was pulling his father along towards the garden, the
latter understanding full well what had happened. Very soon they reached
the bed, where the bright, thrifty cabbage plants had spelled the name

"There, pa!" exclaimed George, pointing to his name in cabbage plants,
and exhibiting the greatest astonishment by his appearance. "Did you
ever see such a sight in all your life-time?"

"Well, George, it does seem like a curious affair sure enough," his
father answered. "But who should make it there, pa? Who made it there?"

"Why, it _grew_ there, of course, my son."

"No, pa! No, no! somebody put it there."

"Then you think it did not grow there by _chance_?"

"No, indeed, it never did. That couldn't be."

"How is that, my son? Don't it look very much like _chance_?"

"Why, no, pa; did you ever know anybody's name in a plant bed before?"

"Well, George, might not such a thing happen though I never saw it

"Yes, pa; but I never saw plants grow up so as to make a single letter
of my name before. How could they grow up so as to make _all_ the
letters of my name! And all standing one after another so as to spell my
name exactly--and all so nice and even, too, at top and bottom! Somebody
did it. _You_ did it, pa, to scare me, because I am your little boy."

"Well, George, you have guessed right," answered Mr. Washington. "I did
do it, but not to scare you, my son, but to teach you a great truth
which I wish you to understand. I want to introduce you to your _true_

"Ain't you my _true_ father, pa?"

"Yes, I am your father, George, as the world calls it, and love you with
a father's love. Yet, with all my love for you, I am but a poor father
in comparison with your _true_ Father."

"I know well enough whom you mean," continued George. "You mean God,
don't you?"

"Yes, I mean Him, indeed, my son. _He_ is your _true_ Father," was Mr.
Washington's hearty answer.

George went on with his inquiries, and his father, answered, adding at

"Well, then, as you could not believe that _chance_ had made and put
together so exactly the letters of your name (though only sixteen), then
how can you believe that _chance_ could have made and put together all
those millions and millions of things that are now so exactly fitted for
your good! Eyes to see with; ears to hear with; nose to smell with; a
mouth to eat with; teeth to bite with; hands to handle with; feet to
walk with; a mind to think with; a heart to love with; a home to live
in; parents to care for you, and brothers and sisters to love you! Why,
look at this beautiful world in which you live, with its golden, light
to cheer you by day, and its still night to wrap you in sleep when you
are too tired to play; its fruits, and flowers and fields of grass and
grain; its horses to draw you and cows to give you milk; its sheep to
furnish wool to cloth you, and meat for your food; its sun, moon and
stars to comfort you; bubbling springs to quench your thirst; wood to
burn that you may be warm in winter; and _ten thousand other good
things_--so many that my son could never number them all, or even think
of them! Could _chance_ bring about all these things so exactly as to
suit your _wants_ and _wishes_?"

"No, pa, chance could not do it," answered George, really taking in this
new view of the world around him.

"What was it, then, do you think, my son?" continued his father.

"God did it," George replied.

"Yes, George, it is all the work of God, and nobody else," responded his
father. "He gives us all."

"Does God give me everything? Don't you give me _some things_?" George

"I give you something!" exclaimed his father. "How can I give you
anything, George? I who have nothing on earth I can call my own; no, not
even the breath I draw!"

"Ain't the house yours, and the garden, and the horses and oxen and
sheep?" still inquired George, failing to comprehend the great truth of
God's ownership.

"Oh, no, my son, no! Why, you make me shrink into nothing, George, when
you talk of all these things belonging to _me_, who can't even make a
_grain of sand_! How could I give life to the oxen and horses, when I
can't give life even to a fly, my son?"

George was introduced into a new world by this lesson, as his father
intended that he should be. His precocious mind grasped, finally, the
great idea of his "_true_ Father," and the lesson never had to be

We have rehearsed this incident somewhat in detail as given by Mr.
Weems, because its influence will be found interwoven with George's
future private and public life.

Another story told by Mr. Weems is the famous _hatchet_ story, which has
been rehearsed to so many children, since that day, to rebuke falsehood
and promote truth-telling.

His father made him a present of a hatchet with which George was
especially delighted. Of course he proceeded forthwith to try it, first
hacking his mother's pea-sticks, and, finally, trying its edge upon the
body of a beautiful "English cherry-tree." Without understanding that he
was destroying the tree, he chopped away upon it to his heart's content,
leaving the bark, if not the solid wood underneath, in a very
dilapidated condition. The next morning his father discovered the
trespass, and, rushing into the house, under much excitement, he

"My beautiful cherry-tree is utterly ruined. Who could hack it in that

Nobody knew.

"I would not have taken five guineas for it," he added, with a
long-drawn sigh. The words had scarcely escaped from his lips before
George appeared with his hatchet.

"George," said his father, "do you know who killed that cherry-tree in
the garden?"

George had not stopped to think, until that moment, that he had used his
hatchet improperly. His father's question was a revelation to him; and
he hung his head in a guilty manner for a moment.

"George, did you do it?" urged his father.

Raising his head, and looking his father fully in the face, he replied:

"I can't tell a lie, pa; you know I can't tell a lie, I did cut it with
my hatchet."

Mr. Washington was well-nigh overcome by this frank and honest reply.
For a moment he stood spell bound; then recovering himself, he

"Come to my arms, my boy! You have paid for the cherry-tree a thousand
times over. Such an act of heroism is worth more to me than a thousand

Mr. Weems regards this honest confession the out-growth of previous
instructions upon the sin of lying and the beauty of truthfulness. He
represents Mr. Washington as saying to his son:

"Truth, George, is the loveliest quality of youth. I would ride fifty
miles, my son, to see the little boy whose heart is so honest, and his
lips so pure, that we may depend on every word he says."

"But, oh, how different, George, is the case with the boy who is so given
to lying that nobody can believe a word he says. He is looked at with
aversion wherever he goes, and parents dread to see him come among their
children. O George, rather than see you come to this pass, dear as you
are to me, I would follow you to your grave."

Here George protested against being charged with lying. "Do I ever tell
lies?" he asked.

"No, George, I thank God you do not; and I rejoice in the hope that you
never will. At least, you shall never, from me, have cause to be guilty
of so shameful a thing. You know I have always told you, and now tell
you again, that, whenever by accident you do anything wrong, which must
often be the case, as you are but a little boy, without _experience_ or
_knowledge_, never tell a falsehood to conceal it; but come bravely up,
and tell me of it; and your confession will merit love instead of

As we proceed with this narrative, after having enjoyed this glimpse of
George's earliest years, the charming lines of Burleigh will find a
fitting application.

    "By honest work and inward truth
       The victories of our life are won,
     And what is wisely done in youth
       For all the years is wisely done;
     The little deeds of every day
     Shape that within which lives for aye.

    "No thought so buried in the dark
       It shall not bear its bloom in light;
     No act too small to leave its mark
       Upon the young hearts tablet white;
     Our grand achievements, secret springs,
     Are tempered among trivial things.

    "No soul at last is truly great
       That was not greatly true at first;
     In childhood's play are seeds of fate
       Whose flower in manhood's work shall burst.
     In the clinched fist of baby Thor
     Might seem his hammer clutched for war.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The firmest tower to heaven up-piled
       Hides deepest its foundation-stone;
     Do well the duty of the child,
       And manhood's task is well begun;
     In thunders of the forum yet
     Resounds the mastered alphabet."

George was about eight years old when a great excitement arose among the
colonists in Virginia, and the fife and drum were heard, to announce
that England, the mother country, needed soldiers.

"A regiment of four battalions is called for, by the king, for a
campaign in the West Indies," announced Mr. Washington to his son
Lawrence, a young man twenty-two years of age.

"A good opportunity for me," answered Lawrence, who possessed much of
the military spirit of his ancestors. "Perhaps I can get a commission."

"Perhaps so," responded his father; "your education ought to place you
above the common soldier."

Lawrence had just returned from England, where he had spent seven years
in study, enjoying the best literary advantages the country could

"Well, I can enlist and then see what can be done," continued Lawrence.
"The regiment will be raised at once, and I can soon find out whether
there is an appointment for me."

Soon recruiting parties were parading at the sound of fife and drum, and
the military spirit was aroused in the hearts of both young and old. The
enthusiasm spread and grew like a fire in the wilderness. The colonists
were truly loyal to the king, and their patriotism led them, heartily
and promptly, into the defence of the English cause in the West Indies
against the Spaniards.

Recruiting advanced rapidly, and the regiment was soon raised. Lawrence
obtained a captain's commission, and appeared wearing the insignia
of his office. Music, drilling, parading, now became the order of the
day, and it was a new and exciting scene to George. Soldiers in uniform,
armed and equipped for war, marching at the sound of music, captivated
his soul. It awakened all the ancestral spirit of chivalry that was in
his heart. The sight of his big brother at the head of his company,
drilling his men in military tactics, filled him with wonder. Gladly
would he have donned a soldier's suit and sailed with the regiment to
the West Indies, so wrought upon was his young heart.

In due time the regiment embarked for the West Indies, and George was
obliged to part with his noble brother, to whom he had become strongly
attached since his return from England. The departure of so many
colonists, and the cessation of military display, left George in a
serious frame of mind. For the first time in his life he experienced the
sensation of loneliness.

However, he had caught the military spirit, and he found relief in
playing soldier with his companions. There is no doubt that George
inherited somewhat the love and tact for military life for which his
English ancestors were renowned; and now that born element of his
character was called into active exercise. The recruiting campaign
converted him into an amateur soldier.

From that time George found more real pleasure in mimic parades and
battles than he found in any other sport. A stick, corn-stalk or
broom-handle, answered for gun or sword, and the meadow in front of his
father's house became his muster-field. Here Lewis Willis, John
Fitzhugh, William Bustle, Langhorn Dade, and other companions, marched
and counter-marched, under the generalship of their young commander,
George. Soldiering became the popular pastime of the region, in which
the boys played the part of the Englishmen and Spaniards better than
boys can do it now.

Lawrence served two years under Admiral Vernon in the West Indies
campaign, and returned to Virginia in the autumn of 1742. He proved
himself a hero in war. Irving says: "He was present at the siege of
Carthagena, when it was bombarded by the fleet, and when the troops
attempted to escalade the citadel. It was an ineffectual attack; the
ships could not get near enough to throw their shells into the town, and
the scaling ladders proved too short. That part of the attack, however,
with which Lawrence was concerned, distinguished itself by its bravery.
The troops sustained, unflinching, a destructive fire for several hours,
and at length retired with honor, their small force having sustained a
loss of about six hundred in killed and wounded."

Lawrence intended to return to England after a brief stay at home.

"My record will insure me a promotion in the army," he said to his
father, who was averse at first to his return.

"Very true; but army life is objectionable in many ways," his father
replied. "The honors hardly pay."

"But my experience for two years has fitted me for that service more
than for any other, and that is to be thought of," suggested Lawrence.

"Yes; but other avenues to business are always open to young men of
spirit," remarked his father. "Nor is it necessary for them to leave the
country in order to accomplish a noble purpose."

However, Mr. Washington withdrew his objections to his son's return to
the army; though, subsequently, he was pleased that he abandoned the
project under the following circumstances.

There lived an educated English gentleman in Fairfax County by the name
of William Fairfax. He had charge of a very large estate belonging to
his cousin, Lord Fairfax, of England. This William Fairfax had a
daughter, Anne, as well educated and accomplished as Lawrence. Mutual
respect between Lawrence and Anne ripened into mutual love, and they
became engaged. This unexpected episode in the lives of the promising
couple changed the plans of Lawrence; and he voluntarily abandoned the
idea of returning to the army.

The martial spirit of George did not abate when Lawrence came home from
the war; it rather increased than otherwise. For his ears were regaled
with many stories of army life, in which bravery, peril, bloodshed, and
hairbreadth escapes were strangely mixed. There was a singular
fascination in these tales of war to George; and he never tired of
listening to them. The more he heard, the more he enjoyed playing
soldier. He was constantly learning military tactics, too, from the lips
of his brother. Being a bright, intelligent boy, he readily comprehended
and appropriated information upon a subject that was so congenial to his
heart. Lawrence was impressed by the precocity of his little brother, as
well as his tact at soldiering, so that he was all the more gratified to
nurture his martial spirit by rehearsing his experience in war. Lawrence
was twenty-four years of age, and George but ten, so that the latter
looked up to the former somewhat as a son looks up to a father, drinking
in his words as words of wisdom, and accepting his experience as that of
an officer of rank. Lawrence became his military teacher, really; and
the opportunity to George proved a sort of West Point.

Lawrence, and others, too, were very much charmed by George's manly
bearing, even before he was ten years old. John Fitzhugh said of him,
"He was born a man."

He was very handsome, large of his age, tall and straight, graceful and
dignified in his movements. These qualities were so conspicuous as to
attract the attention of strangers.

He was very athletic, too, and loved more active sports than playing
marbles. He excelled in running, wrestling, leaping, and throwing the
bar, sports that were popular at that time. In these things he took the

John Fitzhugh said of him, as a runner: "He ran wonderfully. We had
nobody hereabouts that could come near him. There was a young Langhorn
Dade, of Westmoreland, a clean-made, light young fellow, a mighty swift
runner, too--but then he was no match for George: Langy, indeed, did not
like to give it up, and would brag that he had sometimes brought George
to a tie. But I believe he was mistaken; for I have seen them run
together many a time, and George always beat him easy enough."

He would throw a stone further then any other boy. Col. Lewis Willis,
who was one of his boon companions, said that he "had often seen George
throw a stone across the Rappahannock, at the lower ferry of
Fredericksburg." No other boy could do it.

His great physical strength was early displayed in lifting and carrying

The sequel will show how well his marked physical development served him
in public life. A boy of less muscular power could not have made a
general of such endurance under privations and hardships.

Much more relating to the boyhood of George Washington will appear in
subsequent chapters. Enough has been said in this chapter to accomplish
our purpose.



"We must come to some conclusion before long about Lawrence's
education," remarked Mr. Washington to his wife. "It is certain that not
much more can be done for him here."

"He deserves and must have something better than the schools of this
colony can give him," answered Mrs. Washington. "Besides, it will do the
boy good to go from home, and mix in such cultivated society as he will
have in England."

They had often discussed the matter of sending Lawrence to England to be
educated. The wealthier classes of Virginia were accustomed to send
their sons to the mother country for a higher education than was
possible at home. Indeed, it was sending them "home" in one sense, for
England was their "home." They were only colonists here, where the
schools were poor indeed. Neither their good-will nor their money alone
could make good schools. They lacked suitable teachers and other
facilities, which neither money nor good intentions could furnish.

"He should go, if he goes at all, as soon as possible," continued Mr.
Washington. "There is no time to lose when a boy gets to be fifteen
years old. Eight years at school there will make him twenty-three when
he gets through; and by that time he should be prepared to enter upon
some pursuit for life."

"Eight years is a longer time than it is absolutely necessary for him to
spend," suggested Mrs. Washington. "Five or six years may be sufficient
unless he decides to enter one of the learned professions."

"He can't be too well educated, whether he enters a learned profession
or not," responded Mr. Washington. "Too much education is quite as
impossible as too much honesty; and I do not expect he will ever have
too much of the latter."

"I shall not deny that," replied Mrs. Washington. "I shall rejoice as
much as you in the best opportunities he can have. I was only suggesting
what might be if absolutely necessary to save time or expense."

Their conclusion was (as stated in the second chapter), to send Lawrence
to England as soon as his wardrobe could be made ready, in which
determination the lad rejoiced more than his parents ever knew. His
ambition for an English education was strong; and, boy-like, he coveted
a residence in England for a while.

Within a few weeks he sailed for the mother country, leaving a sensible
void in the family. George did not interest himself particularly in the
affair, although he might have added an occasional "coo"; for he was
only one year old when his big brother left for England. His
inexperience was sufficient excuse for his indifference to so important
an affair.

George went to school when he was five years of age. A man by the name
of Hobby lived in one of his father's tenements, and he served the
public in the double capacity of parish sexton and school-master. It is
claimed that he was a wounded soldier with a wooden leg, a kind,
Christian gentleman, whose very limited education may have qualified him
to dig graves and open the house of worship, but not to teach the young.
However, he did teach school quite a number of years, and some of his
pupils called him "Old Wooden Leg"--a fact that confirms the story of
his having but one leg. He could "read, write and cipher" possibly, for
that day, but beyond that he made no pretensions. Yet, that was the best
school George could have at that time.

"We hope he will have a better one sometime," his father remarked. "I
may not be able to send him to England, but I hope we shall see better
schools here before many years have passed."

"Mr. Hobby can teach him A, B, C, as well as any body, I suppose,"
answered Mrs. Washington; and he can make a beginning in reading and
writing with him, perhaps.

"Yes, and he may give him a start in arithmetic," added Mr. Washington.
"Hobby knows something of addition, subtraction, multiplication and
division. But a bright boy will run him dry in two or three years."

"Mr. Hobby will do the best he knows how for George or any other boy,"
continued Mrs. Washington. "He is a good man, and looks after the morals
of his scholars; and that is a good deal in educating children."

"Of course it is; it is everything," replied Mr. Washington. "In that
respect, Hobby has the confidence of all who know him. He does the very
best he can, and the most cultivated people can do no better than that."

George was soon on the very best terms with his teacher. The attraction
was mutual. Hobby saw a bright, studious, obedient boy in George, and
George saw a kind, loving and faithful teacher in Hobby. In these
circumstances commendable progress was immediate in George's career.

One of his biographers says of him in Hobby's school:

"The rapid progress George made in his studies was owing, not so much to
his uncommon aptitude at learning, as to the diligence and industry with
which he applied himself to them. When other boys were staring out of
the window, watching the birds and squirrels sporting among the
tree-tops; or sitting idly with their hands in their pockets, opening
and shutting their jack-knives, or counting their marbles, or munching
apples or corn-dodgers behind their books, or, naughtier still, shooting
paper bullets at Hobby's wooden leg; our George was studying with all
his might, closing his ears to the buzz of the school-room; nor would he
once raise his eyes from his book till every word of his lesson was
ready to drop from his tongue's end of its own accord. So well did he
apply himself, and so attentive was he to everything taught him, that,
by the time he was ten years old, he had learned all that the good old
grave-digger knew himself; and it was this worthy man's boast, in after
years, that he had laid the foundation of Washington's future greatness.
But what Hobby could not teach him at school, George learned at home
from his father and mother, who were well educated for those days; and
many a long winter evening did these good parents spend in telling
their children interesting and instructive stories of olden times, of
far-off countries and strange people, which George would write down in
his copy book in his neatest, roundest hand, and remember ever

What this biographer claims was not all the instruction which George
received at home. His instruction at Hobby's school was supplemented by
lessons in reading, penmanship and arithmetic by his father, who was
much better qualified than Hobby to teach the young. Mr. Washington was
a wise man, and he saw that George's school would prove far more
beneficial to him when enforced by such lessons as he himself could
impart at home. Thus Hobby's school really became a force in the
education of George, because it was ably supported by the home school.
Otherwise that first school which George attended might have proved of
little value to him.

George became Mr. Hobby's most important pupil, because he was an
example of obedience, application, method and thoroughness.

"George always does his work well," Mr. Hobby would say, exhibiting his
writing-book to the school. "Not one blot, no finger-marks, everything
neat and clean."

In contrast with some of the dirty, blotted pages in other
writing-books, that of George was a marvel of neatness and excellence.

"It is just as easy to do the best you can as it is to do poorly," Mr.
Hobby continued, by way of rebuke and encouragement to dull and careless
scholars. "George does not have to work any harder to be thorough than
some of you do to be scarcely passible. He is a little more careful,
that is all."

His writing-book, held up to the view of the school with the one most
badly defaced, honored George's thoroughness, and sharply reproved the
other boy's carelessness. Mr. Hobby sought to arouse dull scholars by
encouragement full as much as he did by punishment. Hence, George's
neat, attractive writing-book, contrasted with one of the opposite
qualities, became a stimulus to endeavor. All could keep their fingers
clean if they would, even if they had to go to the banks of the
Rappahannock to wash them; and no pupil was fated to blot his book, as
Mr. Hobby very plainly showed; so that George's example was a constant
benediction to the school.

"The scholar who does as well as he can in one thing will do as well as
he can in another," said Mr. Hobby. "George has the best writing-book in
school, and he is the best reader and speller. It is because his rule is
to do the best he can."

It was not expected that George would fail in spelling. He did fail
occasionally on a word, it is true, but so seldom that his schoolmates
anticipated no failure on his part. In spelling-matches, the side on
which he was chosen was expected to win. If all others failed on a word,
George was supposed to be equal to the occasion.

"Well, George, we shall be obliged to depend on you to help us out of
this difficulty," Mr. Hobby had frequent occasion to say, when all eyes
would turn to George for the solution.

"There is a thousand times more enjoyment in doing things well than
there is in doing them poorly," Mr. Hobby said. "The happiest boy in
this school is the boy who is thorough in his studies."

The pupils understood the remark perfectly. It was not necessary that
their teacher should say whether he meant a particular boy or not. They
made their own application. The boy who does his work well is not hid in
a corner. It is impossible to hide him.

Yet, George was at home on the play-ground. He loved the games and
sports of his school-days. No boy enjoyed a trial at wrestling, running
or leaping, better than he did. He played just as he studied--with all
his might. He aspired to be the best wrestler, runner and leaper in
school. William Bustle was his principal competitor. Many and many a
time they were pitted against each other in a race or wrestle.

"George is too much for him," was the verdict of Lewis Willis and
Langhorn Dade and others.

"In a race George will always win," remarked John Fitzhugh. "He runs
like a deer."

"And he wrestles like a man," said Lewis Willis. "No boy is so strong in
his arms as he is. I am nowhere when he once gets his long arms around
me. It's like getting into a vice."

"William is about a match for him, though," suggested Lewis Willis,
referring to William Bustle. "George has the advantage of him in being
taller and heavier."

"And quicker," suggested Willis. "He is spry as a cat."

"Old Wooden Leg was about right when he said that the boy who would
write and spell well would do everything else well," remarked Langhorn
Dade. "It is true of George, sure."

So George was master of the situation on the play-ground. By common
consent the supremacy was conceded to him. He was first in frolic, as,
years thereafter, he was "first in war."

When the excitement of recruiting for the campaign against the Spaniards
in the West Indies prevailed, and George's military ardor was aroused,
he proposed to convert the play-ground into a muster-field, and make
soldiers of his schoolmates.

"Let us have two armies, English and Spanish," he said. "I will command
the English and William (William Bustle) the Spanish." And so they
recruited for both armies. Drilling, parading, and fighting, imparted a
warlike appearance to the school-grounds. All other sports were
abandoned for this more exciting one, and Mr. Hobby's pupils suddenly
became warriors.

"The Spaniards must be conquered and driven out of English territory,"
shouted George to his men.

"The Spaniards can't be expelled from their stronghold," shouted back
their defiant commander, William Bustle. "You advance at your peril."

"You resist at your peril," replied George. "The only terms of peace are
_surrender_, SURRENDER!"

"Spaniards never surrender!" shouted General Bustle; and his men
supplemented his defiant attitude with a yell. "We are here to fight,
not to surrender!"

"Forward! march," cried the English general in response to the
challenge: and the hostile forces, with sticks and corn-stalks,
waged mimic warfare with the tact and resolution of veterans. Charges,
sieges and battles followed in quick succession, affording great sport
for the boys, who were, unconsciously, training for real warfare in the

William Bustle was the equal of George in ability and skill to handle
his youthful army, but the latter possessed a magnetic power that really
made him commander-in-chief of Hobby's school. He was regarded as the
military organizer of these juvenile forces, and hence the meritorious
author of their greatest fun.

One of the stories that has come down to us from George's school-days is
honorable to him as a truth-telling boy. A difficulty arose among
several boys in school, and it grew into a quarrel. Three or four of
George's companions were engaged in the melee, and some hard blows were
given back and forth. Other boys were much wrought upon by the trouble,
and allowed their sympathies to draw them to the side of one party or
the other. Thus the school was divided in opinion upon the question,
each party blaming the other with more or less demonstration.

"What is this that I hear about a quarrel among you, boys?" inquired
Master Hobby, on learning of the trouble. "Dogs delight to bark and

The boys made no answer, but looked at each other significantly, some of
them smiling, others frowning. Mr. Hobby continued:

"Is it true that some of my boys have been fighting?"

No one answered. Evidently Mr. Hobby knew more about the affair than any
of them supposed.

"Well, I am not surprised that you have nothing to say about it," added
Mr. Hobby. "There is not much to be said in favor of fighting. But I
must know the truth about it. How is it, William (addressing William
Bustle), what do you know about it?"

William glanced his eye over the school-room and hesitated, as if the
question put him into a tight place. He had no desire to volunteer

"Speak out," urged his teacher; "we must know the truth about it. I fear
that this was not a _sham_ fight from all I can learn. Did _you_ fight?"

"Yes, sir, I did my part," William finally answered with considerable

"Your part?" repeated Mr. Hobby, inquiringly. "Who assigned such a part
to you?"

"Nobody but myself. I don't like to stand and look on when boys are

"Don't? eh! I wish you would act on that principle when you see some
_lessons_ in your class abused, and come to the rescue by learning them.
That would be acting to some purpose." This was a sharp rejoinder by the
teacher; and William, as well as the other boys, understood its

"But that talk is neither one thing nor another, William," continued Mr.
Hobby. "Waste no more time in this way, but let us have the truth at
once. Be a man now, though you were not when engaged in a quarrel with
your companions."

William was now reassured by his master's tone, and he proceeded to give
his version of the affair. His statement was simply a vindication of his
side of the trouble, and Mr. Hobby so regarded it.

"Now, Lewis (addressing Lewis Willis), we will hear what you have to
say," continued Mr. Hobby. "You were engaged in this disgraceful affair,
I believe."

Lewis admitted that he was, but he hesitated about replying.

"Well, let us have it, if you have anything to say for yourself. There
is not much to be said for boys who fight."

Lewis mustered courage enough to tell his story, which was as one-sided
as that of William. He presented _his_ side of the difficulty as well as
he could, whereupon Mr. Hobby remarked:

"Both of you cannot be right. Now, I would like to know how many of you
think that William is right. As many scholars as think that William's
statement is correct may raise their hands."

Several hands went up.

"Those who think that Lewis is right may raise their hands."

Several hands were raised. George did not vote.

"Did no one attempt to prevent or reconcile this trouble?" inquired Mr.
Hobby--a question that was suggested by the facts he had learned.

"George did," answered one of the smaller boys.

"Ah! George tried to keep the peace, did he? That was noble! But he did
not succeed?" Mr. Hobby added, by way of inquiry.

"No, sir," replied the lad. "They did not mind him."

"Well, I think we will mind him now, and hear what he says," responded
the teacher. "A boy who will plead for peace when others fight deserves
to be heard; and I think we can depend upon his version of the affair.
Now, George (turning to George Washington), shall we hear what you have
to say about this unfortunate trouble?"

George hesitated for a moment, as if he would gladly be excused from
expressing his opinion, when Mr. Hobby encouraged him by the remark:

"I think we all shall be glad to learn how the quarrel is regarded by a

George hesitated no longer, but hastened to give an account of the
affair. He did not agree with either of the boys who had spoken, but
discovered blame upon both sides, which was a correct view of the case.

"And you interposed and tried to reconcile the angry parties?" inquired
Mr. Hobby.

"I tried to," modestly answered George, as if conscious that his efforts
were of little avail with the belligerents.

"Your effort is just as commendable as it would have been if it had
proved successful," responded Mr. Hobby in a complimentary manner.
"And now, I want to know how many of my scholars, girls and boys, agree
with George. You have heard his story. As many of you as agree with
George may signify it by raising your hands."

There was a prompt and large array of hands.

"Those who do not agree with George may raise their hands." Only three
or four hands went up.

"I agree with George," added Mr. Hobby. "I think he has given us a
reliable account of the trouble; and you all ought to be ashamed of
yourselves that you did not heed his advice, and refuse to quarrel. I
shall take time to consider my duty in the circumstances; meanwhile the
fighting boys may reflect upon their disgrace."

This incident presents two qualities of George's character, always
prominent from his earliest school-days. He was known as a truth-teller.
His word could be depended upon. He would not tell a falsehood to shield
his most intimate companion. His word was so reliable that when he gave
an account of the quarrel, not a few of the scholars accepted it simply
because it was the statement of truth-telling George. Even several whose
sympathies were strongly with William or Lewis finally voted for
George's version. It was their confidence in his adherence to truth that
settled their opinion.

George was often called a "peace-maker." Mr. Hobby called him so. His
associates and their parents called him so. There could be no hard words
or quarrels among his schoolmates with his consent. Sometimes an angry
boy would charge him with being a "coward" because he always pleaded for
peace; but his accuser knew full well that George was no "coward." There
was not a braver boy in that "field-school" than he. He proved his
bravery by rebuking falsehood and fighting among his class-mates. A
cowardly boy yields to the ruling spirit around him; but George never
did, except when that spirit was in the interest of peace.

Soon after the death of George's father, of which we shall speak
particularly in another place, his connection with Mr. Hobby's school
was severed.

"How would you like to go to Mr. Williams' school at Bridge's Creek,
George?" his mother inquired. "Mr. Williams is an excellent teacher, I
suppose, the very best there is in Virginia."

"I should like it," George answered. "Can I go?"

"I have been thinking of it," his mother responded. "You can live with
your brother Augustine; the school is not far from his house."

"Shall I go soon?" asked George.

"Yes, as soon as you can get ready. You are at an age now when you must
attend to the higher branches of knowledge, if ever."

"What shall I study?" inquired George.

"Arithmetic, of course, and I have been thinking of book-keeping and
surveying, very important studies for planters and everybody else in
these parts."

"Then you mean I shall be a planter?" George inquired.

"Yes, there is not much but a planter that you can be in this State; and
a good planter may be as useful and honored as a good merchant or

"I would as soon be a planter as anything else," continued George "and I
will try to make a good one."

"That is the main thing," responded his mother. "Planter, merchant or
lawyer, become the best there is, and you will be both prospered and
honored. You have learned about all you can at Mr. Hobby's school; it is
time to go up higher."

"That will suit me as well as it will you," replied George. "I do not
object to going up higher."

"Some boys act as if they do," rejoined Mrs. Washington; "but I hope you
will never belong to that class. Do the best you can in every place, and
you will never be ashamed of your conduct."

Within a few weeks George found himself a member of Mr. Williams'
school, and a resident of his brother Augustine's family. Arithmetic and
book-keeping engaged his attention at once, and, after a few months,
surveying was added to his regular studies.

Mr. Williams was a thorough instructor, and believed that scholars
should master one branch of study before they took up another. He paid
much attention to reading, spelling and penmanship, encouraging his
pupils to place a high value upon these common, but fundamental,

"You are a good mathematician, George, and surveying will come easy to
you," remarked Mr. Williams. "Surveyors will be in great demand in this
country before it is many years older."

"I should like to understand it," replied George, "and I mean to
understand it before I have done going to school."

"And the sooner you commence the study of it the better it will be for
you," added Mr. Williams. "You are old enough, and sufficiently advanced
to pursue it successfully. By and by you can survey the fields about
here, by way of practising the art; and you will enjoy it hugely. It
will be better than play."

"Better than playing soldier?" said George inquiringly, and in a tone of
pleasantry. He had already organized the boys in Mr. William's school
into two armies, and more than one mimic battle had been fought.

"Yes, better than any sham thing," answered Mr. Williams. "It will be
study and diversion together--work and play--improving mind and body at
the same time."

"I see, I see," responded George. "I can abandon soldiering for that."
But he never did. There was too great fascination about military tactics
to allow of that. He devoted himself to surveying with commendable
application and rapid progress; but he continued, to some extent, the
chief sport of his school-days--mimic war.

George was not more than thirteen or fourteen years of age when he
surveyed the land about the school-house. He was the first pupil in Mr.
Williams' school who had performed such a practical piece of work, and
his school-mates were deeply interested in his exploit. He ranked high
as a scholar, and his manly bearing made him appear several years older
than he was. He led Mr. Williams' school, as he did that of Mr. Hobby,
in scholarship, behavior and physical prowess. He seemed born to lead,
and his associates were content to have it so.

One of his biographers speaks as follows of his first efforts at

"When he had advanced so far in his study as to give him some idea of
the proper use and handling of the chain and compass, the two principal
instruments employed in this art, he began to put his knowledge into
practice by taking surveys of the farms lying in the immediate
neighborhood of his school-house.

"Assisted by his school-mates, he would follow up and measure off, with
the help of his long steel chain, the boundary lines between the farms,
such as fences, roads, and water-courses; then those dividing the
different parts of the same farm; determining at the same time, with the
help of his compass, their various courses, their crooks and windings,
and the angles formed at their points of meeting or intersection. This
would enable him to get at the shape and size not only of each farm, but
of every meadow, field and wood composing it. This done, he would make a
map or drawing on paper of the land surveyed, whereon would be clearly
traced the lines dividing the different parts with the name and number
of acres of each attached, while on the opposite page he would write
down the long and difficult tables of figures by which these results had
been reached. All this he would execute with as much neatness and
accuracy as if it had been left with him to decide thereby some gravely
disputed land-claim."

Irving says of him as a surveyor: "In this he schooled himself
thoroughly; making surveys about the neighborhood, and keeping regular
field-books, in which the boundaries and measurements of the fields
surveyed were carefully entered, and diagrams made with a neatness and
exactness, as if the whole related to important land transactions
instead of being mere school exercises. Thus, in his earliest days,
there was perseverance and completeness in all his undertakings. Nothing
was left half done, or done in a hurried and slovenly manner. The habit
of mind thus cultivated continued through life; so that however
complicated his tasks and overwhelming his cares, in the arduous and
hazardous situations in which he was often placed, he found time to do
everything, and _to do it well_. He had acquired the magic of method,
which of itself works wonders."

One day a dispute arose between two pupils respecting a chapter of
Virginia's early history--Captain Smith and Pocahontas.

"She saved his life," exclaimed one.

"Very true; but she was not the daughter of King Opechancanough, as you
say," replied the other.

"Whose daughter was she, then?"

"She was Powhattan's daughter; and her father was going to kill Captain

"No, she was not Powhattan's daughter; I tell you that Opechancanough
was her father," rejoined the other with some warmth.

"And I tell you that Powhattan was her father, and Opechancanough was
her uncle. If you can't recite history more correctly than that you had
better keep still. Anybody knows that Pocahontas was the daughter of
Powhattan; and he was the greatest Indian chief in Virginia."

"And you are a conceited, ignorant fellow, to suppose that nobody knows
anything but yourself."

And so the dispute became more heated, until both parties were greatly
excited; whereupon a listening school-mate called out:

"Leave it to George; he will settle it."

"Agreed!" responded one.

"Agreed!" shouted the other.

And George was called in to settle the controversy, both parties
acquiescing in his decision.

George often acted as umpire among the boys in Mr. Williams' school.
Sometimes, as in the above instance, both parties chose him for umpire.
Their confidence in his word and judgment led them to submit cases of
trial or controversy to him, whether relating to studies or games. Many
disputes were thus brought to a speedy termination by his discriminating
and candid judgment.

Mr. Weems says of him at this time:

"He carried with him his virtues, his zeal for unblemished character,
his love of truth and detestation of whatever was false and base. A gilt
chariot with richest robes and liveried servants could not have
befriended him so well; for, in a short time, so completely had his
virtues secured the love and confidence of the boys, his _word_ was just
as current among them as a _law_. A very aged gentleman, formerly a
school-mate of his, has often assured me that nothing was more common,
when the boys were in high dispute about a question of fact, than for
some little shaver among the mimic heroes, to call out:

"'Well, boys, George Washington was there; George Washington was there;
he knows all about it; and if he don't say it was so, why, then we will
give it up.'

"'Done,' exclaimed the adverse party.

"Then away they would run to hunt for George. Soon as his verdict was
heard, the difficulty was settled, and all hands would return to play

Another biographer, Mrs. Kirkland, says, "It is recorded of his school
days that he was always head boy; and whether this report be authentic
or not, we can easily imagine the case to have been so, not exclusively
by means of scholarship, perhaps, but by the aid of certain other
qualities, very powerful in school as elsewhere, and which he so
exhibited in after life. His probity, courage, ability and high sense of
justice were probably evident, even then, for there is every reason to
believe their foundations were laid very early. The boys would,
therefore, respect him, and choose him for an umpire in their little
troubles, as they are said to have done.... He was famous for hindering
quarrels, and perhaps his early taste for military manoeuvers was only
an accidental form of that love of mathematical combinations (the marked
trait of Napoleon's earlier years) and the tendency to order, promptness
and thoroughness, which characterized him so strikingly in after life.
The good soldier is by no means a man with a special disposition to

George was such an example of order, neatness, thorough scholarship and
exact behavior in Mr. Williams' school that we shall devote the next
chapter to these qualities.



"These are finely done," remarked Lawrence Washington to George, after
an examination of the maps, copy-books, and writing-books, which George
brought with him from Mr. Williams' school. "It would be difficult for
any one to excel them."

"It takes considerable time to do them," remarked George.

"It takes time to do anything _well_," responded Lawrence, "but the
habit is worth everything to you."

"That is what Mr. Williams says," answered George. "He talks to the boys
often about doing things well."

"And no matter what it is that a boy is doing, if it is nothing more
than chopping wood, it pays to do it as well as he can," added Lawrence.
"Mr. Williams is an excellent teacher."

"I think so," responded George. "He makes everything so plain that we
can understand him; and he makes us feel that we shall need all we learn
most when we become men."

"Well, if you learn that last lesson thoroughly it will be of great
service to you every day," remarked Lawrence. "Many boys never stop to
think that they will soon be men, and so they are not fitted for the
duties of manhood when it comes."

"Mr. Williams talks much about method in study and work," continued
George. "He says that many persons accomplish little or nothing in life
because they are neither systematic nor thorough in what they do. 'A
place for everything and everything in its place,' is one of his
frequent remarks."

"And you must have produced these maps and copy-books under that rule,"
suggested Lawrence. "They are as excellent in orderly arrangement as
they are in neatness."

George spent his vacation with Lawrence, who really had charge of his
education after Mr. Washington died. Lawrence married the daughter of
William Fairfax three months after the death of his father, and settled
on the plantation which his father bequeathed to him, near Hunting
Creek, and to which Lawrence gave the name of Mount Vernon, in honor of
Admiral Vernon, under whom he did military service in the West Indies,
and for whom he cherished profound respect.

Lawrence was strongly attached to his young brother in whom he
discovered the elements of a future noble manhood. He delighted to have
him at his Mount Vernon home, and insisted that he should spend all his
time there when out of school. It was during a vacation that Lawrence
examined his maps and copy-books, as narrated, George having brought
them with him for his brother to inspect.

One of George's copy-books attracted much attention in school, because
it was unlike that of any other scholar, and it was an original idea
with him.

"What do you call it, George, and what do you ever expect to do with
it?" inquired a school-mate.

"You can call it what you please," replied George. "I expect that it
will be of great service to me when I become a man."

"That is looking a long way ahead, it seems to me," rejoined his
companion. "I prefer to know what will be of service to me _now_. You
can scarcely tell what will be best for you when you become a man."

"I know that what I am copying into that book will be of use to me in
manhood, because men use these forms. I call it a 'Book of Forms' for
the want of a better name." And George's words denoted entire confidence
in his original idea of the use of forms.

"Well, the book looks well anyway," continued his school-mate holding
the copy-book up to view. "As to that, I should like to see any work of
yours that does not look well. But what are these forms, anyhow?"

"They are receipts, bills of exchange, notes of hand, deeds, wills,
land-warrants, bonds and useful forms of that kind," answered George.
"If I have them here in this book together, they will be convenient for
use ten or twenty years hence."

"Yes, I see; you can run a lawyer's office on that book," suggested his

"A farmer's office, you mean. A farmer may find use for every form there
is in that book; and if he does not, it will be no disadvantage to him
to understand them."

"You are right, George, as you are usually. I shall know where to go for
a form when I want to make my will," remarked his companion in a
complimentary way.

"And I shall be glad to serve you without charge provided you remember
me," responded George. "I predict that many men will live who will be
glad to consult this book to help them out of difficulties."

Perhaps the forethought and sagacity of George were foreshadowed more
clearly by this copy-book than by any other. Its reference to the
necessities of manhood was so plain and direct as to prove that he kept
preparation for that period of life constantly in view. This book has
been carefully preserved, and may be seen to-day at Mount Vernon.

Another manuscript volume of his which has been preserved is a book of
arithmetical problems. It was customary, when George attended school, to
write the solution of problems in arithmetic in a blank-book--not the
result merely, but the whole process of solution. Sometimes the rules
were copied, also, into the book. It was a very good practice for a
studious, persevering, conscientious boy like George; but the method was
a wretched one for certain indolent pupils to whom study was penance;
for this class often relied upon these manuscript volumes to furnish
problems solved, instead of resorting to hard study. They were passed
around among the idle scholars clandestinely, to help them over hard
places without study. Mr. Williams forbade the deceitful practice, and
punished pupils who were discovered in the cheat; nevertheless, poor
scholars continued to risk punishment rather than buckle down to
persistent study. There is no doubt that George's book of problems,
copied in his clear, round hand, did considerable secret service in this
way. But the preparation of it was an excellent discipline for George.
Neatness, application, perseverance, thoroughness, with several other
qualities, were indispensable in the preparation of so fair a book.

In another copy-book George displayed a talent for sketching and
drawing, which elicited Mr. Williams' commendation.

"That portrait is well executed," he said. "You have a talent in that
direction, evidently; the likeness is good." It was the face of one of
the scholars, drawn with his pen.

"Have you practised much in this art?" continued Mr. Williams.

"No, sir; only a little, for amusement."

"Just to see what you could do?" added Mr. Williams, inquiringly.

"Yes, that is all."

"Well, I advise you to cultivate your talent for drawing. These animals
are well done, too. Practise will give you an ability in this line,
which may prove of real service to you in future years."

George had drawn animals, also, in the book, and he had given wings to
some birds with a flourish of his pen, showing both taste and tact
in the use of the pen. George was not a boy who believed in
_flourishes_, except those executed in ink. His interest in the art of
penmanship drew his attention to these as ornamental and ingenious.

"A facile use of the pen will always be serviceable to you," he said to
George. "No one can become too skilful in wielding it. But it requires
much careful practise."

"I have discovered that," answered George. "I do not expect to excel in
the art of penmanship."

"You may, with your application and perseverance," responded his
teacher. "'Perseverance conquers all things,' it is said, and I believe

"But I have not time for everything," remarked George. "Odd moments are
all the time I can devote to such things."

"And odd moments have done much for some boys," added his teacher.
"Fragments of time well improved have made some men illustrious."

"It will take larger fragments of time than I have to make me
illustrious," suggested George, dryly.

"Perhaps not; you are not authorized to come to such a conclusion.
There are too many facts known to warrant it. Your industry and
resolution are equal to it."

George accepted the compliment in silence with his usual modesty,
considerably encouraged by his teacher's words to persevere in doing
things well.

This copy-book, containing sketches of his companions and pen-pictures
of birds and beasts, has been carefully preserved with others. It is a
valuable relic, too, as showing that George was not always the sedate,
serious boy he has generally been represented to be; for some of these
sketches border upon the comical, and evidently were intended to bring
a smile over the faces of his school-mates. Mixed with his usually
grave and practical way of doing things, they show more of the cheerful,
roguish boy than is accorded to George by writers in general.

Another copy-book contains many extracts, in prose and poetry, which
particularly interested George at the time. He was in the habit of
preserving in this way choice bits of prose and poetry for future use.
They were copied in his clear, fair handwriting, with every _i_ dotted
and every _t_ crossed, and every comma and period nicely made and

All these copy books, with other proofs of George's thorough scholarship
and progress, can now be seen at Mount Vernon, where he lived and died.

Irving says of these: "His manuscript school-books still exist, and are
models of neatness and accuracy. One of them, it is true, a ciphering
book, preserved in the library at Mount Vernon, has some school-boy
attempts at calligraphy; nondescript birds, executed with the flourish
of a pen, or profiles of faces, probably intended for those of his
school-mates; the rest are all grave and business-like. Before he
was thirteen years of age he had copied into a volume forms for all
kinds of mercantile and legal papers, bills of exchange, notes of hand,
deeds, bonds and the like. This early self-tuition gave him throughout
life a lawyer's skill in drafting documents, and a merchant's exactness
in keeping accounts; so that all the concerns of his various estates,
his dealings with his domestic stewards and foreign agents, his accounts
with governments, and all the financial transactions, are to this day to
be seen posted up in books, in his own handwriting, monuments of his
method and unvaried accuracy."

There was yet another manuscript more important, really, than those of
which we have spoken. It contained one hundred and ten rules for
regulating his conduct, to which he gave the title, "RULES OF BEHAVIOR

When Lawrence Washington examined this manuscript he remarked to his
wife, "It is remarkable that a boy of his years should make such a
collection of rules as this. They are creditable to a much older head
than his."

"They are not original with him, are they?" responded his wife.

"I think not; they must be a collection which he has made from time to
time. It would not be possible for a boy of his age to produce such a
code of manners and morals out of his own brain. Hear this," and he
proceeded to read some of the "Rules."

"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your
reputation, for it is better to be alone than in bad company."

"Good counsel, surely, and well expressed," remarked Mrs. Washington.

"It shows a degree of thoughtfulness and desire to be correct, beyond
his years," added Lawrence. "The other rules are no less practical and
significant." He continued to read:

"Every action in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those

"Speak not when others speak; sit not when others stand. Speak not when
you should hold your peace. Walk not when others stop."

"That is paying attention to little things with a will," remarked Mrs.

"And that is what impresses me," responded Lawrence. "Most boys think
that such small matters are beneath their notice, when attention to
these secures attention to more important things."

"Very true," replied his wife; "and it certainly shows a desire to be
correct in behavior that is commendable."

"And as unusual as it is commendable," added Lawrence. "It is such a
manly view of life as we seldom meet with, except in ripe manhood."

"Well, read more of his rules," suggested Mrs. Washington.

Lawrence continued to read, "In your apparel, be modest, and endeavor to
accommodate yourself to nature rather than to procure admiration; keep
to the fashion of your equals, such as are civil and orderly, with
respect to times and places.

"Wherein you reprove another, be unblamable yourself, for example is
better than precept.

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

"Not many men reduce these rules to practise very thoroughly," remarked
Lawrence. "To square one's life by these rules requires uncommon
circumspection and decision. Few are equal to it."

"I think that George comes as near doing it as any one," suggested Mrs.

"I was just thinking of that," replied Lawrence. "I am not sure but his
manly bearing is owing to these rules. No one can think enough of them
to write them down carefully in a book without being more or less
influenced by their lessons."

"It would seem so," remarked Mrs. Washington; "but are there no rules
relating to our higher duties to God among the whole number?"

"Yes, several; but you should remember that these are rules of behavior
in company and conversation alone, and not our religious duties. But
here is one rule that lies in that direction":

"Labor to keep in your heart that little spark of celestial fire called

"And here is another":

"If you speak of God or His attributes, let it be seriously, in
reverence; and honor and obey your parents."

"George has done that to perfection," remarked Lawrence. "Profanity and
disobedience, even in their least offensive form, he was never guilty
of. And here is still another rule having reference to our higher
obligations, which he has observed with commendable carefulness":

"Let your recreations be manful, not sinful."

"I think it is remarkable, as you say, that one so young as George
should make such a collection of rules," said Mrs. Washington. "May it
not be that a remarkable future is before him?"

"It may be, and I am inclined to think it will be," answered Lawrence.
"If a bright spring-time is the harbinger of an ample harvest, such a
youth must foreshadow noble manhood."

Thus were George's "Rules of Behavior in Company and Conversation"
discussed at Mount Vernon, and the young author of them was more admired
in consequence.

We will furnish our readers with more of his "Rules," since all of them
are important, and had much to do, doubtless, with the formation of
George's character.

"Speak not of doleful things in time of mirth, nor at the table; speak
not of melancholy things, as death and wounds; and if others mention
them, change, if you can, the discourse. Tell not your dreams but to
your intimate friend.

"Break not a jest when none take pleasure in mirth; laugh not loud, nor
at all, without occasion; deride no man's misfortune, though there seem
to be some cause.

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

"Seek not to lessen the merits of others; neither give more than due

"Go not thither where you know not whether you shall be welcome.

"Give not advice without being asked; and when desired, do it briefly.

"Reprove not the imperfections of others, for that belongs to parents,
masters and superiors.

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

"Think before you speak; pronounce not imperfectly, nor bring out your
words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly.

"When another speaks, be attentive yourself, and disturb not the
audience. If any hesitate in his words, help him not, nor prompt him,
without being desired; interrupt him not, nor answer him, until his
speech be ended.

"Treat with men at right times about business, and whisper not, in the
company of others.

"Be not in haste to relate news if you know not the truth thereof.

"Be not curious to know the affairs of others, neither approach those
that speak in private.

"Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your

"Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.

"Make no show of taking delight in your victuals. Feed not with
greediness. Cut your food with a knife, and lean not on the table;
neither find fault with what you eat.

"Be not a flatterer; neither play with any one that delights not to be
played with.

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

"It is good manners to prefer them to whom we speak before ourselves,
especially if they are above us; with whom in no sort ought we to begin.

"Strive not with your superiors in an argument, but always submit your
judgment to others with modesty.

"Undertake not to teach your equal in the art him self professes, for it
is immodest and presumptuous.

"Before you advise or find fault with any one, consider whether it ought
to be in public or in private; presently, or at some other time; in what
terms to do it; and, in reproving, show no sign of anger, but do it with
sweetness and mildness.

"Use no reproachful language against any one, neither curse nor revile.

"Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the injury of any.

"Play not the peacock, looking everywhere about you to see if you be
well-decked; if your shoes fit well; if your pantaloons sit neatly, and
clothes handsomely.

"Let your conversation be without malice or envy, for it is a sign of a
kindly and commendable nature; and in all cases of passion, admit reason
to govern.

"Utter not base and frivolous things amongst grave and learned men, nor
very difficult questions or subjects among the ignorant, nor things hard
to believe."

These are only a part of the Rules which George adopted for his
instruction and guidance through life. In weighing them, the reader must
feel the force of Everett's remarks, who said of them, "Among his
manuscripts still in existence, there is one, written under thirteen
years of age, which deserves to be mentioned as containing striking
indications of early maturity. The piece referred to is entitled 'Rules
of Behavior in Company and Conversation.' These rules are written out in
the form of maxims, to the number of one hundred and ten." "They form,"
says Mr. Sparks, "a minute code of regulations for building up the
habits of morals and manners and good conduct in very young persons."
Whether they were taken in a body from some manual of education, or
compiled by Washington himself from various books, or framed from his
own youthful observation and reflection, is unknown. The first is,
perhaps, the more probable supposition. If compiled by a lad under
thirteen, and still more, if the fruit of his own meditations, they
would constitute a most extraordinary example of early prudence and
thoughtfulness. Some of the rules which form a part of this youthful
code of manners and morals had their influence over Washington, and gave
a complexion to his habits through life.

That a boy of twelve or thirteen years should compile such a code of
manners and morals, shows, unmistakably, the bent of his mind. We
discover valuable elements of character in the formation and execution
of such a purpose. It is equally true, also, that his book of prose and
poetical extracts reveals his taste and aims no less surely than his
"Rules." The following extract, taken from that manuscript volume, tells
about the same story of the boy as his "Rules of Behavior" tell:--

    "These are the things, which, once possessed,
     Will make a life that's truly blest;
     A good estate on healthy soil,
     Not got by vice, nor yet by toil;
     Round a warm fire a pleasant joke,
     With chimney ever free from smoke;
     A strength entire, a sparkling bowl,
     A quiet wife, a quiet soul;
     A mind, as well as body, whole;
     Prudent simplicity, constant friends,
     A diet which no art commends,
     A merry night without much drinking,
     A happy thought without much thinking.
     Each night by quiet sleep made short,
     A will to be but what thou art:
     Possessed of these, all else defy,
     And neither wish nor fear to die;
     These are the things, which, once possessed,
     Will make a life that's truly blest."

His strong love for simple, pure, domestic life appears in this
selection--a love for which he was distinguished to the day of his

The school-days of George ended one month before he was sixteen years of
age. Mr. Hobby and Mr. Williams were his only teachers, except his
parents. "Not very rare opportunities," the reader will say. No larger
opportunities for mental culture now would be considered meagre indeed.
But he made the most of what he had, so that his small advantages did
more for him than the best opportunities do for less industrious and
noble boys.

A strong bond united him to his teacher and schoolmates. It was not so
much his scholarship as his character that endeared him to both teacher
and pupils. The secret of it was found in his _heart_ rather than his
head. His school-mates were moved to tears on parting with him, and so
was his teacher. And those tears were a sincere tribute to the unsullied
character of the boy.



Certain incidents occurred in the young life of our hero, which so
forcibly illustrate leading elements of his character that we stop here
to record them.

His father came home one day so sick that he took to his bed at once. It
was a severe attack of an old complaint, which he had vainly tried to

"You must have the doctor," said Mrs. Washington, somewhat alarmed by
the severity of the attack.

"Wait a little, and see," replied her husband; "perhaps the usual
remedies will relieve me." He kept remedies in the house for such
attacks, and Mrs. Washington soon administered them. But the relief was
only partial, and a servant was sent for the doctor.

"Go in haste," said Mrs. Washington, as Jake mounted the horse and
galloped away. "Tell the doctor to come as soon as possible," were the
last words that Jake heard as he dashed forward. Mrs. Washington was
thoroughly alarmed. Returning to her husband's bedside, she said:

"I want to send for George."

"Not now," her husband answered. "I think the doctor will relieve me.
Besides, George has only just got there, and it is not well to disturb
him unnecessarily."

George had gone to visit friends at Chotana, about twenty miles distant,
where he proposed to spend his vacation.

Mrs. Washington yielded to her husband's desire, although intense
anxiety filled her heart. She seemed to have a presentiment that it was
her husband's last sickness. Back and forth she went from door to
bedroom, and from bedroom to door, awaiting with tremulous emotion the
coming of the physician, at the same time employing such remedies as she
thought might afford relief.

"A very sick man," was the doctor's verdict, "but I think we can relieve
him soon." His encouraging words lifted a burden from Mrs. Washington's
heart, although she still apprehended the worst, and yet she could
scarcely tell why.

"You think that he will recover?" she said to the doctor, as he was
leaving the house.

"I think so; he is relieved for the present, and I hope that he will
continue to improve," the doctor answered; and he answered just as he

Still Mrs. Washington could not disguise her fears. She was a devout
Christian woman, and she carried her burden to the Lord. She found some
relief in laying her anxieties upon the great Burden-bearer. She came
forth from communion with the Father of mercies more composed if not
more hopeful. She possessed a degree of willingness to leave her
companion in God's hand.

Mr. Washington was relieved of acute pain, but further than that he did
not improve. After continuing several days in this condition, he said to
his wife one morning:

"You may send for George to-day."

"I will," Mrs. Washington replied, bursting into tears. "I wish I had
sent before."

"It might have been as well had we known," Mr. Washington responded, in
a suggestive way.

"Do you think that your sickness will prove fatal?"

"I fear so. I think I am losing ground fast. I have failed very much in
strength the last twenty-four hours. God's will be done."

"I hope I shall have grace to say so honestly."

"And I trust that God will give me grace to say so with true
submission," continued Mr. Washington. "I should like to live if it is
God's will; but if He orders otherwise, we must accept His ordering as

Mrs. Washington could say no more. Her cup of sorrow was full and
running over. But she sorrowed not as one without hope. Both she and her
husband had been active Christians. They were prominent working members
of the Episcopal Church. They knew, from happy experience, that solace
and support were found in divine grace, so that this sudden and terrible
affliction did not overtake them unawares, really. They were prepared
for it in an important sense.

The doctor called just as this interview closed, and he seconded Mr.
Washington's request to send for George.

"A great change has come over him since yesterday," he said to Mrs.

"He just told me that he was sinking," replied Mrs. Washington.

"I fear it is so; and George better be sent for at soon as possible. A
few hours may bring the end." The physician spoke as if there were no
more ground for hope.

"May God have mercy on us," responded Mrs. Washington, as she hastened
from the room, with deep emotion, to despatch a servant for George.

Mr. Washington continued to sink rapidly during the day, his reason at
times wavering, though his distress was not acute. Conscious that he
could not survive many hours, he expressed an anxiety to see George once
more, and seemed impatient for his arrival.

It was almost night when George arrived, and his father was dying. His
mother met him at the door, with emotion too deep for utterance. Her
tears and despairing look told the story more plainly than words to
George. He knew that there was no hope.

Hastening into his father's presence he was appalled by the change. That
cheerful, loving face was struck with death. Fastening his eyes upon his
son, as if he recognized him, the dying man _looked_ his last farewell.
He could not speak nor lift a finger. He was almost "beyond the river."

George was completely overcome. Throwing himself upon his father's neck,
he broke into convulsive sobs, kissing him again and again, and giving
way to the most passionate grief. The scene was affecting beyond
description. All hearts were melted by the child's artless exhibition of
filial love and sorrow. He loved his father with a devotion that knew no
bounds, as he had reason to love him. Without this paternal friend, life
would lose its charm to him, and he "would never be glad any more." So
it seemed to him when he first was made conscious that his father was
dying. The great sorrow seemed too great for him to bear. His young
heart well nigh burst.

Here we have evidence of what George was as a son. He had not only loved
and reverenced his father, but he had obeyed him with true filial
respect. Obedience was one of his leading virtues. This endeared him to
his father. Their tender love was mutual. "George thought the world of
his father and his father thought the world of him." That dying scene in
the family was proof of it.

In a few days all that was mortal of Augustine Washington was committed
to the dust, and George was a fatherless boy. As we have already
intimated, this sudden affliction changed the current of George's life.
Different plans and different experiences followed.

Mr. Washington, with characteristic foresight, had made his will. Irving
says of it, "To Lawrence he gave the estate on the banks of the Potomac,
with other real property, and several shares in iron-works. To
Augustine, the second son by the first marriage, the old homestead and
estate in Westmoreland. The children by the second marriage were
severally well provided for; and George, when he became of age, was to
have the house and lands on the Rappahannock."

Mrs. Washington assumed the care of the estate after the death of her
husband, and continued her love of fine horses. She possessed several of
rare beauty and fleetness. Among them was an Arabian colt, full grown,
broken to the harness, but not to the saddle. He would not allow a man
to ride him. He was so high strung, and so fractiously opposed to any
one getting upon his back, that Mrs. Washington had forbidden any one on
the farm attempting the feat.

George had two or three young friends visiting him, and they were
admiring the antics of the colt in the meadow in front of the house.

"I should like to ride him," remarked George.

"Ride him!" exclaimed one of the number. "I thought nobody could ride
him. That is what I have heard."

"Well, I should like to try," continued George. "If I could once get
upon his back, I would run the risk anyway. He would prance some, I

"I should like to see you try, George," remarked another of his friends
present. "You can ride him if any one can. But how do you know that you
can't ride him? Have you ever tried?"


"Did any one ever try?"

"I believe Jake has; or, at least, he has tried to get on his back."

"If I were in your place I would see whether I could ride him or not,"
suggested his friend. "What's the harm?"

"Mother would not allow it," answered George; "She would expect to see
my brains beat out if I should attempt it."

"But your mother would like it if you succeeded in riding him," rejoined
his friend, by way of inducing him to make the attempt.

"I have no doubt she would; but if I should break my neck, instead of
the colt, she would not be glad at all."

"Of course not; but I don't see any particular need of breaking your
neck or limbs by making the attempt; and it would be a feather in your
cap to manage the colt. Suppose we try;" and this proposition was made
by George's companion in good faith.

"I have no fears for myself," answered George; "there is no danger in
trying to get upon his back that I see, and once there, I will risk
being thrown."

"That is so," continued his friend, "and suppose we try it some day."

After some more discussion upon the subject, George agreed to make the
attempt to mount the colt early the following morning, and his young
friend seconded his decision heartily.

The next morning, a full hour before breakfast-time, the boys were out,
eager to participate in the sport of conquering a wild colt. The colt
appeared to snuff trouble, for he was unusually gay and crank that
morning. His head and tail were up, as he went prancing around the
field, when the boys put in their appearance.

"Drive him into a corner!" exclaimed George.

"Drive the wind into a corner as easily," replied one of the boys, just
beginning to appreciate the difficulties of the situation.

"Well, he must be caught before he can be mounted," said George,
philosophically. "I did not promise to mount him until he was bridled."

"That is so," responded another boy, more hopeful of results. "That
corner yonder is a good place for the business," pointing to the

So they all rallied to drive the colt into the proposed corner; and, in
the language of another who has described the scene, "after a deal of
chasing and racing, heading and doubling, falling down and picking
themselves up again, and more shouting and laughing than they had breath
to spare for, they at last succeeded in driving the panting and
affrighted young animal into the corner. Here, by some means or other
(it was difficult to tell precisely how) they managed to bridle him,
although at no small risk of a broken head or two from his heels, that
he seemed to fling about him in a dozen different directions at once."

"Lead him away from this corner," said one of the boys.

"Yes," answered George, "we must go well toward the centre of the field;
he will want room to throw me."

So, throwing the bridle-reins over the colt's neck, and taking hold of
the bridle close by the bits, the animal was led toward the centre of
the field.

Before the boys or the colt were aware of George's purpose, with one
bound he leaped upon the colt's back, and, seizing the reins, was
prepared for the worst. His playmates were as much astonished as the
animal was at this unexpected feat, and they rushed away to escape

"Look out, George!" shouted one, as the colt reared and stood upon his
hind legs.

"He'll throw you, George, if you don't look out!" screamed another, as
the animal reversed his position and sent his hind legs high into the

"Stick, George, stick!" they cried, as the colt dashed forward like the
wind a few rods, then stopped, reared, and kicked again, as if
determined to throw the rider. All the while George's companions were
alarmed at the fearful plunges of the animal, fearing that he would dash
him to the ground.

At length the furious beast took the bits between his teeth and plunged
forward upon the "dead run." George had no control over him as he dashed
forward like mad. He hung to the reins like a veteran horseman as the
wild creature leaped and plunged and kicked. His companions looked on in
breathless interest, expecting every moment to see the young rider
hurled to the ground. But, to their surprise, the colt stumbled,
staggered a few steps, and fell, George still upon his back. They ran to
the rescue, when George exclaimed, "The colt is dead!"

"Dead?" responded one of the boys in astonishment, "more likely his leg
is broken."

"No, he is dead, sure. See the blood running from his mouth."

Sure enough, the animal was dying. In his fearful plunging he had
ruptured a blood-vessel, and was bleeding to death. In a few moments the
young Arabian colt was dead.

"Too bad!" mournfully spoke George, with big tears starting to his eyes.
"I wish I had never made the attempt to ride him."

"_I_ wish so now," answered one of his companions; "but who ever thought
that the colt could kill himself?"

"Mother will feel bad enough now," continued George. "I am sorry that I
have caused her so much trouble."

"What shall you tell her?" inquired a companion.

"I shall tell her the truth," manfully answered George; "that is all
there is to tell about it."

The boys were soon at the breakfast-table, as cheerful as the
circumstances would permit.

"Well, boys, have you seen the Arabian colt in your walks this morning?"
Mrs. Washington inquired.

There was no reply for a moment. The boys looked at each other as if the
crisis had come, and they were not quite prepared for it. At length
George answered frankly:

"Mother, the colt is dead."

"Dead!" his mother exclaimed, "what can you mean, George?"

"He is certainly dead, mother."

"Have you seen him?"

"Yes; and I know that he is dead."

"How could such a thing happen?" said his mother, sadly and musingly.

"I will tell you all about it, mother," replied George, resolved upon
making a clean breast of the affair. He went on to narrate how he
arrived at the conclusion to ride the colt, not forgetting to say that
he thought his mother would be pleased with the act if he succeeded in
riding the fractious animal successfully. He described the manner of
catching, bridling, and mounting the colt, as well as his furious
plunging, rearing, and running; and he closed by the honest confession,
"I did wrong, mother, and I am very sorry that I attempted to ride the
colt. I hope that you will forgive me, and I will never be so
disobedient again."

"Forgive you, my son," his mother answered, evidently too well satisfied
with the truthfulness of her boy to think much of her loss, "your
frankness in telling me the truth is worth a thousand colts to me. Most
gladly do I forgive you, and trust that the lesson you are taught by
this unfortunate affair will go with you through life."

In this incident we discover the daring, adventurous spirit of George.
His courage was equal to his honesty. No act of his life approached so
nearly to disobedience as this. Yet the spirit of disobedience was not
in his heart. His mother had forbidden any one to ride the colt, but it
was because she feared the colt would injure them. "If I can ride him
successfully, and prove that he can be broken to the saddle, mother will
be delighted," he reasoned. His thoughts were of pleasing instead of
disobeying his mother. Were there any doubt on this point, his rehearsal
of the whole story, with no attempt to shield himself from censure,
together with his sincere desire to be forgiven, settles the question
beyond controversy.

After George left Mr. Williams' school, and had gone to reside with his
brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon, a companion discovered in his journal
several verses that breathed love for an unknown "lowland beauty."

"What is this, George?" he asked. "Are you the poet who writes such
lines as these?" And he read aloud the verses.

"To be honest I must acknowledge the authorship," George answered, with
his usual frankness. "But there is more truth than poetry in the
production, I imagine."

"I was suspicious of that," responded his friend. "That means that you
fell in love with some bewitching girl, I conclude."

"All of that," answered George, with no disposition to conceal anything.

"That accounts for your poetical turn of mind," continued his friend.
"I have heard it said that lovers take to poetry."

"I don't know about that; but I confess to being smitten by the
'lowland beauty,'" was George's honest answer.

"Who is she, and where does she live?"

"That is of no consequence now; she is nothing to me, although she is
much in my thoughts."

"Did she respond to your professions of love?"

"I never made any profession of love to her."

"How is that?"

"I am too young and bashful to take such a step; it would be foolish

"Well, to love and keep it to one's self must be misery indeed,"
continued his companion.

"There is something in that," answered George, "and I shall not conceal
that it has made me unhappy at times."

"And it was a kind of relief to let your tender regard express itself in
poetry?" suggested his friend.

"Exactly so; and you are the only person in the world to whom I have
spoken of the affair."

We have introduced this incident to show the tender side of George's
heart. His gravity, decorum, and thoughtful habit were such as almost to
preclude the possibility of his being captivated by a "lowland beauty."
But this incident shows that he was much like the average boy of
Christendom in this regard.

Irving says: "Whatever may have been the reason, this early attachment
seems to have been a source of poignant discomfort to him. It clung to
him after he look a final leave of school in the autumn of 1747, and
went to reside with his brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon. Here he
continued his mathematical studies and his practice in surveying,
disturbed at times by recurrences of his unlucky passion. Though by no
means of a poetical temperament, the waste pages of his journal betray
several attempts to pour forth his amorous sorrows in verse. They are
mere common-place rhymes, such as lovers at his age are apt to write, in
which he bewails his

    "'Poor, restless heart,
      Wounded by Cupid's dart;'

and 'bleeding for one who remains pitiless of his griefs and woes.'

"The tenor of some of the verses induce us to believe that he never told
his love; but, as we have already surmised, was prevented by his

    "'Ah, woe is me, that I should love and conceal!
      Long have I wished and never dare reveal.'

"It is difficult to reconcile one's self to the idea of the cool and
sedate Washington, the great champion of American liberty, a woe-worn
lover in his youthful days, 'sighing like a furnace,' and inditing
plaintive verses about the groves of Mount Vernon. We are glad of an
opportunity, however, of penetrating to his native feelings, and finding
that under his studied decorum and reserve _he had a heart of flesh
throbbing with the warm impulses of human nature_."

In another place, Irving refers to the affair again, and furnishes the
following bit of information:

"The object of this early passion is not positively known. Tradition
states that the 'lowland beauty' was a Miss Grimes of Westmoreland,
afterwards Mrs. Lee, and mother of General Henry Lee, who figured in
Revolutionary times as Light Horse Harry, and was always a favorite with
Washington, probably from the recollections of his early tenderness for
the mother."

George, as we have already intimated, spent his time out of school at
Mount Vernon, with his brother Lawrence, who had become a man of
considerable repute and influence for one of his years. Here he was
brought into contact with military men, and occasionally naval officers
were entertained by Lawrence. Often vessels anchored in the river, and
the officers enjoyed the abundant hospitality of the Mount Vernon
mansion. George was a close observer of what passed in his new home, and
a careful listener to the tales of war and a seafaring life frequently
told in his hearing. The martial spirit within him was aroused by these
tales of adventure and glory, and he was prepared for almost any
hardship or peril in the way of the object of his ambition. Besides, his
brother was disposed to encourage his aspirations in the direction of a
military life. He discovered the elements of a good soldier in the boy,
and really felt that distinction awaited him in a military career.

"How would you like a midshipman's berth on a British man-of-war?"
inquired Lawrence.

"I should like nothing better," George answered.

"You would then be in the service of the king, and have a chance to
prove your loyalty by your deeds," added Lawrence. "Your promotion would
be certain."

"If I deserved it," added George, with thoughtful interest.

"Yes, if you deserved it," repeated Lawrence; "and I have no doubt that
you would deserve it."

"But I fear that mother will not consent to such an arrangement,"
suggested George.

"I will confer with her upon the subject," replied Lawrence. "I think
she will take the same view of it that I do."

Lawrence did confer with his mother concerning this venture, and found
her wholly averse to the project.

"I can never consent that he should follow such a life," she said.

"But I am sure that he would distinguish himself there, and bring honor
to the family," urged Lawrence.

"Character is worth more than distinction," responded Mrs. Washington.
"I fear the effect of such a life upon his character."

"George can be trusted in any position, no matter what the temptations
may be," Lawrence pleaded.

"That may be true, and it may not be true," remarked Mrs. Washington.
"We ought not to incur the risk unless absolutely obliged to do it."

"If there be a risk," remarked Lawrence, doubtfully.

"Besides," continued Mrs. Washington, "I could not consent to his going
so far from home unless it were impossible for him to gain a livelihood
near by."

She was unyielding in this interview, and could see no reason why she
should consent to such a separation. But Lawrence persevered in his
efforts to obtain her consent, and finally it was given with manifest
reluctance. A writer describes what followed thus:

"Within a short time a British man-of-war moved up the Potomac, and
cast anchor in full view of Mount Vernon. On board of this vessel his
brother Lawrence procured him a midshipman's warrant, after having by
much persuasion gained the consent of his mother; which, however, she
yielded with much reluctance and many misgivings with respect to the
profession her son was about to choose. Not knowing how much pain all
this was giving his mother, George was as near wild with delight as
could well be with a boy of a nature so even and steady. Now, what had
all along been but a waking dream was about to become a solemn reality.
His preparations were soon made: already was his trunk packed, and
carried on board the ship that was to bear him so far away from his
native land; and nothing now remained but to bid farewell to the loved
ones at home. But when he came and stood before his mother, dressed in
his gay midshipman's uniform, so tall and robust in figure, so handsome
in face, and so noble in look and gesture, the thought took possession
of her mind, that, if she suffered him to leave her then, she might
never see him more; and losing her usual firmness and self-control, she
burst into tears.

"'I cannot consent to let you go,' she said, at length. 'It will break
my heart, George.'

"'How can I refuse to go now that I have enlisted, and my trunk is on
board?' pleaded George.

"'Order your trunk ashore, and return your uniform, my son, if you do
not wish to crush your mother's heart,' responded Mrs. Washington. 'I
cannot bear the thought.'"

George was overcome by the spectacle of his mother's grief, and with the
tears running down his cheeks he replied, like the young hero that he

"'Mother, I can never go and cause you so much grief. I will stay at

His trunk was brought ashore, his uniform was returned, his tears were
wiped away, and he was happier in thus yielding to his mother's
reasonable request than he could or would have been in gratifying his
own wishes.

The higher and nobler qualities of manly character here triumphed over
the lower passions and desires. It was an excellent discipline for
George, while, at the same time, the incident exhibits the sterling
qualities of his heart.

The four incidents narrated present different aspects of George's
character, and show, without additional proof, that he was an uncommon
boy. The several qualities displayed in these experiences lie at the
foundation of human excellence. Without them the future career of a
youth may prove a failure. With them, a manly, virtuous character is
well nigh assured.



"Obedience and truthfulness are cardinal virtues to be cultivated,"
remarked Mrs. Washington to her husband, with whom she frequently
discussed the subject of family government. "No son or daughter can form
a reliable character without them."

"There can be no question about that," answered Mr. Washington; "and for
that reason these virtues are just as necessary for the state as they
are for the family; reliable citizens cannot be made without them any
more than reliable sons and daughters."

"I suppose that God means to make reliable citizens out of obedient and
truthful children," continued Mrs. Washington. "Good family government
assures good civil government. We must learn to obey before we know how
to govern."

"And I think that obedience to parents is likely to be followed by
obedience to God," responded Mr. Washington. "Disobedience is attended
by a state of mind that is inimical to sincere obedience to God."

"The Bible teaches that plainly," replied Mrs. Washington. "There is
something very tender and impressive in the lesson, 'Children, obey your
parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother;
which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with
thee, and thou mayst live long on the earth.' A longer and better life
is promised to those who obey their parents, and it must be because they
are led to God thereby."

"Obedience is the _first_ commandment, according to that," remarked Mr.
Washington, "the most important of all, and I have no doubt of it. We
are to begin _there_ in order to make children what they ought to be."

"The consequences of disobedience as threatened in the Scriptures are
fearful," added Mrs. Washington. "There could scarcely be more startling
words than these: 'The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to
obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the
young eagles shall eat it.' Disobedience to and irreverence for parents
must be wicked, indeed, to warrant such a threatening."

Here was the secret of Mrs. Washington's successful family government.
That George owed more to faithful maternal example and training than he
did to any other influence, he always believed and acknowledged. And
OBEDIENCE was the first commandment in the Washington family. George
Washington Parke Custis, a grandson, said:

"The mother of Washington, in forming him for those distinguished parts
he was destined to perform, _first taught him the duties of_ OBEDIENCE,
the better to prepare him for those of command. In the well-ordered
domicile where his early years were passed, the levity and indulgence
common to youth was tempered by a deference and well-regulated restraint
which, while it curtailed or suppressed no rational enjoyment usual in
the spring-time of life, prescribed those enjoyments within the bounds
of moderation and propriety.

"The matron held in reserve an authority which never departed from her;
not even when her son had become the most illustrious of men. It seemed
to say, 'I am your mother, the being who gave you life, the guide who
directed your steps when they needed the guidance of age and wisdom, the
parental affection which claimed your love, the parental authority
which commanded your obedience; whatever may be your success, whatever
your renown, next to your God you owe them most to me.' Nor did the
chief dissent from these truths; but to the last moments of the life of
his venerable parent, he yielded to her will the most dutiful and
implicit obedience, and felt for her person and character the most holy
reverence and attachment."

Lawrence Washington, Esq., of Chotauk, a relative and playmate of George
in boyhood, described the home of the mother as follows:

"I was often there with George, his playmate, school-mate, and young
man's companion. Of the mother I was ten times more afraid than I ever
was of my own parents. She awed me in the midst of her kindness, for she
was, indeed, truly kind. I have often been present with her sons,
proper, tall fellows, too, and we were all as mute as mice; and even
now, when time has whitened my locks, and I am the grandparent of a
second generation, I could not behold that remarkable woman without
feelings it is impossible to describe. Whoever has seen that
awe-inspiring air and manner so characteristic in the Father of his
Country will remember the matron as she appeared when the presiding
genius of her well-ordered household, COMMANDING AND BEING OBEYED."

Mrs. Washington commanded obedience of her servants and agents as she
did of her children. On one occasion she ordered an employee to perform
a certain piece of work in a prescribed way. On going to the field she
was disappointed.

"Did I not tell you to do that piece of work?" she inquired of him.

"Yes, madam."

"Did I not direct you _how_ to do it?"

"Yes, madam."

"Then why have you not done as you were directed to do?"

"Because I thought my way of doing it was better than yours," the
servant answered.

"Pray, tell me, who gave you any exercise of judgment in the matter? I
_command_ you, sir; there is nothing left for you but to obey."

So obedience was the law of her homestead. Outside and inside it seemed
order, harmony, and efficiency.

There was one volume upon which she relied next to the Bible,--"Sir
Matthew Hale's Contemplations, Moral and Divine."

Everett said of the influence of this book upon the life of Washington,
"It would not be difficult to point out in the character of Washington
some practical exemplification of the maxims of the Christian life as
laid down by that illustrious magistrate."

That Mrs. Washington made this volume the basis of her home instruction,
there is ample proof. The character of her son bore faithful witness to
the fidelity with which she taught and enforced the excellent counsels
which the distinguished author gave in his "Contemplations." It will
assist our purpose to cite some of its lessons in brief, as follows:

"An humble man leans not to his own understanding; he is sensible of the
deficiency of his own power and wisdom, and trusts not in it; he is also
sensible of the all-sufficient power, wisdom, and goodness of Almighty
God, and commits himself to Him for counsel, guidance, direction, and

"Consider what it is thou pridest thyself in, and examine well the
nature of the things themselves, how little and inconsiderable they are;
at least how uncertain and unstable they are."

"Thou hast, it may be, wealth, stores of money; but how much of it is of
use to thee? That which thou spendest is gone; that which thou keepest
is as insignificant as so much dirt or clay; only thy care about it
makes thy life the more uneasy."

"Thou has honor, esteem; thou art deceived, thou hast it not. He hath it
that gives it thee, and which He may detain from thee at pleasure."

"Much time might be saved and redeemed, in retrenching the unnecessary
waste thereof, in our ordinary sleep, attiring and dressing ourselves,
and the length of our meals as breakfasts, dinners, suppers; which,
especially in this latter age, and among people of the better sort, are
protracted to an immoderate and excessive length."

"Gaming, taverns, and plays, as they are pernicious, and corrupt
youth; so, if they had no other fault, yet they are justly to be
declined in respect to their excessive expense of time, and habituating
men to idleness and vain thoughts, and disturbing passions, when they
are past, as well as while they are used."

"Be obstinately constant to your devotion at certain times, and be sure
to spend the Lord's Day entirely in those religious duties proper for
it; and let nothing but an inevitable necessity divert you from it."

"Be industrious and faithful to your calling. The merciful God has not
only indulged us with a far greater portion of time for our ordinary
occasions than he has reserved for himself, but also enjoins and
requires our industry and diligence in it."

"Honesty and plain dealings in transactions, as well public as private,
is the best and soundest prudence and policy, and overmatch craft and

"To rob for burnt offerings, and to lie for God, is a greater disservice
to His Majesty than to rob for rapine or lie for advantage."

"As he is overcareful that will not put on his clothes for fear of
wearing them out, or use his axe for fear of hurting it, so he gives but
an ill account of a healthy body that dares not employ it in a suitable
occupation for fear of hurting his health."

"Improve the opportunity of place, eminence, and greatness to serve God
and your country, with all vigilance, diligence, and fidelity."

"Reputation is not the thing primarily to be looked after in the
exercise of virtue, for that is to affect the substance for the sake of
the shadow, which is a kind of levity and weakness of mind; but look at
virtue and the worth of it, as that which is first desirable, and
reputation as a fair and useful accession to it."

"Take a man that is employed as a statesman or politician, though he
have much wisdom and prudence, it commonly degenerates into craft and
cunning and pitiful shuffling, without the fear of God; but mingle the
fear of Almighty God with that kind of wisdom, and it renders it noble
and generous and honest and stable."

"Whatever you do, be very careful to retain in your heart a _habit of
religion_, that may be always about you, and keep your heart and life
always as in His presence, and tending towards Him."

We might quote much more of equal value from this treasury of wisdom.
The book touches humanity at almost every point, and there is scarcely
any lesson, relating to the elements of success in life, which it does
not contain. Industry, perseverance, self-denial, decision, energy,
economy, frugality, thoroughness, magnanimity, courage, fidelity,
honesty, principle, and religion,--these, and all other indispensable
human qualities, receive careful and just attention. And we repeat,
George Washington's character was formed upon the basis of those
instructions, under the moulding power of a superior mother.

Mrs. Washington descended from a family of distinction among the
Virginia colonists. Mr. Paulding says of her: "As a native of Virginia,
she was hospitable by birthright, and always received her visitors with
a smiling welcome. But they were never asked to stay but once, and she
always speeded the parting guest by affording every facility in her
power. She possessed all those domestic habits and qualities that confer
value on women, and had no desire to be distinguished by any titles but
those of a good wife and mother."

She was a very resolute woman, and exercised the most complete
self-control in the presence of danger and difficulties. There was but a
single exception to this remark, she was afraid of thunder and lightning.
At fifteen years of age she was walking with a young female friend, when
they were overtaken by a fearful thunder-shower, and her friend was
struck by lightning at her side and instantly killed. The terrible
calamity wrought seriously upon her nervous system, and from that time
she was unable to control her nerves during a thunder-storm. Otherwise
she was one of the most fearless and resolute women ever born in

Mrs. Washington was not regarded as a superstitious woman, yet she had a
dream when George was about five years old which so deeply impressed her
that she pondered it through life. Mr. Weems gives it as she told it to
a neighbor more than once, as follows:

"I dreamt," said the mother of Washington, "that I was sitting on the
piazza of a large new house, into which we had but lately moved. George,
at that time about five years old, was in the garden with his corn-stalk
plough, busily running little furrows in the sand, in imitation of Negro
Dick, a fine black boy, with whose ploughing George was so taken that
it was sometimes a hard matter to get him to his dinner. And so, as I
was sitting on the piazza at my work, I suddenly heard in my dream a
kind of roaring noise on the _eastern_ side of the house. On running out
to see what was the matter, I beheld a dreadful sheet of fire bursting
from the roof. The sight struck me with a horror which took away my
strength, and threw me, almost senseless, to the ground. My husband and
the servants, as I saw in my dream, soon came up; but, like myself, were
so terrified at the sight that they could make no attempt to extinguish
the flames. In this most distressing state the image of my little son
came, I thought, to my mind, more dear and tender than ever, and turning
towards the garden where he was engaged with his little corn-stalk
plough, I screamed out twice with all my might, '_George_! _George_!' In
a few moments, as I thought, he threw down his mimic plough, and ran to
me, saying, '_High! ma! what makes you call so angry! ain't I a good
boy? don't I always run to you soon as I hear you call_?' I could make
no reply, but just threw up my arms towards the flame. He looked up and
saw the house all on fire; but instead of bursting out a-crying, as
might have been expected from a child, he instantly _brightened_ up and
seemed ready to fly to extinguish it. But first looking at me with great
tenderness, he said, '_O ma, don't be afraid! God Almighty will help us,
and we shall soon put it out_.' His looks and words revived our spirits
in so wonderful a manner that we all instantly set about to assist him.
A ladder was presently brought, on which, as I saw in my dream, he ran
up with the nimbleness of a squirrel and the servants supplied him with
water, which he threw on the fire from an _American gourd_. But that
growing weaker, the flame appeared to gain ground, breaking forth and
roaring most dreadfully, which so frightened the servants that many of
them, like persons in despair, began to leave him. But he, still
undaunted, continued to ply it with water, animating the servants at the
same time, both by his words and actions. For a long time the contest
appeared very doubtful; but at length a venerable old man, with a tall
cap and an iron rod in his hand, like a lightning-rod, reached out to
him a curious little trough, like a _wooden shoe_! On receiving this he
redoubled his exertions, and soon extinguished the fire. Our joy on the
occasion was unbounded. But he, on the contrary, showing no more of
transport now than of terror before, looked rather sad at the sight of
the great harm that had been done. Then I saw in my dream that after
some time spent as in deep thought, he called out with much joy, '_Well
ma, now if you and the family will but consent, we can make a far better
roof than this ever was_; a roof of such a _quality_ that, if well _kept
together_, it will last forever; but if you take it apart, you will make
the house ten thousand times worse than it was before.'"

Mr. Weems adds: "This, though certainly a very curious dream, needs no
Daniel to interpret it, especially if we take Mrs. Washington's new
house for the young colony government; the fire on its east side for
North's civil war; the gourd, which George first employed, for the
American three and six months' enlistments; the old man, with his cap
and iron rod, for Dr. Franklin; the _shoe-like_ vessel which he reached
to George for the sabot, or wooden-shoed nation, the French whom
Franklin courted a long time for America; and the new roof proposed by
George for a staunch, honest Republic, that '_equal government_' which,
by guarding alike the welfare of all, ought by all to be so heartily
beloved as to _endure forever_."

There are many anecdotes told of her which illustrate her character
better than plain statement.

The death of her husband was a crushing blow to her; yet, on the whole,
her Christian hope triumphed. Friends offered to assist her in the
management of her large estate, for all the property left to her
children was to be controlled by her until they each one became of age.

"No," she answered, "God has put the responsibility upon me by the death
of my husband, and I must meet it. He will give me wisdom and strength
as I need it."

"But it is too much care and labor for a woman," suggested one, thinking
that what had required the constant and careful attention of a man could
not be added to the cares of a woman, whose hands were full with
household duties before.

"We can bear more and do more than we think we can when compelled by the
force of circumstances," replied Mrs. Washington. "In ourselves we are
weak, and can do but little; but by the help of God we are made equal to
the demands of duty."

"Equal to all that comes within the bounds of reason," responded the
relative, intending that it was unreasonable for the mother of five
young children, the eldest but eleven years old, to undertake so much.

"Certainly; and the _demands of duty_ are always within the bounds of
reason," answered Mrs. Washington; "that was what I said. Providence has
laid this burden of care and labor upon me, and upon no one else. While
I shall be very thankful for advice and assistance from my friends, I
must not shrink from the cares of this new position."

It was in this spirit that Mrs. Washington took up the additional duties
devolved upon her by the sudden death of her husband. In view of this
fact, Mr. Sparks paid her the following just tribute:

"In these important duties Mrs. Washington acquitted herself with great
fidelity to her trust, and with entire success. Her good sense,
assiduity, tenderness, and vigilance overcame every obstacle; and, as
the richest reward of a mother's solicitude and toil, she had the
happiness to see all her children come forward with a fair promise into
life, filling the sphere allotted them in a manner equally honorable to
themselves, and to the parent who had been the only guide of their
principles, conduct, and habits. She lived to witness the noble career
of her eldest son, till, by his own rare merits, he was raised to the
head of a nation, and applauded and revered by the whole world. It has
been said that there never was a great man, the elements of whose
greatness might not be traced to the original characteristics or early
influence of his mother. If this be true, how much do mankind owe to the
mother of Washington?"

Irving said: "She proved herself worthy of the trust. Endowed with
plain, direct, good sense, thorough conscientiousness, and prompt
decision, she governed her family strictly, but kindly, exacting
deference while she inspired affection. George, being her eldest son,
was thought to be her favorite, yet she never gave him undue preference;
and the implicit deference exacted from him in childhood continued to be
habitually observed by him to the day of her death. He inherited from
her a high temper and a spirit of command, but her early precepts and
example taught him to restrain and govern that temper, and to square his
conduct on the exact principles of equity and justice.

"Tradition gives an interesting picture of the widow, with her little
flock gathered round her, as was her daily wont, reading to them lessons
of religion and morality out of some standard work. Her favorite volume
was Sir Matthew Hale's 'Contemplations, Moral and Divine.' The admirable
maxims therein contained for outward actions, as well as for
self-government, sank deep into the mind of George, and doubtless had a
great influence in forming his character. They certainly were
exemplified in his conduct throughout life. This mother's manual,
bearing his mother's name, Mary Washington, written with her own hand,
was ever preserved by him with filial care, and may still be seen in the
archives of Mount Vernon."

When her son first engaged in the war against the French and Indians,
she appeared to be indifferent to the honor conferred upon him.

"You must go at the call of your country, but I regret that it is
necessary, George," she said, when he paid her his farewell visit. "May
the Lord go with you, and preserve you and the country!"

"And may He preserve and bless you, whether He preserves me or not!"
answered her son. "The perils of war render my return uncertain, to say
the least; and it is always wise to be prepared for the worst."

"I trust that I am prepared for anything that Providence orders,"
responded Mrs. Washington, "though it is with pain that I approach this
separation. These trying times require great sacrifices of all, and we
must make them cheerfully."

"Victory would not be far away if all possessed that spirit," answered
the young commander. "If there is patriotism enough in the country to
defend our cause, the country will be saved."

That Washington himself was deeply affected by this interview, his own
tears, when he bade his mother final adieu, bore unmistakable witness.

When the news of his crossing the Delaware, at a time of great peril and
gloom in the land, was brought to her, she exclaimed, raising her hand
heavenward, "Thank God! thank God for the success!"

There appeared to be no recognition of peculiar wisdom and skill on the
part of her son, though the friends gathered were full of his praise.

"The country is profoundly grateful to your son for his achievements,"
suggested one; "and the praise of his countrymen knows no bounds."

"I have no doubt that George deserves well of his country," Mrs.
Washington replied, "but, my good sir, here is too much flattery."

"No flattery at all, but deserved praise," her friend and neighbor

"Well, I have no fears about George," she replied. "He will not forget
the lessons I have taught him; he will not forget _himself_, though he
is the subject of so much praise."

After her son had left for Cambridge, Mass., to take charge of the
troops, her son-in-law, Mr. Fielding Lewis, offered to lighten her
labors by taking care of her property, or some part of it at least.

"No, Fielding, it is not necessary; I am competent to attend to it
myself," she answered.

"I did not question your competency; I only wanted to relieve you of
some care," the son-in-law answered.

"I understand and appreciate your kindness," she said; "but,
nevertheless, I must decline your offer. My friends are all very kind to
me, and I feel very grateful, but it is better for me to bear this
responsibility as long as I can."

After discussing the subject still further, Mrs. Washington yielded in
part to his request; she said:

"Fielding, you may keep my books in order, as your eyesight is better
than mine, but leave the executive management to me."

When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Washington despatched a
messenger to convey the glad tidings to his mother at Fredericksburg. At
once her friends and neighbors called with great enthusiasm to honor her
as the mother of the conqueror of England.

"Bless God!" she exclaimed, on receipt of the news. "The war will now be
ended, and peace and independence and happiness bless the country."

"Your son is the most illustrious general in the world," remarked one.

"The nation idolizes him," said another.

"The soldiers almost worship him," still another.

"The saviour of his country," announced a fourth in jubilant state of
mind, desiring, at the same time, to gratify his mother.

But none of these lofty tributes to her son afforded her pleasure; they
seemed to annoy her by causing her to feel that the divine blessing was

"We must not forget the great Giver, in our joy over the success of our
arms," she said.

She had never forgotten Him. During those six long years of conflict,
her hope had been inspired, and her comfort found, at the mercy-seat.
Daily, during the warm season of the year, she had repaired to a
secluded spot near her dwelling to pray for her George and her country.
At other seasons of the year she daily remembered them within her quiet
home. However gratified she may have been with the honors lavished upon
her son, she would not allow herself to honor the creature more than the

As soon as possible after the surrender of Cornwallis, Washington
visited his mother at Fredericksburg, attended by his splendid suite.
The latter were extremely anxious to behold and honor the aged matron,
whom their illustrious chief respected and loved so sincerely.

On arriving at Fredericksburg, he quartered his suite comfortably, and
then repaired alone and on foot to see his mother, whom he had not seen
for over six years. She met him at the door with feelings we cannot
conceive, much less describe.

In silence and tears they embraced each other, with that tender, mutual
pledge of undying love--a kiss.

"God has answered my prayers, George, and I praise Him that I see your
face again," she said.

"Yes, my dear mother, God has indeed heard your prayers, and the thought
that you were interceding for me at the throne of grace was always an
inspiration to me," answered the son.

"How changed, George!" the mother remarked, scanning his face closely,
and noticing that he had grown old rapidly. "You bear the marks of war."

"True, men grow old fast in war," the son replied; "but my health is
good, and rest and peace will soon make me as good as new."

"For that I shall devoutly pray," Mrs. Washington responded.

For an hour, and more, the conversation continued, the mother making
many inquiries concerning his health and future plans, the prospects of
peace and prosperity to the country, and kindred subjects; but she did
not drop a single word respecting his fame.

The inhabitants of Fredericksburg and vicinity immediately arranged for
a grand military ball in honor of Gen. Washington and his staff. Such an
occasion would furnish a favorable opportunity for the members of
Washington's staff to meet his mother.

At that time, as now, it was customary for military and civic leaders to
allow their joy over happy occasions to ooze out through their heels. We
are unable to explain the phenomenon; but the fact remains, that a ball
on a grand scale was planned, to which Washington's mother was specially
invited. Her reply to the flattering invitation was characteristic.

"Although my dancing days are pretty well over, I shall be most happy to
contribute what I can to the general festivity."

Mrs. Washington was then over seventy years of age.

It was the gayest assembly ever convened in Virginia at that time, and
perhaps the occasion was the merriest. Gay belles and dignified matrons
graced the occasion, arrayed in rich laces and bright brocades, the well
preserved relics of scenes when neither national misfortune nor private
calamity forbade their use.

In addition to Washington's staff, many other military officers were
present, all gorgeously dressed, contributing largely to the beauty and
grandeur of the scene.

"But despite the soul-soothing charm of music," says a writer, "the
fascinations of female loveliness, and the flattering devotion of the
gallant brave, all was eager suspense and expectation, until there
entered, unannounced and unattended, the mother of Washington, leaning
on the arm of her son.

"The large audience at once paid their respects to the honored guests,
the mother of the chief being the central figure of the occasion.
Washington presented American and European officers to his mother, who
wore the simple but becoming and appropriate costume of the Virginia
ladies of the olden time, while the sincere congratulations of the whole
assembly were tendered to her."

The writer just quoted continues:

"The European strangers gazed long in wondering amazement upon the
sublime and touching spectacle. Accustomed to the meretricious display
of European courts, they regarded with astonishment her unadorned
attire, and the mingled simplicity and majesty for which the language
and manners of the mother of Washington were so remarkable."

When the clock struck nine, the venerable lady arose, and said:

"Come, George, it is time for old people to be at home."

Then expressing her gratification at being able to be present on so
extraordinary an occasion, and wishing the company much joy, she
retired, as she came, leaning on the arm of her son.

This picture of beautiful simplicity and absence of pride, in the midst
of distinguished honors, contrasts finely with a scene in the life of
another great general, Napoleon. On one occasion, when Napoleon gave
audience to famous guests, together with several members of his family,
his mother advanced towards him. According to a royal custom, the
emperor extended his hand to her to kiss, as he had done when his
brothers and sisters approached him.

"No," responded his mother; "you are the king, the emperor of all the
rest, but you are _my son_."

Mrs. Washington was always actuated by a similar sense of propriety; and
her demeanor towards the general seemed to say, "You are my son." And
the general accepted that exhibition of maternal dignity and love as
proper and honorable.

At the close of the Revolution, Lafayette, before leaving the country,
visited Mrs. Washington at her home. One of her grandsons accompanied
him to the house. As they approached, the grandson said, pointing to an
old lady in the garden:

"There is my grandmother in the garden."

"Indeed!" answered Lafayette. "I am happy to find her able to be out."

Lafayette saluted her in his cordial way on coming up to her, when she

"Ah, Marquis, you see an old woman; but come, I can make you welcome to
my poor dwelling without the parade of changing my dress."

"I come to bid you adieu before leaving the country," remarked
Lafayette, when they were seated in the house. "I desired to see you
once more."

"I assure you that nothing could afford me more real pleasure than to
welcome once more to my home so distinguished a friend of my son and my
country," Mrs. Washington answered.

"I congratulate you upon having such a son and such a country,"
continued Lafayette.

"I trust that I am grateful for both," Mrs. Washington replied.

"I rejoice with you in your son's well-earned fame," continued the
distinguished Frenchman, "and I am glad that you have lived to see this

Lafayette proceeded to rehearse the patriotic deeds of Washington for
his country, growing more and more enthusiastic in his praise as he
continued, until finally Mrs. Washington remarked:

"_I am not surprised at what George has done, for he was always a good

Washington retired to his home at Mount Vernon at the close of the war,
and earnestly entreated his mother to take up her abode with him.

"You are too aged and infirm to live alone," he said, "and I can have no
greater pleasure than to have you in my family."

"I feel truly grateful for your kindness, George, but I enjoy my mode of
life," she answered. "I think it is according to the direction of

"It would not be in opposition to Providence if you should come to live
with me," responded Washington with a smile.

"Nevertheless, I must decline. I thank you from the bottom of my heart
for your interest and love, _but I feel fully competent to take care of

That settled the question, and she remained at Fredericksburg.

When Washington was elected President of the United States, he paid a
farewell visit to his mother. He was about to depart for the seat of
government, which was in New York City.

"I would gladly have avoided this responsibility for your sake, as well
as mine," remarked Washington; "but Providence seemed to leave me no way
of escape, and I have come to bid you an affectionate farewell."

"You are in the way of duty, George, and I have no desire to interpose,"
his mother answered. "My race is almost run, and I shall never see you
again in the flesh."

"I hope we shall meet again; though at your great age, and with such a
serious disease upon you, the end cannot be far away," replied the son.

Mrs. Washington was then eighty-three years of age, and was suffering
from a cancer in the breast.

"Yes, I am old and feeble, and growing more so every day," continued his
mother; "and I wait the summons of the Master without fear or anxiety."

Pausing a moment, as if to control emotion, she added, "Go, George, and
fulfil the high destiny to which Providence calls you; and may God
continue to guide and bless you!"

At this point let Mr. Custis speak:

"Washington was deeply affected. His head rested upon the shoulder of
his parent, whose aged arm feebly, yet fondly, encircled his neck. That
brow, on which fame had wreathed the purest laurel virtue ever gave to
created man, relaxed from its lofty bearing. That look, which would have
awed a Roman senate in its Fabrician day, was bent in filial tenderness
upon the time-worn features of the aged matron. He wept. A thousand
recollections crowded upon his mind, as memory, retracing scenes long
passed, carried him back to the maternal mansion and the days of
juvenility, where he beheld that mother, whose care, education, and
discipline caused him to reach the topmost height of laudable ambition.
Yet, how were his glories forgotten while he gazed upon her whom, wasted
by time and malady, he should part with to meet no more!"

Washington never saw his mother again. She died Aug. 25, 1789. Her last
days were characterized by that cheerful resignation to the divine will
for which she was ever distinguished, and she passed away in the
triumphs of Christian faith.

Her remains were laid in the burial ground of Fredericksburg, in a spot
which she selected, because it was situated near the place where she was
wont to retire for meditation and prayer. For many years her grave was
unmarked by slab or monument; but in 1833, Silas E. Barrows, Esq., of
New York City, undertook the erection of a monument at his own expense.

On the seventh day of May of that year, President Jackson laid the
corner-stone in the presence of a great concourse of people. It was
estimated that more than fifteen thousand persons assembled to honor the

The plan of the monument was pyramidical, and the height of the obelisk
forty-five feet. A colossal bust of Washington adorned the shaft,
surmounted by the American eagle sustaining a civic crown above the
hero's head, and with the simple inscription:


From President Jackson's eulogy on the interesting occasion, we make the
following brief extract:

"In the grave before us lie the remains of his mother. Long has it been
unmarked by any monumental tablet, but not unhonored. You have
undertaken the pious duty of erecting a column to her name, and of
inscribing upon it the simple but affecting words, 'Mary, the Mother of
Washington.' No eulogy could be higher, and it appeals to the heart of
every American.... The mother and son are beyond the reach of human
applause, but the bright example of paternal and filial excellence which
their conduct furnishes cannot but produce the most salutary effects
upon our countrymen. Let their example be before us from the first
lesson which is taught the child, till the mother's duties yield to the
course of preparation and action which nature prescribes for him....

"Fellow citizens, at your request, and in your name, I now deposit this
plate in the spot destined for it; and when the American pilgrim shall,
in after ages, come up to this high and holy place, and lay his hand
upon this sacred column, may he recall the virtues of her who sleeps
beneath, and depart with his affections purified and his piety
strengthened, while he invokes blessings upon the mother of Washington."

John Adams wrote to his wife concerning a certain statesman: "In reading
history, you will generally observe, when you find a great character,
whether a general, a statesman, or a philosopher, some female about him,
either in the character of a mother, wife, or sister, who has knowledge
and ambition above the ordinary level of women; and that much of his
eminence is owing to her precepts, example, or instigation in some shape
or other."

This remark was remarkably illustrated in the career of Washington. He
always acknowledged his indebtedness to maternal influence. He could
say, with John Quincy Adams, "Such as I have been, whatever it was; such
as I am, whatever it is; and such as I hope to be in all futurity, must
be ascribed, under Providence, to the precepts and example of my

Historians and poets, statesmen and orators, have ever accorded to the
mother of Washington a signal influence to determine his character and
career. And so universal is this sentiment, that the American people
consider that the noblest tribute to her memory is the inscription upon
her monument:




"George can make his home with me, now that his school-days are over,"
said Lawrence to his mother, anxious to keep his young brother in his
own family at Mount Vernon.

"But I need him more than you do," objected Mrs. Washington; "you can
hardly imagine how I miss him."

"So do we miss him when he is not here," responded Lawrence. "George is
good company, as much so as a man of twenty-five years of age. I want
very much that he should make his home with me."

"I thought he might be of service to me in running the farm, and, at the
same time, pursue his studies by himself," continued Mrs. Washington.

"He can study better with me," suggested Lawrence, "because I can assist
him as well as not."

"There is no doubt of that," replied the mother, "and that is the only
reason I can see why he should make his home with you."

"There is one other reason, mother, and a good one, too."

"What is it?"

"He will have a better opportunity to get into business if he lives with
me. I have much company, and just the class of men to introduce a
capable youth like George into some good pursuit."

"There is something in that," responded Mrs. Washington.

"There is much in it every way," added Lawrence. "George is now at an
age when his plans for life should be forming. He is competent to occupy
almost any position that offers, and I can be of real service to him in
directing and advising him."

There is evidence to believe that Lawrence had not wholly abandoned the
idea of introducing George into military life. He himself had become a
man of influence in the State. He was a member of the House of
Burgesses, and adjutant-general of his district; a gentleman of
acknowledged ability and position. He saw in George the foreshadowing of
a distinguished man. He had more exalted ideas than his mother of the
boy's ability and promise. If he could have him in his family, he could
assist him onward and upward, beyond what would be possible if he
remained with his mother.

It was finally settled that George should take up his abode with
Lawrence at Mount Vernon. We need not say that this decision was
congenial to George. He was so strongly attached to Lawrence, and
enjoyed being at Mount Vernon so much, that he found great delight in
removing thither permanently. It proved to be a very important step in
his career, as Lawrence prophesied it would be.

George had not passed his sixteenth birthday. Though still a boy, his
views and aims of life were those of a man. He pursued arithmetic and
surveying under the direction of his brother, with reference to future
manhood. Nor was that all.

One day Lawrence surprised him by the inquiry, "George, how would you
like to take lessons in the manual exercise of Adjutant Muse?"

"I should like it," George replied.

"It may be of service to you at some future day," Lawrence continued.
"It will do you no harm, surely."

"I am ready for the lessons any time," added George. "I have always had
a desire to know something in that line."

Adjutant Muse served with Lawrence in the war against the Spaniards in
the West Indies, and he was a competent teacher of the manual exercise.
It was arranged that he should instruct George in the art.

Subsequently, also, Lawrence made arrangements with Monsieur Van Braam
to instruct George in the _art of fencing_. He had an idea that
dexterity in the use of his limbs, as well as fire-arms, would be of
future use to him. These facts indicate that Lawrence did not expect
that his young brother would become a farmer. There is traditional
evidence that he stated as much to George, whose military aspirations
were nurtured in the Mount Vernon home.

Adjutant Muse encouraged George to read certain treaties upon the art of
war, which he offered to loan him. From these volumes he acquired
considerable knowledge of the theory of tactics, and of the evolution of
troops. No previous branch of study had enlisted his interest more
thoroughly than did these works upon military tactics; and we may easily
discover the design of Providence to prepare him in this way to act a
conspicuous part in the achievement of American independence.

At Mount Vernon George met William Fairfax, whose daughter Lawrence
married. He occupied a valuable estate of his cousin Lord Fairfax, at
Belvoir, seven or eight miles from Mount Vernon. He was an English
gentleman of culture and wealth, very much respected by all who knew

Mr. Fairfax became very much interested in George, regarding him as a
youth of rare, manly virtues.

"He is a man already," he remarked to Lawrence; "very mature for one of
his years."

"I think so," Lawrence answered, "and I hope the way will be opened for
his noblest development."

"He must visit us at Belvoir; I should delight to have him spend much
time in my family," Mr. Fairfax added.

"And I should be pleased to have him," responded Lawrence. "He would
derive great benefit from it."

"My sons and daughters would find him a very genial companion,"
continued Mr. Fairfax. "I think the benefit from the society of each
other would be mutual."

In this way George was introduced to the Fairfax family, with whom he
spent many of his happiest days and weeks. It was one of the most
favorable incidents of his young life when he was welcomed to that
family, for there he enjoyed society of culture, where character, and
neither wealth nor honors, ranked highest. Just at that age he needed
the influence of education and cultivated manners, and here he found
both with the sons and daughters of Mr. Fairfax. Alternately, between
this family at Belvoir and his brother's family at Mount Vernon, he
enjoyed a discipline of social intercourse, better for him, in some
respects, than even Mr. Williams's school.

At Belvoir George met Lord Fairfax, a relative of William Fairfax,
recently from England. "He was the owner of immense domains in
Virginia," says Mr. Everett. "He had inherited through his mother, the
daughter of Lord Culpepper, the original grantee, a vast tract of land,
originally including the entire territory between the Potomac and
Rappahannock Rivers."

Mr. Everett says of him further: "Lord Fairfax was a man of cultivated
mind, educated at Oxford, the associate of the wits of London, the
author of one or two papers in the _Spectator_, and an _habitué_ of the
polite circles of the metropolis. A disappointment in love is said to
have cast a shadow over his after life, and to have led him to pass his
time in voluntary exile on his Virginia estates, watching and promoting
the rapid development of the resources of the country, following the
hounds through the primeval forests, and cheering his solitary hours by
reading and a limited society of chosen friends."

The "love affair" to which Mr. Everett refers is explained by Mr. Irving
as follows:

"In the height of his fashionable career he became strongly attached to
a young lady of rank, paid his addresses, and was accepted. The wedding
day was fixed; the wedding dresses were provided, together with
servants and equipages for the matrimonial establishment. Suddenly the
lady broke her engagement. She had been dazzled by the superior
brilliancy of a ducal coronet.

"It was a cruel blow alike to the affection and pride of Lord Fairfax,
and wrought a change in both character and conduct. From that time he
almost avoided the sex, and became shy and embarrassed in their society,
excepting among those with whom he was connected or particularly
intimate. This may have been among the reasons which ultimately induced
him to abandon the gay world and bury himself in the wilds of America."

Lord Fairfax was charmed by the appearance of George.

"A remarkable lad," he said to his relative, William Fairfax; "so manly,
so intelligent in knowledge beyond his years."

"Yet not a mere book-worm," replied William. "No boy likes games and
hunting better than he."

"A capital horseman, I notice," added the nobleman; "strong and powerful
for one of his years. Yet he likes books. It seems to me that he is
unusually fond of reading."

Lord Fairfax possessed quite a number of valuable books, new and rare to
George, who had pored over them with absorbing interest. The nobleman
inferred that he must possess an unusual taste for reading, and this was
really true.

"Yes, he generally wants to know what the books he meets with contain,"
responded William. "He has made the contents of such books as he could
reach his own."

"I must take him out hunting with me," continued Lord Fairfax. "He will
make a good companion, I imagine."

Lord Fairfax delighted in fox-hunting. In England, before he came to
this country, his best sport was found in the fox-hunt. He kept his
hounds, and all the accoutrements for the chase, so that he was always
prepared for the sport. He found increased pleasure in the pastime after
George became his companion in the chase. The latter enjoyed it, too,
with a keen relish. It was not altogether new to him; he had been
occasionally on such excursions with others. But the English nobleman
understood fox-hunting as no one else in Virginia did. He had learned it
as practised by English lords, who live in baronial style. For this
reason George enjoyed the wild sport as he never did before.

One day George was surprised by a proposition from Lord Fairfax.

"How would you like to survey my lands for me, George? You appear to
understand the business."

"I should like nothing better if I can do it to suit you," George
answered. "I like surveying."

"Well, the only way for me to do is to survey my land, and sell it, if
I would keep 'squatters' off," added Lord Fairfax. "Squatters" were a
class of persons took up their abode upon lands which did not belong to
them, without leave or license.

"You can do it to suit me, I have no doubt," continued the noble lord,
"and I can satisfy you as to pay."

"I will confer with Lawrence about it," said George; "and I shall want
to see my mother, also, I have no doubt but that they will think well of
the plan."

"That is right," answered Lord Fairfax. "Think it over carefully before
you decide. You can undertake the work any time."

George was not long in consulting Lawrence, nor in securing the approval
of his mother. He had frequently been home to see his mother, improving
every favorable opportunity to show his filial devotion thereby. On this
visit, the prospect of an honorable and remunerative pursuit added
interest thereto.

Having obtained the approval of his mother and Lawrence, and formally
accepted the proposition of Lord Fairfax, George set to work in earnest
preparation for the task. He would be under the necessity of plunging
into the wilderness, where savage beasts and savage men might confront
him at almost any time. He must travel on horseback with attendants
carrying his outfit at considerable disadvantage, shooting game and
catching fish for food, and be absent weeks and possibly months at a
time. Camping out at night, or finding a lodge in some poor cabin,
breasting severe storms, encountering Indians, and other new experiences
required preparation.

George William Fairfax, a son of William, accompanied him, together with
two or three attendants. A writer describes the heroic boy, then sixteen
years of age, as follows:

"There he is, a tall, handsome youth, with his right arm thrown across
the horse's neck, and his left hand grasping his compass-staff. He is
clad in a buck-skin hunting-shirt, with leggings and moccasins of the
same material, the simple garb of a backwoods man, and one that well
becomes him now, as in perfect keeping with the wildness of the
surrounding scenery; while in his broad leathern belt are stuck the long
hunting-knife and Indian tomahawk. In stature he is much above most
youths of the same age. He is of a noble, robust form, with high and
strong but smooth features, light brown hair, large blue eyes, not
brilliant, but beaming with a clear and steady light, as if a soul
looked through them that knew no taint of vice or meanness, and a
countenance aglow with truth and courage, modest gentleness, and manly

"You must continue to keep your journal," said Lawrence; "it will be
more valuable than ever to you."

George had kept a journal of events and experiences for two or three
years, and his brother encouraged him in doing it as valuable

"I intend to do it," answered George, "and I shall take more interest in
it because I shall have something worth recording."

"Twenty or thirty years from now you will put a higher value upon your
journal than you do now," added Lawrence. "I should recommend every
youth to keep a journal."

"Especially in the woods," responded George, facetiously.

"Yes, in the woods or out; no boy can afford to lose the discipline of
it," rejoined Lawrence. "For so simple and easy practice it pays a large

"Small investments and large income! That is what you mean," remarked

"Exactly; my word for it, you will find it so," added Lawrence.

That journal has proved of far more value than Lawrence predicted. After
the lapse of over one hundred and thirty years, we are able to learn
from it about the hardships, dangers, and severe labors of his surveying
expeditions. A few extracts from letters and journal will afford an
insight into that important period of his life.

He wrote to one of his friends, after an experience of several months,

"Your letter gave me the more pleasure, as I received it among
barbarians, and an uncouth set of people. Since you received my last
letter I have not slept above three or four nights in a bed; but after
walking a good deal all the day, I have lain down before the fire upon a
little hay, straw, fodder, or a bear-skin--whichsoever was to be
had--with man, wife, and children, like dogs and cats; and happy is he
who gets the berth nearest the fire. Nothing would make it pass off
tolerably but a good reward. A doubloon[A] is my constant gain every
day that the weather will permit my going out, and sometimes six
pistoles[B]. The coldness of the weather will not allow of my making a
long stay, as the lodging is rather too cold for the time of year. I
have never had my clothes off, but have lain and slept in them, except
the few nights I have been in Fredericksburg."

    [A] $7 50.
    [B] A pistole was $3.50

The entry in his journal for the third day after he started, in March,
1748, was as follows:

"Worked hard till night, and then returned. After supper we were lighted
into a room; and I, not being so good a woodsman as the rest, stripped
myself very orderly, and went into the bed, as they called it, when, to
my surprise, I found it to be nothing but a little straw matted
together, without sheet or anything else, but only one threadbare
blanket, with double its weight of vermin. I was glad to get up and put
on my clothes, and lie as my companions did. Had we not been very tired,
I am sure that we should not have slept much that night. I made a
promise to sleep so no more, choosing rather to sleep in the open air
before a fire."

George commenced operations for Lord Fairfax early in March, when the
mountains were still white with snow, and wintry blasts swept over the
plains. The heavy rains of spring had swollen the streams into torrents,
so that it was perilous to ford them. Of course the hardships of such an
expedition were largely increased by the rough, cold weather of the

Abbot says: "The enterprise upon which Washington had entered was one
full of romance, toil, and peril. It required the exercise of constant
vigilance and sagacity. Though these wilds may be called pathless still
there were here and there narrow trails, which the moccasined foot of
the savage had trodden for centuries. They led in a narrow track,
scarcely two feet in breadth, through dense thickets, over craggy hills,
and along the banks of placid streams or foaming torrents."

Everett says: "The hardships of this occupation will not be fully
comprehended by those who are acquainted with the surveyor's duties only
as they are practised in old and thickly settled countries. In addition
to the want of accommodation, the service was attended by serious
perils. In new countries, of which 'squatters' have begun to take
possession, the surveyor is at all times a highly unwelcome visitor, and
sometimes goes about his duties at the risk of his life. Besides this, a
portion of the land traversed by Washington formed a part of that
debatable land, the disputed right to which was the original moving
cause of the 'Seven Years' War.' The French were already in motion, both
from Canada and Louisiana, to preoccupy the banks of the Ohio, and
the savages in their interest roamed the intervening country up to
the settlements of Virginia."

Another entry in his journal is the following:

"Rained till about two o'clock, and then cleared up, when we were
agreeably surprised at the sight of more than thirty Indians, coming
from war with only one scalp. We had some liquor with us, of which we
gave them a part. This, elevating their spirits, put them in the humor
of dancing. We then had a war dance. After clearing a large space, and
making a great fire in the middle, the men seated themselves around it,
and the speaker made a grand speech, telling them in what manner they
were to dance. After he had finished, the best dancer jumped up, as one
awakened from sleep, and ran and jumped about the ring in the most
comical manner. He was followed by the rest. Then began their music,
which was performed with a pot half full of water, and a deer skin
stretched tight over it, and a gourd with some shot in it to rattle, and
a piece of horse's tail tied to it to make it look fine. One person kept
rattling and another drumming all the while they were dancing."

George had never seen Indians in their wigwams until his surveying
expedition. He had never witnessed a war dance nor been brought face to
face with these red men until he engaged in this pursuit for Lord
Fairfax. The Indians were friendly, though it was known that they looked
upon the encroachments of the English colonists with suspicion, if not
with some bitterness. Occasionally a wandering band plundered defenceless
families and spread consternation abroad. But such hostile demonstrations
were exceptional.

"Strange must have been the emotions which at times agitated the bosom
of this pensive, reflective, heroic boy, as at midnight, far away from
the haunts of civilization, in the wigwam of the savage, he listened to
the wailings of the storm, interrupted only by the melancholy cry of the
night-bird, and the howl of wolves and other unknown beasts of prey. By
the flickering light of the wigwam fire, he saw, sharing his couch, the
dusky form of the Indian hunter, his squaw, and his pappooses."

Other entries in his journal show that George was compelled to submit to
privations that were new and strange to him.

"Travelled up to Solomon Hedges', Esquire, to-day, one of _His Majesty's
Justices of the Peace_, in the county of Frederick, where we camped.
When we came to supper there was neither a knife on the table nor a fork
to eat with; but as good luck would have it, we had knives of our own."

George put in italics the words indicated, evidently to call attention
to the poverty and degradation of some of "His Majesty's Justices." He
had a high-sounding title to his name, but neither knife nor fork!

"April 8: We camped in the woods, and after we had pitched our tent and
made a large fire, we pulled out our knapsacks to recruit ourselves.
Every one was his own cook. Our spits were forked sticks, our plates
were large chips. As for dishes, we had none."

One "blowing, rainy night," George was startled from a sound sleep by
the cry of "Fire! Fire! Fire!"

He sprung to his feet half asleep, scarcely knowing what unearthly sound
awoke him.

"Your bed is on fire, George," shouted the same companion. "Narrow
escape for you."

Sure enough, George discovered that the straw on which he was lying had
taken fire, and, but for the timely warning of his more wakeful
companion, he must have been severely burned.

His diary contained such items as, "The number of acres in each lot
surveyed, the quality of the soil, the height of the hills, the growth
of plants and trees, the extent of the valleys, and the length, breadth,
and course of the streams." On these various topics he reported to his
employer, furnishing him thereby the necessary data on which to base a
judgment on sale of land.

Mr. Sparks, speaking of the thoroughness of his work as a surveyor,
says, "Nor was his skill confined to the more simple processes of the
art. He used logarithms, and proved the accuracy of his work by
different methods. The manuscripts fill several quires of paper, and are
remarkable for the care with which they were kept, the neatness and
uniformity of the handwriting, the beauty of the diagrams, and a precise
method and arrangement in copying out tables and columns of figures.
These particulars will not be thought too trivial to be noticed when it
is known he retained similar habits through life. His business papers,
day-books, ledgers, and letter-books, in which, before the Revolution,
no one wrote but himself, exhibit specimens of the same studious care
and exactness. Every fact occupies a clear and distinct place."

Mr. Everett says: "He soon became distinguished for the accuracy of his
surveys, and obtained the appointment of a public surveyor, which
enabled him to enter his plans as legally valid in the county offices.
The imperfect manner in which land surveys at that time were generally
executed led in the sequel to constant litigation; but an experienced
practitioner in the Western courts pronounced in after years that, of
all the surveys which had come within his knowledge, those of Washington
could alone be depended upon."

Mr. Weems mentions George's connection with the family of Widow
Stevenson, with whom he made headquarters while surveying Frederick
County, which was then very large, embracing what is now Berkeley,
Jefferson, and Shenandoah Counties. She had seven sons, William,
Valentine, John, Hugh, Dick, James, and Mark, all stalwart fellows.
These seven young men, in Herculean size and strength, were equal,
perhaps, to any seven sons of any one mother in Christendom. This was a
family exactly to George's mind, because promising him an abundance of
that manly exercise in which he delighted.

"Come," said Valentine, "let us go out to the Green, and see who the
best man is."

The "Green" was an extended level field in front of the house, a nice
spot for jumping, wrestling, and other sports. By a trial to see which
was "the best man," Valentine meant to see who would excel in these
athletic exercises.

"Agreed," responded George, "I am tired enough to go to bed, but it
always rests me to test my strength."

It was just at night, and George had just come in from a trip of several
days. He came around to Mrs. Stevenson's as often as he could, though he
camped in the woods at night most of the time.

"That is so with me," said Dick. "I sleep better after an _Indian hug_,
or a few long leaps, or a hard run."

"Provided you beat," suggested John. "I don't believe that it
contributes much to your sleep when you are worsted."

"Don't sleep so soundly, perhaps," replied Dick, humorously. "It would
give me a pretty long nap to lay George on his back."

"Yes, I think it would," retorted George. "Perhaps you would never wake
up, you would be so happy and that would be a great pity."

"Well, come," urged William, who had been a close listener, "let us see
what we can do. It will get to be dark while we are talking."

And so they hurried away to the "Green" for sport. This was done again
and again during his stay with the Stevensons. Mr. Weems says:

"Here it was that George, after a hard day's toil at surveying, like a
young Greek training for the Olympic games, used to turn out with his
sturdy young companions, '_to see_,' as they termed it, '_which was the
best man_' at running, jumping, and wrestling. And so keen was their
passion for these sports, and so great their ambition to out-do one
another, that they would often keep them up, especially on moon shining
nights, till bed-time. Mrs. Stevenson's sons, though not taller than
George, were much heavier men; so that at wrestling, and particularly at
the _close_ or _Indian Hug_, he seldom gained much matter of triumphs.
But in all trials of agility, they stood no chance with him."

Mr. Weems continues:

"From these Frederick County gymnastics there followed an effect which
shows the very wide difference between participating in innocent and
guilty pleasures. While companions in raking and gambling heartily
despise and hate one another, and when they meet in the streets pass
each other with looks cold and shy as sheep-thieving curs, these
virtuous young men, by spending their evenings together in innocent and
manly exercises, contracted a friendship which lasted for life. When
George, twenty-five years after this, was called to lead the American
armies, he did not forget his old friends, but gave commissions to all
of them who chose to join the army. William, who was as brave a man as
ever shouldered a musket, was advanced as high as the rank of colonel,
when he was burned to death by the Indians at Sandusky. And equally
cordial was the love of these young men for George, of whom they ever
spoke as of a brother."

When Washington had attained his highest honors, and the War of
Independence was over, the Stevensons loved to rehearse their runnings
and wrestlings with him. Said Hugh exultingly to some friends:

"Brother John and I have often laid the conqueror of England on his

"But we were no match for him in running and jumping," honestly retorted

It was George's thorough survey and glowing description of a region
beyond the Blue Ridge that induced Lord Fairfax to erect a costly stone
mansion there for his trans-Atlantic home. He called it Greenaway Court,
and it became one of the most beautiful and attractive estates in
Virginia, where the proprietor lived in an expensive style, dispensing a
generous hospitality. It was at Greenaway Court that George first read
the history of England.

George's success as a surveyor for Lord Fairfax called the attention of
the Virginia authorities to him, and he was appointed public surveyor,
as stated by Mr. Everett, whom we have quoted, deriving a discipline
therefrom which was of great service to him in his future public career.
The business, also, made him familiar with the country, particularly the
Shenandoah Valley, which means "Shining daughter of the stars," so that
he was able to invest money afterwards to great advantage in real

That George did not forget his "Lowland Beauty," even after his pleasant
connection with the Fairfax family, is quite evident from one of his
letters to an old companion, as follows:

    DEAR ROBIN:--As it is the greatest mark of affection and esteem
    which absent friends can show each other to write and often
    communicate their thoughts, I shall endeavor from time to time
    to acquaint you with my situation and employments in life. And
    I could wish you would take half the pains to send me a letter
    by any opportunity, as you may be well assured of its meeting
    with a welcome reception. My place at present is at Lord
    Fairfax's, where I might, were I disengaged, pass my time very
    pleasantly, as there is a very agreeable young lady in the
    house, Colonel George Fairfax's wife's sister. But that only
    adds fuel to the fire, as being often and unavoidably in her
    company revives my former passion for your Lowland Beauty;
    whereas, were I to live more retired from young ladies, I might
    in some measure alleviate my sorrow, by burying that chaste and
    troublesome passion in oblivion; and I am very well assured that
    this will be the only antidote or remedy.

Providence was sending him to a noble destiny. We can trace the divine
discipline all through the privations and responsibilities of his life
as surveyor. God was preparing him for the Revolution of 1776.

Mr. Frost, one of his biographers, says: "The business of practical
surveying undoubtedly formed a very important part of Washington's
preparation for the office of military commander. It not only hardened
and invigorated the already robust frame, but it educated his eye, and
accustomed him to judge respecting distances, and advantages of
position. By making him an able civil engineer, it laid the foundation
of his future eminence in a military capacity. It was more immediately
advantageous to him by procuring for him the acquaintance of the
principal landholders of the State, and by making known to them his
remarkable judgment, good-sense, and ability in the conduct of affairs.
The effect of this last circumstance was seen in his appointment, at the
age of nineteen, to the office of adjutant-general, with the rank of
major. This gave him the charge of a district, with the duty of
exercising the militia, inspecting their arms, and superintending their

Lord Fairfax loved him with the love of a father, but he did not dream
that he was becoming the benefactor of England's conqueror.

Mr. Weems says: "Little did the old gentleman expect that he was
educating a youth who should one day dismember the British Empire, and
break his own heart, which truly came to pass; for on hearing that
Washington had captured Cornwallis and all his army, he called out to his
black servant, 'Come, Joe, carry me to my bed, for it is high time for me
to die.'"



"There is a chance for you, George, in the reorganization of the
militia," remarked Lawrence, who was personally interested in a movement
to improve the soldiery of Virginia.

"What chance?" George asked.

"For an appointment as my successor. The state of my health makes my
resignation necessary, and you are competent to take charge of my

"My youth will prevent that."

"Not necessarily. Youth will not weigh so much against you as a
competency will do for you. Qualifications for the place is what the
authorities will require."

"And their attention will naturally be directed to older men, who are
well known," suggested George.

"But I propose to present your claims, when I forward my resignation,
myself," continued Lawrence.

"You have enjoyed superior opportunities to fit you for such a position;
and for the appointing power to know your qualifications is to secure to
you the place."

"What will be my duties if I get the appointment?" inquired George.

"You will be adjutant-general, with the rank of major, and will have
charge of the militia in the district. You will have to drill them at
stated times, inspect their arms, and make their organization as
thorough as possible."

"And give all my time to the work?"

"No, not all your time will be required. It is no small responsibility
to assume, however; but you are equal to it, and it will be a grand
school for you. You will have a salary of one hundred and fifty pounds,
and you will be held responsible for the efficiency of the militia."

"I don't know about taking so much responsibility upon myself,"
responded George, whose modest estimate of his own abilities was one of
his virtues. "Experience is indispensable for such a position, it seems
to me, and I have not had experience."

"Well, we will see what can be done," added Lawrence. "I have made up my
mind to intercede for you as my successor, as the best qualified of any
man I know in this district for the position. I may fail, but I shall

Lawrence accomplished his purpose in due time, and George was appointed
to the command of the militia in the district, although he was but
nineteen years of age. No difficulty was experienced in securing the
position for him, for his exploits in the role of surveyor were well
known. His character and ability had also given him considerable public
notoriety for one of his years.

Lawrence was in feeble health at this time. Pulmonary troubles had been
gradually undermining his constitution for two or three years, although
he continued to serve the colony in public relations. Winter was
approaching, and his physician advised a change of climate. The severity
of another Virginia winter might prove too much for him.

"If I go to Barbadoes you must go with me," said Lawrence to George. "It
will not be necessary for you to enter upon your new duties as commander
of the district until spring."

"Then your wife will not go," answered George, inferring that his
services would be required because hers could not be had.

"No; she will not be able to go, and I cannot think of going alone."

"Well, I shall be very willing to go," continued George, "and think I
shall enjoy the change. That you need to escape from the Virginia winter
is very evident. You are not as well as you were six months ago."

"No one can be so conscious of that as myself," remarked Lawrence, with
a degree of sadness that pierced George's heart. "I have failed very
fast within the last three months, and I sometimes doubt whether a
change of climate will do me any good."

"Perhaps your view of the case is too gloomy," suggested George, whom we
ought to call _Major_ Washington now, but will not at present. "I
believe that the foreign air will put new life into you."

"That is what I need," responded Lawrence, "for the old life within me
is rapidly dying out. I must get new strength from some source, or my
days are numbered."

Lawrence was very much depressed at this time, and he was also peevish
and difficult to please. George could manage him better than any one
else, except his wife, for the reason that his confidence in his young
brother was unbounded. The latter knew how to encourage the sick man
without concealing from him his true condition. Lawrence was certainly
in a very critical state of health, and his physician had so announced
to his friends. George was alarmed about his brother, although he was
confident that a winter in Barbadoes would put him in the way of
complete restoration.

It was settled that they should spend the winter in Barbadoes, and hasty
preparations were made for the voyage. George had accepted his
appointment, but, now arranged to enter upon the duties of the office
after his return. He was glad to be able to accompany his brother to a
more favorable clime.

We have not space to record their experience abroad in detail. It will
answer our purpose to record the fact that a change of climate did not
improve Lawrence Washington. On the whole, he continued to fail, so that
he returned to Virginia late in the spring of 1751, a weaker and less
happy man. His sojourn in a warmer country through the winter and spring
months proved that he was beyond hope of recovery.

George had one experience in Barbadoes that we must record. He was
attacked by the small-pox with considerable severity, occasioning much
anxiety to Lawrence. However, he rallied from the attack more rapidly
than was expected, his good physical condition enabling him to resist
disease as weaker ones cannot. But he carried the marks of the loathsome
disease through life.

George kept a journal when abroad, as he had done at home, and the
entries concerning the small-pox are as follows:

"Nov. 4, 1751.--This morning received a card from Major Clarke,
welcoming us to Barbadoes, with an invitation to breakfast and dine with
him. We went--myself with some reluctance, as the small-pox was in the
family. We were received in the most kind and friendly manner by him."

That he took the small-pox when on this friendly visit is evident from
the entry in his journal for Nov. 17, as follows:

"Was strongly attacked with the small-pox. Sent for Dr. Lanahan, whose
attendance was very constant till my recovery and going out, which were
not till Thursday, the 12th of December."

We ought to state that in February of 1752, as there was no perceptible
improvement in Lawrence, Dr Lanahan decided that he should remove to
Bermuda in the early spring. This would prolong his stay, and it was
agreed that George should return to Virginia, and accompany Mrs.
Washington and children to Bermuda, where she would meet her husband.

George returned, reaching Mount Vernon about the 1st of April. But
Lawrence continued to fail in health, which modified his plans, so that
he relinquished the idea of going to Bermuda, preferring rather to
return to his native land and die. His wife remained at home to await
his coming, about the 1st of June. He lived but six or seven weeks after
reaching Mount Vernon, and died on the 26th of July, at the age of
thirty-four. Conscious that his speedy death was inevitable, he made
every arrangement necessary for the sad change. He had large
possessions, which he left to his wife and only child, though he showed
his strong attachment to George by a liberal legacy. In the event of his
child's death, the Mount Vernon estate would revert to George. The child
did not long survive, whereupon this valuable estate came into George's
possession. Although he was but twenty years old when his brother died,
he was the chief executor of his will.

Mr. Everett says of him: "George was appointed one of the executors of
his will, by which, in the event of the daughter's decease, Mount Vernon
was bequeathed to him. Although the youngest of the executors, in
consequence of his more thorough knowledge of his brother's affairs, the
responsible management of his extensive estates devolved upon him. He
did not, however, allow these private engagements to interfere with his
public duties. As the probability of a collision on the frontier
increased, greater attention was paid to the military organization of
the province. On the arrival of Governor Dinwiddie from England in 1752,
it was divided into four military districts, and Washington's
appointment was renewed as adjutant-general of the northern division,
in which several counties were included. The duties devolving upon him
under this commission, in attending the reviews of the militia and
superintending their exercises, were performed with a punctuality and
zeal, which rapidly drew towards him the notice and favor of the

On the 4th of November, 1852, George was initiated into the Masonic
Lodge of "Free and Accepted Masons" at Fredericksburg, and on the third
of March following, he was advanced to the second degree of fellowcraft,
and on the 4th of August next after, he was made a Master Mason.

Governor Dinwiddie's renewal of George's commission on his return,
imposed immediate military duties upon him. The organization and
drilling of the militia, inspection of their arms and accoutrements,
together with other duties, made a large draft upon his thoughts and
labors. Still, he found time to be with his brother Lawrence during his
declining moments, and was with him when he died, performing the last
deeds of fraternal love in a manner that honored his noble nature.

There was a growing excitement now about the encroachments of the
French, and the Colonists began to feel that their rights and honor were
at stake. It was quite evident that the French designed to gain
ascendency in North America, while the English considered that their
claim to its rule was pre-eminent. The French had established a line of
military fortified posts from Canada to the southern part of the
Mississippi, and they were fast securing a foothold in the beautiful
valley of the Ohio.

The English said: "England discovered this country fifty years ago, and
has a better right to it than the French have."

France denied this claim, because "her ships were the first which
entered the River St. Lawrence, and her voyagers, ascending the
magnificent stream, discovered that series of majestic lakes, whose
fertile shores presented inviting homes for countless millions. Her
enterprising explorers, in the birch canoe, travelled the solitary
windings of the Ohio and the Mississippi."

At the same time the Indians justly claimed right and title to the whole
country as the aboriginal inhabitants. Both English and French might
purchase it, or portions of it, of them, but in no other way could they
gain possession of it without becoming interlopers and robbers. So here
was a fine opportunity for trouble. A keen, quick-witted chief, assuming
to ridicule the claims of the English and French, sarcastically said to
Mr. Gist, a representative of the Virginian Colonists:

"Whereabouts do the Indian lands lie, since the French claim all the
land on one side of the Ohio River and the English all on the other?"

Governor Dinwiddie found it necessary to send an ambassador to the
French on the Ohio, to inquire into their claims and purposes.

"It is a responsible and perilous undertaking," he said to Mr. Gist.
"Who is equal to it?"

"I am sure I cannot tell," Mr. Gist replied. "There ought to be in this
famous colony some spirit brave enough to accept the mission, and fully
competent to execute it."

"Yes; but who is it?"

"I am unable to answer."

"But we must find him," continued the governor. "The time has fully come
for Virginia to defend the rights of Great Britain."

"There can be no doubt about that," replied Mr. Gist; "but who will
endure the hardships and risk his life on a mission to the Ohio is more
than I can tell."

A writer says of the project: "It was indeed a perilous enterprise; one
from which the noblest spirit might recoil. The first garrison which
could be reached was on the Ohio River, about one hundred and twenty
miles below the point where Pittsburg now stands. Here the French were
erecting a strong fortress, to which the Indians resorted for trade.
There was an intervening wilderness, from the settlements in Virginia,
to be traversed, of pathless forests, gloomy morasses, craggy mountains,
and almost impenetrable thickets, of nearly six hundred miles. Bands of
savages on the war-path or engaged in the hunt were ever ranging these
wilds. Many were exasperated by wrongs which they themselves had
received, and of which they had heard, inflicted by the white men. The
Indians in all these northwest regions had welcomed the French as
brothers, and truly fraternal relationship existed between them; and
they had nearly all learned to hate the English.... It would be very
easy for the French so to arrange matters, that a band of savages
should massacre and plunder the party of the commissioners, in the
depths of the forest, under such circumstances that it would necessarily
be regarded as merely a savage outrage."

In these circumstances, Governor Dinwiddie found it difficult to secure
a responsible party to accept the commission. He offered it to certain
men in whom he had great confidence, but all of them declined. At
length, however, Major Washington, as we will call George now, waited
upon the governor, and surprised him by saying:

"I have come, Governor Dinwiddie, to offer my services as commissioner
to Ohio. If you consider me competent for the position, I will accept
it, and do the best I can."

"Certainly you are competent for this business," answered the governor,
"and you are as brave as you are competent. It is a perilous
undertaking, and may cost you your life."

"I understand that," responded the major; "and I have come to this
decision after weighing well the difficulties and dangers. My occupation
as surveyor has inured me to hardships, and given me some acquaintance
with Indian life and character."

"That is true," remarked the governor, who was familiar with young
Washington's success in surveying, as well as with his knowledge of
military affairs, "and that experience will be of great value on such a
mission as this. I will appoint you commissioner at once, with full
powers to plan and perform the expedition."

"And what are your wishes about the time of starting?" inquired

"As soon as your preparations can be consummated," Governor Dinwiddie
answered. "Winter is near by, and the sooner you can start the better."

"I can be ready within a few days," replied Washington, his answer
furnishing a good illustration of his promptness.

"Just as you please; the whole responsibility is with you, and I will
forward your commission as soon as possible," the governor said.

We are able to furnish the commission under which Washington acted on
that important mission, as follows:

    I, reposing especial trust in the ability, conduct, and fidelity
    of you, the said George Washington, have appointed you my
    express messenger; and you are hereby authorized and empowered
    to proceed hence, with all convenient and possible despatch, to
    that part or place on the River Ohio where the French have
    lately erected a fort or forts, or where the commandant of the
    French forces resides, in order to deliver my letter and message
    to him; and, after waiting not exceeding one week for an answer,
    you are to take leave and return immediately back.

    To this commission I have set my hand, and caused the great seal
    of this Dominion to be affixed, at the city of Williamsburg, the
    seat of my government, this thirtieth day of October, in the
    twenty-seventh year of the reign of King George the Second, King
    of Great Britain, Annoque Domini, 1753.      ROBERT DINWIDDIE.

The news of Washington's voluntary offer to act as commissioner to the
French on the Ohio was received with great satisfaction by the
Colonists. They took occasion both in public and private to extol his
bravery and unselfishness. To a less humble and modest young man the
enthusiastic demonstration in his honor would have proved too
flattering; but no amount of such praise could develop vanity in

Hastily he prepared for the expedition. When ready to start, the company
consisted of eight persons, as follows: Washington; Christopher Gist;
John Davidson, an interpreter for the Indians; Jacob Van Braam, his old
fencing-master, who could speak French; Henry Steward and William
Jenkins, experienced "woodsmen;" and two Indian guides, Barnaby Currin
and John McQuire. Mr. Gist was eminently qualified for the post given to
him; for having made a settlement between the northwestern ridge of the
Alleghanies and Monongahela River, he had often traversed the country,
and was well acquainted with the habits of the Indians in the
neighborhood through which their route lay.

Before starting upon this perilous mission, Washington paid a flying
visit to his mother, who was dearer to him than any other living person.
The announcement that he was to proceed to the Ohio at once filled her
with alarm at first, and she thoroughly regretted that he had assumed
the responsibility. However, she took a favorable view of the
enterprise, and said:

"It is a very responsible trust to be committed to one of your age,
George, but God will give you wisdom and watch over you, if you commit
your ways to Him. My prayers shall not cease to go up for your success
and return."

With such emotions as unfeigned filial love creates, Washington parted
from his mother.

The following is a copy of the letter which Washington carried from
Governor Dinwiddie to the French commander on the Ohio:

    SIR:--The lands upon the River Ohio, in the western parts of the
    Colony of Virginia, are so notoriously known to be the property
    of the Crown of Great Britain, that it is a matter of equal
    concern and surprise to me to hear that a body of French forces
    are erecting fortresses and making settlements upon that river,
    within his Majesty's dominions. The _many_ and _repeated_
    complaints I have received of these acts of _hostility_ lay me
    under the necessity of sending, in the name of the king, my
    master, the bearer hereof, George Washington, Esq., one of the
    adjutants-general of the forces of this dominion, to complain to
    you of the encroachments thus made, and of the injuries done to
    the subjects of Great Britain, in violation of the law of
    nations, and the treaties now subsisting between the two
    crowns. If these facts be true, and you think fit to justify
    your proceedings, I must desire you to acquaint me by whose
    authority and instructions you have lately marched from Canada
    with an armed force, and invaded the King of Great Britain's
    territories, in the manner complained of; that, according to
    the purpose and resolution of your answer, I may act agreeably
    to the commission I am honored with, from the king, my master.
    However, sir, in obedience to my instructions, it becomes my
    duty to require your peaceable departure; and that you will
    forbear prosecuting a purpose so interruptive of the harmony and
    good understanding which his Majesty is desirous to continue and
    cultivate with the most Christian king.      ROBERT DINWIDDIE.



Washington left Williamsburg on the thirty-first day of October, 1753.
He proceeded to Fredericksburg, where Van Braam joined him, thence to
Alexandria and Winchester for supplies and horses, but did not arrive at
Will's Creek, where Mr. Gist and others of the party were found, until
Nov. 14.

"Now we must depend on you, Mr. Gist, to pilot us through the
wilderness," said Washington. "My knowledge of the way ends about where
yours begins, I suspect; so we shall commit ourselves to your care."

"Well, I shall take a straight course to Frazier's, on the Monongahela
River," answered Gist.

"And who is Frazier?" inquired Washington.

"He is an Indian trader, who lives at the mouth of Turtle Creek."

"Well acquainted with the country, I suppose he is," suggested

"He ought to be, for he has been at his business several years, and is
an intelligent, responsible man."

"Such a man as we need to see, I should think," continued Washington;
"so I agree to follow you to Frazier's without a single objection."

"A storm is brewing, and will soon be upon us," said Mr. Gist. "I fear
that a hard time awaits us."

"I expect as much as that," replied Washington. "Such a journey as we
propose can be no child's play at any season of the year."

That a storm impeded their progress is quite evident from Washington's

"The excessive rains and vast quantity of snow which had fallen
prevented our reaching Mr. Frazier, the Indian trader's, until Thursday,
the 22d."

"The French general is dead," was the first announcement of Mr. Frazier,
on learning the object of the expedition.

"What!" exclaimed Washington, "General Pierre Paul?"

"Yes; messengers have been sent to the Indian traders down the river
announcing his death, and the return of the major part of the army into
winter quarters," answered Frazier.

"A sudden death, no doubt, and it must necessitate some change in the
present plans of the French," remarked Washington.

"Doubtless," replied Frazier. "He died on the twenty-ninth day of
October, nearly a month ago. It will not affect your business, however."

"No; but this torrent will," answered Washington, alluding to the
impassable waters of the Monongahela, which the rains had swollen to a

"No crossing here except by swimming the horses."

"And that will be hardly advisable," rejoined Frazier, "since you can
take your baggage down to the fork of the Ohio in a canoe."

"A good suggestion," said Washington. "Can you provide me with a canoe?"

"Fortunately I can, and shall be glad to render you any other assistance
possible. It is ten miles to the fork, and you will reach there with the
horses before the canoe with the baggage."

Washington engaged the canoe, loaded the baggage upon it, and sent
Currin and Steward down the river with it, while he went with the horses
and the rest of the party by land. He arrived at the fort in advance of
the canoe, and improved the time to visit Shingiss, King of the
Delawares, a warrior who had been a terror to the English on the
frontier, though he was now their friend.

Shingiss received Washington in a friendly manner, though with manifest
reserve. When he learned what was the object of his mission, and that an
Indian Council was proposed at Logstown, his friendliness grew into
cordiality, and he promised not only to be present at the Council, but
to accompany Washington and his party thither.

They arrived at Logstown on the evening of Nov. 24. Washington inquired
for Tanacharisson, the half-king, and found that he was out at his
hunting cabin on Little Beaver Creek, fifteen miles away. Tanacharisson
was called half-king because his authority was subject to that of the
Five Nations.

As the half-king was absent, he repaired to Monacatoocha, with John
Davidson, his Indian interpreter, and informed him that he was sent a
messenger to the French general, and was ordered to call upon the
sachems of the Six Nations to acquaint them with it.

"I gave him a string of wampum and a twist of tobacco," says Washington
in his journal, "and desired him to send for the half-king, which he
promised to do by a 'runner' in the morning, and for other sachems. I
invited him and the other great men present to my tent, where they
stayed about an hour, and returned."

At this place Washington met four Frenchmen who had deserted from a
company at Kuskuskas, an Indian town on Big Beaver Creek, Pennsylvania.
Through Van Braam, he inquired:

"Where do you hail from now?"

"From New Orleans. We were sent with a hundred men and eight canoe loads
of provisions to this place, where we expected to meet as many more men
from the forts on this side of Lake Erie, to convey them and the stores

"What about the French forts near New Orleans?"

"There are four small forts between New Orleans and Twigtwies," one of
the Frenchmen said.

"And how many men?" Washington asked.

"About forty, and a few pieces of artillery."

"What is there at New Orleans?"

"A large fort at the mouth of the Mississippi, with thirty-five
companies of forty men each."

"How many guns does the fort mount?"

"Eight carriage guns."

"Quite a formidable affair," remarked Washington. "With courage and
skill to correspond they can withstand quite a siege; and what is there
at Twigtwies?"

"Several companies, and a fort mounting six guns."

"And is that all?"

"Not exactly. There is a small fort on the Ohio, at the mouth of the
Obaish (Wabash), garrisoned by a few men."

The information he gathered from these men was valuable to him and the
Virginia authorities.

As soon as the half-king returned, Washington called upon him with his
interpreter, making known his business, and inviting him to his own
tent. The chief cordially accepted the invitation, and he accompanied
him on his return.

"I understand that you have visited the French commander, to whom I am
going," remarked Washington, "and perhaps you can give me some
information about the ways and distance."

"The nearest and levelest way," answered the half-king, "is now
impassable on account of many deep and miry savannas."

"Then we must adopt the next best way," suggested Washington.

"Yes; and that is by the way of Venango, at the confluence of French
Creek and the Alleghany," said Tanacharisson.

"How great is the distance?"

"You cannot get to the nearest fort in less than five or six nights'
sleep, good travelling."

"How were you received at the fort?" continued Washington, anxious to
make the most of his informant.

"General Pierre Paul was alive then, and he received me sternly,"
replied the chief.

"In what way did he show his sternness?" Washington asked.

"By his abrupt inquiry, 'What did you come here about?' And he ordered
me, in an insolent way, to declare my business."

"And what did you tell him?" urged Washington.

"I made this speech to him," the half-king answered with a smile; and he
proceeded to rehearse his address to the French commander. As Washington
preserved the speech of Tanacharisson, together with the French
general's reply, we furnish the remainder of the interview from that
valuable document:

"Fathers, I am come to tell you your own speeches, what your own mouths
have declared.

"Fathers, you, in former days, set a silver basin before us, wherein
there was the leg of a beaver, and desired all the nations to come and
eat of it,--to eat in peace and plenty, and not to be churlish to one
another; and that if any such person should be found to be a disturber,
I here lay down by the edge of the dish a rod, which you must scourge
them with; and if your father should get foolish, in my old days, I
desire you may use it upon me as well as others.

"Now, fathers, it is you who are the disturbers in this land, by coming
and building your towns, and taking it away unknown to us, and by force.

"Fathers, we kindled a fire a long time ago at a place called Montreal,
where we desired you to stay, and not to come and intrude upon our land.
I now desire you may dispatch to that place; for be it known to you,
fathers, that this is our land, and not yours.

"Fathers, I desire you may hear me in civilness; if not, we must handle
that rod which was laid down for the use of obstreperous. If you had
come in a peaceable manner, like our brothers, the English, we would not
have been against your trading with us as they do; but to come, fathers,
and build houses upon our land, and to take it by force, is what we
cannot submit to.

"Fathers, both you and the English are white; we live in a country
between; therefore the land belongs to neither one nor the other. But
the Great Being above allowed it to be a place of residence for us; So,
fathers, I desire you to withdraw, as I have done our brothers, the
English; for I will keep you at arm's length. I lay this down as a trial
for both, to see which will have the greatest regard to it, and that
side we will stand by, and make equal sharers with us. Our brothers, the
English, have heard this, and I come now to tell it to you, for I am not
afraid to discharge you off this land."

This, he said, was the substance of what he spoke to the general, who
made this reply:

"'Now, my child, I have heard your speech; you spoke first, but it is my
time to speak now. Where is my wampum that you took away with the marks
of towns on it? This wampum I do not know, which you have discharged me
off the land with; but you need not put yourself to the trouble of
speaking, for I will not hear you. I am not afraid of flies or
mosquitoes, for Indians are such as those; I tell you down that river I
will go, and build upon it, according to my command. If the river was
blocked up, I have forces sufficient to burst it open, and tread under
my feet all that stand in opposition, together with their alliances, for
my force is as the sand upon the seashore; therefore, here is your
wampum. I sling it at you. Child, you talk foolish; you say this land
belongs to you, but there is not the black of my nail yours. I saw that
land sooner than you did; before the Shannoahs and you were at war. Lead
was the man who went down and took possession of that river. It is my
land, and I will have it, let who will stand up for or say against it. I
will buy and sell with the English (mockingly). If people will be ruled
by me they may expect kindness, but not else.'

"The half-king told me he had inquired of the general after two
Englishmen who were made prisoners, and received this answer:

"'Child, you think it a very great hardship that I made prisoners of
those two people at Venango. Don't you concern yourself with it; we took
and carried them to Canada, to get intelligence of what the English were
doing in Virginia.'

"He informed me that they had built two forts; one on Lake Erie, and
another on French Creek, near a small lake, about fifteen miles asunder,
and a large wagon-road between. They are both built after the same
model, but different in size, that on the lake the largest. He gave me a
plan of them of his own drawing."

The Indians inquired very particularly after their brothers in Carolina

They also asked what sort of a boy it was who was taken from the South
Branch, for they were told by some Indians that a party of "French
Indians had carried a white boy by Kuskheskia Town, towards the lakes."

The Indian Council which Washington convened, assembled at nine o'clock,
on the twenty-sixth day of November, and he made the following speech to
the rude children of the forest:

"Brothers, I have called you together in council, by order of your
brother, the governor of Virginia, to acquaint you that I am sent with
all possible despatch to visit and deliver a letter to the French
commandant of very great importance to your brothers, the English, and I
dare say to you, their friends and allies.

"I was desired, brothers, by your brother, the governor, to call upon
you, the sachems of the nations, to inform you of it, and to ask your
advice and assistance to proceed the nearest and best road to the
French. You see, brothers, I have gotten thus far on my journey.

"His Honor likewise desired me to apply to you for some of your young
men to conduct and provide provisions for us on our way, and be a
safe-guard against those French Indians who have taken up the hatchet
against us. I have spoken thus particularly to you, brothers, because
his Honor, our governor, treats you as good friends and allies, and
holds you in great esteem. To confirm what I have said, I give you this
string of wampum."

The sachems listened to this speech with profound attention, noting
every word; and when Major Washington concluded, they conferred together
for some time, when Tanacharisson arose, and replied:

"Now, my brother, in regard to what my brother, the governor, had
desired of me, I return you this answer:

"I rely upon you as a brother ought to do, as you say we are brothers
and one people. We shall put heart in hand, and speak to our fathers,
the French, concerning the speech they made to me; and you may depend
that we will endeavor to be your guard.

"Brother, as you have asked my advice, I hope you will be ruled by it,
and stay until I can provide a company to go with you. The French speech
belt is not here; I have to go for it to my hunting cabin. Likewise, the
people whom I have ordered in are not yet come, and cannot until the
third night from this; until which time, brother, I must beg you to
stay. I intend to send the guard of Rincoes, Shannoahs, and Delawares,
that our brothers may see the love and loyalty we bear them."

Washington replied to the half-king:

"Brother, your offer is a very generous one, for which I heartily thank
you; but my orders are to make all possible despatch, so that I am
obliged to leave, much against my inclination. My business requires the
greatest expedition, and will not admit of so much delay."

"We are sorry for this decision, brother," continued Tanacharisson; "but
we shall not permit you to go without a guard, lest some accident befall
you, and, in consequence, reflection be cast upon us. Besides, this is a
matter of no small moment, and must not be entered into without due
consideration; for I intend to deliver up the French speech belt, and
make the Shannoahs and Delawares do the same."

Accordingly the half-king gave orders to the King Shingiss, who was
present, to attend on Wednesday night with the wampum, and two men of
their nation to be in readiness to set out with Washington and his party
in the morning. But Washington did not leave as he designed, because he
found that the sachems would be greatly offended if he did. His journal
says: "I found it was impossible to go off without offending them in the
most egregious manner."

The entry in his journal for the next day, Nov. 27, is:

"Runners were despatched very early for the Shannoah chiefs. The
half-king himself set out to fetch the French speech belt from his
hunting cabin."

On the following evening, Nov. 28, Tanacharisson returned with the
French speech belt, and came to Washington's tent in company with
Monacatoocha and two other sachems.

"An Indian from Venango," said Monacatoocha, "has brought news that the
French have called all the Mingoes, Delawares, and several other tribes
together, and told them that they intended to have been down the river
this fall, but the waters were growing cold, and the winter advancing,
which obliged them to go into quarters, but that they might assuredly
expect them in the spring with a far greater number, and requested them
to remain passive, and not inter-meddle unless they had a mind to draw
all their force upon them, for that they expected to fight the English
three years, in which time they should conquer; but that if they should
prove equally strong, the French and the English would join to cut them
all off and divide the land between them; that, though they had lost
their general and some few of their soldiers, yet there were men enough
to reinforce them, and make them masters of the Ohio."

Washington inquired concerning the reliability of this information, and
was told that "one Captain Joncaire, their interpreter-in-chief, living
at Venango, and a man of note in the army, delivered the speech to us."

On the next morning, the half-king and Monacatoocha appeared very early
at Washington's tent, and besought him to wait another day.

"We have used all diligence possible, but the Shannoah chiefs have not
brought the wampum ordered, but will be here to-night," the half-king
said. "If they should not come in to-night, we will not delay you
another day, but will send it after you as soon as it arrives."

Washington yielded to their request, giving the reason in his journal

"When I found them so pressing in their request, and knew that the
returning of wampum[C] was the abolishing of agreements, and giving
this up was shaking off all dependence upon the French, I consented to
stay, as I believed an offence offered at this crisis might be attended
with greater ill-consequence than another day's delay."

    [C] Small beads made of shells, used for money.

Washington's journal continues:

"In the evening, late, they came again, and acquainted me that the
Shannoahs were not yet arrived, but that it should not retard the
prosecution of our journey. He delivered in my hearing the speech that
was to be made to the French by Jeskakake, one of their old chiefs,
which was giving up the belt the late commandant had asked for, and
repeating nearly the same speech he himself had done before.

"He also delivered a string of wampum to this chief, which was sent by
King Shingiss, to be given to Kustalogo, with orders to repair to the
French and deliver up the wampum.

"He likewise gave a very large string of black and white wampum, which
was to be sent up immediately to the Six Nations, if the French refused
to quit the land at this warning, which was the third and last time, and
was the right of this Jeskakake to deliver."

On the evening before Washington left the place, the great men of the
Indians assembled at their council-house, to discuss the journey, and
decide who should go. The result was, that, instead of the numerous
convoy promised, they concluded to send but three of their chiefs and
one famous hunter.

When the company were ready to start, about nine o'clock, on the morning
of Nov. 30, and Washington found that his escort consisted only of the
half-king, Jeskakake, White Thunder, and the Hunter, he said to

"Brother, how is this? This is not the complete guard you promised me."

"Very true, brother," answered the half-king, "but be assured there is
no intention to be untrue. When we conferred together last night it was
thought so large a number might give the French suspicions of evil
designs, and cause them to treat us rudely."

The journey was resumed, and proved very wearisome on account of stormy
weather and hard traveling. They reached Venango, seventy miles distant,
on the fourth day of December. Venango was situated at the mouth of
French Creek, on the Ohio.

Seeing the French colors flying from the house of Mr. John Frazier, an
English subject, whom they had driven from his house, Washington
repaired thither at once, to inquire where the commander of the French
forces resided. He found three officers there, one of whom, Captain
Joncaire, of whom Monacatoocha had spoken, said:

"I command the French now."

Washington had made known his business, whereupon Captain Joncaire
referred him to an officer in another fort farther on.

"But you will stop and dine with us?" said the captain in a very cordial
manner. "We shall feel honored by your company."

Washington accepted the invitation, which turned to his advantage beyond
his expectations; for the French officers imbibed so much wine that they
became talkative, as well as communicative, and imparted information
which they would have withholden when sober.

"The French design to take possession of the Ohio." said one of the
tipsy officers, "and they will do it in spite of all opposition. We know
that the English can raise two men to our one, but they are so mortal
slow that we can accomplish our object while they are getting ready. The
French have an undoubted right to this river, and they will maintain

Washington appreciated his opportunity to gain information, and he plied
his inquiries for that purpose. He learned that the French had about
fifteen hundred men between that place and Lake Ontario, but that all
except six hundred of them were recalled after the death of General
Pierre Paul. He learned, also, the number of forts the French had
erected, and where situated, together with the number of men required to
garrison each. Hence, the information acquired was worth much more than
his dinner.



Monsieur La Force and three other soldiers accompanied Washington to see
the commander at the next fort. The French officers resorted to various
stratagems to prevent Tanacharisson, Jeskakake, White Thunder, and the
Hunter going with Washington. The latter understood very well that their
object was to have an opportunity to win them over to the French. But
Washington insisted upon their going with him, and rebuked Captain
Joncaire for his meddlesome disposition.

They were four days on their way to visit the commander, being obliged
to wade through miry swamps much of the way. They reached the fort on
the eleventh day of December.

On the 12th, Washington waited upon the commander of the fort and made
known his business, at the same time presenting him with the letter of
Governor Dinwiddie. Returning the letter, the officer said:

"The proper officer for you to see is Monsieur Reparti, whom the French
government has commissioned to fill the position made vacant by the
death of General Pierre Paul. He arrived seven days ago, and is expected
at this fort every hour."

Monsieur Reparti did not arrive until the next day, when the second
officer in command introduced Washington to him. He received Governor
Dinwiddie's letter, and retired to translate it. In a short time,
however, he sent for Washington and his interpreter to correct the
translation, and see that it was well understood. Then dismissing
Washington, Reparti called his officers to a council of war. While the
French officers were thus engaged in secret, Washington had a good
opportunity to ascertain the dimensions and equipments of the fort, and
draw a plan of the same. He lost no time in making observations which
would be of great benefit to his government. The following is a
description of the fort which he recorded at the time to carry to
Governor Dinwiddie:

"It is situated on the south or west fork of French Creek, near the
water, and is almost surrounded by the creek and a small branch of it,
which form a kind of island. Four houses compose the sides. The bastions
are made of piles driven into the ground, standing more than twelve feet
above it, and sharp at top, with port-holes cut for cannon, and
loop-holes for the small arms to fire through. There are eight six-pound
pieces mounted in each bastion, and one piece of four pounds before the
gate. In the bastions are a guard-house, chapel, doctor's lodging, and
the commander's private store, round which are laid platforms for the
cannon and men to stand on. There are several barracks without the fort,
for the soldiers' dwellings, covered, some with bark and some with
boards, made chiefly of logs. There are also several other houses, such
as stables, smith's shop, etc.

"I could get no certain account of the number of men here; but,
according to the best judgment I could form, there are a hundred,
exclusive of officers, of whom there are many. I also gave orders to the
people who were with me to take an exact account of the canoes which
were hauled up to convey their forces down in the spring. This they did,
and sold fifty of birch-bark, and a hundred and seventy of pine, besides
many others, which were blocked out, in readiness for being made."

In his interview with the commander, Washington inquired of him: "By
what authority have the French made prisoners of several of our English

"The country belongs to us," answered the commander, "and no Englishman
has a right to trade upon these waters. I have orders to make prisoners
of every Englishman who attempts it on these waters."

"How about the boy who was captured and carried through this place?"
asked Washington.

"That a boy was captured and carried past here, I will not deny,"
replied Reparti, "but I do not remember the name of the place he came
from, nor understand the facts in the case particularly. The Indians had
two or three scalps with them also."

"But I was told at Venango that they had _eight_?" retorted Washington.

Reparti was embarrassed here, and evaded an answer.

"What has been done with John Trotter and James McClochlan, two
Pennsylvania traders, whom the French captured and carried away with all
their goods?" continued Washington.

"They were sent to Canada, but I understand that they have now gone
home," Reparti answered.

On the next day Washington received the commander's reply to Governor
Dinwiddie's letter, and therefore was ready to return. The snow was
deep, the weather stormy, and the horses exhausted, so that the homeward
journey was undertaken with much discouragement.

When about ready to start, Washington found that the French were
presenting large inducements to his Indian guides to remain. He was
obliged to resort to strategy, and finally to reprimand, to frustrate
their plans. When the French officers saw that all their efforts to
detain them were fruitless, they offered them intoxicating liquors in
order to overcome them. This device would have succeeded, as the Indians
loved rum, but for Washington's emphatic protest. He charged the French
officers with base efforts to hinder his mission, and forbade half-king,
with imposing threats, to touch the liquor. In this way he succeeded in
his purpose to start on his return journey.

Just before starting, however, White Thunder received an injury, making
it necessary for half-king to stay over with him until the next day, and
take him down the river in a canoe.

"Captain Joncaire will have a good opportunity to bribe you," suggested

"Never," replied the half-king; "I know the French better than you do. I
am a friend to the English."

"But Captain Joncaire is a plausible Frenchman, and he will do his best
to influence you," retorted Washington. "You must be guarded against his
fair speech."

The result of this interview was, that the whole party waited for White
Thunder until the next day.

The hardships of the return journey exceeded by far their previous
experience, as indicated by Washington's journal:

"We had a tedious and very fatiguing passage down the creek. Several
times we had liked to have been staved against rocks, and many times
were obliged all hands to get out and remain in the water half an hour
or more, getting over the shoals. At one place the ice had lodged, and
made it impassable by water; we were therefore obliged to carry our
canoe across the neck of land, a quarter of a mile over. We did not
reach Venango until the 22d, where we met with our horses.

"This creek is extremely crooked. I dare say the distance between the
fort and Venango cannot be less than one hundred and thirty miles, to
follow the meanders."

At Venango the horses, which Currin took there by land, were met, and
the men relieved them by distributing the baggage among themselves in
packs. In this way they traveled three days, the snow all the while
increasing, and the horses becoming weaker and weaker. Washington saw
that to keep with the party would delay his arrival at Williamsburg
until the House of Burgesses had adjourned, which would be a
disappointment to the public, as well as to the governor. If possible,
the governor should receive his report before the adjournment of the

"There is only one way for us to go Mr. Gist," said Washington; "you and
I must strike right through the wilderness alone, leaving the party to
reach there as best they can. My report will be too late if we plod
along in this way."

"It may be later if we undertake so perilous an adventure alone,"
responded Gist. "There is not one chance in ten of our ever reaching
Williamsburg in that way."

"You are too fearful altogether," replied Washington. "I think you and I
are equal to the undertaking. No doubt we shall have a rough time of it,
but we are used to that; it will be no novelty to us."

"I shall abide by your decision," added Gist, "for you are commander of
this expedition, and my duty is to obey. But I believe that both of us
will repent of ever undertaking such an adventure."

"Well, then, I will take the responsibility," said Washington, "and you
and I will take the nearest and quickest route home."

"Which may prove the longest, both in distance and time," retorted Gist.

Washington put the remainder of the party, together with the baggage and
horses, into the care of Van Braam, with instructions and money. He
himself had traveled for three days in an "Indian's walking dress," but
now made a change described in his journal thus:

"I took my necessary papers, pulled off my clothes, and tied myself up
in a watch-coat. Then, with gun in hand and pack on my back, in which
were my papers and provisions, I set out with Mr. Gist, fitted in the
same manner, on Wednesday, the 26th."

They traveled eighteen miles on that day, and stopped for the night at
an Indian cabin. Washington usually traveled on horseback, so that he
was unused to the hardships of such a journey on foot, and he was much

They arose at two o'clock in the morning to continue their journey. When
they reached Murdering Town, they fell in with an Indian who called Mr.
Gist by name.

"I saw you at Venango," said the Indian.

Then Mr. Gist recognized him as an Indian whom he saw at Joncaire's in
Venango, when they were on their journey to the French fort, which fact
made him somewhat suspicious of the redskin.

"I am glad to see you," insisted the Indian. "How does it happen that
you are traveling on foot in this direction?"

"Our business requires it," was Gist's short reply.

"When did you leave Venango?" the Indian continued.

Mr. Gist informed him.

"Where did you leave your horses and the rest of your party?"

Mr. Gist answered evasively.

"And where are you going?"

"To the forks of the Alleghany as direct as we can go," Washington
answered. "Can you go with us and show us the nearest way?"

"I can just as well as not," replied the Indian, "and I can take your
pack along, too."

From this point Washington was considerably relieved by transferring his
pack to the back of the savage. They traveled very rapidly for ten
miles, when Washington's feet grew sore, and he became very weary.

"You are taking us too much northeasterly," said Mr. Gist to the Indian,
suspicious that he was intentionally taking them out of their way.

"That is what I think," added Washington. "I am quite confident that we
are bearing too much to the northeast."

The truth was, that both Washington and Mr. Gist were suspicious that
the Indian was proving treacherous, though neither of them suggested the
idea to the other.

"But let us encamp here," continued Washington, "for I need rest."

"I will carry your gun, and that will relieve you," said the Indian, a
suggestion that strengthened suspicions already awakened.

"No; I prefer to carry my own gun," replied Washington; "you will do
your part if you carry my pack."

"But it is not safe to encamp here," the Indian added, "for Ottawa
Indians hunt in these woods, and they will scalp an Englishman wherever
they find him. But if you will go to my cabin you are safe."

"And where is your cabin?" inquired Gist.

"So near that we could hear a gun if fired there now," the Indian

Although strongly suspicious of his designs, both followed him for a
distance, steering in a more northerly direction. Gist grew uneasy, and
stopping, said, "I will go no farther."

"A whoop could be heard at my cabin now," the Indian insisted. "We shall
soon be there."

They traveled two miles farther, when Washington remarked:

"I shall stop at the next place we find water, and you must stop, too,"
addressing the Indian. This was said in a decisive manner. In a few
moments they emerged from the woods into a long meadow. The Indian was
three or four rods in advance of them. Suddenly stopping and turning
about, the treacherous savage aimed his gun at Gist, and fired.

"Are you shot?" cried Washington, rushing forward to his companion.
"Are you shot?"

"No; but it is what I feared from the time we employed the rascal to
guide us," answered Gist. The shot missed.

The Indian ran behind a large white oak, Washington and Gist following
after him. Approaching the tree, they discovered that he was reloading
his gun.

"You rascal!" exclaimed Gist, raising his musket to give the Indian its

"No; that won't do," said Washington to Gist, pushing aside his gun. "We
are worse off when you have killed him than we are now." He thought the
tribe would avenge his death by killing them.

"The villain deserves a bullet through his heart," shouted Gist, "and I
can put one through with good relish."

"Very true," answered Washington with the most astonishing coolness,
"but it is not good policy for us to take his life now."

Washington took away the Indian's gun and compelled him to walk ahead.
At the first run of water he ordered him to build a camp fire, as if he
designed to encamp there for the night. When this was done Gist said to

"I suppose you were lost, and fired your gun."

"No, I was not lost," answered the savage, "I know where my cabin is,
and it is not far away."

"Well, then," continued Gist, "do you go home, and here is a cake of
bread for you, and you must provide meat for us in the morning."

The Indian was glad enough to get away without being pierced by a
bullet, and he promised them excellent fare the next morning. It was
nine o'clock at night when he left them, taking with him his gun, that
Washington returned to him. Gist followed him for quite a distance, to
be sure that he was not deceiving them, and then hurried back.

"Now, since you would not let me shoot the villain," he said to
Washington, "we must shoulder our packs and hurry away, and walk all
night, or we shall never see Williamsburg."

"You are right, Gist, and we will be off at once; and the fellow may
keep his meat till we come this way again," replied Washington, with as
much composure as if their lives had not been in jeopardy. By the light
of the camp fire their compass showed them which way to go.

The excitement of this perilous episode seemed to rest Washington's
weary limbs, so that they traveled rapidly through the whole night,
finding themselves at the head of Piney Creek in the morning.
Washington's journal has the following entry for that day:

"The next day we continued traveling until quite dark, and got to the
river, two miles above Shannopin's. We expected to have found the river
frozen, but it was not, only about fifty yards from each shore. The ice,
I suppose, had broken up above, for it was driving in vast quantities."

"What next?" said Gist, with an air which indicated that he recalled his
warning words to Washington about the perils of such a journey. "If the
Indian's bullet had taken effect we should have been saved some trouble

"A formidable difficulty, to be sure," answered Washington; "but a good
share of wit and perseverance may overcome it. No way of getting over
this stream, I think, except on a raft."

"A raft!" exclaimed Gist. "A raft would be swamped in a giffy by that
ice. Besides, what have we to build a raft with? A hatchet alone will
not do it."

"A hatchet is much better than nothing," responded Washington. "We will
try what a hatchet can do towards it. If we fail, we will fail in

"Try it is, then," said Gist, rather admiring Washington's hopefulness
and pluck than otherwise. "I am at your service, and if anybody can
cross the river, I think a man of your grit can."

So they set to work to construct a raft, with no implement but a
solitary hatchet, consuming a whole day in the work. When the awkward
affair was fairly launched, they went on board of it, and pushed off for
the opposite shore. About mid-way of the river, the floating ice came
down with such violence as to threaten the destruction of the raft.

"We can never reach the shore on this craft," said Gist, in a tone
indicating entire resignation to a watery grave.

"Can't we stop the raft and let the ice go by?" answered Washington, at
the same time putting down the setting pole to accomplish this purpose.
But the rapidity of the torrent dashed the raft with such violence
against the pole that it threw Washington into ten feet of water.

"Hold on!" shouted Gist under the greatest alarm; "grasp this oar." And
he reached out his oar to Washington, who had already caught hold of one
of the raft-logs. A severe but short struggle, and he was on the raft

"A cold bath," remarked Washington, as he stood upon the raft again,
shaking the water from his drenched clothes.

"It is a miracle that you were not drowned," replied Gist; "and you
would have been if you were as nervous as some people."

"I am cool enough now," said Washington, his wet clothes already
beginning to stiffen on his back in the wintry blast. "I shall not
despair so long as I remember that one faithful saint is praying for
me," referring to the promise of his mother.

They made a desperate effort to keep their craft right side up in the
floating ice, but failed in the attempt.

"No use!" exclaimed Gist. "We must quit the concern and make for that

"Yes; and that immediately, if we would save ourselves," responded
Washington, as he leaped into the water, followed by Gist. The island
was but a few rods distant, and they reached it just at night, with the
gloomy prospect of remaining shelterless upon it until the next morning.

"Not much better off here than we were in the water," suggested Gist.
"My fingers are frozen, and some of my toes; and what is to prevent the
freezing of the remainder of my body?"

"If we perish, we will perish trying to keep alive," remarked
Washington. "We have plenty of room to exercise ourselves here, and keep
up a circulation, with no fear of being shot at by savages. It will not
do to sleep in this predicament."

"It will be our last sleep if we do," answered Gist. "The cold is
rapidly increasing, and I hardly see how any amount of exercise can save

"Be a little more hopeful, Gist. I have faith to believe that we shall
be saved yet," said Washington. "This increasing cold is providential,
I think. It will freeze the river before morning, and thus provide a way
for us to escape from this island."

"Well, that is a hopeful view, I confess," replied Gist; "but how the
biting cold can freeze the river without freezing us is incomprehensible
to me."

They made a remarkable night of it, and saved their lives by muscular
exertion. They dashed about in the cold, gathering hope and courage from
hour to hour as the water of the stream congealed harder and harder. In
the morning they crossed the river on the ice, truly thankful to a kind
Providence, which had delivered them from what, to human view, was
inevitable death.

Once upon the other side of the river, they made their way as speedily
as possible to the house of Mr. Frazier, a few miles distant, where they
regaled themselves with fire and food to their hearts' content,
recounting their adventures, and causing all to wonder that they were
still among the living.

Here Washington met twenty warriors, who were going to the southward to
war, but had returned from Great Kenhawa, because there they found a
family of seven people killed and scalped.

"Why did you return?" inquired Washington of a chief.

"For fear the inhabitants might take us to be the murderers," the chief

"Did the condition of the bodies show that the massacre was recent?"
Washington inquired further.

"Not very recent; the bodies were scattered about, and several of them
were much eaten by hogs," was the chief's answer.

"Have you any suspicions as to who the murderers were?" urged

"Certain marks which they left behind showed that the butchery was done
by Indians of the Ottawa nation," was the information given in answer to
his question.

Mr. Frazier informed Washington that an Indian queen, living three miles
distant, had taken offense because he did not call upon her on his way
to the fort. As he was obliged to wait two days for horses, he paid her
a visit and made her a present of a watch-coat.

Washington's final entry in his journal is:

"Tuesday, the 1st of January, 1774, we left Mr. Frazier's house, and
arrived at Mr. Gist's, at Monongahela, the 2d, where I bought a horse
and saddle. The 6th, we met seventeen horses loaded with materials and
stores for a fort at the fork of the Ohio, and the day after, some
families going out to settle. This day we arrived at Will's Creek,
after as fatiguing a journey as it is possible to conceive, rendered so
by excessive bad weather. From the first day of December to the
fifteenth, there was but one day on which it did not rain or snow
incessantly; and throughout the whole journey we met with nothing but
one continued series of cold, wet weather, which occasioned very
uncomfortable lodgings, especially after we had quitted our tent, which
was some screen from the inclemency of it."

Washington arrived at Williamsburg on the sixteenth day of January, and
immediately reported to Governor Dinwiddie, delivering the reply of the
French commander; the belts of wampum from the Indian tribes, as pledges
of friendship; together with his journal, as his report of the

Weems says, "The governor was much pleased with the Indian belts, more
with the Frenchman's letter, but most of all with Washington's journal."

"I shall have your journal published immediately," said the governor to

"I beg your honor not to give it to the public in print," replied
Washington; "it is a very defective document, written, as it was, in the
wilderness, under the most unfavorable circumstances. It was intended
for no eyes but yours."

"My dear man," said the hearty Scotchman, "you are altogether too modest
in this matter. I am sure that the document is worthy of the greatest

"But you will grant me the privilege of amending it," pleaded
Washington, almost frightened at the idea of his journal appearing in

"Indeed, major, there is no time for that now," answered the governor.
"The Assembly will rise to-morrow or next day, and I want each member to
have several copies to carry home with him. You need not give yourself
any uneasiness, man, for your journal is worthy of a perusal by the King
of Great Britain, and I intend to present him with a copy."

The journal went to press at once, and was in the hands of members of
the Assembly before the adjournment. It was received with the greatest
enthusiasm and praise everywhere, and was published in all the papers of
the Colony. Copies were sent to England, and there it appeared in the
journals of the day.



Washington's report concerning the designs of the French created intense
excitement in Virginia and the neighboring Colonies. Governor Dinwiddie
could see no other way to maintain the dignity of his government than by
a resort to arms. He so reported to his Majesty the King of England. The
excitement there became even greater than it was in America. Everybody
wanted to fight to vindicate the nation's honor. The popular
conversation was a declaration of war against the French.

The British Government was not long in framing instructions to the
American Colonies, and orders were issued that they should unite in one
confederacy and drive the French out of the land. The king directed
Governor Dinwiddie to raise a force in Virginia, and the order was
received with great enthusiasm. Washington was appointed to push
recruiting, with headquarters at Alexandria. New York and South Carolina
pledged two independent companies.

Washington anticipated a rush of volunteers when the governor sent out
his call for troops, but the small pay offered did not induce the
stalwart yeomanry, and other reliable classes, to relinquish their
honorable occupations at home for the hunger and hardships of war. The
result was, that a very unreliable class offered to enlist. One writer

"There gathered about him a rabble of ragamuffins and worthless fellows,
who had spent their lives in tramping up and down the country, without
settled homes or occupations. Some were without hats and shoes; some had
coats and no shirts, some had shirts and no coats; and all were without
arms, or any keen desire to use them if they had them. All this
disgusted and disheartened our youthful colonel not a little, for he was
young, and had yet to learn that it is of just such stuff that the
beginnings of armies are always made."

Washington wrote to Governor Dinwiddie in a very desponding tone,
complaining of the want of patriotism in the Colony. Immediately the
governor came to his relief by issuing a proclamation, in which he said:

"Two hundred thousand acres of the very best land on the head-water of
the Ohio will be appropriated, and divided among those who enlist and
serve during the war."

The effect of this order was good, and soon one company was raised and
sent forward, under Captain Trent, to occupy the junction of the
Monongahela and Alleghany Rivers, and there erect a fort, before the
French could possess it. This was the spot which Washington recommended
to Governor Dinwiddie as an admirable location for a fort.

When the work of recruiting was completed, the governor offered the
command of the whole force to Washington, although Colonel Fry was
entitled to it by right of seniority. Such was Washington's popularity,
that Governor Dinwiddie knew the people would hail the appointment with
unfeigned satisfaction. But Washington, with his usual modest estimate
of himself, said to a friend:

"I cannot take the responsibility; I am not equal to it."

"That is not for you to say," urged his friend. "The people believe that
you are just the man for the place, and will not be satisfied unless you
take command."

"The command belongs to Colonel Fry, whose competency no one disputes,
and whose age is certainly a qualification in his favor," answered

"All that may be true; it probably is true; nevertheless, the governor
understands what the popular demand is, and has acted accordingly," his
friend retorted. "My advice is, accept the position, and bury your

"It is not modesty," protested Washington. "I have too much love for my
country to do anything to prejudice her interests."

On declining to assume the chief command, Washington wrote to Colonel
Corbin, who desired that he should accept, as follows:

"The command of the whole forces is what I neither look for, expect, or
desire, for I must be impartial enough to confess it is a charge too
great for my youth and inexperience to be intrusted with. Knowing this,
I have too sincere a love for my country to undertake that which may
tend to the prejudice of it. But, if I could entertain hopes that you
thought me worthy of the post of lieutenant-colonel, and would favor me
so far as to mention it at the appointment of officers, I could not but
entertain a true sense of the kindness. I flatter myself that, under a
skilful commander or man of sense (which I most sincerely wish to serve
under), with my own application and diligent study of my duty, I shall
be able to conduct my steps without censure, and, in time, render myself
worthy of the promotion that I shall be favored with now."

Colonel Joshua Fry was appointed to the chief command, and Washington
was made lieutenant-colonel.

While Washington was attending to his duties at Alexandria, an incident
occurred which illustrates the strength of his moral character. There
was an election for members of the House of Burgesses, and the two
opposing candidates in that district were Colonel George Fairfax and a
Mr. Elzey.

"I am well acquainted with Colonel Fairfax," remarked Washington to the
bystanders, "and I know him to be abundantly qualified for the position.
He is able, and a true patriot."

"As much can be said of Mr. Elzey, and perhaps more," replied a man by
the name of Payne, a great friend and admirer of the latter gentleman.
"His experience qualifies him for the office beyond most men in the

Here Washington remarked, somewhat sarcastically, that character, after
all, in such times, was the highest qualification, a remark that was
readily construed into an insinuation that Payne's candidate did not
possess it, whereupon Payne struck him so violently with a stick as to
knock him down.

A scene followed. Washington's friends sprang forward to his rescue, but
he was on his feet before their help reached him. They turned upon his

"What do you mean, you dastard?" exclaimed one.

"Take him into custody"! shouted another.

"Knock him down!" bawled a third.

"No, gentlemen," interrupted Washington, just in season to prevent a
collision, "do not touch the man. Perhaps he was not altogether to
blame. My remark was hasty. Let us have no more trouble."

The officers and others present were nearly as much surprised by
Washington's intercession for his assailant as they were by the latter's
heartless blow, and they stood speechless. The young commander remained
until the excitement ceased, when he repaired to his lodgings at the
hotel, where he immediately wrote a note to Mr. Payne, asking him to
call in the morning.

Anticipating a challenge to a duel, Payne armed himself with a pistol in
the morning before making the call. To his surprise, Washington met him
at the door with an apology.

"I ask your pardon for an offence given in an unguarded moment," he
said, grasping his hand.

Payne was thoroughly embarrassed by this reception, and he was so filled
with admiration by the magnanimity of the act, that he became one of
Washington's warmest friends. Their mutual friendship lasted as long as
they lived.

Mr. McGuire very properly says of this deed:

"How noble and becoming was this conduct! It was especially admirable in
a youthful soldier, whose very profession exposed him to peculiar
temptations on such an occasion. How many would have been driven, by the
fear of reproach and dread of unfavorable insinuations, to incur the
hazards of a duel, thus offering up at the shrine of honor the costly
sacrifice of human life. It was not possible that a man like Washington,
so endowed with moral courage and regard for virtue, should be moved by
the fear of man to such a course. He dreaded not the charge of cowardice
from the mouths of fools. In his own bosom he had its ample refutation.
He was conscious of a fortitude which no dangers could shake. To
display it in murdering a fellow-citizen was not his ambition. He had
before him the tented field and the enemies of his country, and he was
pledged for the hazards of a mortal conflict in her defence. Here he was
willing to show his courage and lay down his life. He would not do so to
gratify revenge, or win applause from the vain."

When Washington had recruited two more companies of fifty men each, he
applied to Governor Dinwiddie for permission to advance for the better
protection of the frontier. Having procured the order from the governor,
he marched out of camp, equipped not only with arms, but also with
implements of labor for constructing a road over which supplies and
cannon might be readily transported. This was a great undertaking, since
there were giant trees to be felled, hills to be levelled, marshes to be
filled, rocks to be blasted, and bridges to be built. So great a work
was this, that the little army was fourteen days going thirteen miles.
They reached Will's Creek on the 24th of April, 1754, where Washington
unexpectedly met Captain Trent.

"What are you doing here, captain," said Washington, somewhat surprised
at seeing him.

"Recruiting my command," answered Trent. "I need more men to construct
the fort."

"That is certain, and we need more men everywhere," responded
Washington. "It is fearfully hard work to prosecute such a campaign with
so few men. But how are you succeeding?"

"As well as could be expected under the circumstances. I am thankful for
the smallest number of recruits, for forty men to construct and garrison
a fort at the forks of the Ohio is altogether too small a force."

While discussing this matter, Ensign Ward entered the camp, and
surprised both Washington and Trent by saying:

"The garrison at the fort have surrendered to the French."

Captain Trent left Ensign Ward in command of his force at the forks,
while he was recruiting at Will's Creek.

"How can that be?" exclaimed Trent, surprised beyond measure.

"On the 17th," the ensign explained, "we were surprised by the
appearance of the French fleet in the river, under the command of
Captain Contrecoeur, consisting of three hundred canoes and sixty
batteaux, carrying a thousand men and eighteen cannon."

"To take possession of the forks and erect a fort for their own
defence," interjected Washington, who had called the attention of
Governor Dinwiddie to the probability of such an event.

"Yes, that was what they came for," replied Ward; "and they were glad to
see one so far under way, no doubt, as it would lighten their labors."

"Did they make an attack?" inquired Washington.

"Captain Contrecoeur planted his cannon to sweep the fort, drew up his
men in readiness for an attack, and then sent a demand to the English to
surrender in one hour, or he would open fire."

"Under the circumstances you could not object with much resolution,"
remarked Washington.

"I didn't, but surrendered without parleying," replied Ward; "and we
were allowed to march out bearing our arms and all our tools."

"This is a declaration of war," remarked Washington, "and we must govern
ourselves accordingly."

He called his officers together for consultation, and said to them:

"The French have now invaded the frontier of the Colony, and as I
construe my instructions from the government, it is my duty to march
forward to meet the invaders."

"Without reinforcements from Colonel Fry?" anxiously inquired one of his

"No. We can march to the mouth of Red Stone Creek, which is thirty-seven
miles above the fort captured by the French, there throw up defences,
and await the arrival of reinforcements."

A messenger was posted away to Colonel Fry, while the army took up the
line of march to Red Stone Creek, where it hastily intrenched and
awaited reinforcements.

About the 1st of May, Captain Stevens arrived with his company of fifty
men. Colonel Fry remained at his post to complete arrangements and bring
up supplies; but he suddenly died, so that Washington was forced to act
as commander-in-chief.

With his little army increased to one hundred and fifty men, Washington
proceeded to Great Meadows, making a road suitable for transporting
supplies as he advanced, and reaching his destination on the 27th of
May. They had but just encamped when Mr. Gist arrived.

"I have seen the trail of a party within five miles of you, which I am
sure were French," he said to Washington, under evident excitement.

"I am not surprised at that announcement," replied Washington. "War is
inevitable, and we must accept the issue. We must look after these

"Or they will look after _us_," retorted Gist. "The French mean
business; there can be no doubt of that. Unless we mean business it
is all up with us."

"I will pursue them at once," continued Washington; and he took forty
men, leaving the remainder of his force to work on the intrenchments.
Half-king, with a few Indians, joined him, and when it was supposed they
were in the vicinity of the French party, two Indian scouts were sent
forward, who discovered their camp two miles distant. It was in the dawn
of the morning, and they had traveled all night through the driving
storm and darkness, and, of course, were poorly prepared for battle. But
Washington determined upon an attack immediately. Arranging his own men
on the right and the Indians on the left, he advanced rapidly upon the
enemy. The latter were taken unawares, but they sprang to their arms and
opened fire on catching sight of the English. A brief, sharp, bloody
encounter ensued, when the French surrendered, having lost ten men
killed and one wounded. Twenty-one were taken prisoners. Washington's
loss was one man killed and two or three wounded.

Among the slain Frenchmen was their popular commander, Captain
Jumonville. The twenty-one prisoners were sent, under a strong guard, to
Governor Dinwiddie, with a plea from Washington that they should be
treated with humanity. He withstood Tanacharisson and his redskins, who
wanted to slay every one of the prisoners, and rebuked their revengeful

"The French army at the forks will avenge the death of Jumonville," said
Washington to Gist, "and the whole force will march against us."

"They will if they are like the rest of mankind," responded Gist, "and
that, too, without waiting for ceremony."

"We will be prepared for them," added Washington. "It will never do for
an army to be caught napping, especially a little one like mine."

"But you will fight against great odds," suggested Gist; "the French
have every advantage in men and means."

"True, very true, but we must make our fortifications strong at the
Meadows, and do the best we can."

This little conquering squad of English rejoined the army at the
Meadows, and proceeded at once to make their fort impregnable. Here
Washington soon received additional reinforcements, swelling his army to
four hundred soldiers. Among them was a company of one hundred men from
North Carolina, under Captain Mackey. The latter officer made some
trouble for Washington by claiming superiority of rank, because his
commission was from the King of England, while Washington's was from a
provincial governor only. However, this difficulty was soon adjusted
through Washington's tact and magnanimity.

The army was short of provisions at this time, supplies not having been
sent forward as Washington expected. His men were very much tried, and
many of them were exasperated. Adding hunger and needless suffering to
their pittance of pay was quite enough to demoralize the rank and file.
Washington could not blame them much, in the circumstances, although the
discontent added to his trials. He wrote to Governor Dinwiddie in his
troubles, as follows:

"Giving up my commission is quite contrary to my intentions. Nay, I ask
it as a greater favor than any amongst the many I have received from
your honor, to confirm it to me. But let me serve voluntarily; then I
will, with the greatest pleasure in life, devote my services to the
expedition, without any other reward than the satisfaction of serving my
country; but to be slaving dangerously for the shadow of pay, through
woods, rocks, and mountains, I would rather prefer the great toil of a
day laborer, and dig for a maintenance, provided I were reduced to the
necessity, than serve upon such ignoble terms.... I hope what I have
said will not be taken amiss, for I really believe, were it as much in
your power as it is in your inclination, we should be treated as
gentlemen and officers, and not have annexed to the most trifling pay
that ever was given to English officers the glorious allowance of
soldier's diet, a pound of pork, with bread in proportion, per day. Be
the consequence what it will, I am determined not to leave the regiment,
but to be among the last men to quit the Ohio."

Washington preferred to serve his country without pay rather than have
the reputation of being paid when receiving but a pittance, and half
starved into the bargain. His appeal was a sincere and earnest one for
his soldiers.

As on former occasions, Washington was his own chaplain. Twice a day his
little army were called to prayers in the fort, which he himself
conducted. On the Sabbath only works of necessity were performed, and he
conducted religious services. Sometimes his brief remarks, called forth
by the condition of his army, deeply impressed his listeners, who knew
that they were honest words from a true heart.

He was exceedingly annoyed by the profanity and wickedness of his men,
and at one time he issued the following order:

"Colonel Washington has observed that the men of his regiment are very
profane and reprobate. He takes this opportunity to inform them of his
great displeasure at such practices, and assures them that, if they do
not leave them off, they shall be severely punished. The officers are
desired, if they hear any men swear or make use of an oath or
execration, to order the offender twenty-five lashes immediately,
without a court-martial. For a second offence he shall be more severely

As the French army did not make its appearance after waiting many days
for it, Washington resolved to march upon Fort Duquesne, as the French
had named their stronghold at the forks in honor of the governor of

Leaving Captain Mackey with his company to garrison the fort, Washington
advanced towards the forks. But he had marched only thirteen miles when
he met several friendly Indians, one of whom said:

"The French are on the march against you."

"How far away?" inquired Washington.

"A few miles only."

"In large force?"

"Eight hundred Frenchmen and four hundred Indians."

"I can hardly credit that they are coming with so large a force,"
replied Washington. "That is a formidable army for my small army to

The Indians convinced him that it was even so, whereupon he called a
council of war, when it was unanimously decided to retreat to their base
of supplies. After two days of wearisome marching, on the retreat, they
reached the fort at the Great Meadows. Here many of the men and horses
were so exhausted and weak for the want of food that Washington decided
to make a stand there. He was forced to stop there, and so he named the
stockade "Fort Necessity."

The able-bodied soldiers were set to work digging a trench around the
fortifications, and felling large trees to obstruct the march of the
enemy upon their works. But their labors were far from being completed
when, on the morning of July 3, a wounded sentinel came rushing into
camp and shouting, "The enemy is upon us! The French army is here!"

The drum beat the soldiers into line quickly, outside of their
fortifications, though subsequently they were withdrawn into the fort.
About eleven o'clock the enemy opened a heavy fire upon the fort, which
was returned with spirit.

"Waste no powder; fire at discretion; and where-ever you discover a
head, pick it off," were Washington's instructions to his men.

The battle raged all day until eight o'clock in the evening, when the
French commander, Monsieur De Villiers, sent a flag of truce. Supposing
it was a scheme to get a spy within the fort to discover its strength,
Washington declined to receive it. But De Villiers, evidently thinking
the English force was much larger than it actually was, persisted in his
application for a parley. He asked that an English officer be sent to
him, promising him absolute safety.

Washington sent Van Braam, who returned in a short time with articles of
capitulation for him to sign, and he was accompanied by De Villiers

Washington declined to sign them until they were amended to suit his
wishes. About midnight the articles were signed, and the fort

On the morning of July 4, 1754, the little army marched out of the fort,
with banners flying and the band playing, carrying their arms with them,
so that there was no degradation in the surrender. As the French had
killed all of Washington's horses and cattle, he could not take away his
cannon and heavy baggage; so it was stipulated that these should be
protected until he could send for them.

In this his first battle, Washington lost fifty-eight men, while the
French lost two hundred in killed and wounded.

Washington marched his little army back to Williamsburg, where he was
received with distinguished honors. The governor tendered him hearty
thanks in behalf of the government; and the House of Burgesses, which
soon assembled, unanimously adopted a vote of thanks "for their bravery,
and the gallant manner in which they had conducted themselves in the
defence of the country." A resolution was passed, also, granting an
appropriation of four hundred pistoles to be distributed among the
soldiers who had aided in the expedition. In addition, the assembly made
an appropriation of ten thousand dollars, in October following, for the
public service; and soon afterwards the English government forwarded
fifty thousand dollars for the same purpose.

The defeat of Washington did not appear to modify the public confidence
in him. The people knew full well the great odds against which he
contended, and judged him accordingly. That he should defend Fort
Necessity so long and so successfully, when fatigue and hunger were
creating discontent, was proof to them of skill and courage; and that he
should secure terms of capitulation so honorable, appeared to them a
reason of praise rather than censure.

French historians have censured Washington for the death of Jumonville,
denominating the attack upon his small party "assassination." They claim
that he was sent upon an embassy, of which there is not a shadow of
proof. On the other hand, there is positive evidence that Jumonville was
conducting a reconnoitering party, to ascertain the position and
strength of the English.

Washington's report to Governor Dinwiddie, and the latter's letter to
Lord Albemarle, establish the facts in the case beyond contradiction.
For this reason we introduce them here:

"I set out with forty men before ten, and it was from that time till
near sunrise before we reached the Indians' camp, having marched in
small paths, through a heavy rain, and a night as dark as it is possible
to conceive. We were frequently tumbling over one another, and often so
lost that fifteen or twenty minutes' search would not find the path

"When we came to the half-king, I counselled with him, and got his
assent to go hand in hand and strike the French. Accordingly he,
Monacawacha, and a few other Indians, set out with us; and when we came
to the place where the troops were, the half-king sent two Indians to
follow the tracks and discover their lodgment, which they did, at a very
obscure place, surrounded with rocks. I, thereupon, in conjunction with
the half-king and Monacawacha, formed a disposition to attack them on
all sides, which we accordingly did; and, after an engagement of fifteen
minutes, we killed ten, wounded one, and took twenty-one prisoners.
Amongst those killed was Monsieur Jumonville, the commander. The
principal officers taken are Monsieur Drouillon, and Monsieur La Force,
of whom your Honor has often heard me speak as a bold, enterprising man,
and a person of great subtlety and cunning. These officers pretend that
they were coming on an embassy; but the absurdity of this pretext is too
glaring, as you will see by the instructions and summons enclosed. Their
instructions were to reconnoiter the country, roads, creeks, and the
like, as far as the Potomac, which they were about to do. These
enterprising men were purposely chosen out to procure intelligence,
which they were to send back by some brisk despatches, _with the mention
of the day that they were to serve the summons_, which could be with no
other view than to get reinforcements to fall upon us immediately

Governor Dinwiddie wrote to Lord Albemarle as follows:

"The prisoners said they were come as an embassy from the fort: but your
lordship knows that ambassadors do not come with such an armed force
without a trumpet or any other sign of friendship; nor can it be thought
that they were on an embassy, by their staying so long reconnoitering
our small camp, but more probably that they expected a reinforcement to
cut us off."



With the quite liberal provisions now made for the public service,
Governor Dinwiddie resolved to increase the army to ten companies of one
hundred men each, and capture Fort Duquesne at once. He sent for
Washington, now twenty-two years of age, and laid his plan before him.

"It will prove disastrous," was Washington's prompt answer, to the
surprise of the governor.

"You surprise me!" rejoined the governor. "With a thousand men I thought
the fort could easily be captured."

"But you do not take into account the time required to drill the army
and march to the fort," answered Washington. "Winter will be upon us
before we are ready to besiege the fort."

"I hardly see the need of consuming as much time as you indicate in
preparation," suggested the governor.

"You would understand it if you had had the experience with a
half-drilled army through one campaign, as I have had," replied

"But your force was a very small one," suggested Governor Dinwiddie.
"With two or three times as many men you will be able to reduce the fort
without the drill."

"My experience rather teaches me that the larger the army the more
necessary the drill, in order to handle it efficiently," Washington

"Then you are opposed to such a campaign now, under any circumstances,
if I understand you," continued the governor.

"My judgment decides against the practicability of such an expedition;
nevertheless, I am at your service. My duty is to obey." This was
Washington's sincere reply.

Governor Dinwiddie was a conceited man, jealous of his own authority,
and he did not like to be opposed by such a stripling as Colonel
Washington, much less was he willing to abandon a project of his own by
the advice of an inferior officer. For this reason he adhered to his
original plan, and instructed Washington to fill up his regiment to a
thousand as soon as possible. With what feelings Washington undertook
this task may be learned from his letter to William Fairfax, Esq.,
president of Governor Dinwiddie's council:

"I have orders to complete my regiment, and not a sixpence is sent for
that purpose. Can it be imagined that subjects fit for this service, who
have been so much impressed with and alarmed at the want of provisions,
which was a main objection to enlisting before, will more readily engage
now, without money, than they did before with it?... To show you the
state of the regiment, I have sent you a report, by which you will
perceive what great deficiencies there are of men, arms, tents, kettles,
screws (which was a fatal want before), bayonets, cartouch-boxes, and
everything else. Again, were our men ever so willing to go, for want of
the proper necessaries of life they are now unable to do it. The chief
part are almost naked, and scarcely a man has either _shoes, stockings,
or a hat_. These things the merchants will not credit them for. The
country has made no provision. They have no money themselves, and it
cannot be expected that the officers will engage for them again,
personally having suffered greatly on this head already.... There is not
a man that has a blanket to secure him from cold or wet."

That the conceited provincial governor was bent upon having his own way
is evident from the fact that he wrote privately to England, and secured
the passage of an act that made provincial officers of the army inferior
to the English officers in rank. Under this act, Washington's rank would
be that of captain instead of colonel.

"Of course I shall not serve longer in the army under such an
arrangement," said Washington to Mr. Fairfax. "Not that I covet higher
rank, but self-respect requires me to throw up my commission."

"For one, I can never blame you," replied Fairfax. "The animus of the
thing is suited to discourage every soldier in the colony. If England
expects the Colonies to fight her battles under such an arrangement, she
will be greatly disappointed."

"So I think," answered Washington; "and if I do not mistake the temper
of the colonists, they will never submit to such injustice; never. It is
but the most reasonable thing that provincial troops should be placed
upon the same footing as the king's. They should be as liberally
provided for, and enjoy the opportunities of promotion equally with the

"Unless they do, England cannot long claim colonies in North America,"
added Fairfax.

As indicated by the foregoing, Washington returned his commission, and
other officers did the same. The measure which Governor Dinwiddie
adopted to bring Washington to terms, and put the army more directly
under his own control, suddenly upset his authority. Instead of marching
upon Fort Duquesne at once, a speedy abandonment of the enterprise was
forced upon him. He could snub Washington, but he could not compel him
to recruit and lead the army. Washington retired to private life at
Mount Vernon.

Governor Dinwiddie was never in such trouble before. Fort Duquesne
haunted him in his sleep. The stripling of a colonel had outwitted his
Excellency. What could he do?

The British Government advised a confederacy of the Colonies, believing
that "in union there is strength." Accordingly, a delegate convention
was called at Albany, "to form a league with the Six Nations of Indians,
and to concert among themselves a plan of united operations for defence
against the common enemy." The New England States, New York,
Pennsylvania, and Maryland accepted the proposition, and sent delegates
to the convention. A league was formed with the Six Nations, but the
convention could not agree upon a plan of common defence acceptable both
to the colonies and the British Government. Benjamin Franklin was a
member of the convention from Pennsylvania, holding the position of
postmaster-general under the king at the time and he presented a plan
that was accepted by all the delegates except those from Connecticut.
For the want of complete union, the project was abandoned, and the
British ministry took the conduct of the war into their own hands. They
promptly adopted measures to force the French Government to retire from
their advanced position in America.

In January, 1755, General Braddock was sent from Ireland, with two
regiments of infantry, well equipped and well drilled. Their arrival
aroused the depressed Colonists to enthusiasm. They forgot the troubles
that had divided them, and united to expel the French from the country.

General Braddock reported to Governor Dinwiddie at Williamsburg, and
laid before him his plans of operation. As the fame of the youthful
Washington had reached him in the old country, his thoughts were very
naturally directed to him in this interview.

"Where is Colonel Washington," he inquired. "I long to see him."

"He is retired from the service, sir," replied the governor.

"Retired?" exclaimed General Braddock. "Colonel Washington retired?
Pray, sir, what is the reason?"

"He was displeased with the king's order reducing the rank of provincial
officers," answered the governor. And he proceeded to explain the matter
in full, without exposing his own agency in the matter. General Braddock
heard him through, when he retorted with indignation:

"Colonel Washington is right. It is a shame for the government to issue
such an order, and as unjust as it is shameful."

"But your disciplined troops are far more valuable than an undisciplined
force like ours," suggested the governor.

"Granted," answered General Braddock; "and so much more credit to
Colonel Washington, who handled undisciplined troops so well. He must be
a brave and efficient officer."

"He is," responded Governor Dinwiddie; "no one disputes that."

"Then he ought to have the chance for promotion that the king's officers
do," interrupted the general. "I don't like such partiality. Colonel
Washington must be brought back into service."

"I should be glad to see him in active service again, and nothing would
please our people more," rejoined the governor. "He is an idol with the
Colonists, he has proved himself so loyal, brave, and efficient."

"Well, where is he? I must see him," continued General Braddock.

He was told that he was on his farm at Mount Vernon.

"Then he must leave his farm for the service of his country, as
Cincinnatus did," interjected Braddock.

General Braddock addressed a letter to him, soliciting an interview, and
appealing to him strongly to give his able services to the "common
cause." He urged him to join his army, and offered him an honorable
position upon his staff.

Washington was too much of a patriot to allow his personal grievance to
interfere with the defence of his country in these circumstances, and he
waited upon General Braddock at Alexandria, and accepted the position.
However, he wrote to a friend that it was not altogether patriotism that
determined his decision.

"I must be ingenuous enough to confess," he wrote, "that I am not a
little biassed by selfish considerations. To explain: I wish earnestly
to attain some knowledge in the military profession, and, believing a
more favorable opportunity cannot offer than to serve under an officer
of General Braddock's abilities and experience, it does, you may
reasonably suppose, contribute not a little to influence my choice."

As soon as possible after the arrival of General Braddock, Governor
Dinwiddie called a conference of the governors of five Colonies to
discuss war measures. The result of the conference was the plan of
undertaking three expeditions. "The first of these was to be conducted
by Braddock, with the British troops, against Fort Duquesne; the second,
under the command of Governor Shirley of Maryland, now honored with the
commission of general from the king, was intended for the reduction of
the French fort of Niagara, and was composed of American regulars and
Indians; the third was an expedition against Crown Point, to be
undertaken by a regiment of militia."

As soon as Washington's mother learned that her son had decided to join
Braddock's army, she hastened to Mount Vernon in great distress.

"I hoped you had quit war forever, George," she said, "and would be
content to look after your farm and mother, without exposing yourself to
death any more."

"A man must be loyal to his country, mother," replied Washington. "He is
not much of a man if he is not willing to risk his life for his

"I will not dispute you, George, on that point," continued his mother;
"but somehow I had got it into my mind that you were through with war,
and I was glad of it. I suppose that a mother's love had more to do with
it than patriotism."

"But you believe in patriotism?" added Washington.

"Of course I do."

"But do not want your son to be patriotic," he quickly added, knowing
exactly what course to pursue in order to secure his mother's approval.

"Not so, George," Mrs. Washington answered. "I honor patriotism, and if
it is _necessary_ for you to join the army again, I am willing. As I
said, a mother's love got the better of me for the moment."

"It does seem necessary for me to go, mother, in the circumstances,"
added Washington. "As I am situated the refusal might be easily
construed into a lack of patriotism. This is a critical time for the
Colonies, when loyalty and patriotism alone can sustain their cause."

"You are right, my son, and I will heartily withdraw my objections,"
responded Mrs. Washington, touched by her son's devotion to his country.
"My prayers are all that I can give to my country, and these it shall
have. That God may protect you through all the dangers and hardships of
war, and return you in safety, will be my constant prayer. With His
blessing you can be a useful man in war, as in peace, and without it you
can expect nothing."

Thus, as before, Washington entered upon the campaign with his mother's
pious benediction. On the 9th of June he left Alexandria with Braddock's
army, recruited to nearly three thousand men. Virginia raised three
companies of her best marksmen, who joined the British troops. When the
march began, and Washington took in the grand military display, every
soldier well clad and equipped, instead of being ragged and poorly
armed, he said, "This is the grandest spectacle I ever beheld."

As another has said, "Not the shabby, discouraging, inglorious war of
men without hats and shoes, kettles and bayonets, but the military array
of a young officer's brightest dreams: a host in gallant uniforms, with
nodding plumes, the clang of inspiring music, and the dazzling splendor
of banners flaunting in the sun. Victory was a thing of course. The want
of proper equipment had occasioned defeat and mortification. The
presence of everything that a soldier's heart could wish or his fancy
devise was sure to bring triumph that would extinguish all memory of
former failure."

General Braddock was an experienced officer, but he knew nothing of
Indian warfare. Evidently he regarded the French as his chief
antagonists, and supposed that an easy victory could be won. His
conversation with Benjamin Franklin, who visited him, as
postmaster-general, to make arrangements for the transmission of the
mails to and from the army, reveals much of the general's character.

"Not a long campaign, I think," he remarked to Franklin.

"Nevertheless a hard one," answered Franklin. "In such a country as
this, campaigning is attended with serious difficulties."

"But difficulties lessen before experienced officers and soldiers,"
responded Braddock.

"Can you give me any idea of your intended progress?" inquired Franklin,
for the purpose of drawing him out, and learning what were his real
ideas of the country.

"After taking Fort Duquesne," Braddock replied, "I am to proceed to
Niagara; and, having taken that, to Frontenac, if the season will allow,
and I suppose it will, for Duquesne can hardly detain me above three or
four days; and then I can see nothing to obstruct my march to Niagara."

"I supposed that it would require a longer time than that to reduce Fort
Duquesne," said Washington. "The French have had ample time to
strengthen their fortification."

"That may be, but I do not apprehend much difficulty in accomplishing my
object there," was the general's confident reply.

"To be sure, sir," continued Franklin, "if you arrive well before
Duquesne with these fine troops, so well provided with artillery,
the fort, though completely fortified and assisted with a very strong
garrison, can probably make but a short resistance. The only danger I
apprehend of obstruction to your march is from the ambuscades of the
Indians, who, by constant practice, are dexterous in laying and
executing them; and your slender line of troops, nearly four miles long,
which your army must make, may expose it to be attacked by surprise on
its flanks, and to be cut like thread into several pieces, which, from
their distance, cannot come up in time to support one another."

General Braddock smiled at what he thought was Franklin's ignorance, and
answered in a self-assuring manner:

"These savages may, indeed, be a formidable enemy to raw American
militia; but upon the king's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is
impossible they should make an impression."

In describing this interview afterwards, Franklin said sarcastically:

"I was conscious of an impropriety in my disputing with a military man
in matters of his profession and said no more."

Washington was so ill after the army reached the great crossings of the
Youghiogeny, that Dr. Craik advised him to stop until he rallied. He had
been feverish for several days, and for that reason had ridden in a
covered wagon.

"Death is almost inevitable if you continue," said Dr. Craik. "Stop here
until the violence of your fever abates, and then you can come up with
Dunbar's rear division."

"I think you are unnecessarily alarmed, doctor," answered Washington.
"In a few days I shall be all right. It will be a great trial to me to
stop here and not advance with the army."

"It may prove a greater trial for you to advance," suggested Dr. Craik.
"Rest and quiet may restore you speedily now, but it may be too late
three days hence."

General Braddock also appealed to him.

"You are altogether too unwell to proceed, Colonel Washington," he said,
"and you must not attempt it."

"But I would not miss being with you at the attack upon Fort Duquesne
for five hundred pounds," replied Washington.

"And you will not if you stop here until you are better; but if you go
on, you may be dead and buried by that time, or too sick to participate
in the battle," was the general's wise answer.

"I will stop here if you will promise that I shall rejoin the army
before an engagement," added Washington.

"I pledge you my word of honor, in the most solemn manner, that it shall
be effected."

Washington remained, soon rallied, and rejoined the army when it was
encamped about two miles from the Monongahela River.

Washington had feared disaster, as Franklin did, from Braddock's
ignorance of Indian warfare.

"Let me reconnoitre in advance with the three companies of Virginia
marksmen," he proposed. "We understand the tactics of the savages, and
can fight them in their own way."

"Allow me to suggest, young man, that the savages will be of little
account before my regulars," was Braddock's haughty answer, evidently
thinking that his youthful aid-de-camp was too officious.

"The best disciplined troops are not competent to fight Indians in the
Indian way if they have had no experience with savages," persisted
Washington. "The order of battle and the usual rules and tactics of war
are of no account here."

"That may be your opinion and experience," replied the general, "but you
have not had the king's efficient troops here before. That makes all the
difference in the world."

"Nevertheless," added Washington, "defeat awaits us unless we are
prepared to meet Indians with their own tactics."

Before the army took up its line of march from Alexandria, Washington
advised General Braddock not to wait for any wagons to be provided.
Braddock had been disappointed in getting a supply of these; and when
Dr. Franklin visited him, he bargained with him to purchase in
Pennsylvania, and forward at once, a sufficient number of them, with
four horses to each wagon.

"Army wagons will be a burden to us instead of a help, much of the way,"
said Washington. "The road is narrow and rough, and pack-horses will
prove better than wagons."

But these suggestions were unheeded by the haughty British officer, who
insisted that his army should be provided for and move in the wilds of
America as in the cultivated countries of Europe. He had too much
official pride to allow himself to be instructed by a stripling in

General Braddock possessed a high temper, and he was excessively fond of
intoxicating drinks. With too much temper and too much drink to carry,
he often became an overbearing officer. Washington wrote as follows to
Mr. Fairfax at one time:

"The general, by frequent breaches of contract, has lost all patience,
and for want of that temperance and moderation which should be used by a
man of sense upon these occasions, will, I fear, represent us in a light
we little deserve; for, instead of blaming individuals, as he ought, he
charges all his disappointments to public supineness, and looks upon the
country, I believe, as void of honor and honesty. We have frequent
disputes on this head, which are maintained with warmth on both sides,
especially on his, who is incapable of arguing with or giving up any
point he asserts, let it be ever so incompatible with reason or common

It should be recorded in his favor that General Braddock was a strict
disciplinarian in the army. Each regiment was provided with a chaplain,
and every soldier was required to attend prayers each day, and on Sunday
be present at divine services. He refused to tolerate some practices
among his men which are common in armies. The most vicious class of
soldiers indulged in a wholesome fear of him.

After Braddock's army crossed the Monongahela, and were within ten miles
of Duquesne, and no sign nor sound of an enemy was seen or heard,
Washington grew anxious, and he said:

"General, this silence so near the fort in our country is rather ominous
than otherwise. A scouting party ought to go forward. We are liable to
find ourselves in an ambuscade of Indians at any moment."

"Indians have a poor show in the presence of this force," replied the
general. "The king's troops will show you how to handle savages."

"I will scour the woods in advance with the Virginia provincials if you
say the word, general," Washington continued, apprehending that they
were in the very jaws of danger. He knew very well that French and
Indian scouts must be near them watching their movements. But Braddock
declined his offer and they marched on in European style, "three hundred
men under Colonel Gage forming the advanced party, followed by a party
of two hundred; and last of all, the general, with the main body,
Colonel Duncan leading the rear with supplies."

We should have stated that, in the outset, Indians flocked to the
English standard; among them White Thunder Scarooyadi, successor to
half-king, who had died, and others, associated with Washington in his
former campaign. Silver Heels, so called from his nimbleness, a renowned
warrior, came and tendered his services.

Through Washington's entreaty, General Braddock received the red
warriors kindly, with military honors. He made them presents in the name
of the king, and they, in turned, danced and sung war songs. But such
was Braddock's demeanor towards them subsequently, that they became
displeased; and, when their dissatisfaction was intensified by the
improper conduct of some young English officers towards Bright
Lightning, the beautiful daughter of White Thunder, they all deserted
the army in disgust. When within ten miles of Duquesne, on the ninth day
of July, Braddock had no Indians in his command.

Scarooyadi reported to the governor and Council of Pennsylvania, after
Braddock's defeat: "It was owing to the pride and arrogance of that
great general who came from England. He is now dead, but he was a bad
man when he was alive. He looked upon us as dogs, and would never hear
anything that was said to him. We often endeavored to advise him, and
tell him of the danger he was in with his soldiers; but he never
appeared pleased with us, and that was the reason a great many of our
warriors left him." He proposed to take up the hatchet again with the
English, and said:

"Let us unite our strength; you are numerous, and all the English
governors along your seashore can raise men enough; but don't let those
that come from over the great seas be concerned any more. _They are
unfit to fight in the woods. Let us go ourselves, we that came out of
this ground._"

Three or four o'clock on that ninth day of July, as the advance of the
army was ascending a rise of ground, a volley of musketry suddenly
arrested their progress. From a ravine, concealed by dense foliage,
a deadly fire was poured into their faces. Before they had recovered
from their surprise, another volley was fired into them from the other
side. These volleys mowed them down like grass. Yet the enemy could not
be seen. The English directed their fire towards the smoke of battle,
though but for a moment. For the torrent of lead, shot into their faces,
forced the advance back upon the main column, and confusion followed.
General Braddock bravely sought to rally them, to move forward in
orderly columns, as on European battlefields, but his efforts were
abortive; for six hundred Indians, painted and armed for battle and
thirsting for blood, burst from their ambuscade, followed by three
hundred French and Canadians, sure of victory; and the work of carnage
grew terrific.

Early in the conflict two of Braddock's aides-de-camp, Captains Orme and
Morris, fell, and Washington alone remained to carry the general's
orders here and there. Without the least regard to personal safety, he
galloped over the field, his tall, noble form presenting a rare target
for the Indian sharpshooters, who took special pains to bring him down.
Two horses were shot under him, and four balls pierced his clothes;
still he was conspicuous everywhere that he could be of service, and for
three hours distributed his commander's orders, with the deadly missiles
flying around him like hailstones. Dr. Craik said:

"I expected to see him fall every moment. He dashed over the field,
reckless of death, when the bullets whistled about him on every side.
Why he was not killed I cannot divine, unless a watchful Providence was
preserving him for more important work."

One of the principal Indian warriors fired at him again and again; and,
at his bidding, a score of young braves did the same, without so much as
grazing his skin, keeping up their fire until convinced that the Great
Spirit had given to him a charmed life that he might not be shot in

Mr. Paulding gives the description of an eye-witness thus:

"I saw him take hold of a brass field-piece as if it had been a stick.
He looked like a fury; he tore the sheet-lead from the touch-hole, he
placed one hand on the muzzle, the other on the breach; he pulled with
this and he pushed with that, and wheeled it round as if it had been
nothing. It tore the ground like a plough. The powder monkey rushed up
with the fire, and then the cannon began to bark, I tell you. They
fought and they fought, and the Indians yelled when the rest of the
brass cannon made the bark of the trees fly, and the Indians came down.
That place they call Rock Hill, and there they left five hundred men
dead on the ground."

A bullet struck Washington's gold watch-seal, and knocked it from his
chain. Eighty years after the battle that seal was found by a visitor to
the battle ground, and it is now preserved among the relics of the
Washington family.

The English officers behaved heroically, and won Washington's admiration
by their bravery; but the English _soldiers_ acted like cowards.
Panic-stricken in the first place, they did not recover from their
consternation during the engagement. The unearthly yells of the savages,
which they had never heard before, seemed to terrify them even more than
the whistling of bullets. They lost self-control, disregarded the orders
of their officers, and ran hither and thither like frightened sheep.
Sixty-three of the eighty-five English officers were killed or wounded,
a fact that shows how bravely they fought.

General Braddock proved himself a brave and faithful commander. He did
all that mortal man could do to save his army, exposing himself to death
from first to last. After three hours of hard fighting, during which
time four horses were shot under him, he fell, pierced by several
bullets, and was borne from the field.

Now the whole command depended upon Washington, who had taken special
pains to have the Virginia marksmen fight the Indians after their own
fashion. Their effective tactics had saved the English army from
complete destruction. And now Washington rallied them afresh, to cover
the army in its retreat, bearing their wounded commander as they went.

Mr. Meek's description of the final contest is so particular and graphic
that we quote it here:

"Happily, on the left, where lay the heaviest fire, Washington's rangers
were posted, but not exposed like the British. For, on hearing the
savage yells aforesaid, in a moment they flew each to his tree, like the
Indians; and, like them, each leveled his rifle, and with as deadly aim.
This, through a kind Providence, saved Braddock's army; for, exulting in
their confusion, the savages, grimly painted, and yelling like furies,
leaped from their coverts, eager to glut their hellish rage with a total
massacre of the British. But, faithful to their friends, Washington's
rangers stepped forth with joy to met the assailants. Then rose a scene
sufficient to fill the stoutest heart with horror. _Here_ falls the
brave Virginia blue, under the stroke of his nimbler foe; and _there_,
man on man, the Indians perish beneath the furious storm of lead. But
who can tell the joy of Washington, when he saw this handful of his
despised countrymen thus gallantly defending their British friends, and,
by dint of mortal steel, driving back their blood-thirsty assailants?
Happy check! for by this time, covered with wounds, Braddock had fallen;
his aids and officers, to a man, killed or wounded; and his troops, in
_hopeless_, _helpless_ despair, flying backwards and forwards from the
fire of the Indians, like flocks of crowded sheep from the presence of
their butchers. Washington alone remained unhurt. Two horses had been
killed under him. Showers of bullets had lifted his locks or pierced his
regimentals. But still protected by heaven, still supported by a
strength not his own, he had continued to fly from quarter to quarter,
where his presence was most needed, sometimes animating his rangers,
sometimes striving, but in vain, to rally the regulars. 'Twas his lot to
be close to the brave but imprudent Braddock when he fell, and assisted
to place him in a tumbril, or little cart. As he was laid down, pale and
near spent with loss of blood, he faintly said to Washington:

"Well, colonel, what's to be done now?"

"Retreat, retreat by all means," answered Washington. "The regulars
won't fight and the rangers are nearly all killed."

"Poor fellows! poor fellows!" weakly replied the dying general. "Do as
you will, colonel, the command is on you."

"More than half of the army are dead and wounded," continued Washington,
"and retreat is all that is left us. The surviving rangers can cover the
retreat of the remnant."

"Pardon me, colonel for rejecting your counsel, which I now deeply
regret," the general frankly confessed. "I see it now, but it is all

The command of the army reverted to Colonel Dunbar after the fall of
Braddock; but he was several miles away, on the other side of the
Monongahela, when the disaster occurred, in charge of the rear division
and supplies. Hence the authority of Washington for the time being.

When the retreating army recrossed the river and reached Colonel Dunbar,
and he learned the extent of the disaster, the wildest confusion
followed. Colonel Dunbar proved himself unfit for his position, by
losing his self-control, ordering the heavy baggage and supplies to be
burned, and hastening the retreat to Fort Necessity.

General Braddock died soon after the shattered army reached Fort
Necessity. Tradition says that he died in the arms of Washington, to
whom he gave his favorite servant, Bishop, expressing regrets again and
again that he had not treated his youthful aid-de-camp with more

Washington conducted the funeral services over the remains of the
British general, and made it a very impressive ceremony. His voice
trembled with emotion when he read the Episcopal service, and tears
stood in his eyes as he thought of the victory that might have been,
instead of the terrible defeat that was.

Subsequent information received by Washington proved that the French at
Fort Duquesne celebrated their victory by a drunken carousal, and that
they treated their prisoners with great barbarity. Colonel Smith, who
was a prisoner there, and an eye-witness, subsequently bore the
following testimony, after speaking of the victorious savages returning
with the spoils of war, such as grenadiers' caps, canteens, muskets,
swords, bayonets, rich uniforms, and dripping scalps:

"Those that were coming in and those who had arrived kept up a constant
firing of small arms, and also of the great guns in the fort, which was
accompanied by the most hideous shouts and yells from all quarters, so
that it appeared to me as if the infernal regions had broken loose.
About sundown I beheld a small party coming in with about a dozen of
prisoners, stripped naked, with their hands tied behind their backs.
Their faces and parts of their bodies were blackened. These prisoners
they burned to death on the banks of the Alleghany River, opposite to
the fort. I stood on the walls of the fort until I beheld them begin to
burn one of these men. They tied him to a stake and kept touching him
with fire-brands, red-hot irons, etc., and he screamed in the most
doleful manner. The Indians, in the mean time, were yelling like
infernal spirits. As this scene was too shocking for me, I returned to
my lodgings both sorry and sore.

"From the best information I could receive, there were only seven
Indians and four French killed in this battle. Five hundred British lay
dead in the field, besides what were killed in the river, after their
retreat. The morning after the battle I saw Braddock's artillery
brought into the fort. The same day, also, I saw several Indians in the
dress of British officers, with the sashes, half-moons, laced hats,
etc., which the British wore."

Washington said: "The French are responsible for these atrocious
cruelties, for the Indians are their allies, instigated to war by their
influence, fighting under their banner, and paid by their money. The
burning of our men under the very walls of their fort must have been
done by their approval."

He embraced the first opportunity after the battle, to write to his
mother, that she might know of his safety, and be relieved of any
anxiety which exaggerated reports might create. His letter to her was
dated Fort Cumberland, July 18, 1755, and the first paragraph was:

"As I doubt not but you have heard of our defeat, and, perhaps, had it
represented in a worse light, if possible, than it deserves, I have
taken this opportunity to give you some account of the engagement as it
happened within ten miles of the French fort, on Wednesday, the 9th

He wrote to his brother:

"The Virginia troops showed a good deal of bravery, and were nearly all
killed. The dastardly behavior of those they called regulars exposed all
others that were ordered to do their duty to almost certain death. At
last, in despite of all the efforts of the officers to the contrary,
they ran, as sheep pursued by dogs, and it was impossible to rally them.

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



Washington's advice to Colonel Dunbar was: "Reorganize and march upon
Duquesne. That fort can be captured by strategy."

"I can do nothing with an army so demoralized as this," replied Dunbar.
"We may as well consider this campaign ended. Our force is now too much
reduced to capture Duquesne."

"Nevertheless I believe that this defeat may be turned into victory,"
added Washington. "At any rate I am not in favor of utterly abandoning
the attempt."

"Better that than to make a second attempt and fail," retorted Dunbar.
"I do not propose to remain and see the remnant of my army annihilated."

"What, then, will you do?"

"Strike my tents and repair to Philadelphia and go into winter
quarters," answered Dunbar.

"Go into winter quarters before dog-days have fairly set in!" exclaimed
Washington, surprised by the suggestion. "What will the people of our
country say to that?"

"They may say what they please," said Dunbar. "The risk is too great for
me to assume under the circumstances, and I decide to go into camp in

"Then there is no alternative for me but to return to Williamsburg,"
added Washington, perfectly satisfied that Dunbar was too much of a
coward to be intrusted with the command of an army.

Colonel Dunbar acted accordingly; struck his tents, and, under the
impulse of his excessive fear, hurried his troops off to Philadelphia.
Washington regretfully and sorrowfully marched the Virginia force back
to Williamsburg. News of the disaster had reached that place before his
arrival, causing great excitement and sorrow; but when the people looked
upon his shattered and diminished force, their hearts were touched, and
their fears greatly augmented. Nor did they attach blame to Washington;
on the other hand, the sentiment was universal that, but for his bravery
and skill, Braddock's army would have been well nigh annihilated.

Governor Dinwiddie immediately called together the Assembly to consider
what could be done in the crisis. In the meantime he conferred with
Washington respecting the way of retrieving their loss.

"Raise a force of two or three thousand men," said Washington, "and
reduce Fort Duquesne as soon as possible. Under the flush of this
victory the French will urge the Indians on to devastation and carnage
throughout the frontier. A speedy, bold, successful attack upon the fort
will prevent such a calamity."

"I had not thought of that," answered the governor, "but it is a
sensible view of the matter to take. We must protect the country against
Indian depredations if it be possible."

"Or we are in a far worse condition than ever," interjected Washington.
"You know what the Indians are under the excitement of victory;
_savages_ in the worst sense of the word."

"And there will be no mercy shown to the defenceless settlements and the
scattered families of the frontier," added the governor. "All the
horrors of Indian massacre and outrage will be witnessed in our

Governor Dinwiddie canvassed the whole subject with Washington, so that
he was prepared to make definite suggestions to the Legislature when
that body convened. He advised them to raise two thousand troops and
make a liberal appropriation of money, "to carry the war into Africa,"
on the ground that otherwise the enemy would be emboldened to prosecute
an aggressive war.

When the Legislature assembled, leading members opposed aggressive
warfare, and advised only defensive operations on the frontier. So they
voted to raise a thousand troops only, and appropriated money
accordingly, a very great disappointment to Washington and those who
took the same view of the situation that he did. At the same time
Washington was appointed commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces, with
the unusual power of appointing his own field officers and aide-de-camp
and secretary. This was on the 14th of August, 1755.

On a former page we said that expeditions against the French and Indians
at Niagara and Crown Point were planned at the same time the expedition
against Duquesne was determined upon. Both of these expeditions failed.
They started from Albany, N.Y., the first under the command of Governor
Shirley of Massachusetts; the other under William Johnson, an Irishman,
who was on intimate terms of friendship with the most powerful chiefs of
the Six Nations. When these two expeditions were fairly under way, news
of the disastrous defeat of Braddock reached them, and completely
demoralized the troops. The Indians, who were always inclined to join
the winning side, deserted the ranks, and many white soldiers followed
their cowardly example. The expedition under Johnson accomplished
something in another direction; but both expeditions failed, so far as
the proposed reduction of Niagara and Crown Point was concerned.

"A fatal mistake!" remarked Washington to Mr. Fairfax. "Such timid
measures are just suited to encourage the enemy."

"It cannot be otherwise," answered Fairfax. "To provide just enough men
to make a good target, and just enough money to pay for shooting them
down, is very poor policy, in my judgment."

"When it comes to actual service," continued Washington, "there will not
be over seven hundred reliable soldiers for fighting. To defend three
hundred and sixty miles of frontier with this small force is next to
impossible. To mass them in one locality will leave other localities
exposed; and to divide them up into squads, and scatter them over the
whole distance, is arranging them for the enemy to readily cut them off
one after another."

"A bloody work, that infuriated savages will enjoy," remarked Mr.
Fairfax. "The more I think of it, the more I shrink from the
contemplation of the horrible butchery that will probably follow this
serious mistake of the government."

"Yet I accept my appointment, lest a refusal be misconstrued," continued
Washington. "But I have served so long with inadequate support by the
government, followed by disasters, that I had hoped for the most liberal
provisions now."

"And they should have been freely granted," added Mr. Fairfax.

"No one can be more sensible of my failures than I am," Washington
remarked with his usual modesty. "If an old proverb will apply to my
case, I shall certainly close with a share of success, for surely no man
ever made a worse beginning than I have. Still, I want a fair chance to
redeem my fortunes if I can."

In September Washington established his headquarters at Winchester,
beyond the Blue Ridge, in the beautiful valley of the Shenandoah. It was
a frontier town, one hundred and forty miles northwest of Richmond. He
found the people of the town under great alarm in consequence of
frequent reports of depredations by French and Indians. The town was
crowded with men, women, and children, who had fled from their homes in
the wilderness to this place for protection, on hearing that the Indians
were on the war-path. Many of these reports were exaggerated, and others
had no foundation in truth. For instance, one morning the report came
that a party of Indians was within twelve miles of the town, pillaging,
burning and murdering in the most terrible manner. The report filled the
inhabitants with consternation, and women and children were half crazed
with fear.

Washington ordered a company of soldiers to follow him in driving back
the foe, but not one of them would respond. Their fears were greater
than their patriotism. Suspecting that the report might be exaggerated,
he sent out scouts to learn something more definite. The scouts returned
in one hour with the startling intelligence, "The Indians are less than
four miles away, destroying everything in their track."

On being questioned by Washington as to the facts in the case, the
scouts said, "We heard their yells and guns distinctly, and there is not
a shadow of doubt but that they will fall upon Winchester within an

Washington appealed to the soldiers again, and supplemented his appeal
by authority and threats.

About forty volunteered to accompany him to meet the savage foe. Moving
with extreme caution and circumspection, they reached the spot where the
scouts heard the yells of Indian warriors. Sure enough, they heard a
kind of yell and the discharge of a musket, but nothing that indicated
the presence of savages to Washington's experienced ear. Pressing on a
few rods farther, a turn of the road disclosed to Washington two drunken
soldiers, cursing, yelling and carousing, and occasionally firing off a
pistol into the air. He made prisoners of the two worthless fellows, who
had proved the scouts to be cowards, conveyed them to Winchester, and
locked them up.

This incident shows that there was little discipline among the soldiers,
and little self-possession among the people. In his discouragement,
Washington wrote to Governor Dinwiddie:

"In all things I meet with the greatest opposition. No orders are obeyed
but such as a party of soldiers, or my own drawn sword, enforces.
Without this, not a single horse, for the most earnest occasion, can be
had, to such a pitch has the insolence of these people arrived by having
every point hitherto submitted to them. However, I have given up none
where his majesty's service requires the contrary, and when my
proceedings are justified by my instructions; nor will I, unless they
execute what they threaten, that is, 'blow out our brains.'... I would
again hint the necessity of putting the militia under a better
regulation, had I not mentioned it twice before and a third time may
seem impertinent. But I must once more beg leave to declare that, unless
the Assembly will pass an act to enforce military law in all its parts,
I must decline the honor that has been so generously intended me. I see
the growing insolence of the soldiers, and the indolence and inactivity
of the officers, who are all sensible how limited their punishments are,
compared with what they ought to be. In fine, I can plainly see that
under the present establishment we shall become a nuisance, an
unsupportable charge to our country, and never answer any one
expectation of the Assembly.... Why should it be expected from us, who
are all young and inexperienced, to govern and keep up a proper spirit
of discipline without laws, when the best and most experienced can
scarcely do it with them? If we consult our interest, I am sure it
loudly calls for them. I can confidently assert that recruiting,
clothing, arming, maintaining, and subsisting soldiers who have since
deserted have cost the country an immense sum, which might have been
prevented were we under restraints that would terrify the soldiers from
such practices."

Another trial which Washington experienced was the refusal of Captain
Dagworthy, in command at Fort Cumberland, to obey his orders. Dagworthy
had received his commission from the king, and he claimed that hence he
was Washington's superior, who received his commission from a provincial
governor. This affair created much excitement in Washington's command,
and his officers drew up a memorial, praying him--

"To appeal to General Shirley, who was commander-in-chief of all the
British forces in North America, and whose headquarters are in Boston.
His decision will settle the question forever."

Washington applied to Governor Dinwiddie for permission to proceed to
Boston at once for this purpose, and obtained it. Notwithstanding the
deep snow and wintry weather, he started upon this mission on the 4th of
February, 1756, accompanied by Captains Mercer and Stewart. They
travelled on horseback the whole distance, and "took with them their
negro servants, who, riding behind with their master's saddle-bags and
portmanteaus, and dressed in fine livery, with gold lace on their fur
hats, and blue cloaks, gave quite an air of style and consequence to the
little cavalcade."

In New York City Washington was entertained by Beverly Robinson, a
distinguished citizen, at whose house he met a very accomplished young
lady, Miss Phillips, sister of Mrs. Robinson. Her many attractions
captivated the young hero more than any lady friend had done since his
experience with the "Lowland Beauty." However, he did not capitulate,
but bore his colors forward to Boston, whither his fame had gone before

He received a warm reception in Boston, such as was never accorded to so
youthful an officer. His gallant conduct in saving Braddock's army from
destruction, together with other deeds of heroism, known throughout the
Colonies, had made him famous; and now, "his tall and commanding form,
the manly beauty of his face, his dignified bearing, his rich and
handsome dress, and the unequalled skill with which he managed his large
and noble horse," awakened admiration in the minds of all beholders.

Having procured an order from General Shirley, under which a commission
from a provincial governor was as good as one from the king, Washington
started upon his return journey, after remaining ten days in Boston. He
stopped two weeks in New York City with Beverly Robinson, whose wife's
charming sister greatly pleased him. In her he beheld all that was
beautiful in person, graceful in accomplishments, and excellent in
character. There is no doubt that the young hero, who had withstood the
assaults of French and Indians combined, had resolved to surrender to
the bewitching charms of this damsel. But he found that a true and
worthy friend of his had already captured the prize, and was exulting in
the possession of her heart. Disappointed, but not cast down, he bade
the charmer adieu, and hurried away.

He reached Williamsburg on the twenty-third day of March, after an
absence of seven weeks. He had but just arrived when a messenger came
dashing into town, the bearer of appalling news.

"The Indians are approaching Winchester in force, burning and plundering
as they go!" he shouted.

"Have you any better evidence of their depredations than rumor?"
inquired Washington, recalling some experiences of the past, "or do you
announce what you _know_ to be a fact?"

"The evidence of their approach and plunder is positive," replied the
messenger; "and the inhabitants are flocking into town from their
pillaged and burning homes."

Washington was satisfied that the startling tidings was no false alarm,
and, putting spurs to his charger, he dashed away to Winchester. His
arrival reassured the terrified inhabitants and they bravely rallied to
defend their homes. Everything was put upon a war basis as soon as
possible. A few days passed, and Washington wrote to the governor as

"However absurd it may appear, it is, nevertheless, certain that five
hundred Indians have it more in their power to annoy the inhabitants
than ten times their number of regulars. Besides the advantageous way
they have of fighting in the woods, their cunning and craft, their
activity and patient sufferings are not to be equalled. They prowl about
like wolves, and, like them, do their mischief by stealth. They depend
upon their dexterity in hunting, and upon the cattle of the inhabitants,
for provisions."

In an interview with Mr. Fairfax, Washington remarked:

"You will recall my prophecy that our frontier will be ravaged until
Fort Duquesne is captured and the French are driven from the Ohio."

"I remember your prophecy distinctly," replied Mr. Fairfax; "and now we
reap as we sowed. We sowed to the wind, and now we are reaping the

"Even now it is not too late to recover what has been lost, were the
government so disposed," continued Washington. "I do not despair only so
far as those in authority fail to support military operations. The enemy
has appealed to arms, and there is no alternative but to accept the

The following extract from one of his letters to General Loudoun, who
superseded General Shirley as commander-in-chief of the British forces
in America, discloses the unhappy condition of affairs:

"I am too little acquainted, sir, with pathetic language, to attempt a
description of the people's distresses; but I have a generous soul,
sensible of wrongs and swelling for redress. But what can I do? I see
their situation, know their danger, and participate in their sufferings,
without having it in my power to give them further relief than uncertain
promises. In short, I see inevitable destruction in so clear a light,
that unless vigorous measures are taken by the Assembly, and speedy
assistance sent from below, the poor inhabitants that are now in forts
must unavoidably fall, while the remainder are flying before a barbarous
foe. In fine, the melancholy situation of the people, the little
prospect of assistance, the gross and scandalous abuse cast upon the
officers in general, which reflects upon me in particular, for suffering
misconduct of such extraordinary kinds, and the distant prospect, if
any, of gaining honor and reputation in the service, cause me to lament
the hour that gave me a commission: and would induce me, at any other
time than this of imminent danger, to resign, without one hesitating
moment, a command from which I never expect to reap either honor or
benefit; but, on the contrary, have almost an absolute certainty of
incurring displeasure below, while the murder of helpless families may
be laid to my account here. The supplicating tears of the women and
moving petitions of the men melt me into such deadly sorrow that I
solemnly declare, if I know my own mind, I could offer myself a willing
sacrifice to the butchering enemy, provided that would contribute to the
people's ease."

Two days afterwards, he addressed another letter to the governor, in
which he said:

"Not an hour, nay, scarcely a minute, passes, that does not produce
fresh alarms and melancholy accounts. Nor is it possible to give the
people the necessary assistance for their defence, on account of the
small number of men we have, or that are likely to be here for some
time. The inhabitants are removing daily, and in a short time will leave
this country as desolate as Hampshire, where scarce a family lives."

"Three families were murdered night before last, at the distance of less
than twelve miles from this place; and every day we have accounts of
such cruelties and barbarities as are shocking to human nature. It is
not possible to conceive the situation and danger of this miserable
country. Such numbers of French and Indians are all round that no road
is safe; and here we know not the hour we may be attacked."

For nearly two years Washington vainly attempted the defence of the
frontier, the French and Indians all the while plundering and murdering
the inhabitants in one locality while he was defending another,
multiplying scenes of barbarity as only savages could. The following
description of a single scene is by Washington himself:

"One day as we drew near, through the woods, to a dwelling, suddenly we
heard the discharge of a gun. Whereupon, quickening our pace, and
creeping up through the thick bushes to a fence, we saw what we had
dreaded--a party of Indians, loaded with plunder, coming out of a house,
which, by the smoke, appeared as if it were just set on fire. In a
moment we gave the savages a shower of rifle balls, which killed every
man of them but one, who attempted to run off, but in vain; for some of
our swift-footed hunters gave chase, and soon overtook and demolished
him with their tomahawks. On rushing into the house and putting out the
fire, we saw a mournful sight indeed: a young woman lying on the bed
floated with blood, her forehead cleft with a hatchet, and on her breast
two little children, apparently twins, and about nine months old,
bathing her bosom with blood flowing from their deeply gashed heads! I
had often beheld the mangled remains of my murdered countrymen, but
never before felt what I did on this occasion. To see these poor
innocents, these little, unoffending angels, just entered upon life,
and, instead of fondest sympathy and tenderness, meeting their bloody
deaths, and from hands of brothers, too, filled my soul with the deepest
horror of sin!

"On tracing back into the corn-field the steps of the barbarians, we
found a little boy, and beyond him his father, both weltering in blood.
It appeared, from the print of his little feet in the furrows, that
the child had been following his father's plough; and, seeing him shot
down, had set off with all his might to get to the house, to his mother,
but was overtaken and destroyed.

"And, indeed, so great was the dread of the French and Indians
throughout the settlements, that it was distressing to call even on
those families who yet survived, but, from sickness or other causes, had
not been able to get away. The poor creatures would run to meet us, like
persons half distracted with joy, and then, with looks blank with
terror, would tell that such or such a neighbor's family, perhaps the
very night before, was murdered, and that they heard their cries and saw
the flames that devoured their house. And also, that they themselves,
after saying their prayers at night, never lay down to sleep without
first taking leave of one another, as if they never expected to meet
again in this world. But when we came to take our leave of these
wretched families, my God, what were our feelings! To see the deep,
silent grief of the men, and the looks of the poor women and children,
as, falling upon their knees, with piercing screams, and eyes wild with
terror, they seized our hands or hung to our clothes, entreating us for
God's and mercy's sake not to leave them to be murdered! These things so
filled my heart with grief, that I solemnly declare to God, if I know
myself, I would gladly offer my own life a sacrifice to the butchering
enemy, if I could but thereby insure the safety of these my poor,
distressed countrymen."

Washington continued to say to the government that this terrible state
of affairs would not cease until Fort Duquesne was captured; and he
entreated, again and again, to be provided with an army large enough to
reduce the fort. But all in vain.

Finally, near the close of the year 1757, his labors and anxieties threw
him into a violent fever, and he was conveyed to Mount Vernon, where he
lay for four months, sometimes so sick that his life was despaired of,
all the time bearing upon his soul the responsibilities of his public
position. His faithful servant Bishop, bequeathed to him by General
Braddock, attended him night and day with singular devotion. It was not
until April that he was able to resume his command.

When Washington returned to his headquarters at Winchester, he was
unexpectedly cheered by some favorable changes. General Loudoun had been
superceded by General Abercrombie, and Governor Dinwiddie had been
recalled to England.



"The people are disheartened," said Washington to Mr. Fairfax, "and we
need successes to inspire hope within them. But this can never be until
the king's officers understand how to fight Indians."

"That is true, no doubt, but I have more hope that General Abercrombie
will do something effective for this part of the country," answered
Fairfax. "General Loudoun had more than his hands full to look after the
troops at the north, so that he could give little attention to our

"I wish that it might be so," responded Washington; "but the only
effective blow that can be struck for us is the reduction of Fort
Duquesne. Until that is done, the enemy has a base of supplies, and a
refuge from which to sally forth at any time, for pillage and butchery
on the frontier. The possession of Canada is important, and victories
there now would greatly encourage our people. An army of from five to
ten thousand men would drive the French and Indians before it, and put
the English into speedy possession of the Ohio."

"And that will encourage the people, and put hope and life into them,"
added Fairfax.

"And patriotism, too, I should hope," said Washington. "Our people lack
patriotism, and there is no disguising it."

One of Washington's trials, at that time, was the unwillingness of the
people to incur the expense and dangers of war. They appeared to think
that sufferings and death alone awaited them in warfare with Indians.
Such harrowing tales of cruelties by the savages had come to them, that
they shrank from conflict with the barbarians.

Mrs. Washington was very much opposed to her son going to the Ohio
again. Rumors of another expedition against Duquesne reached her,
whereupon she wrote to him, entreating him not to undertake the
hazardous enterprise. He replied to her as follows:

    DEAR MOTHER,--If it is 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 it; and that, I am sure, must and ought to give you
    greater uneasiness than my going in an honorable command. Upon
    no other terms will I accept it. At present I have no proposals
    made to me, nor have I any advice of such an intention, except
    from private hands.

General Abercrombie surprised Washington, however, by issuing an order
to organize a strong expedition against Duquesne. The newly appointed
commander-in-chief appeared to comprehend the situation as his
predecessors had not, and Washington was overjoyed. The cloud that had
enveloped his spirit was lifted, and he saw a brighter future.

The northern troops, also, were meeting with successes, and news of
their victories gladdened all hearts. The expeditions against Louisburg,
Ticonderoga, and Crown Point proved fortunate, and the people became
more and more hopeful as their advances were known.

"There is hope now for our cause," remarked Washington to Mr. Fairfax at
Williamsburg, very much elated by the prospect before him. "I can see
the end now. It looks as if General Abercrombie was the right man in the
right place."

"I hope so," responded Mr. Fairfax. "He appears to think that two or
three times as many troops as you have had before will be none too many
to march against Duquesne."

"There is my hope," continued Washington. "An army large enough to
strike an effective blow will save both money and men for the
government. Half enough is cruelly exposing all to defeat and butchery."

"So it has proved," remarked Fairfax.

"To the discouragement and fear of the people throughout this part of
the country," replied Washington. "But if troops are furnished according
to the order now, I have no fear about the result. Three thousand from
Pennsylvania, twelve hundred from North Carolina, two thousand from
Virginia, with seven hundred Indians, and as many regulars, will make an
army of about eight thousand."

"How large a force do you imagine the French have at Duquesne?" inquired

"Not over one-third of our number. Perhaps not more than one-quarter as
many. If the Assembly will be as liberal in supplying the Virginia
soldiers with clothing, rations, arms, blankets, etc., as General
Abercrombie has been, it will be a wise economy, as well as commendable

Washington was in Williamsburg at the time, for the purpose of laying
before a committee of the Legislature the wants of his little army, and
securing liberal supplies. On his way thither an incident occurred which
should be narrated here.

Passing through the county of New Kent, on his way to Williamsburg,
Washington approached the baronial estate of Mr. Chamberlain. The
proprietor was near his front gate, and, recognizing Washington, who was
accompanied by his servant, saluted him, saying:

"Colonel Washington, let it never be said that you passed the house of
your father's friend without dismounting. I must insist upon the honor
of detaining you as my guest."

"I thank you with all my heart, my dear sir, but my business at
Williamsburg demands haste, and you must excuse me to-day," was
Washington's reply.

"Business relating to the expedition against Fort Duquesne, I suppose?"

"Yes; and its importance admits of no delay."

"Nevertheless, I must press my invitation," continued Mr. Chamberlain,
"for surely you must dine somewhere, and it will detain you no longer
here than elsewhere. We will not detain you a moment after you have
swallowed your dinner. I am too much interested in the capture of
Duquesne to delay your business."

"Your patriotism is equal to your hospitality," replied Washington, "and
I am quite disposed to accept both, in the circumstances."

"In that case you will accept my hearty thanks, also," added Mr.

"Do I understand that I may be excused immediately after dinner?" said
Washington, still hesitating.

"Immediately, with all the promptness of military discipline."

"Then, sir, I accept your generous hospitality;" and Washington alighted
from his horse immediately, saying to his servant Bishop, "Be sure and
have the horses at the door by the time we rise from the dinner-table."

"Is this the charger and this the servant presented to you by General
Braddock?" Mr. Chamberlain inquired as they turned towards the house.

"The same, sir."

"You honor me, Colonel Washington, by accepting my invitation to
dinner," continued Mr. Chamberlain. "I rejoice all the more in the
opportunity to have you for my guest because I have other friends to
dine with me to-day, who will regard it a real pleasure to meet our
young and gallant soldier."

Washington bowed his acknowledgments for the honest compliment, and they
passed into the mansion, where he was soon introduced to the other
guests, and brought face to face with them in the dining-hall.

Among the guests was Mrs. Martha Custis, a young widow, accomplished,
beautiful, and wealthy, about six months younger than Washington. Her
charming appearance captivated the young hero's heart. He beheld in her
such a partner as would make his future life happy.

After dinner, instead of discoursing upon the importance of his mission
to Williamsburg, and rushing for his horse, he entered into familiar
conversation with Mrs. Custis. The longer he talked the more he admired
the intelligence, grace, and character of the lady.

His faithful servant Bishop was at the gate, with the horses, when the
party rose from dinner. He waited and waited, wondering and wondering
what could delay his master, who was always punctual as the clock. The
favorite charger champed his bits and pawed the ground, as if he, too,
wondered what had become of his rider's usual promptness. So the
moments, and even hours, sped, trying the patience of Bishop and the

All this while Washington was engaged in pleasant conversation with Mrs.
Custis and other guests, the former being the attraction which caused
him to modify his views respecting his business at Williamsburg. She
might not have been a "widow bewitched," but she certainly cast a spell
over the hero of Monongahela, which he did not throw off; and, after a
time of unusual social delight, he accepted an invitation to stop over
night. Bishop was ordered to put the horses into the stable, and
thoughts of war appear to have been banished.

The next morning he hurried away to Williamsburg, and travelled at such
a breakneck speed that Bishop was more puzzled than ever over the
conduct of his master. He had sacrificed his well-earned reputation for
promptitude on the day before, and now he seemed to be no longer
merciful to his beast; quite enough to perplex the servant beyond
measure. However, Washington expedited his business at Williamsburg,
secured the supplies for his army that he asked, and returned by the way
of the "White House" on the Pamunkey River, where Mrs. Custis lived in
English style. How long he stopped there we have no means of learning;
but long enough to consummate a treaty of love, in which it was
stipulated that she should become his bride when the expedition against
Duquesne had been brought to a close.

In this affair Washington proved himself to be a true son of Adam and
brother in our common humanity. He who is too great to be insensible to
womanly charms and virtues, and too cold in his nature to love, cannot
have an important mission to perform in this world.

On his return to Winchester he found that the English officers were
discussing the practicability of making a new road to Duquesne, or, at
least, from Raystown to Duquesne by the way of Laurel Hill.

"Better march thither by the old road which General Braddock
constructed," suggested Washington.

"His road did not lead him to victory," answered one of the officers

"Neither will a new road, if that is all you have to depend upon,"
remarked Washington. "The difficulties of making a new road through this
rough country are so great that such an enterprise should not be
undertaken unless it is absolutely necessary."

"We came to this country for such business whenever it is necessary,"
said General Forbes, commander of the expedition.

"Exactly; but a new road is not necessary to make this expedition
against Duquesne a success."

"How is that?"

"Because it will consume so much time that winter will be upon us before
we can reach the fort. An early movement on the old roads is far more
desirable, in my judgment, than a late one on a new road."

"But you do not consider that the king's regulars are experienced in
such work, and they will not require the time which the provincial
troops do to complete such a piece of work."

"Perhaps so," replied Washington in a doubtful tone, as if he recalled
the old boast of the English generals about the might of their regulars.
He had seen enough of these boasted heroes in the former expedition
against Duquesne to cause him to decidedly prefer provincial troops.

"Besides," continued General Forbes, "the report of General Braddock to
his government describes the old road as fearful, in consequence of
dense forests, huge rocks, deep morasses, and plunging torrents."

"None of these things caused his defeat," remarked Washington in rather
a sarcastic vein.

"As I understand it," added General Forbes, "there are not so thick
woods and huge rocks, nor so perilous swamps and rivers by the proposed
new route as there are by the old. Besides, the new road is fifty miles

"The shortest way may prove longer than the longest way if you have the
short way to build," was Washington's significant reply.

The English officers were bound to have their own way, and they decided
to make the new road, in view of which Washington wrote to the Speaker
of the Assembly: "If this conduct of our leaders does not flow from
superior orders, it must flow from a weakness too gross for me to name.
Nothing now but a miracle can bring this campaign to a happy issue."

A few days later he wrote:

"I believe that all is lost. Our enterprise is ruined, and we shall be
stopped this winter at the Laurel Hills."

As the sequel will show, Washington proved himself to be a prophet.

While these warlike preparations were going forward, Washington was
elected to a seat in the House of Burgesses. It was not expected,
however, that he would take his seat until the contemplated action
against the French at Duquesne was consummated.

It was in the month of May, 1758, that Washington went to Williamsburg
and found his future wife, when passing through Kent County. It was the
21st of September before the army was ready to strike their tents and
take up the march from Raystown, where the whole army had assembled.
Much of this time was fooled away by the English officers, who seemed to
think that both French and Indians would take to their heels when they
saw them coming.

Washington was greatly annoyed by this unnecessary delay. To him it was
ominous of evil. He was impatient to plant the English flag on the walls
of Duquesne, and to make the beautiful Mrs. Custis his bride. The sooner
the army accomplished the former, the sooner he would realize the

To add to his annoyance, General Forbes proposed to repeat General
Braddock's folly, and send his regulars forward as a party of

"Such an arrangement was the cause of General Braddock's defeat," he
said to General Forbes.

"How so?"

"His regulars knew nothing about Indian warfare. They never saw savages
on the field of battle, and so they undertook to fight Indians as they
did French."

"Plenty of artillery, with a shower of bullets, whether by regulars or
provincials, will do the business," remarked General Forbes, showing
that he was as ignorant of the way savages fight as Braddock was.

"I hope I can say, without vanity," continued Washington, "that, from
long intimacy with these woods, and frequent scouting in them, my men
are at least as well acquainted with all the passes and difficulties as
any troops that will be employed. I will volunteer to scour the country
in advance of the army."

"You are brave and unselfish, certainly," answered Forbes; "but the
regulars would hardly thank me for sending inexperienced troops forward
instead of them."

"If General Braddock's regulars, who were shot down in their tracks,
could come to life, they would thank you for doing this very thing,"
said Washington.

"Then you have no faith in the English army to fight Indians."

"None at all. Braddock's regulars were more terrified by the _yell_ of
the savages than they were by the cannon of the French."

"Well, then, colonel, I think we must redeem the credit of the British
regulars by sending them forward at this time," answered General Forbes.
"If Braddock's regulars disgraced their country and cause, as you affirm
they did, it is time that Forbes's regulars should wipe out the
dishonor. And that can be done only by detailing them for the work

"As you please, general," answered Washington, seeing that Forbes was
determined to employ his regulars as a scouting party. "You have my
opinion, and you will have my obedience as heartily. Nothing that I can
do to make this expedition successful shall be withholden."

Therefore the regulars scoured the country in advance, eight hundred in
number. Washington wrote again concerning the prospects under these
unwise arrangements:

"The golden opportunity has been lost, perhaps never more to return.
Between building a new road and sending forward regulars to meet the
Indians, our hope of success is small indeed. Small parties of Indians
will effectually demoralize the English by keeping them under continual
alarms, and attacking them in ambuscade."

The advance party was under the command of Major Grant, a conceited,
overbearing officer, who was as ignorant of Indian tactics as a baby.
Besides, his extreme self-confidence made him boastful and reckless, as
he subsequently found to his sorrow and shame. One of Washington's
biographers says of Grant:

"He was instructed to find out all he could about the enemy, without
suffering the enemy to find out more than he could help about himself,
and by all possible means to avoid a battle. But instead of conducting
the expedition with silence and circumspection, he marched along in so
open and boisterous a manner as made it appear he meant to give the
enemy timely notice of his coming, and bully him into an attack even
while yet on the way. The French, keeping themselves well-informed by
their spies of his every movement, suffered him to approach almost to
their very gates without molestation. When he got in the neighborhood of
the fort, he posted himself on a hill overlooking it, and began throwing
up intrenchments in full view of the garrison. As if all this were not
imprudence enough, and as if bent on provoking the enemy to come out and
give him battle on the instant, whether or no, he sent down a party of
observation to spy out yet more narrowly the inside plan and defences of
the fort, who were suffered not only to do this, but even to burn a
house just outside the walls, and then return to their intrenchments
without a hostile sign betokening the unseen foe so silent, yet
watchful, within.

"Early the next morning, as if to give the enemy warning of the
threatened danger, the drums of the regulars beat the _réveille_, and
the bag-pipes of the Highlanders woke the forest-echoes far and wide
with their wild and shrilly din."

During all this time there was silence in the fort, and no sign of the
enemy anywhere around.

"No enemy is here; they have fled before us," said Major Grant to
General Forbes. "The English regulars have frightened them out of their
wits, and they have taken leg-bail."

"An illustration of the old adage, 'discretion is the better part of
valor,'" answered Forbes.

"And these are the heroic French and terrible savages of which that
young American colonel tells so much!" continued Major Grant in a
derisive manner. "All I regret is, that they did not stay to fight."

"It is too serious a joke to fit out this expedition and march through
this wilderness for nothing," added General Forbes. "We ought to have
one chance at the foe, if nothing more."

"Well, I am not disappointed in the least," responded Grant. "All this
talk about the bravery of the French and the savagery of Indians is
buncomb, and that is all. I will raise the English flag over the fort
without a drop of blood being shed. Let me advance with the regulars;
and Captain Lewis, with his Americans, remain behind with the baggage.
We will show you how a fort can be taken."

"Your order shall be obeyed," replied Captain Lewis, although he looked
with contempt upon the braggart whom he addressed.

General Braddock's blunder was repeated on that day. The regulars moved
forward, and marched directly into an Indian ambuscade.

With unearthly yells the savages sprang from their hiding places, and
poured a terrific fire into the faces of the regulars. At the same time
the French rushed out of their fort, sending volley after volley of
leaden death into their ranks. The English stood their ground for a
moment, then broke and retreated in confusion. The savages, emboldened
by their success, rushed on to more fearful slaughter, and between
musket and tomahawk, butchery reigned supreme.

Major Lewis, who was left behind with the baggage, leaving fifty men
under the charge of Captain Bullit to guard it, rushed forward with his
Virginia force to the relief of the regulars. His timely aid checked the
advance of the foe; but, in a hand to hand fight with an Indian warrior,
he was taken prisoner, though not until the warrior lay dead at his

Major Grant was taken prisoner, and would have been tomahawked on the
spot but for the interposition of a French officer.

The retreat became a complete rout, the savages pursuing with their
accustomed yells. Captain Bullit determined to resist the pursuit of the
enemy by piling the baggage across the road for a barricade. Behind
this, with his fifty men, he poured a deadly fire into the foe as they
approached, volley after volley, checking their advance by striking
terror to their hearts for a moment. Perceiving that he could not long
hold out, he resorted to a strategy that would have been regarded
barbarous if adopted by Indians. Irving speaks of it as follows:

"They were checked for a time, but were again pressing forward in
greater numbers, when Bullit and his men held out the signal of
capitulation, and advanced, as if to surrender. When within eight yards
of the enemy, they suddenly leveled their arms, poured a most effectual
volley, and then charged with the bayonet. The Indians fled in dismay,
and Bullit took advantage of this check to retreat, with all speed,
collecting the wounded and scattered fugitives as he advanced."

The whole of the straggling army did not reach Fort Loyal Harman at
Laurel Hills until the fifth day of November. Many of the soldiers,
especially the wounded, suffered terribly on the retreat.

Washington was at Raystown when the attack was made upon the advance.
Why and for what he was there, except by order of the commander, General
Forbes, we know not. But he joined the beaten and demoralized army at
Fort Loyal Harman.

"Braddock's folly repeated must end in Braddock's defeat and shame," he
remarked, on hearing of the disaster. "The result is no worse than I

"Your Virginians fought bravely," remarked General Forbes to Washington,
evidently thinking that he had underrated their valor and efficiency.

"I am not surprised to hear it," replied Washington. "I knew that they
would prove themselves equal to the occasion."

"Braver fellows never met a foe on the battlefield," continued General
Forbes. "Our defeat would have been more bloody and shameful but for

"And if they had formed the advance, they would not have been caught in
an Indian ambuscade," remarked Washington suggestively.

In this unfortunate battle the British lost twenty-one officers and two
hundred and seventy-three privates in killed and wounded, more than
one-third of the advance under Grant.

"Well," continued General Forbes, "this snow and freezing weather will
compel us to go into winter quarters here. After this defeat we are not
in a condition to attack the fort immediately."

"Our prospects are not very flattering, it must be confessed," remarked
Washington, without expressing his opinion of the unnecessary and
foolish blunder that had brought them into this plight. Had he led his
Virginia rangers in advance, such a disgraceful record would not have
been made.

Washington prophesied that, between building a new road and sending
regulars in advance, defeat was inevitable, and now General Forbes
proposed to fulfil his prophecy.

"What is your advice, Colonel Washington, under the circumstances?"
inquired General Forbes, evidently designing to atone somewhat for his
previous shabby treatment of the young Virginia hero. "Is it wise to
march against the fort at this late season and in this rough weather?"

Washington was not at all disposed to give advice after all his previous
counsels had been treated with contempt; therefore he prolonged the
conversation without gratifying the commanding general with an explicit
statement of his opinions. In the midst of their interview two or three
prisoners were brought in, and they gave such an account of the
weakness and destitution of the French garrison that Washington advised
an immediate advance upon the fort.

"Is it possible?" said General Forbes, doubting the statement.

"It is _possible_," answered Washington. "It is an easy matter to find
out, however."

"We are not exactly prepared for such a movement now," replied the

"I am at your service, general, with my rangers," answered Washington,
in a tone which showed that he coveted the business. We strongly suspect
that Washington was thinking of his promised bride, and desired to close
the campaign against Duquesne that he might claim her. To go into winter
quarters, and leave the fort to be captured another season, would put
off his wedding-day far beyond his wishes. The understanding was, that
he would not be married until after the fall of Duquesne.

"Your brave and generous offer is accepted, without conditions," General
Forbes immediately replied, only too glad now to impose the labor and
risk upon provincial troops.

"I will be ready to move to-morrow," added Washington with his usual

"As soon as you please, and in what manner you please. The whole thing
is in your hands."

"Very well, sir; we march to-morrow," added Washington as he hurried

On the next day he took up the line of march towards Duquesne,
proceeding with extreme caution as he approached the vicinity of the
fort. The locality of the recent battle was marked by the dead bodies of
their fallen brothers, a sickening spectacle to behold. Around them,
too, were scattered the bones of comrades who fell in the first battle,
three years before, a melancholy reminder of the defeat and death which
followed the blundering of conceited officers.

No sign of the enemy appeared. Silence reigned supreme. Scouts reported
no trace of the foe. Still the "rangers" moved forward with the utmost
caution. Indians could not surprise them now.

Coming in sight of the fort, they saw that it was deserted. No flag
floated over its walls. On the double-quick, Washington led his troops
into it, and not a Frenchman or Indian was found. The wooden buildings
were burned to ashes, together with such baggage and other material as
the occupants could not carry away in boats. Not a cannon, gun, or
cartridge remained. Washington planted the English flag upon the walls
of the fort with his own hand, on the twenty-fifth day of November,

It was learned, subsequently, that on account of the signal victories of
the British army in Canada, no reinforcements or provisions were
received at Duquesne. As the French garrison was in urgent need of both,
the commander concluded, on the approach of Washington's command, that
the better part of valor would be to abandon it; hence its evacuation.

Washington adopted immediate and vigorous measures to rebuild the fort,
to which he gave the name of Fort Pitt, in honor of the great English
statesman, through whose influence the British Government finally
ordered the capture of the fort. Leaving a sufficient number of troops
to garrison it, he returned to Laurel Hill, whence he wrote to the
Governor of Virginia, in behalf of his needy soldiers at Duquesne, as

"Considering their present circumstances," he writes: "I would by no
means have consented to leave any part of them there, had not the
general given me express orders.... By their present nakedness, the
advanced season, and the inconceivable fatigues of an uncommonly long
and laborious campaign, they are rendered totally incapable of any sort
of service; and sickness, death, and desertion must, if they are not
speedily supplied, greatly reduce their numbers. To replace them with
equally good men will, perhaps, be found impossible."

Irving says, "One of the first offices of the army, after taking
possession of the fort, was to collect and bury, in one common tomb, the
bones of their fellow-soldiers who had fallen in the battles of Braddock
and Grant. In this pious duty it is said every one joined, from the
general down to the private soldier; and some veterans assisted, with
heavy hearts and frequent ejaculations of poignant feeling, who had been
present in the scenes of defeat and carnage."

The fall of Duquesne brought to an end the domination of the French on
the Ohio, as Washington predicted, restoring peace to the frontier.
Hostile Indians hastened to cast in their allegiance to the English, who
had become conquerors, thus laying aside both tomahawk and
scalping-knife, at least for a season.

Washington resolved to abandon military life and retire to his estate at
Mount Vernon, exchanging the hardships of war for the blessings of
peace. He sent in his resignation, whereupon the officers of his command
presented him with a flattering testimonial, from which we make the
following extracts:

"Sir, we, your most obedient and affectionate officers, beg leave to
express our great concern at the disagreeable news we have received of
your determination to resign the command of that corps in which we
have so long served under you. The happiness we have enjoyed, and the
honor we have acquired, together with the mutual regard which has always
subsisted between you and your officers, have implanted so sensible an
affection in the minds of us all, that we cannot be silent on this
critical occasion.

"In our earliest infancy you took us under your tuition, trained us up
in the practice of that discipline which alone can constitute good
troops, from the punctual observation of which you never suffered the
least deviation.

"Your steady adherence to impartial justice, your quick discernment, and
invariable regard to merit, wisely intended to inculcate these genuine
sentiments of true honor and passion for glory, from which the greatest
military achievements have been derived, first heightened our natural
emulation and our desire to excel. How much we improved by those
regulations and your own example, with what alacrity we have hitherto
discharged our duty, with what cheerfulness we have encountered the
severest toil, especially while under your particular directions, we
submit to yourself, and flatter ourselves that we have, in a great
measure, answered your expectations.

"Judge, then, how sensibly we must be affected by the loss of such an
excellent commander, such a sincere friend, and so affable a
companion.... It gives us additional sorrow, when we reflect, to find
our unhappy country will receive a loss no less irreparable than our
own. Where will it meet a man so experienced in military affairs--one so
renowned for patriotism, conduct, and courage? Who has so great a
knowledge of the enemy we have to deal with?... Who, in short, so
able to support the military character of Virginia?

"Your approved love to your king and country, and your uncommon
perseverance in promoting the honor and true interest of the service,
convince us that the most cogent reasons only could induce you to quit
it; yet we, with the greatest deference, presume to entreat you to
suspend those thoughts for another year, and to lead us on to assist in
the glorious work of extirpating our enemies, towards which so
considerable advances have been already made. In you we place the most
implicit confidence. Your presence only will cause a steady firmness and
vigor to actuate in every breast, despising the greatest dangers, and
thinking light of toils and hardships, while led on by the man we know
and love."

This tribute to the character of an honored commander conveys to the
reader a clear view of his illustrious position in the army, confirming
the favorable opinions hitherto expressed by the author.



Washington renounced military life to claim his bride. He was married at
the "White House" on the 6th of January, 1759, a few weeks before his
twenty-seventh birthday. Mrs. Custis was three months younger than the

At seventeen years of age, Miss Martha Dandridge (for such was her
maiden name) was a gay and beautiful belle, having many suitors, upon
none of whom she looked favorably, except Colonel Daniel Parke Custis,
son of Hon. John Custis of Arlington. To him she was married in 1749.
Two sons and a daughter were the fruits of this marriage, the eldest of
whom died a short time before his father. The biographer of Mr. Custis
records an incident which furnishes a key to the character of this
worthy and influential gentleman:

"A short time before his death, he sent for a tenant, to whom, in
settling an account, he was due one shilling. The tenant begged that the
colonel, who had ever been most kind to his tenantry, would not trouble
himself at all about such a trifle, as he, the tenant, had forgotten it
long ago. 'But I have not,' rejoined the just and conscientious
landlord; and bidding his creditor take up the coin, which had been
purposely placed on his pillow, exclaimed, 'Now my accounts are closed
with this world!' and shortly after expired."

The loss of both husband and son was a terrible affliction to the
youthful widow; yet her Christian hope sustained her wonderfully, so
that she did not abandon herself to useless repinings. Her husband left
her his large plantation, and from one to two hundred thousand dollars
in money, the care of which, with her two surviving children, imposed
new and unusual duties upon her. How well she met these responsibilities
is told by her husband's biographer, thus:

"Mrs. Custis, as sole executrix, managed the extensive landed and
pecuniary concerns of the estates with surprising ability, making loans
on mortgage of moneys, and, through her stewards and agents, conducting
the sales or exportations of the crops to the best possible advantage."

"Beautiful, gifted, with great fascination of manners, unusually
accomplished, extremely wealthy, and youthful," as another has said, it
is not surprising that, when the usual period of seclusion and mourning
had passed, her hand and heart were sought by other worthy men. It was
not, however, until she providentially met Colonel Washington, in the
manner we have described, that she was at all disposed to enter into
another matrimonial alliance.

The wedding of Washington was a splendid affair conducted after the old
English style that prevailed among wealthy planters. Military and civil
officers with their wives, graced the occasion. Ladies appeared in the
costliest brocades, laces, and jewels which the Old World could provide.
The bride was arrayed in the height of English fashion, her wealth of
charms a fit accompaniment to the manly beauty of the bridegroom, who
stood six feet and three inches in his shoes, "The tallest and
handsomest man of the Old Dominion."

An old negro servant of Mrs. Custis expressed his views of his new
master, as follows:

"Never seed the like, sir,--never the like of him, though I have seen
many in my day,--so tall, so straight! And then, sir, he sat on a horse
and rode with such an air! Ah, sir, he was like no one else! Many of the
grandest gentlemen, in the gold lace, were at the wedding, but none
looked like the man himself."

Washington resided at the "White House" three months before taking his
seat in the House of Burgesses. That he had resolved to abandon a
military career, and that his new relation afforded him unalloyed
pleasure, is quite evident from what he wrote to a friend:

"I am now, I believe, fixed in this seat, with an agreeable partner for
life; and I hope to find more happiness in retirement than I ever
experienced in the wide and bustling world."

From a child, Mrs. Washington had enjoyed the luxuries and society that
wealth multiplies. Her own property, now united to that of her husband,
amounted to a large fortune. She could live in princely style, although
she adopted that style only so far as her social position demanded.
There was an aristocratic element that ruled in Virginia at that time,
embracing the wealthy, cultured, and ruling classes, to which she
belonged; and to this standard of living she was obliged to conform.
Her home was the resort of the wealthiest and most influential people of

After three months had elapsed, Washington took his seat in the
Legislature. That body arranged to honor the hero as soon as he appeared
in the House, by a eulogistic address by the speaker. No sooner had he
taken his seat, than the speaker, Mr. Robinson, immediately arose, and,
commanding silence, addressed Washington in such language of praise as
only true patriotism, united with personal friendship, could dictate;
enlarging upon his heroic deeds for his country in its time of its
greatest peril. As he closed, the whole Assembly rose to their feet,
and saluted the young colonel with a bow.

Had an earthquake suddenly shaken the Capitol to its centre, Washington
would not have been more completely surprised. He was confounded. He
rose to make his acknowledgments, but, alas! his tongue had forgotten
its office. Thrice he essayed to speak, and thrice, in spite of every
effort, his utterance failed him, save faintly to articulate, "Mr.
Speaker! Mr. Speaker!"

The speaker was equal to the occasion, and came to his relief in one of
the best, quick-witted sallies on record.

"Colonel Washington," he exclaimed, "sit down! sit down! Your modesty
alone is equal to your merit."

Soon after the adjournment of the Legislature, Washington removed his
family to Mount Vernon, to devote himself to agricultural pursuits. For
fifteen years he continued to abide there in domestic enjoyment. Every
year of this fifteen he was elected to the House of Burgesses, where
his counsels and great influence became indispensable. Still he was a
farmer on a large scale, and devoted himself to the improvement of his
estates, and the raising of wheat, corn, and tobacco. The landed
estates of both himself and wife must have numbered more than twenty
thousand acres, for his Mount Vernon estate alone amounted to over nine
thousand acres. Then he owned large tracts of land outside, containing
thousands of acres. Add to these extensive tracts the Custis estates,
and we find him one of the largest landholders of North America.

A thousand persons were required to perform the labors of his domestic
and agricultural establishments, including his negroes. The products of
his plantations were shipped to his agent in England; and he came to
enjoy such a reputation there as a successful and upright planter, that
the usual custom-house inspection of all packages and goods marked
"George Washington" was omitted. A record of his products before us for
a single year shows that he raised ten thousand bushels of corn and
seven thousand bushels of wheat. One hundred cows, with oxen, horses,
and mules in that proportion, stocked his immense estate. His farming
implements, carriages, and the nicer materials for clothing himself and
family, were imported from England. With this exception, the linen and
woollen cloths used were made by hand on his own plantation. Sixteen
spinning-wheels were kept in operation.

Mrs. Washington took her position in this immense establishment as
mistress, proving that her accomplishments and education under the
influence of wealth did not make her vain and aristocratic. Unlike many
planters' wives of that day, she did not consider that labor was
degrading. She was provided with all the servants necessary, but she
relinquished to no one, however competent, the oversight of her
household affairs. "Carrying her keys at her side, and making frequent
visits to the various apartments connected with the elaborate
arrangements of the table and its 'aids and appliances,' the spotless
purity of her attire always remained unsullied by her active
participation in the mysteries of each and all." Neatness, order, and
industry characterized her in the house, as they did her husband on the

That great care and responsibility must have devolved upon Mrs.
Washington, appears from Irving's description of a Virginia estate.

"A large Virginia estate in those days was a little empire," he says.
"The mansion-house was the seat of government, with its numerous
dependencies, such as kitchens, smoke-house, work-shops, and stables.
In this mansion the planter moved supreme; his steward, or overseer, was
his prime minister and executive officer; he had his legion of house
negroes for domestic service, and his host of field negroes for the
culture of tobacco, Indian corn, and other crops, and for other
out-of-door labor. Their quarter formed a kind of hamlet apart, composed
of various huts, with little gardens and poultry yards, all well
stocked, and swarms of little negroes gambolling in the sunshine. Then
there were large wooden edifices for curing tobacco, the staple and most
profitable production, and mills for grinding wheat and Indian corn, of
which large fields were cultivated for the supply of the family and the
maintenance of the negroes."

At the same time that Mrs. Washington had to preside over the farm-house
for the sake of the one thousand souls on the large estate, she was
obliged to conduct her domestic affairs in a costly and fashionable way
for the sake of her guests. Her wardrobe, furniture, and preparations
for special occasions were necessarily elaborate and expensive, for her
mansion was the resort of the most distinguished men and women of the
country. Almost every day some civil or military gentleman of
distinction was found at her table. Hence, much style and expense were
required to maintain her hospitable board. A silver service was demanded
by the times, the manners and customs of which were imported from
England. All other appointments corresponded with this royal standard.
Irving says that Washington's "intimacy with the Fairfaxes and his
intercourse with British officers of rank had their influence on his
mode of living."

Mrs. Washington had her chariot and four, with driver and black
postilion in livery, more, perhaps, to entertain and honor her
distinguished guests than for personal enjoyment. Her husband usually
appeared on horseback. He loved horses, especially fine ones, and most
of those in his stables were imported. To each he gave a name, suggested
by some quality that attracted his observant eye, as Ajax, Blueskin,
Valiant, Magnolia (Arabian), etc. Several noble dogs for fox-hunting
were found about his house and stable--Vulcan, Singer, Ringwood,
Sweetlips, Forrester, Music, Rockwood and Truelove. With such
preparations, an English baronet and his wife, Lord Fairfax, the wealthy
fox-hunter, provincial governors and generals, or the ordinary farmer,
could all be accommodated on the Mount Vernon estate.

An order sent to England in 1759 shows that Mrs. Washington's wardrobe
received particular attention:

    "A salmon-colored Tabby (velvet), with satin flowers for sack
    and coat.

    "One cap, handkerchief and tucker and ruffles, to be made of
    Brussels lace or Point, proper to be worn with the above; to
    cost £20 (one hundred dollars).

    "Two fine flowered lawn aprons.

    "Two pairs women's white silk hose.

    "Six pairs fine cotton do.

    "Six pairs thread do., four threaded.

    "One pair black and one pair white satin shoes of the smallest

    "Four pairs Calimanco do.

    "One fashionable hat or bonnet.

    "Six pairs women's best kid gloves.

    "Six pairs do. mits.

    "One doz. round silk lace.

    "One doz. most fashionable cambric pocket h'k'c'fs.

    "Six lbs. perfumed powder.

    "One piece narrow white satin ribbon, pearl edge."

Fashion ruled with mighty power at that time, and Mrs. Washington was
one of its votaries from necessity, if not from choice. Her husband,
too, paid much attention to dress; nor was it the result of her
influence. Before he became acquainted with her, in one of his orders
sent to England appears the following:

    "Two pairs fine worked ruffles, at 20s. per pair.

    "Two sets complete shoe brushes.

    "Six pairs thread hose at 5s.

    "Enough superfine blue cotton velvet for coat, waistcoat, and
    breeches, with fine silk buttons to match, and necessary
    trimmings, with garters for the breeches.

    "Six pairs of the very neatest shoes; two pairs double
    chancelled pumps; two pairs turned ditto; and two pairs stitched
    shoes; to be made by Didsberry, over Col. Beiler's last.

    "Six pairs gloves; three pairs for riding, with slit tops."

As if fearing that the claims of fashion might not be carefully
regarded, he added, "If worked ruffles should be out of fashion, send
such as are not."

An order for an outfit for horse-back riding shows how much attention
was paid to comfort and appearance at that time among the wealthy
planters of Virginia:

    "One man's riding-saddle, hogskin seat, large-plated stirrups,
    and everything complete; double-reined bridle and Pelham bit,

    "A very neat and fashionable Newmarket saddle-cloth.

    "A large and best portmanteau, saddle, bridle, and pillion.

    "Cloak-bag, surcingle, checked saddle-cloth, holster, &c.

    "A riding-frock of a handsome drab-colored broadcloth, with
    plain, double-gilt buttons.

    "A riding waistcoat of superfine scarlet cloth and gold lace,
    with buttons like those of the coat.

    "A blue surtout coat.

    "A neat switch whip, silver cap.

    "Black velvet cap for servant."

Mrs. Washington devoted herself to the education of her two children,
six and four years of age at the time of her marriage with Washington.
Had their own father been living, he could not have co-operated with
their mother more cheerfully and tenderly than Washington did. Their
father left a fortune to each of them, and that fact determined the
character and methods of their training, agreeable to the custom of that
day and locality. The following order for articles for the children is
quite instructive as to the management of the Mount Vernon home:

    "For Master Custis, _6 years old_."

        "One piece Irish Holland, at 4s.

        "Two yards fine cambric, at 10s.

        "Six pocket handkerchiefs, small and fine.

        "Six pairs gloves.

        "Two laced hats.

        "Two pieces India nankeen.

        "Six pairs fine thread stockings.

        "Four pairs coarser do.

        "Four pairs worsted do.

        "Four pairs strong shoes.

        "Four pairs pumps.

        "One summer suit of clothes, to be made of some thing light and

        "Three fine ivory combs.

        "Two horn do. and two brushes.

        "One piece black hair-ribbon.

        "One pair handsome silver shoe and knee buckles.

        "Six little books for children beginning to read.

        "One light duffel cloak with silver frogs.

        "10s. worth of toys."

    "For Miss Custis, _4 years old_."

        "Eight yards fine printed linen, at 3s. 6d.

        "One piece Irish Holland, at 4s.

        "Two ells fine Holland, at 10s.

        "Eight pairs kid mits.

        "Four pairs gloves.

        "Two pairs silk shoes.

        "Four pairs Calimanco do.

        "Four pairs leather pumps.

        Six pairs fine thread stockings.

        "Four pairs worsted do.

        "Half piece flowered dimity.

        "Two yards fine cambric, at 10s.

        "Two caps, two pairs ruffles, two tuckers, bibs, and aprons, if

        "Two fans, two masks, two bonnets.

        "Two m. minikins, one cloth cloak.

        "One stiffened coat of fashionable silk, made to packthread

        "Six yards ribbon.

        "Two necklaces.

        "One pair silver sleeve buttons, with stone.

        "One fashionable, dressed baby, 10s., and other toys, 10s.

        "Six pocket handkerchiefs."

This insight into the early wedded life of Washington, a hundred and
twenty years ago, upsets the notions of those people, in our day, who
suppose that the sway of fashion belongs to modern times only.

Mrs. Washington was proverbially kind to her slaves, though not more so
than her husband. They constituted a part of her family, for whom she
had to provide both in health and sickness. This fact explains several
entries in his journal concerning the quantity of provisions used. For
example, one entry is, "Although we keep one hundred and one cows, we
have to buy some butter."

Among their slaves were all kinds of artificers--carpenters,
blacksmiths, shoemakers, tailors, wheel-wrights, and so forth. All these
were indispensable on such an establishment, since a plantation must
necessarily produce whatever ordinary use required. This arrangement
imposed increased burdens upon the master of the plantation and the
mistress of the house.

Mrs. Washington was as domestic in the house as her husband was
practical on the farm. His journal shows that, unlike many of the large
planters, he labored with his men on the plantation.

"Fitted a two-eyed plough instead of a duck-bill plough, and with much
difficulty made my chariot wheel-horses plough. Put the pole-end horses
into the plough in the morning, and put in the postilion and hind horses
in the afternoon; but the ground being well swarded over, and very heavy
ploughing, I repented putting them in at all, for fear it should give
them a habit of stopping in the chariot."

"Spent the greater part of the day in making a new plough of my own

"Bottled thirty-five dozen of cider."

"Seven o'clock a messenger came to inform me that my mill was in great
danger of being destroyed by the flood. I immediately hurried off all
hands, with shovels, etc., to its assistance, and got there myself just
time enough to give it a reprieve for this time, by wheeling gravel into
the place the water had washed."

"Surveyed some lines of my Mount Vernon tract of land."

"Employed in running some lines between me and Mr. William Triplet."

"Surveyed the water-courses of my Mount Vernon tract of land, taking
advantage of the ice."

"Laid out a road from Mount Vernon to the lane of Mr. Marley's."

Irving says of Washington: "He was an early riser, often before
day-break in the winter, when the nights were long. On such occasions he
lit his own fire and wrote or read by candle-light. He breakfasted at
seven in summer and eight in winter. Two small cups of tea and three or
four cakes of Indian meal (called hoe-cakes) formed his frugal repast.
Immediately after breakfast he mounted his horse, and visited those
parts of the estate where any work was going on, seeing to everything
with his own eyes, and often aiding with his own hands."

Soon after he introduced his wife to his Mount Vernon estate, he began
to improve and adorn the grounds. He made lawns, laid out walks and
avenues, set out a great number of ornamental trees, and planted
orchards of fruit-trees. He posted himself as far as possible in the
science of agriculture, and made many improvements upon his plantations,
by reclaiming land and increasing the productive power of the soil.

Once he conceived the idea of reclaiming the Great Dismal Swamp, and
actually explored it with reference to that ultimate purpose. Through
his agency, the incorporated company known as the Dismal Swamp Company
was organized. "This vast morass was about thirty miles long and ten
miles wide, and its interior but little known" until Washington explored
it, and found a lake six miles long and three miles wide near its

The large number of guests at Mount Vernon, and Washington's enjoyment
in hunting, fishing, and visiting, particularly in winter time, when the
cares of his plantation were less numerous, appear from his journal. In
the month of January, 1770, are the following entries:

    "2. Mr. Peake dined here.

    "4. Went hunting with John Custis and Lund Washington. Started a
    deer, and then a fox, but got neither.

    "5. Went to Muddy Hole and Dogue Run. Took the dogs with me, but
    found nothing. Warner Washington and Mr. Thurston came in the

    "6. The two Col. Fairfaxes dined here, and Mr. R. Alexander and
    the two gentlemen that came the day before.

    "8. Went hunting with Mr. Alexander, J. Custis, and Lund
    Washington. Killed a fox after three hours' chase. Mr. Thurston
    came in the afternoon.

    "9. Went a ducking, but got nothing, the creek and rivers being
    frozen. Robert Adam dined here.

    "10. Went hunting on the Neck, and visited the plantation there,
    and killed a fox after treeing it three times and chasing it
    three hours.

    "13. Dined at Belvoir with Mrs. Washington and Mr. and Miss

    "15. Went up to Alexandria, expecting court, but there was none.
    [He was county judge.]

    "20. Went hunting with Jackay Custis, and killed a fox after a
    three hours' chase.

    "23. Went hunting after breakfast, and found a fox at Muddy Hole
    and killed her. Mr. Temple and Mr. Robert Adam dined here.

    "27. Went hunting; and after tracking a fox a good while, the
    dogs raised a deer and ran out of the Neck with it, and did not
    come home till the next day.

    "28. Mr. Temple came here.

    "29. Dined at Belvoir with J. P. Custis.

    "30. Went hunting, and having found a deer, it ran to the head
    of the Neck before we could stop the dogs. Mr. Peake dined

In the following month, February, fox-hunting occupied nine days, and
five days were given to surveying.

The laws of Virginia were very strict against interlopers on the
Potomac. They were a great nuisance to the wealthy planters on its
banks. Fishing and duck-hunting lured them thither. One day Mrs.
Washington remarked to her husband, "I think that strangers are at the

"Are you sure they are strangers?"

"Yes, I think so," Mrs. Washington answered. "Look and see."

"They are strangers, surely," responded Washington, after a critical
look towards the landing. "An oysterman's craft, I think."

"What should an oysterman come to our landing for?"

"We shall find out before long, no doubt," Washington replied.

It was at the landing where the family barge was tied up. The affluent
planters kept beautiful barges, imported from England, for the use of
their families. Washington had one, rowed by six negroes, wearing a kind
of uniform of check shirts and black velvet caps.

They did find out very soon who the strangers were--an oysterman and his
crew. They were a drunken, noisy rabble, who disturbed the neighborhood
with their yells and revelry.

"They must be sent away," remarked Washington, as he hurried toward the
landing. But they were not in a condition to listen to his counsels.
They were in the defiant state of intoxication, and refused to evacuate.
They declared themselves able and determined "to hold the fort."

The hero of Monongahela was not to be defied in that way. He adopted
immediate measures to drive the mob away, but was not successful.
Finally, summoning his negroes, and organizing a campaign against them,
he forced them to leave, though, Irving says, "It took a campaign of
three days to expel these invaders from the premises."

At another time Washington was riding over his estate, when the report
of a gun on the banks of the river, not far away, startled him. Turning
his horse in the direction of the report, he soon discovered an
interloper in a canoe, making havoc among the canvas-back ducks which
were numerous on the river.

"Stranger," he called.

The hunter looked up.

"By what authority are you trespassing upon these grounds?"

The only reply that Washington received was, the hunter aimed his gun at
him as if to fire. But the owner of Mount Vernon had seen guns pointed
at him before; and, nothing daunted, he dashed into the river, shouting,
"Fire if you dare!"

Seizing the painter of the canoe, he drew it to the shore; then,
springing from his horse, he wrested the gun from the hands of the
astonished hunter.

"I am the proprietor of this estate," he shouted, seizing the fellow by
the nape of his neck and pulling him out of his canoe, "and we will see
whose rights are to be regarded."

The hunter begged for mercy, promising to quit the grounds and never
more trespass upon them. Washington restored his gun to him, and allowed
him to depart without further punishment.

Mr. and Mrs. Washington were active and influential members of the
Episcopal Church. Irving says:

"The Episcopal Church predominated throughout the 'Ancient Dominion,' as
it was termed. Each county was divided into parishes, as in England,
each with its parochial church, its parsonage, and glebe. Washington was
vestryman of two parishes,--Fairfax and Truro. The parochial church of
the former was at Alexandria, ten miles from Mount Vernon; of the
latter, at Pohick, about seven miles. The church at Pohick was rebuilt
on a plan of his own, and in a great measure at his expense. At one or
other of these churches he attended every Sunday, when the weather and
the roads permitted. His demeanor was reverential and devout. Mrs.
Washington knelt during the prayers; he always stood, as was the custom
at that time."

One of Mrs. Washington's biographers says of her:

"It is recorded of this devout Christian that never, during her life,
whether in prosperity or adversity, did she omit that daily
self-communion and self-examination, and those private devotional
exercises, which would best prepare her for the self-control and self
denial by which she was, for more than half a century, so eminently
distinguished. It was her habit to retire to her own apartment every
morning after breakfast, there to devote an hour to solitary prayer and

Mount Vernon was a home of prayer, of course. The presence of guests,
however distinguished, never modified the family devotions. These were
among the essentials of good family government. In one of Washington's
orders sent to England is the following:

"A small Bible, neatly bound in Turkey, and "John Parke Custis" wrote in
gilt letters on the inside of the cover.

"A neat small prayer-book bound as above, with "John Parke Custis," as

The necessity of erecting a new house of worship was discussed in the
vestry of Truro, and a vote in favor of the project was secured. On the
location, the vestrymen were divided.

"The old site is the proper one," said Mr. George Mason, whose residence
was near the house of worship.

"Not at all central," replied another.

"Yet not so far aside as to discommode any one," responded Mason.

"I beg leave to dissent from Mr. Mason," added a third. "The location is
inconvenient for my family."

"The sacred associations of the spot alone ought to keep the church
there," urged Mr. Mason. "For generations our house of worship has stood
there, and the place is hallowed by the sepulchres of our fathers around

The subject was discussed, pro and con, when Washington's opinion was
asked. Without reserve he remarked:

"I cannot agree with my friend Mason that the location does not sensibly
inconvenience some members of the parish. I think it does, and that a
more central locality can be found. Neither can I see the force of his
argument derived from the contiguity of the grave-yard. Churches are
erected for the living, and not for the dead. The ashes of the dead can
be sacredly protected by a suitable enclosure."

The vestry adjourned without deciding upon the location, and before the
next meeting, Washington carefully surveyed the parish, and made a neat
plan of the same, showing that the old location was far from the centre.
Mr. Mason urged with more earnestness than before the claims of the old
site. But when Washington took his plan of survey from his pocket, and
gave ocular demonstration that the old location was at one side of the
parish, the new location was adopted at once.

Rev. Lee Massey was rector of the church at that time, and he said of

"I never knew so constant an attendant on church as Washington. And his
behavior in the house of God was ever so deeply reverential that it
produced the happiest effects on my congregation, and greatly assisted
me in my pulpit labors. No company ever kept him from church. I have
often been at Mount Vernon on the Sabbath morning when his
breakfast-table was filled with guests; but to him they furnished no
pretext for neglecting his God and losing the satisfaction of setting a
good example. For, instead of staying at home out of false complaisance
to them, he used constantly to invite them to accompany him."

Mrs. Washington's daughter died in 1770, after a lingering and painful
disease. It was a terrible blow to her; and how severe a blow it was to
her husband may be learned from the following incident:

Coming into the room when his wife's face was buried in her hands,
convulsed with grief, he burst into tears, kneeled beside the bed, and
poured out his soul in a most fervent prayer that God would yet spare
the dear girl for the sake of her mother, and for Christ's sake. She had
already breathed her last a moment before he entered the room; but, in
his great sympathy for his wife, and his own passionate grief, the fact
was unrecognized, and he sought relief in prayer.

The son was between sixteen and seventeen years of age when the daughter
died, and was beginning to be a very wayward boy. He was sent to an
Episcopal school at Annapolis, Maryland, where he attended to
fox-hunting and other amusements more than he did to his studies. He
fell in love, also, with Eleanor Calvert, daughter of Benedict Calvert
of Mount Airy, and he entered into a matrimonial engagement with her.
Mrs. Washington was very much tried by the course of the young man, and,
after canvassing the whole subject carefully with her husband, he
addressed a letter to Miss Calvert's father, which was a compliment
alike to his head and heart. It was a very long letter, and we have
space for brief extracts only:

    MOUNT VERNON, April 3, 1773.

    "DEAR SIR,--I am now set down to write to you on a subject of
    importance, and of no small embarrassment to me. My son-in-law
    and ward, Mr. Custis, has paid his addresses to your second
    daughter, and, having made some progress in her affections, has
    solicited her in marriage. How far a union of this sort may be
    agreeable to you, you best can tell; but I should think myself
    wanting in candor were I not to confess that Miss Nelly's
    amiable qualities are acknowledged on all hands, and that an
    alliance with your family will be pleasing to his.

    "This acknowledgment being made, you must permit me to add sir,
    that at this, or in any short time, his youth, inexperience, and
    unripened education, are, and will be, insuperable obstacles, in
    my opinion, to the completion of the marriage. As his guardian,
    I consider it my indispensable duty to endeavor to carry him
    through a regular course of education, and to guard his youth to
    a more advanced age, before an event on which his own peace and
    the happiness of another are to depend, takes place....

    "If the affection which they have avowed for each other is fixed
    upon a solid basis, it will receive no diminution in the course
    of two or three years, in which time he may prosecute his
    studies, and thereby render himself more deserving of the lady
    and useful to society. If, unfortunately, as they are both
    young, there should be an abatement of affection on either side,
    or both, it had better precede, than follow, marriage.

    "Delivering my sentiments thus freely will not, I hope, lead you
    into a belief that I am desirous of breaking off the match. To
    postpone it is all I have in view; for I shall recommend to the
    young gentleman, with the warmth that becomes a man of honor, to
    consider himself as much engaged to your daughter as if the
    indissoluble knot was tied; and, as the surest means of
    affecting this, to apply himself closely to his studies, by
    which he will, in a great measure, avoid those little
    flirtations with other young ladies, that may, by dividing the
    attention, contribute not a little to divide the affections."

The result of this correspondence was that Washington took young Custis
to King's (now Columbia) College, New York City, and entered him for two
years. But love had so much more control of his heart than learning had
of his head, that he remained there only a few months, when he returned
to Mount Vernon, and was married to Miss Calvert on Feb. 3, 1774. The
couple were nineteen and seventeen years of age, respectively, and their
marriage proved a very fortunate event for themselves, and the families
on both sides.

The following incident, illustrative of Washington's fine personal
appearance, transpired when he accompanied his step-son to New York. It
is from the pen of Mr. Custis:

"It was boasted at the table of the British governor that a regiment,
just landed from England, contained among its officers some of the
finest specimens of martial elegance in his Majesty's service; in fact,
the most superb-looking fellows ever landed upon the shores of the new
World. 'I wager your excellency a pair of gloves,' said Mrs. Morris, an
American lady, 'that I will show you a finer man in the procession
to-morrow than your excellency can select from your famous
regiment;'--'Done, madam!' replied the governor. The morrow came (the
fourth of June), and the procession, in honor of the birthday of the
king, advanced through Broadway to the strains of military music. As the
troops filed before the governor, he pointed out to the lady several
officers by name, claiming her admiration for their superior persons and
brilliant equipments. In rear of the troops came a band of officers not
on duty, colonial officers, and strangers of distinction. Immediately,
on their approach, the attention of the governor was seen to be directed
toward a tall and martial figure, that marched with grave and measured
tread, apparently indifferent to the scene around him. The lady now
archly observed, 'I perceive that your excellency's eyes are turned to
the right object; what say you to your wager now, sir?'--'Lost, madam,'
replied the gallant governor; 'when I laid my wager I was not aware that
Colonel Washington was in New York.'"

Washington kept his own books at the same time that he attended to the
business of his vast estates. The same neatness, method, and accuracy
characterized his accounts at Mount Vernon that characterized his
writing books at Mr. Williams' school. They were models.

When Mrs. Washington went to Mount Vernon to live, the mansion contained
only four square rooms on the ground. In this condition it remained
until the close of the Revolution.

During the Revolution she was wont to spend the winter with her husband
in his winter quarters. The accommodations were always meagre. One of
these winters he occupied a small frame house, unfurnished in the second
story. The general could get along with the meagre comforts, but he
desired better accommodations for his wife. So he sent for a young
mechanic and fellow-apprentice.

"Mrs. Washington will tell you what she wants, and you will make the
changes under her direction," he said to them.

Soon Mrs. Washington was in their presence.

"Now, young men," she said, "I care for nothing but comfort here, and
should like you to fit me up a beaufet on one side of the room, and some
shelves and places for hanging clothes on the other."

The mechanic said afterwards that "every morning Mrs. Washington came
up-stairs to see us; and after she and the general had dined, she always
called us down to eat at her table. We worked very hard, nailing smooth
boards over the rough and worm-eaten planks, and stopping the crevices
in the walls made by time and hard usage. We studied to do everything to
please so pleasant a lady, and to make some return in our humble way for
the kindness of the general."

When the work was completed, Mrs. Washington was surveying it, when the
mechanic said, "Madam, we have endeavored to do the best we could. I
hope we have suited you."

"I am astonished," Mrs. Washington replied. "Your work would do honor to
an old master, and you are mere lads. I am not only satisfied, but
highly gratified with what you have done for my comfort."

She was accustomed to say, after the Revolution, "I heard the first
cannon at the opening, and the last at the closing, of all the campaigns
of the Revolutionary war."

She survived her husband by two years. As death drew near, with mind
clear and heart staid on God, she awaited the final summons with
calmness and sweet resignation. She called her grandchildren to her
bedside, "discoursed to them of their respective duties, spoke of the
happy influence of religion, and then triumphantly resigned her spirit
into the hands of her Saviour," and expired.

Mount Vernon is now in a good state of preservation. A national
association of women have charge of the place, that it may be kept in
repair, and the relics--furniture, pictures, account books, library,
etc.--be preserved for coming generations to see.



During the fifteen years of Washington's peaceful abode at Mount Vernon,
public affairs were hastening to a crisis. The "Seven Years' War,"
beginning with Washington's attack upon De Jumonville, and ending with
the surrender of Montreal and all Canada, and the signing of the treaty
of peace at Fontainbleau, in 1763, had closed; but greater things
awaited the colonists in the future.

Scarcely had the people settled down in the enjoyment of peace when an
insurrection broke out among the Indian tribes, including the Delawares,
Shawnees, and other tribes on the Ohio, with whom Washington had
mingled. It was called "Pontiac's War," because Pontiac, a famous Indian
chief, was its master-spirit. He induced the tribes to take up the
hatchet against the English.

An attack was made upon all the English posts, from Detroit to Fort Pitt
(late Duquesne). "Several of the small stockaded forts, the places of
refuge of woodland neighbors, were surprised and sacked with remorseless
butchery. The frontiers of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia were
laid waste; traders in the wilderness were plundered and slain; hamlets
and farm-houses were wrapped in flames, and their inhabitants

Washington was not engaged in this Indian war, which was short in
duration. At the time he was pushing his project of draining the Dismal

Other things, however, of a public nature enlisted his attention, as the
following interview with Mr. George Mason will show:

"It appears that the British Government propose to tax the Colonies to
help pay its debts," remarked Mr. Mason. "At least, the subject is
before Parliament for discussion."

"Yes," answered Washington, "and the proposition is as unjust as it is
impolitic. After we have helped the king maintain his authority in this
country, we must not only pay our own bills, but help him pay his. The
Colonists will never submit to that."

"They never should, whether they will or not," replied Mason. "I
understand that the British officers have represented to the government
that the colonists are rich, and abundantly able to assist in paying the
debt of England."

"And that comes from entertaining them in an extravagant way, as our
leaders did. A few rich families furnished the silver plate and luxuries
that dazzled the eyes of British officers." Here Washington referred to
what he never approved, "borrowing silver and begging luxuries" to treat
British officers with.

"But suppose Parliament actually imposes a tax upon us, and sends agents
to collect it, what can be done?"

"Resist the tax," Washington replied.

"How resist?"

"There is but one way to resist; resort to arms." "And there will be a
poor show for us against the king's armies," said Mason.

"And the king's temper," added Washington, alluding to the fact that
King George the Third, then ruling England, was an ambitious,
unprincipled, and tyrannical ruler.

"The king will not be very merciful towards _rebels_."

"No, of course not. I suppose that resistance to the tax will be

"It cannot be anything else. Nevertheless, we can never submit to
taxation without representation," added Washington, referring to the
fact that the Colonists had neither voice nor vote in the administration
of the British Government.

"Never! Even loyalty cannot approve so base an act of injustice."

"Especially after Parliament has gone to the verge of extortion by
previous acts," remarked Washington. "Our ports are now shut against
foreign vessels; we can export our productions only to countries
belonging to the British Crown, and must import goods only from England,
and in English ships. Neither can we manufacture anything that will
interfere with the manufactures of England. These are intolerant

"That is so; and I do not wonder that the New England Colonies,
particularly, should remonstrate against these arbitrary restraints,
since their interests are chiefly commercial, and, therefore, more
seriously affected by them."

"I doubt whether Parliament will venture upon so hazardous an
experiment," continued Washington. "Walpole and Pitt, not to mention
others, are opposed to this measure of deriving a revenue by taxation
from the Colonies. Walpole said, 'It must be a bolder man than myself,
and one less friendly to commerce, who should venture on such an
expedient. For my part, I would encourage the trade of the Colonists to
the utmost.' Such sentiments must have weight with the government."

Contrary to Washington's expectations, Parliament voted, in 1764, that
England had a right to tax America; and Grenville, then at the head of
the government, proceeded to preparations for taxing the Colonies.
Through his influence, also, the "Stamp Act" was passed in March, 1765,
whereby "all instruments in writing were to be executed on stamped
paper, to be purchased from the agents of the British Government."

Other oppressive measures, also, were adopted subsequently, such as the
appointment of judges by the English commissioners; that offenders
should be tried in England for offences committed in America; with acts
of lesser importance that infringed upon the rights of the people.

These things aroused the indignation of the Colonists, and the
excitement grew to the highest pitch. In New England violent measures
were adopted to express the indignant remonstrance of the people.

Two months after the passage of the "Stamp Act" in England, the Virginia
Legislature convened at Williamsburg. Few of the members sympathized
with the British Government. A large majority denounced the aforesaid
measures as oppressive and tyrannical. Among the new members was Patrick
Henry, a young lawyer of fearless courage and fervid eloquence. Rising
in his seat, he presented a series of resolutions, which declared that
the House of Burgesses of Virginia alone possessed the right to tax the
people of that Colony, and whoever maintained the contrary should be
deemed an enemy to the Colony.

He supported these resolutions by a speech of surpassing eloquence,
surprising his associates by his boldness and powerful oratory.

"The resolutions are inflammatory," objected the speaker, Mr. Robinson.
"We can maintain our rights without challenging the arms of the

"The resolutions are right in principle, but intemperate in spirit,"
remarked another.

"Our self-respect demands that we indignantly repel such invasion of our
rights as taxation imposes!" exclaimed a third, in full accord with the

After the discussion had proceeded for a while, a timid spirit being
manifested by a few, and indignant remonstrance against British tyranny
by the many, Patrick Henry rose to reply to objections advanced.

He vindicated colonial rights under the English Constitution by an
argument of great power, showing how often and causelessly they had been
assailed; and he justified the resolutions by the "cool deliberation" of
Parliament in fastening the chains of slavery upon them. Warming with
his theme, he advanced to matchless eloquence, and closed his philippic
with such a daring burst of patriotism as startled the Assembly.

"Cæsar had his Brutus!" he shouted; "Charles his Cromwell, and George
the Third"--

"Treason! Treason!" cried the speaker.

"And George the Third may profit by their examples!" finishing the
sentence in thunder tones.

"Sir," he continued, after running his eye over the Assembly, "if this
be treason (bowing to the speaker) make the most of it!"

Lieutenant-governor Fauquier was alarmed at this disloyal demonstration,
and proceeded to dissolve the Assembly, though not until the resolutions
were adopted in a modified form, still retaining, however, their
patriotic spirit.

Washington supported the resolutions, and condemned the governor for
dissolving the Assembly; and, as the governor ordered a new election,
hoping thereby to secure a Legislature of truly loyal members, he
recommended the re-election of those who voted for the resolutions, and
the non-election of those who voted against them. The people were so
impregnated with the spirit of Patrick Henry, that nearly every man who
voted for the resolutions was returned to the next Assembly, and nearly
all the others were left at home.

"Patrick Henry's course was treasonable," said Lord Fairfax to
Washington. "A petition to the king, expressing our grievances, and
praying for the removal of these oppressive measures would accomplish
far more for us in my judgment."

"And yet Patrick Henry had right, justice, and patriotism on his side,"
replied Washington. "Without his spirit we should bend our necks to the
British yoke, and become a nation of slaves."

"Yes; but appeal to the government should precede opposition," suggested

"We have appealed,--vainly appealed," answered Washington. "The New
England Colonies have remonstrated again and again; but their
remonstrances have been spurned. The British Government must understand
the patriotic spirit that animates our people."

"All that is true; but it is not necessary to arouse the wrath of the
British lion in order to accomplish that," remarked Fairfax.

"That is a matter which should not trouble us," replied Washington. "Our
rights and liberties should be maintained at all hazards. And I am
heartily in favor of the New England plan to cease using importations on
which taxes are imposed."

"I am with you in that," said Fairfax.

"I confess that my sympathies are with the inhabitants of Boston, even
in their violent demonstrations against the enforcement of these unjust

"To what do you particularly refer?" inquired Lord Fairfax.

"The citizens of Boston hung the stamp distributor in effigy, broke the
windows of his office, and finally tore his office down and made a
bonfire of the fragments. They closed their demonstration by pelting the
officials, who interfered, with stones. The stamp distributor resigned
his office at once."

"That is insurrection," remarked Fairfax.

"Very true, and I would not recommend a resort to such extreme measures;
certainly not at this stage of affairs. Yet I really sympathize with the
patriotic spirit that has aroused the people of Boston to repel acts of
usurpation and tyranny."

Benjamin Franklin had been sent to England as an agent of the Colonies
to intercede for their rights. He was summoned before a committee of
Parliament, where the following colloquy occurred:

"What was the temper of America towards Great Britain before the year
1763?" That was the year of the treaty between England and France, as we
have seen.

"The best in the world," Dr. Franklin answered. "They submitted
willingly to the government of the Crown, and paid, in all their courts,
obedience to the acts of Parliament. Numerous as the people are in the
several old provinces, they cost you nothing in forts, citadels,
garrisons, or armies, to keep them in subjection. They were governed by
this country at the expense only of a little pen, ink, and paper. They
were led by a thread.... Natives of Great Britain were always treated
with particular regard; to be an Old England man was, of itself, a
character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among us."

"And what is their temper now?"

"Oh, very much altered!"

"If the Stamp Act is not repealed, what do you think will be the

"A total loss of the respect and affection the people of America bear to
this country, and of all the commerce that depends on that respect and

"Do you think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp duty
if it was moderated?"

"No, never, unless compelled by force of arms."

This was stating the case without reserve; and, no doubt, it had much to
do with the repeal of the Stamp Act in March, 1766.

It should not be overlooked that the Colonies had some strong friends in
Parliament. Charles Townsend advocated the enforcement of the Stamp Act.
"Who are these Americans?" he cried. "Are they not our children, planted
by our care, nourished by our indulgence, and protected by our arms?"

The brave Colonel Barré, with cheeks all inflamed with virtuous
indignation, replied:

"They planted by your care? No, sir; your oppressions planted them in
America! They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated and
inhospitable country, where they exposed themselves to all the evils
which a wilderness, filled with blood-thirsty savages, could threaten.
And yet, actuated by true English love of liberty, they thought all
these evils light in comparison with what they suffered in their own
country, and from you, who ought to have been their friends.

"They nourished by your indulgence? No, sir; they grew by your neglect!
As soon as you began to indulge them, that boasted indulgence was to
send them hungry packs of your own creatures to spy out their liberties,
to misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon their substance! Yes,
sir; you sent them men, whose behavior has often caused the blood of
those Sons of Liberty to recoil within them--men promoted by you to the
highest seats of justice in that country, who, to my knowledge, had good
cause to dread a court of justice in their own! They protected by your
arms? No, sir! They have nobly taken up arms in your defence--have
exerted a most heroic valor, amidst their daily labors, for the defence
of a country whose frontier was drenched in blood, while its interior
parts gave up all their savings to our emolument!"

These words of Barré were as just as they were heroic; for, in the
"Seven Years' War" the Americans lost about thirty thousand men; and
Massachusetts alone spent about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars
in defence of the country.

The next session of the House of Burgesses occurred after a Congress of
delegates from the several Colonies met in New York City. The doings of
that Congress were not suited to make the action of the Virginia
Legislature more conciliatory, for that Congressional body denounced the
acts of the British Parliament, and declared that Americans could never
submit to such assaults upon their liberties.

The Virginia Assembly was more insurrectionary at the next session,
startling the new governor (Lord Botetourt) to such a degree that he
appeared in the council chamber personally, and said:

"Mr. Speaker, and gentlemen of the House of Burgesses, I have heard of
your resolves, and augur ill of their effects. You have made it my duty
to dissolve you, and you are dissolved accordingly."

The Burgesses adjourned to a private house, and made Peyton Randolph
moderator. Here Washington presented "a draft of the articles of
association, concerted between him and George Mason. They formed the
ground-work of an instrument signed by all present, pledging themselves
neither to import nor use any goods, merchandise, or manufactures taxed
by Parliament to raise a revenue in America."

This plan had been adopted by the New England Colonies, and now measures
were taken to make it universal.

Washington adhered scrupulously to the plan, and allowed nothing to come
into his house with the tax of England upon it. He wrote to his London

"You will perceive, in looking over the several invoices, that some of
the goods there required are upon condition that the act of Parliament,
imposing a duty on tea, paper, etc., for the purpose of raising a
revenue in America, is totally repealed; and I beg the favor of you to
be governed strictly thereby, as it will not be in my power to receive
any articles contrary to our non-importation agreement, which I have
subscribed and shall religiously adhere to, and should, if it were as I
could wish it to be, ten times as strict."

He wrote to George Mason:

"Our all is at stake, and the little conveniences and comforts of life,
when set in competition with our liberty, ought to be rejected not with
reluctance, but with pleasure.... It is amazing how much this practice,
if adopted in all the Colonies, would lessen the American imports, and
distress the various traders and manufacturers in Great Britain."

Washington's prediction was fulfilled. The traders of England were
embarrassed by non-importation, and appealed to the government for
relief. The tax was removed from all articles except tea. It was
retained on tea in order "to show the Colonies that England claimed the
right of taxation."

To the Colonies a tax on one article was just as much an invasion of
their rights as a tax upon all; so that the last act of Parliament was
additional proof that England meant to force taxation upon them. Of
course, as brave and fearless patriots, they resisted. Tea was
universally discarded. Ship-loads of it in Boston, New York, and other
ports were returned to England, or packed away to perish. In Boston
seventeen citizens disguised themselves as Indians, boarded an English
tea-vessel, and cast the tea into the dock. This act aroused the
British lion, and he shook his mane and roared. Soon an English fleet
appeared in Boston Harbor to reduce the inhabitants to subjection by
force of arms. At the same time, the Boston Port Bill was enforced,
thereby closing the harbor of that city to commerce.

The citizens refused to provide quarters for the English troops, and
declared, in public assembly, that quartering British soldiers in the
State House and Faneuil Hall, as the English officers had done, was a
still further and graver invasion of their rights.

We should have said that the day on which the Stamp Act went into
operation, Nov. 1, 1765, was observed throughout the Colonies as a day
of fasting and prayer. The day was ushered in by the tolling of bells,
as if the funeral ceremonies of the king himself were to be performed.
Ships displayed their colors at half-mast. Business was suspended, and
halls and churches were opened for prayer and addresses. Washington's
journal shows that he spent the day very much as he did his Sabbaths,
in devout worship in the house of God, and religious exercises at home.

In Boston a solemn procession bore along the streets effigies of the men
who were promoters of the Act, burying them with appropriate ceremonies.
In New York City a similar procession carried the printed Act itself
upon a pole, surmounted by a death's head, with a scroll bearing the


Lieutenant-Governor Colden, who had lent his influence to secure the
Act, fearing violence, fled to the fort, and garrisoned it with marines
from a ship of war. "The mob broke into his stable, drew out his
chariot, put his effigy into it, paraded it through the streets to the
Common (now the Park), where they hung it on a gallows. In the evening
it was taken down, put again into the chariot, with the devil for a
companion, and escorted back by torchlight to the bowling green, where
the whole pageant, chariot and all, was burnt under the very guns of the

The day on which the Boston Port Bill went into effect was also set
apart as a day of fasting, and similar demonstrations were made
throughout the Colonies.

It is necessary to turn aside at this point to speak of Washington's
visit to Ohio in the interest of his officers and soldiers. It will be
remembered that the Governor of Virginia pledged the Virginia troops led
by Washington to the Ohio, two hundred thousand acres of the best land
in that region. Years passed by, and this pledge was not redeemed. The
British ministry opposed redeeming the pledge. But Washington did not
forget the claim of his old associates in the hardships and perils of
war. He took the matter in hand, and seized upon an opportune moment to
carry out his purpose. He even performed a journey to the Ohio to select
the best land possible for his deserving comrades. The opportune moment
he chose for his journey is described as follows by Irving:

"The Six Nations, by a treaty in 1768, had ceded to the British Crown,
in consideration of a sum of money, all the lands possessed by them
south of the Ohio. Land offices would soon be opened for the sale of
them. Squatters and speculators were already preparing to swarm in, set
up their marks on the choicest spots, and establish what were called
preemption rights. Washington determined at once to visit the lands thus
ceded, affix his mark on such tracts as he should select, and apply for
a grant from government, in behalf of the 'soldiers' claim.'"

This expedition was attended by considerable danger, as the Delawares,
Shawnees, and Mingees considered that their rights were invaded by the
action of the Six Nations. The appearance of white men upon their
domains to claim lands was not at all agreeable to them.

In these circumstances Washington undertook the journey, accompanied by
his old friend Dr. Craik, and servant, with two servants of his own. All
were mounted, with an additional horse to carry the baggage.

They were twelve days on their way to Fort Pitt, where they took a large
canoe to descend the Ohio as far as the Great Kanawha. Colonel Croghan,
at the fort, engaged two Indians to conduct them thither, and John
Nicholson as interpreter.

It was during this trip down the Ohio that Washington enjoyed rare
sport. Such herds of deer upon the banks, and flocks of wild turkeys,
and such numbers of ducks and geese upon the river, he had never seen
before. The canoe was loaded with game.

It was on this trip, also, at the mouth of the Great Kanawha, that
Washington met the old sachem "who lay in ambush on the banks of the
Monongahela, and wrought such havoc in Braddock's army." The Indian
chief came to honor Washington, accompanied with other warriors. After
formal introduction, he addressed him thus, through Nicholson the

"I am a chief, and the ruler over many tribes. My influence extends to
the waters of the great lakes, and to the far blue mountains. I have
travelled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of
the great battle. It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed
with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief; I called
to my young men and said, "Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not
of the red-coat tribe: he hath an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors
fight as we do; himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain
and he dies." Our rifles were levelled, rifles which, but for him, knew
not how to miss. 'Twas all in vain; a power mightier far than we
shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. I am old, and soon
shall be gathered to the great council-fire of my fathers, in the land
of shades; but ere I go, there is a something bids me speak in the voice
of prophecy. Listen! _The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his
destinies. He will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn
will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire!_"

Washington successfully accomplished the object of his mission, and in
the end his old companions in arms received their just dues. "Fifteen
thousand acres were awarded to a field officer, nine thousand to a
captain, six thousand to a subaltern, and so on." Stobo and Van Braam,
who were with him at Great Meadows, received nine thousand acres
apiece. They were in London at the time, and subsequently Washington
purchased their claims through his London agent.

How perilous his journey was at the time may be inferred from the fact
that soon after his return there was another Indian outbreak on the
banks of the Great Kanawha, whither Washington went, and in the
engagement Colonel Lewis and other Virginians lost their lives.

The Virginia Assembly was in session when the Boston Port Bill took
effect, and the members voted to make the day one of fasting. They
voted, also, at that session, to call a Congress of the Colonies. Other
legislatures adopted a like measure; and the first American Congress
convened in Philadelphia on the 5th of September, 1774. Washington was a
member of this body, and took a leading part in addressing an able
memorial to the King of Great Britain.

Patrick Henry was asked who was the first man in the American Congress
at Philadelphia, and he answered:

"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

The patriots felt the need of divine guidance in their deliberations,
and elected Rev. Mr. Duché of Philadelphia, an Episcopal clergyman,
chaplain of Congress. A few mornings thereafter, news came that the enemy
was cannonading Boston. It so happened that the Psalter for that day
included the following passages:

"Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me. Fight against
them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand
up for my help. Draw out also the spear, and stop the way of them that
persecute me. Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation."

The effect upon the Assembly was thrilling. John Adams wrote to his wife
about it:

"You must remember this was the morning after we heard the horrible
rumor of the cannonade of Boston. I never saw a greater effect upon an
audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on
that morning.

"After this, Mr. Duché unexpectedly struck out into an extemporaneous
prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present. Episcopalian as he
is, Dr. Cooper himself never prayed with such fervor, such ardor, such
earnestness and pathos, and in language so eloquent and sublime for
America, for the Congress, for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and
especially for the town of Boston."

Most of the members stood during the prayer, but Washington was on his

Lord Chatham was still alive, an old man, feeble and disabled, when that
memorial was laid before Parliament, and he "crawled" from his sick room
into that body to plead for the American cause. The old orator kindled
with patriotic fervor as he rose to defend the cause of the oppressed,
and he gave utterance to one of the most eloquent and impassioned
appeals ever delivered in Parliament. Our space will allow but a brief
extract from it:

"For God's sake then, my lords, let the way be instantly opened for
reconciliation; I say instantly, or it will be too late forever. The
Americans tell you--and remember it is the language of the whole
continent--they tell you they will _never submit_ to be taxed without
their own consent. They insist on a repeal of your laws. They do not ask
it as a favor: they claim it as a _right_; they _demand it_. And I tell
you the acts must be repealed; they _will_ be repealed: you cannot
enforce them. But bare repeal will not satisfy this enlightened and
spirited people. What! satisfy them by repealing a bit of paper? by
repealing a piece of parchment? No! you must declare you have _no right
to tax_ them; then they may trust you, then they will confide in you.
There are, my lords, three millions of Whigs in America. Three millions
of Whigs, with arms in their hands, are a _formidable body_! There are,
I trust, double that number of Whigs in England; and I hope the Whigs in
both countries will join and make a common cause. They are united by the
strongest ties of sentiment and interest, and will therefore, I hope,
fly to support their brethren. In this most alarming and distracted
state of our affairs, though borne down by a cruel disease, I have
crawled to this house, my lords, to give you my best advice, which is,
to beseech his Majesty that orders may instantly be despatched to
General Gage to remove the troops from Boston; their presence is a
source of perpetual irritation and suspicion to those people. How can
they trust you with the bayonet at their breasts? They have all the
reason in the world to believe that you mean their death or slavery. Let
us then set to this business in earnest. There is no time to be lost:
every moment is big with danger. Nay, while I am now speaking, the
decisive blow may be struck, and millions involved in the dreadful
consequences! The very first drop of blood that is drawn will make a
wound perhaps never to be healed--a wound of such rancorous malignity,
as will, in all probability, mortify the whole body, and hasten, both on
England and America, that dissolution to which all nations are

"My lord, if the ministers thus persevere in misadvising the king, he
will be undone. He may, indeed, still wear his crown, but the American
jewel out of it, it will not be worth the wearing."

Although Chatham was supported by Lord Camden, Lord Shelburne, and the
Marquis of Rockingham, his motion was rejected by a large majority, and
nearly seven thousand more troops were forwarded to Boston as soon as

Mr. Weems states, what we should have mentioned before, that when
England resolved to enforce the tax on tea, and sent a fleet of vessels
loaded with the article to Boston, and other American ports, in order to
test the matter, Lord Fairfax called upon Washington at his home.

"A letter from my agent," said Washington, "announces that several
vessels with cargoes of gunpowder tea are about to set sail to this
country. Parliament is determined to tax our tea."

"Why do you call it _gunpowder_ tea?" asked Fairfax.

"Why, I am afraid, my lord," replied Washington, "it will prove
inflammable, and produce an explosion that will shake both countries."

His prediction was fulfilled, showing that he took in the situation,
with that sagacity for which he was renowned.

General Gage was in command of the royal forces in Boston. When the Port
Bill went into operation, he removed the Legislature to Salem. But such
was the indignation of the Colonists that, when the time of opening its
session arrived, he did not dare to proceed thither. The members
assembled, however, and, after waiting in vain for General Gage, they
adjourned to Concord, where, immediately, the patriots began to collect
arms, ammunition, and other supplies for war.

The military force of General Gage in Boston was increased to such an
extent that he soon exhausted his supplies. For relief, he sent out
small foraging parties secretly, to seize and appropriate whatever they
could lay their hands upon. Hearing that there was a magazine of
supplies at Concord, on the night of April 18, 1775, he sent out eight
hundred picked men, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, to
destroy it. By some means Dr. Warren of Boston learned of General Gage's
intentions, and, by a previously concerted signal, gave the alarm. A
light in the steeple of the Old North Church was the signal to certain
patriots that the people must be called to arms.

A courier on horseback dashed away from Charlestown, at breakneck speed,
to give the alarm to the sleeping inhabitants of villages between that
place and Concord. At the top of his voice he cried, to startle the
minute-men from their beds, "The regulars are coming!"

Certain leading patriots on the way must be aroused and told the story
of their danger. So, with a furious pound upon their door, and the wild
cry, "The regulars are coming!" the heroic patriots were routed from
their beds.

At Lexington Mrs. Harrington, a brave and trusty heroine, heard the
midnight cry, and she sprang from her bed, ran to the chamber door, and
shouted to her son, who was a minute-man, "John, get up! The regulars
are coming!"

By the time day-light began to dawn, the minute-men were in arms, and
the whole region round about was fired with the courage and enthusiasm
of men resolved to be free or die. When the British troops reached
Lexington at five o'clock on the morning of April 19, they found a
hundred minute-men drawn up in battle array. Major Pitcairn rode up
to them, and shouted:

"Disperse, you rebels! Throw down your arms and disperse!"

His order was followed by a volley of musketry right into the faces of
the Lexington soldiers, killing four and wounding several others. The
minute-men dispersed, and the British troops hurried on to Concord. Here
they met with an unexpectedly hot reception by several hundred
minute-men, who had come through the darkness to defend their supplies
and the town. Every hour their number increased by the accession of
heroes, who came from even twenty miles away to meet the foe.

The British commander was forced to order a retreat, in which his army
suffered even more than it did in the battle. The minute-men, from
behind trees, houses, barns, and stone walls, picked off the red-coats,
so that when the invaders reached Lexington, on their retreat, they were
exhausted, depleted, and disheartened. But for the arrival of
reinforcements under Lord Percy, the Yankees would have killed or
captured Colonel Smith and all his force.

Notwithstanding Colonel Smith was reinforced by "sixteen companies of
foot, a corps of marines, and two pieces of artillery," the retreat was
continued. All the way from Lexington to Boston, minute-men, who lived
remote from the route, and heard the startling news too late to hurry to
Concord, annoyed the retreating army by pouring the contents of their
muskets into their ranks from covert places where they concealed
themselves for bloody work. When the British reached Charlestown, they
had sustained a loss of sixty-five killed, one hundred and eighty
wounded, and twenty-eight prisoners. The Americans lost fifty killed and
thirty-four wounded.

That was the opening of the Revolutionary War, in which independence was
achieved. On that nineteenth day of April, 1775, was fired the first gun
which, John Adams said, "was heard around the world." From that moment
Americans armed themselves, and an army of defence was hastily rallied
at Cambridge. The Assembly of Massachusetts was in session at the time,
and voted to raise thirteen thousand men in the Colony, and ask the
other New England Colonies to increase the number to thirty thousand.
There was scarcely any need of such action by the Legislature, however,
for the patriotism of the people was unbounded. The Concord fight
obliterated the last vestige of apathy, and drew forth a spirit of
heroism before unknown. From every quarter men rushed to arms
voluntarily, ready to sacrifice even life in the common cause. As an
example of the unparalleled devotion to the country, Israel Putnam of
Connecticut was ploughing in the field when the news of the Concord
fight reached him. Without stopping to go to his house, he jumped upon
the back of his horse, instructed his son to carry the intelligence to
his mother, and galloped away to join the troops at Cambridge. With such
courage and patriotism Americans rallied for the defense of the country,
coming even from the most distant hamlets of New England.

The second American Congress met in Philadelphia about four weeks after
the battle of Concord. Washington was in his seat promptly, wrought up
to the highest pitch of determination in the cause of liberty. He had
just come from a convention in Virginia, in which Patrick Henry stirred
the hearts of all true patriots by one of his indescribable harangues
for the American cause, in which he closed with the memorable words:

"We must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and
to the God of hosts is all that is left us!"

In that deep and solemn conviction Washington met his associates in the
second Congress at Philadelphia. What were his opinions regarding the
situation at that time may be learned from his familiar conversation
with John Adams:

"The decisive blow is struck," remarked Adams; "the Concord fight has
made our duty plain."

"It could not possibly be made plainer," replied Washington, "and the
Concord fight must convince our oppressors that Americans will never
yield to their domination."

"You are right in that view, Colonel Washington; the spirit of hostility
to tyranny is grander than I dreamed of. It augurs well for the future."

"There is no alternative left to the Colonies," continued Washington;
"the army of Great Britain has deliberately attacked us. The work of
this Congress should be to create an army, and provide for defence."

"In the most liberal manner, too, for that only is patriotic," added
Adams. "When Parliament resorts to belligerent measures against the
remonstrances of Chatham, Burke, Barré, Pitt, and other worthies, we are
justified in putting the worst construction upon their intentions."

"Nothing can be more obvious," responded Washington. "And the British
troops must be expelled from Boston by force, or our American Colonies
are reduced to a condition of vassalage. The army that precipitated the
attack at Concord must be paid for the effrontery, or we are slaves."

"Without appealing again to the king?"

"Yes, without appealing again to his Majesty. Our appeals have been
spurned. Our entreaties have been interpreted as the pleas of cowardice.
Our patience has been regarded as pusillanimity. Because British
oppression has been met by respectful remonstrance instead of indignant
denunciation, it has appealed to arms; and that appeal must be promptly
met by warlike preparations and the challenge to battle."

The second American Congress did send another appeal to the king, though
not with the vote of Washington. It was an able, patriotic paper,
setting forth the grievances of the Colonists in language that would
have moved the hearts of friends to pity. At the same time, however, the
members voted to put the Colonies upon a war basis. Many independent
military companies had been organized in the Colonies within a few
months; and these, by vote, were constituted the Continental Army, in
connection with others to be raised. Three millions of dollars were
appropriated for supplying arms and stores, and five hundred dollars a
month for the salary of a commander-in-chief, to be elected.

The provincial army around Boston was gathered entirely from the New
England Colonies, and was wholly without organization or discipline,
a motley multitude of men, who left their homes and rushed to camp upon
the impulse of patriotic sentiments. John Adams moved that Congress
adopt that army, provide for its support, and elect for it a suitable
commander. His speech on the occasion pointed so plainly to Washington
as the man of all others for commander-in-chief, that the latter
gentleman rose from his seat and left the hall. On the following day
Washington was unanimously elected commander-in-chief of the Continental
Army, a very unexpected honor to him.

With much diffidence, and his usual modesty, he arose in his seat to
accept the appointment, and said:

"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 their service,
and for the support of the glorious cause. I beg they will accept my
most cordial thanks for this distinguished testimony of their

"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; these, I doubt not, they will discharge, and that is all I

His acceptance was received with enthusiastic applause, followed by a
resolution, declaring that "they would _maintain_ and _assist_ him and
_adhere_ to him with their _lives_ and _fortunes_ in the same cause."

The same Congress appointed Artemas Ward, Charles Lee, Philip Schuyler,
and Israel Putnam major-generals; and Seth Pomeroy, Richard Montgomery,
David Wooster, William Heath, Joseph Spencer, John Thomas, John
Sullivan, and Nathaniel Greene brigadier-generals. Horatio Gates was
appointed adjutant-general. These appointments were made with
Washington's acquiescence, if not at his suggestion.

John Adams wrote to a friend: "There is something charming to me in the
conduct of Washington; a gentleman of the first fortunes on the
continent, leaving his delicious retirement, his family and friends,
sacrificing his ease, and hazarding all in the cause of his country.
His views are noble and disinterested. He declared, when he accepted the
mighty trust, that he would lay before us an exact account of his
expenses, and not accept a shilling pay."



"There is no time to lose," remarked Adams to Washington. "Letters to me
from Generals Warren and Ward insist that the undisciplined army cannot
be kept together much longer without the aid of Congress; and Congress
has done the best thing it could for the army in appointing you to its

"I shall lose no time in preparations to take command of the army,"
replied Washington. "I shall repair to Cambridge at once."

"Without returning to Mount Vernon?"

"Yes; that would consume too much time. Much as I should enjoy a visit
home, I must forego the pleasure, and hasten to my command."

"A sacrifice, truly," remarked Adams.

"And one that both my wife and mother will appreciate," added
Washington, "although the disappointment will be so great to them. Our
country first, for the sake of our homes."

"True, very true; and it is a terrible necessity that makes it true,"
continued Adams. "War is serious business, and under its direful
necessities you may never see your loved Mount Vernon again."

"No one can be more sensible of that than myself, but personal pleasure
must yield to the demands of patriotism in such a crisis as this. Duty
is the watchword now."

Without consuming time for more than the most hasty preparation,
Washington started for Massachusetts, after penning the following tender
letter to his wife. The epistle shows so much of his noble character
that our narrative would be incomplete without it:

    PHILADELPHIA, June 18, 1775.

    MY DEAREST,--I am now set down to write you on a subject which
    fills me with inexpressible concern; and this concern is greatly
    aggravated and increased when I reflect upon the uneasiness I
    know it will give you. It has been determined in Congress that
    the whole army raised for the defence of the American cause
    shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to
    proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the command of it.

    You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you in the most
    solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment, I
    have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it, not only from
    my unwillingness to part with you and the family, but from a
    consciousness of its being a trust too great for my capacity,
    and that I should enjoy more real happiness in one month with
    you at home than I have the most distant prospect of finding
    abroad, if my stay were to be seven times seven years. But as
    it has been a kind of destiny that has thrown me upon this
    service, I shall hope that my undertaking it is designed to
    answer some good purpose. You might, and I suppose did,
    perceive, from the tenor of my letters, that I was apprehensive
    I could not avoid this appointment, as I did not pretend to
    intimate when I should return. That was the case. It was
    utterly out of my power to refuse this appointment without
    exposing my character to such censures as would have reflected
    dishonor upon myself and given pain to my friends. This I am
    sure could not, and ought not, to be pleasing to you, and must
    have lessened me considerably in my own esteem. I shall rely,
    therefore, confidently on that Providence which has heretofore
    preserved and been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I
    shall return safe to you in the fall. I shall feel no pain from
    the toil or the danger of the campaign; my unhappiness will flow
    from the uneasiness I know you will feel from being left alone.
    I therefore beg that you will summon your whole fortitude, and
    pass your time as agreeably as possible. Nothing will give me so
    much sincere satisfaction as to hear this, and to hear it from
    your own pen. My earnest and ardent desire is, that you would
    pursue any plan that is most likely to produce content and a
    tolerable degree of tranquility; and it must add greatly to my
    uneasy feelings to hear that you are dissatisfied or complaining
    at what I really could not avoid.

    As life is always uncertain, and common prudence dictates to
    every man the necessity of settling his temporal concerns while
    it is in his power, and while the mind is calm and undisturbed,
    I have, since I came to this place (for I had not time to do it
    before I left home), got Colonel Pendleton to draft a will for
    me, by the directions I gave him, which will I now enclose.
    The provisions made for you in case of my death will, I hope,
    be agreeable. I shall add nothing more, as I have several
    letters to write, but to desire that you will remember me to
    your friends, and to assure you that I am, with the most
    unfeigned regard, my dear Patsy,

        Your affectionate husband.

The preparation of his will is expressive of his thoughts and feelings
at the time, and it magnifies, also, the sacrifice he was making for his

It will be noticed that the letter to his wife is dated June 18, the day
after the battle of Bunker Hill. He knew nothing of that battle, of
course; and the fact shows all the more how rapidly public affairs were
hastening to a crisis.

It was the 23d of June when he left Philadelphia, and just before
leaving he addressed another brief letter to his wife, that furnishes a
key to his heart:

    PHILADELPHIA, June 23, 1775.

    MY DEAREST,--As I am within a few minutes of leaving this city,
    I could not think of departing from it without dropping you a
    line, especially as I do not know whether it will be in my power
    to write again until I get to the camp at Boston. I go fully
    trusting in that Providence which has been more bountiful to me
    than I deserve, and in full confidence of a happy meeting with
    you in the fall. I have not time to add more, as I am surrounded
    by company to take leave of me. I retain an unalterable
    affection for you, which neither time nor distance can change.
    My best love to Jack and Nelly, and regards to the rest of the
    family, concludes me, with the utmost sincerity,

        Your entire
            GEO. WASHINGTON.

Two thousand troops had gathered in Philadelphia, and he reviewed them
before leaving. The whole two thousand escorted him out of the city, and
a company of light-horse escorted him to New York, together with
Generals Lee and Schuyler.

Twenty miles from Philadelphia he was met by a courier on horseback,
bringing particulars of the battle of Bunker Hill.

"How many Americans were engaged in it?" Washington inquired.

"About twelve hundred only."

"Who led them?"

"General Prescott."

"How many were killed?"

"About four hundred and fifty were killed and wounded. The British lost
more than half of their men."

"What officers fell?"

"The brave General Warren was one."

"Did the men fight well?"

"Never braver men met a foe."

"Then the liberties of our country are safe," added Washington.

As grand a welcome as could possibly be given, without the burning of
powder, was tendered by the Provincial Assembly of New York and New
Jersey. They could burn no powder because the Colony possessed but four
barrels, having forwarded a thousand barrels to Cambridge for the use of
the army.

Washington left General Schuyler in command at New York and hastened
forward to Cambridge, for at New York he received a more detailed
account of the battle of Bunker Hill. This information caused him to
hasten his journey; and he reached Watertown, where the Legislature was
sitting, on the second day of July. That body gave him an enthusiastic
welcome, and presented a lengthy address to him, in which they spread
out the deplorable condition of the army, pledging their prompt aid in
its organization and discipline.

On the third day of July he was escorted by an imposing cavalcade to
Cambridge, four miles distant, to take immediate command of the army.
Notwithstanding the scarcity of powder, his arrival was announced by
salvos of artillery; and the sight of him, in his splendid bearing, drew
from the admiring thousands the heartiest cheers. The general of whom
they had heard so much even more than met their expectations, and their
joy knew no bounds.

Washington wheeled his noble charger under the shadow of the "Great
Elm," where he formally took command of the Continental Army, thereby
making the tree historic to this day. He was forty-three years of age at
that time.

Mrs. John Adams was in Cambridge when Washington arrived, and she wrote
of him as follows:

"Dignity, ease, and complacency, the gentleman and the soldier look,
agreeably blended in him. Modesty marks every line and feature of his
face. These lines of Dryden instantly occurred to me:

    "'Mark his majestic fabric! He's a temple
      Sacred by birth, and built by hands divine;
      His soul's the deity that lodges there,
      Nor is the pile unworthy of the God.'"

Washington found General Artemas Ward in command, who informed him that,
"We have fourteen thousand five hundred men, including the sick."

"How many troops of the king hold Boston?" Washington inquired.

"About eleven thousand of the best disciplined troops that England could
send over."

"And how many inhabitants of Boston are there in the city now?"

"Seventeen thousand; and it is said that they are treated as rebels,
except the Tories, who support the cause of the Crown. General Gage is
in command, and Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne arrived with their
last reinforcements."

"Gage was with me twenty years ago in the expedition against Duquesne,"
said Washington. "Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne are the best
generals the king can send, I suppose."

"I judge so. At any rate this army is a mob compared to the royal army
in Boston. Very few of them were ever in the service before. They know
nothing about order and discipline, and care as little."

"They must learn both as quickly as possible," responded Washington. "An
army without discipline can be little more than a mob. My first step
will be to bring the army under rigid military discipline."

Washington, accompanied by General Lee, took immediate measures to
acquaint himself with the condition of the army, and in an incredibly
short time had it distributed thus: The right wing was stationed on the
heights of Roxbury, under the command of Major-General Ward; the left
wing was stationed on Winter and Prospect Hills, in what is now the
city of Somerville, under command of Major-General Lee; while the
centre, under Major-General Putnam, occupied Cambridge. The army was
thus distributed over a line of some twelve miles in length.

The army was destitute of clothing, ammunition, and nearly everything
for its comfort. The mass of them were dressed as they were clad when
they left their farms and work-shops, a dirty, ragged collection of
armed men, though resolute and brave. Their cry against the king's
troops in Boston was:

"Shut them up! Starve them out! Drive them into their ships, and send
their ships out to sea!"

To add to the disheartening situation, Charlestown lay in ashes, having
been set on fire by the enemy's shells at the battle of Bunker Hill;
there were no well-constructed works throughout the whole line of
fortifications; insubordination was popular among the troops, who called
it _independence_; and still worse, jealousies prevailed among the
troops of different Colonies.

The larger part of the army, nearly ten thousand, belonged to
Massachusetts, and they were in the worst plight of all. Washington made
the following magnanimous apology for them:

"This unhappy and devoted province has been so long in a state of
anarchy, and the yoke has been laid so heavily on it, that great
allowances are to be made for troops raised under such circumstances.
The deficiency of members, discipline, and stores can only lead to this
conclusion: _that their spirit has exceeded their strength_."

A British officer wrote home:

"The rebel army are in so wretched a condition as to clothing and
accoutrements, that I believe no nation ever saw such a set of
tatterdemalions. There are few coats among them but what are out at
elbows, and in a whole regiment there is scarce a whole pair of

Nevertheless, the material for an army in such a crisis was good. The
famous General Nathaniel Greene of Rhode Island organized three
regiments in that province after the Concord fight, and he was there
with his men, "the best disciplined and appointed troops in the army."
Connecticut also raised a respectable force, and put them under the
command of General Israel Putnam, who left his plough in the furrow,
and galloped off to Boston; and they were there. The brave Colonel Stark
of New Hampshire, with his "Green Mountain boys," was there also. Other
officers of ability were doing all they could with an undisciplined
army, while the rank and file were eager to drive the foe out of Boston.
A leader like Washington was needed to organize and manipulate this
rough mass of material. A chief like him, too, was indispensable to
elevate their moral condition; for drunkenness, revelry, lewdness,
profanity, gambling, not to mention other evils, abounded.

The following was Washington's first order to the army:

"The Continental Congress having now taken all the troops of the several
Colonies which have been raised, or which may be hereafter raised, for
the support and defence of the liberties of America, into their pay and
service, they are now the troops of the United Provinces of North
America; and it is hoped that all distinctions of Colonies will be laid
aside, so that one and the same spirit may animate the whole, and the
only contest be, who shall render, on this great and trying occasion,
the most essential service to the great and common cause in which we are
all engaged. It is required and expected that exact discipline be
observed, and due subordination prevail, through the whole army, as a
failure in these most essential points must necessarily produce extreme
hazard, disorder, and confusion, and end in shameful disappointment and
disgrace. The general most earnestly requires and expects a due
observance of those articles of war established for the government of
the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing, and drunkenness. And
in like manner he requires and expects of all officers and soldiers, not
engaged on actual duty, a punctual attendance on divine service, to
implore the blessing of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and

Rev. William Emerson was a chaplain in the army, and he wrote as follows
of the wonderful change Washington wrought in a short time:

"There is great overturning in the camp as to order and regularity. New
lords, new laws. The Generals Washington and Lee are upon the lines
every day. New orders from his Excellency are read to the respective
regiments every morning after prayers. The strictest government is
taking place, and great distinction is made between officers and

"Every one is made to know his place and keep in it, or be tied up and
receive thirty or forty lashes, according to his crime. Thousands are at
work every day from four to eleven o'clock in the morning. It is
surprising how much work has been done. The lines are extended almost
from Cambridge to Mystic River, so that very soon it will be morally
impossible for the enemy to get between the works, except in one place,
which is supposed to be left purposely unfortified to entice the enemy
out of their fortresses."

"The British army in Boston understand their business," remarked
Washington to his secretary, Mr. Reed. "Their works are thoroughly
constructed, and they seem to be provided with every thing that war
requires." At that time he had reconnoitered until he had acquired quite
a thorough knowledge of their defences.

"King George would not be likely to send over others," answered Reed.
"He is too anxious to awe his rebellious subjects into submission to
pursue another course."

"Well, they are in close quarters now," continued Washington, "although,
if they understood our weakness, they might fight their way out, and
annihilate the American army. I have just discovered that all the powder
in the camp will not furnish the soldiers nine cartridges apiece."

"No more?" exclaimed Reed. "You surprise me!"

"You cannot be more surprised than I am. It is a fearful condition for
this army to be in."

"How can it be so?" added Reed, still more surprised. "According to
that, powder is scarcer than clothing."

"It is true, if my investigation does not mislead," responded
Washington. "No army was ever in a condition so deplorable; and I would
not dare to let my soldiers know the actual state of things, lest they
become demoralized."

"Fortunate for us that so far they are in blissful ignorance of our
condition," said Reed; "but this state of affairs must not be suffered
to continue."

"Certainly not; I shall take immediate measures to remedy the evil."

And he did. Agents were sent in different directions to procure
ammunition. A vessel was sent to the Bermudas for this purpose.
Expeditions to capture British forts in this country and Canada were set
on foot. The manufacture of powder was recommended by Congress.

At that time, the transportation of supplies for an army was a slow and
tedious work. There were no railroads, and the facilities for
transportation by horses and cattle were far inferior to those of the
present day. For example, a little later, Henry Knox, who was a thriving
book-seller in Boston when the British took possession of the city, and
who fought bravely at Bunker Hill, was sent to Ticonderoga and Crown
Point, which the Americans had captured, to bring such artillery and
ordnance stores as could be spared. He was instructed, also, to proceed
to St. John and Montreal, both of which had just been captured by
American expeditions under Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen, Generals
Schuyler and Montgomery. It was in the depth of winter when Knox
returned with over fifty cannon, mortars, and howitzers, and a quantity
of lead and flints, loaded upon forty sleds, drawn by eighty yoke of
cattle. Washington procured for Knox the commission of colonel soon
after he undertook the enterprise.

Washington's headquarters were established at the CRAGIE HOUSE, a
spacious building, favorably situated for the commander-in-chief. For
many years it was owned by Professor Longfellow the poet, who died there
some years since.

Order, sobriety, and religion regulated his headquarters. Morning and
evening prayers were scrupulously maintained, and the whole appearance
of the place indicated that the renowned occupant was a Christian.

Washington required the chaplains of all his regiments to conduct
prayers morning and evening, and religious services on the Sabbath. The
officers were required to see that their men attended all these
services, since they were observed "for their good."

Early in the siege of Boston, when he felt that "if success ever crowns
the American cause, it will be because an All-wise Providence controls
the affairs of men," Washington advised the appointment of a day of
fasting and prayer, to intercede for the blessing of God upon the
little army at Cambridge. Congress appointed the day, and the
commander-in-chief required its observance throughout the army.
Religious services were held, all business suspended, and the day was
made as quiet and religious as Sunday.

One of the earliest arrivals at the camp in Cambridge, after Washington
took command, was from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, fourteen
hundred sharp-shooters, as we should call them now. They were tall,
stalwart men, dressed in fringed hunting shirts and round caps.
They were received in camp with the wildest demonstrations of joy. A few
weeks later a long, lumbering train of wagons, laden with military
stores captured on the sea, came into camp. Washington had been forced
to send out cruisers, by the action of General Gage in arming vessels to
capture supplies along the American coast. One of his cruisers captured
a brigantine ladened with munitions of war,--two thousand stand of arms,
one hundred thousand flints, thirty thousand round shot, and thirty-two
tons musket balls,--which were taken into Cape Ann, and transported from
thence on wagons to Cambridge.

In this way, as well as by the action of Congress and the Provincial
Legislatures, the army of Washington was strengthened and equipped. The
British were so thoroughly entrenched in Boston, and their army so well
disciplined and powerful, that it would have been foolhardy for
Washington to attack them; besides, an attack would have resulted in
burning the city and sacrificing the lives of many friends who lived

"British officers must understand that men fighting for their country
are patriots, and not malefactors," remarked Washington to Mr. Reed, his
secretary. "Cruelty to prisoners anyway is contrary to all the rules of
civilized warfare."

"Well, we are 'rebels,' you know," replied Reed sarcastically, "and
General Gage thinks that 'rebels' have no claim upon his clemency."

"Cruelty to prisoners is not confined to General Gage," responded
Washington. "There is no doubt that the king holds Allen [Ethan] in
irons, and his fellow-captives, which is treating prisoners of war as
savages do."

Ethan Allen was the famous patriot who led two hundred and thirty men
against Fort Ticonderoga, and captured it in May, 1775. He surprised the
commander, and demanded an immediate surrender.

"By whose authority do you make this demand?" inquired the officer in

"In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" shouted

He was captured by General Prescott in Canada.

"Were the king's forces in Boston to sally forth and conquer our army,
the rules of civilized warfare would be of no account to them, I am
thinking;" suggested Mr. Reed. "It behooves us to keep out of their
clutches, or die in the attempt."

The cruelty of British officers to prisoners was the subject of frequent
discussion between Washington and his advisers, and finally he wrote to
General Gage as follows:

"I understand that the officers engaged in the cause of liberty and
their country, who, by the fortune of war have fallen into your hands,
have been thrown indiscriminately into a common jail, appropriated to
felons; that no consideration has been had for those of the most
respectable rank, when languishing with wounds and sickness, and that
some have been amputated in this unworthy situation.... The obligations
arising from the rights of humanity and claims of rank are universally
binding and extensive, except in case of retaliation. These, I should
have hoped, would have dictated a more tender treatment of those
individuals whom chance or war had put in your power.... My duty now
makes it necessary to apprise you that, for the future, I shall regulate
all my conduct towards those gentlemen who are, or may be, in our
possession, exactly by the rule you shall observe toward those of ours
now in your custody.

"If severity and hardships mark the line of your conduct, painful as it
may be to me, your prisoners will feel its effects. But if kindness and
humanity are shown to us, I shall with pleasure consider those in our
hands only as unfortunate, and they shall receive from me that treatment
to which the unfortunate are ever entitled."

The reply of General Gage was characteristic of a conceited, ambitious,
and domineering officer of the king, and Washington closed his reply to
it with these words:

"I shall now, sir, close my correspondence with you, perhaps forever. If
your officers, our prisoners, receive a treatment from me different from
that which I wished to show them, they and you will remember the
occasion of it."

Subsequently, Washington ordered British officers at Watertown and Cape
Ann, who were at large on parole, to be confined in the jail at
Northampton, explaining to them that it was not agreeable to his
feelings of humanity, but according to the treatment of Americans whom
the officers of the crown held as prisoners. But he could not tolerate
even this mild form of retaliation, and therefore in a short time he
revoked the order, and the prisoners were at large again.

"I was never more distressed in mind than I am now," remarked Washington
to a member of his staff.

"Why so?"

"Within a few days this army will be reduced to less than ten thousand
men by the expiration of enlistments," answered Washington; "and when we
can ever attack Boston is a problem. For six months I have been waiting
for powder, fire-arms, recruits, and what-not; and here we are with the
1st of January, 1776, right upon us, when several thousand soldiers will

"A very discouraging fact indeed," answered the staff officer; "and how
will you fill the breach created by their going?"

"That is what troubles me. We shall be forced to require soldiers whose
term of enlistment expires, to leave their muskets, allowing them fair
compensation for the same. And to encourage their successors to bring
arms, we must charge each one of them who fails to bring his gun one
dollar for the use of the one we provide."

"A novel way of recruiting and supplying an army, truly," said the staff

"The only way left to us," remarked Washington.

"Yes; and I suppose that any way is better than none."

Washington wrote to a friend on the 4th of January:

"It is easier to conceive than to describe the situation of my mind for
some time past and my feelings under our present circumstances. Search
the volume of history through, and I much question whether a case
similar to ours can be found; namely, to maintain a post against the
power of the British troops for six months together without powder, and
then to have one army disbanded and another raised within the same
distance (musket shot) of a reinforced enemy.... For two months past I
have scarcely emerged from one difficulty before I have been plunged
into another. How it will end, God, in His great goodness, will direct.
I am thankful for His protection to this time."

A few days later he wrote:

"The reflection of my situation and that of this army produces many an
unhappy hour, when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know
the predicament we are in on a thousand accounts; fewer still will
believe, if any disaster happens to these lines, from what cause it
flows. I have often thought how much happier I should have been, if,
instead of accepting the command under such circumstances, I had taken
my musket on my shoulder and entered the ranks; or, if I could have
justified the measure to posterity and my own conscience, had retired to
the back country and lived in a wigwam."

Still, through his tact and indomitable perseverance, Washington found
his army in a condition to attack Boston in March. He had vainly tried
to induce the British troops to leave their comfortable quarters and
come out to battle. He had so effectually cut off their supplies by his
determined siege that the British Government was compelled to send
supplies from home. But now he felt that the time for action had come.
He called a council of war.

"Our situation compels action of some kind to save ourselves, even at
great risk," he said to his advisers. "There is a cloud over the public
mind, and there is danger on the north and on the south. Montgomery has
fallen before Quebec, and our little army in Canada is depleted and
broken. Tryon and the Tories are plotting mischief in New York, and
Dunmore in Virginia. Clinton, too, is making depredations along the

"And what do you propose?" inquired one.

"To attack Boston."

"And take the risk?"

"Yes; and take the risk, which will prove less, I believe, that the risk
incurred by continual inaction."

"Do you propose an immediate movement?"

"On the 4th of March, the anniversary of the 'Boston Massacre.' It is a
good time to avenge that wrong."

On the 4th of March, 1775, the British troops, who were often insolent
and overbearing to the citizens of Boston, were attacked and stoned by
indignant parties. A brief contest followed, in which four Americans
were killed and several wounded. This was called the "Boston Massacre."

"I hope that your movement will be successful, but it is a hazardous
one," suggested one of the council. "An attack all along the line?"

"By no means," answered Washington. "The project is hazardous indeed,
but that is inevitable. On the night of March 3 I propose to take
possession of Dorchester Heights, throw up breastworks, and by the time
the enemy can see the Heights in the morning, be prepared to hold the

"And if the whole British army attack us, what then?"

"General Putnam shall have a force of four thousand men on the opposite
side of the town, in two divisions, under Generals Sullivan and Greene.
At a given signal from Roxbury, they shall embark at the mouth of
Charles River, cross under cover of three floating batteries, land in
two places in Boston, secure its strong posts, force the gates and works
at the neck, and let in the Roxbury troops. This, in case they make a
determined attempt to dislodge us."

Washington waited for a reply. The bold plan somewhat perplexed his
advisers at first, and there was silence for a moment. At length one
spoke, and then another, and still another, until every objection was
canvassed. The plan was finally adopted, but kept a profound secret with
the officers who were to conduct the enterprise.

We cannot dwell upon details. Agreeable to Washington's arrangement,
when the expedition with tools, arms, supplies, and other necessaries
was ready to move on the evening of March 3, a terrible cannonading of
the British by the American army, at two different points, commenced,
under the cover of which our troops reached Dorchester Heights without
attracting the attention of the enemy. The reader may judge of the
cannonading by the words of Mrs. John Adams, who wrote to her husband

"I have just returned from Penn's Hill, where I have been sitting to
hear the amazing roar of cannon, and from whence I could see every
shell that was thrown. The sound, I think, is one of the grandest in
nature, and is of the true species of the sublime. It is now an
incessant roar.

"I went to bed about twelve, and rose again a little after one. I could
no more sleep than if I had been in the engagement; the rattling of the
windows, the jar of the house, the continual roar of twenty-four
pounders, and the bursting of shells, give us such ideas, and realize a
scene to us of which we could scarcely form any conception. I hope to
give you joy of Boston, even if it is in ruins, before I send this

What the British beheld on the morning of March 4, to their surprise and
alarm, is best told in the words of one of their officers.

"This morning at daybreak we discovered two redoubts on Dorchester
Point, and two smaller ones on their flanks. They were all raised during
last night, with an expedition equal to that of 'the genii' belonging to
Alladin's wonderful lamp. From these hills they command the whole town,
so that we must drive them from their post or desert the place."

The British general, Howe, exclaimed:

"The rebels have done more work in one night than my whole army would
have done in a month."

General Howe had superseded General Gage some time before this exploit.

Quickly as possible, General Howe began to bombard the new
fortifications on Dorchester Heights. All through the day he cannonaded
the little American army, and, under the cover of the bombardment,
prepared to land twenty-five hundred picked men at night, and carry the
Heights by storm. His guns did little damage, however, through the day.
Washington was present in person, encouraging the soldiers, and
directing them in strengthening the fortifications.

Under the darkness of night General Howe sent twenty-five hundred of his
best soldiers, in transports, to capture the "rebel works." But a
furious northeast storm arose, and beat upon them with such violence
that it was impossible to land. They were compelled to postpone the
attack until the next night. But the storm continued, and even
increased. The wind blew a gale and the rain descended in torrents all
through the following day and night, shutting up the enemy within their
own quarters, and allowing the Americans time to multiply their works
and render them impregnable.

When the storm ceased, an English officer declared that the Americans
were invincible in their strong position. That General Howe was of the
same opinion is evident from the fact that he decided to evacuate

Had General Howe been able to land his troops on the first night, as he
planned, there is little doubt that Washington would have been driven
from the Heights as the Americans were driven from Bunker Hill, so that
the intervention of the storm seemed peculiarly providential. When
Washington issued his order, months before, for the strict observance of
the Sabbath and daily religious service by the army, General Lee, who
was a godless scoffer, remarked, derisively, "God is on the side of the
heaviest battalions."

But in this case the storm favored the _weakest_ battalions.

General Howe conferred with the authorities of Boston, and promised to
evacuate the city without inflicting harm upon it if the Americans would
not attack him. Otherwise he would commit the city to the flames, and
leave under cover of the mighty conflagration. Washington wrote to him:

"If you will evacuate the city without plundering or doing any harm, I
will not open fire upon you. But if you make any attempt to plunder, or
if the torch is applied to a single building, I will open upon you the
most deadly bombardment."

Howe promised: yet such was the disposition of the British soldiers to
acts of violence, that he was obliged to issue an order that soldiers
found plundering should be hanged on the spot; and he had an officer,
with a company of soldiers and a hangman, march through the streets,
ready to execute his order.

It was not, however, until the 17th of March that the embarkation of the
British army commenced. About twelve thousand soldiers and refugees
embarked in seventy-eight vessels. The refugees were Americans who
favored the British cause (called Tories), and they did not dare to
remain in this country. Washington wrote about these refugees:

"By all accounts there never existed a more miserable set of beings than
those wretched creatures now are. Taught to believe that the power of
Great Britain was superior to all opposition, and that foreign aid was
at hand, they were even higher and more insulting in their opposition
than the regulars. When the order was issued, therefore, for embarking
the troops in Boston, no electric shock, no sudden clap of thunder, in a
word, the last trump, could not have struck them with greater
consternation. They were at their wits' end; chose to commit themselves,
in the manner I have above described, to the mercy of the waves at a
tempestuous season, rather than meet their offended countrymen."

With exceeding joy Washington beheld the "precipitate retreat" of the
British army from Boston, but fired not a gun. One of General Howe's
officers wrote afterwards:

"It was lucky for the inhabitants now left in Boston that they did not,
for I am informed that everything was prepared to set the town in a
blaze had they fired one cannon."

We have intentionally passed over several incidents, with the rehearsal
of which we will bring this chapter to a close.

When Washington assumed the command of the American army, he left his
Mount Vernon estate in charge of Mr. Lund Washington, continuing to
direct its management by correspondence. He expected to return to his
home in the autumn, and so encouraged his wife to believe. But in this
he was sorely disappointed. His thoughtful and benevolent character
appears in one of his early letters to his agent:

"Let the hospitality of the house with respect to the poor be kept up.
Let no one go hungry away. If any of this kind of people should be in
want of corn, supply their necessaries, provided it does not encourage
them to idleness; and I have no objection to your giving my money in
charity to the amount of forty or fifty pounds a year, when you think it
is well bestowed. What I mean by having no objection is, that it is my
desire that it should be done."

Many Americans feared that the enemy might send a war vessel up the
Potomac and destroy the Mount Vernon residence and capture Mrs.
Washington. She was earnestly advised to leave, and repair to a place of
safety beyond the Blue Ridge. But Washington sent for her to come to him
at Cambridge.

She was four weeks travelling from Mount Vernon to Cambridge. She
performed the journey in her own carriage, a chariot drawn by four fine
horses, with black postilions in scarlet and white liveries. This was an
English style of equipage, and the public sentiment of that day demanded
that the commander-in-chief should adopt it. She was accompanied by her
son, and was escorted from place to place by guards of honor. Her
arrival in Cambridge was the signal for great rejoicing. The army
received her with the honors due to her illustrious husband.

She immediately took charge of Washington's headquarters, and soon
became as popular in the domestic and social circle as her husband was
in camp and field. It was at Cambridge that she was first called "Lady

As an illustration of Washington's rigid discipline, an incident is
related of his manner of suppressing a disturbance. It was during the
winter he was besieging Boston.

A party of Virginia riflemen met a party of Marblehead fishermen. The
dress of the fishermen was as singular to the riflemen as that of the
riflemen was to the fishermen, and they began to banter each other.
Snow-balls soon began to fly back and forth, and finally hard blows were
interchanged. A melee occurred, in which a thousand soldiers

Hearing of the disturbance, Washington hastened to the scene, and,
leaping from his horse, he seized two burly Virginians by the neck, and
held them out at arm's length, at the same time administering a rebuke
in words that scattered the combatants as suddenly as a cannonade would
have done.

The British army committed many depredations in Boston during the year
they held possession of it. They tore out the pulpit and pews of the Old
South Church, and converted it into a riding-school for General
Burgoyne's light-horse regiment. They took down the North Church and
used it for fuel. They used up about three hundred wooden houses in the
same way.

In the winter a theatre was established for the entertainment of the
British soldiers. At one time a British officer wrote a farce entitled,
"The Blockade of Boston," to be played on a given evening. It was a
burlesque upon Washington and the American army. It represented the
commander-in-chief of the American army as an awkward lout, equipped
with a huge wig, and a long, rusty sword, attended by a country booby as
orderly sergeant, in a rustic garb, with an old fire-lock seven or eight
feet long.

The theatre was filled to overflowing on the night the farce was
announced. It happened that, on the same night, General Putnam sent a
party of two hundred men to surprise and capture a British guard
stationed at Charlestown. His daring exploit was successful, though his
men were fired upon by the garrison of the fort. The thunder of
artillery caused a British officer to believe that the Yankees were in
motion, and he rushed into the theatre, crying, "The Yankees are
attacking Bunker Hill!"

At first the audience supposed that this announcement was part of the
play. But General Howe, who was present, undeceived them by calling out,
"Officers, to your alarm posts!"

The farce turned out to be tragedy, and the curtain fell upon the scene.
The audience scattered like a flock of sheep.

The failure of the British to hold Boston was extremely mortifying to
General Howe and the English Government. When the king's regiments first
took possession of the city, one of the officers wrote home:

"Whenever it comes to blows, he that can run the fastest will think
himself well off, believe me. Any two regiments here ought to be
decimated if they did not beat in the field the whole force of the
Massachusetts Province."

General Gage said to the king, before leaving England to take command of
the forces in Boston, "The Americans will be lions so long as the
English are lambs. Give me five regiments and I will keep Boston quiet."

When General Burgoyne was sailing into Boston Harbor to join his king's
army, and his attention was called to the fact that a few thousand
undisciplined "rebels" were besieging a town garrisoned by five or six
thousand British regulars, he exclaimed in derision:

"What! ten thousand peasants keep five thousand king's troops shut up?
Well, let us get in and we'll soon find elbow-room."

He failed to find "elbow room" until he put out to sea.

To be driven out of Boston, when such a result was considered impossible
by the foe, was doubly humiliating to the sons of Great Britain. It was
proportionably glorious to American patriots, and they took possession
of the city with exultation and devout thanksgivings to God.

Congress unanimously adopted a eulogistic resolution, rehearsing the
valor and achievements of the commander-in-chief, and ordered a gold
medal, with appropriate inscription, to be struck off, and presented to
him as a token of the country's gratitude.



"What next?" inquired General Putnam.

"That is a difficult question to answer until I know General Howe's
destination," replied Washington.

"Then you don't think he is going home?" continued Putnam facetiously.

"Not yet, though I wish he might; then I would go home, too."

"But seriously, where do you think he is going?" urged Putnam.

"I fear that he is bound to New York, for that is a port more important
to him than even Boston." Washington spoke as if he were greatly

"Well," added Putnam in his resolute way, "if he is bound for New York
it won't do for us to be fooling about here long."

"No; and if I were certain that his destination were there, I should put
you in command of that post at once," said Washington. "Besides the
importance of the position to him, the large number of Tories in that
town is a great inducement for him to strike there. Governor Tryon has
been plotting something with them, and who knows but his appearance
there will be the signal for them to rise against their own country."

"Just like 'em," answered Putnam. "A man who will turn against his own
country ought to dangle at the end of a halter. With the British army
outside, and hundreds of traitors inside, New York will make a poor

"There is no telling what a strong defence of the town can be made with
the Lord on our side. My hope is in the righteousness of our cause."

Washington called a council of war in his perplexity. He laid before his
military advisers his reasons for supposing that the foe, driven from
Boston, had sailed for New York.

"The English will be chagrined over their defeat here, after all their
boasting," said Washington, "and we may expect heavier blows in future
somewhere. The king will not suffer 'rebels' to remain unmolested. We do
well to expect that in future the king will concentrate the military
power of his government and hurl it upon us to bring us to terms."

It was finally determined to put General Putnam in command at New York,
and he was hurried away, with all the troops in Boston but five
regiments, and instructions to complete the fortifications commenced by
General Lee. Two or three months before, in consequence of the
appearance of a British fleet, under Clinton, in the harbor of New York,
and the secret plottings of Governor Tryon and the Tories, Washington
placed General Lee in command there. Lee at once arrested leading
Tories, and sent them to prison, threatening all the rest, in his fiery
way, with similar punishment if they continued to aid the enemy.
Governor Tryon fled to a British man-of-war in the harbor, accompanied
by several of his political advisers, and from those new headquarters he
continued secret intercourse with the Tories. New dangers soon arising
farther south, General Lee was transferred to the Southern Military
Department, with headquarters at Williamsburg.

Such was the state of affairs in New York when General Putnam took
command, with not more than eight thousand available troops in the town
and vicinity.

Washington ordered three thousand militia to go to his aid from
Connecticut, and as soon as he could arrange affairs in Boston he
himself hastened to New York with his body-guard, where he arrived on
the thirteenth day of April.

Before this time he had learned that General Howe proceeded to Halifax,
to await large reinforcements from Great Britain; that his brother,
Admiral Howe, with his naval fleet, would join him there, and then the
great army would sail for New York.

He did not know, however, at that time, what the British Government was
doing "to crush the rebels in North America." He learned afterwards that
the king, stung to madness by the failure of his army in Boston,
resolved to avenge the defeat by a terrible blow upon New York. He hired
seventeen thousand Hessians to join the army, paying them liberally for
their services, and these hirelings would swell the invading army to
startling proportions.

Notwithstanding the evacuation of Boston, the cause of the patriots
never seemed more hopeless than it did when the British army, under the
two Howes, appeared below New York.

"Our army in Canada is beaten and shattered," Washington said, "and our
cause is lost there. Here it is difficult to tell friend from foe. It is
claimed that half of the people in New York are Tories, and what
communications they may have with the British army, through Tryon, it is
impossible to tell. We have not half the men absolutely required to hold
this position, and what we have are poorly clad and equipped, and not
half fed. Then we have reason to suspect that the enemy will come with
greater inhumanity to man, and that fire and sword will do a more
fearful work than ever. What some of the British officers are capable of
doing in the way of fiendish devastation was shown in Boston, when the
burning of every town between that city and Halifax was ordered, and
Portland was laid in ashes."

Washington wrote to his brother:

"We expect a bloody summer in New York and Canada; and I am sorry to say
that we are not, either in men or arms, prepared for it. However, it
is to be hoped that, if our cause is just, as I most religiously
believe, the same Providence which has in many instances appeared for us
will still go on to afford us its aid."

Congress was in session at Philadelphia, and Washington went thither to
confer with members concerning the summer campaign, and to plead for
aid. Through his influence, Congress added twenty-three thousand militia
to the army, including a flying camp of ten thousand.

In the midst of these troubles a conspiracy of startling magnitude was
discovered. "A part of the plot being," says Sparks, "to seize General
Washington and carry him to the enemy." Rev. John Marsh of Wethersfield,
Conn., wrote and published the following account of the affair:

"About ten days before any of the conspirators were taken up, a woman
went to the general and desired a private interview. He granted it to
her, and she let him know that his life was in danger, and gave him such
an account of the conspiracy as gained his confidence. He opened the
matter to a few friends on whom he could depend. A strict watch was kept
night and day, until a favorable opportunity occurred, when the general
went to bed as usual, arose about two o'clock, told his lady that he was
going with some of the Provincial Congress to order some Tories seized,
desired she would make herself easy and go to sleep. He went off without
any of his aides-de-camp, except the captain of his life-guard; was
joined by a number of chosen men, with lanterns and proper instruments
to break open houses; and before six o'clock next morning had forty men
under guard at the City Hall, among whom was the mayor of the city,
several merchants, and five or six of his own life-guard. Upon
examination, one Forbes confessed that the plan was to assassinate the
general and as many of the superior officers as they could, and to blow
up the magazine upon the appearance of the enemy's fleet, and to go off
in boats prepared for that purpose to join the enemy."

Thomas Hickey, one of Washington's own guard, was proved to be a leader
in the plot, and he was sentenced to be hung. The sentence was executed
on the twenty-eighth day of June, in a field near Bowery Lane, in the
presence of twenty thousand people.

On the same day four of the enemy's warships dropped anchor in the bay.
The next morning there were forty ships, and they continued to arrive
until one hundred and thirty vessels of war and transports could be
distinctly seen with a glass. The British troops were landed on Staten
Island, where nearly all the people were Tories, although they had
professed to be patriots.

While these warlike preparations were going forward, the American
Congress was discussing the most important subject ever considered by a
legislative body--that of American independence; and on the 4th of July,
1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

The discussion upon the adoption of this important document was
conducted in secret session. The people outside knew what was before the
Assembly, and there was great excitement. For hours citizens gathered
about the State House, awaiting the decision with the utmost anxiety. A
man was stationed in the steeple of the building to ring the bell when
the decisive vote was declared. The bell was imported from England
twenty-three years before, and bore this inscription:

"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants

When the bell pealed forth the glad news that the Declaration of
Independence was adopted, the joy of the people knew no bounds. The
tidings spread from town to town, and awakened the most hearty response.
On the ninth day of July, Washington caused the Declaration to be read
at the head of each regiment, and it revived their drooping hopes more
than the arrival of ten thousand recruits.

In their outburst of gladness, the soldiers indulged themselves in some
excesses. There was a leaden statue of George III, in the Bowling Green,
which they tore from its pedestal, and cut up, to run into bullets.
Washington thought it was an unnecessary act of violence, denoting
insubordination and recklessness, and he rebuked the deed by an order,
in which he said:

"The general hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor
to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest
rights and liberties of his country."

One day, before the engagement came on, General Putnam was crossing a
field, which is now the "Park," when his attention was called to a
company of artillery on drill. Observing the company for several
minutes, he remarked to the commander:

"A well-disciplined company!"

"With some more practice they will be," the commander replied modestly.

"Have they attained to this excellence of drill under your command?"
General Putnam asked, noticing that the officer could not be more than
twenty years of age.

"Yes, sir; I have enjoyed some opportunities to study military science."


"First in the West Indies, where I was born. I was a merchant's clerk
there, but longed for a military life, and finally I seized upon the
first opportunity to study such books as I could find. After I came to
this country my desire for military service did not abate, and I joined
Captain Fleming's company."

"General Washington must know you," responded Putnam as he moved on.

We have introduced this incident here because the young commander was
Alexander Hamilton, who became identified with the history of our
country. He came to this country at fifteen; entered King's College,
where he was the best scholar; joined one of the first volunteer
companies organized in New York, and became so efficient that he was
made captain of the artillery company he was drilling when General
Putnam met him. He was not twenty years old at that time. Subsequently
he became one of Washington's wisest counsellors. "In him were united,"
says another, "the patriot, the soldier, the statesman, the jurist, the
orator, and philosopher, and he was great in them all."

British ships of war continued to arrive, bringing Hessians and Scotch
Highlanders to swell the king's army. Still no particular movement to
capture the city was made.

On the 21st of July, Washington heard from Sir Henry Clinton's fleet.
Clinton left the British army in Boston, in December, 1775, and
unexpectedly appeared in the harbor of New York, as we have stated.
However, after a conference with Governor Tryon, he sailed south, saying
that he had no intention of attacking New York.

Clinton soon appeared in Charleston Harbor, part of an expedition
against South Carolina, under Sir Peter Parker, and in a few days joined
in attacking the fort, six miles below the city. The fort was commanded
by Sir William Moultrie. It was attacked with both fleet and army, on
the twenty-eighth day of June, by one of the most terrible bombardments
ever known at that time. An experienced British officer said, "It was
the most furious fire I ever heard or saw."

A few days before, General Charles Lee advised abandoning the fort.

"A mere slaughter-house!" he exclaimed to Governor Rutledge, who was a
true patriot. "A mere slaughter-house! A British man-of-war will knock
it to pieces in half an hour!"

"Nevertheless, holding that fort is necessary to the defence of the city
and State," answered Rutledge. "The fort must be held." He sent for

"General Moultrie, what do you think about giving up the fort?" he
inquired, repeating the advice of General Lee.

Moultrie was indignant, and he replied:

"No man, sir, can have a higher opinion of British ships and seamen than
I have. But there are others who love the smell of gunpowder as well
as they do. Give us a plenty of powder and ball, sir, and let them come
on as soon as they please."

"You shall have plenty of powder and ball," answered Rutledge, as he
sent Moultrie back to his post.

The guns of Fort Moultrie riddled the British ships, and covered their
decks with the dead and dying. One hundred and seventy-five men were
killed on board the fleet, and as many more wounded. The Americans lost
but thirty-five, and held the fort. A braver garrison never met a foe.
Sergeant Jaspar saw the flag shot away, and leaped down upon the beach,
snatched it up, and returned it to its place, shouting:

"Hurrah, boys! Liberty and America forever!" Governor Rutledge rewarded
him with a sword.

Sergeant McDonald was terribly shattered by a cannon-ball, and he called
out with his dying breath, "I die, but don't let the cause of liberty
die with me!"

The enemy's fleet was driven off in a shattered condition. The commander
was so deeply humiliated that even his black pilots insulted him. Weems
says that he called to one of them:

"Cudjo, what water have you there?"

"What water, massa? what water? Why, salt water, sure sir! sea water
always salt water, ain't he, massa?"

"You black rascal, I knew it was salt water; I only wanted to know how
_much_ water you have there?"

"How much water here, massa? how much water here? God bless me, massa!
Where I going get quart pot for measure him?"

The commander, even in his chagrin and trouble, could not but laugh at
Cudjo's idea of measuring the Atlantic ocean with a quart pot.

This discomfited fleet returned to New York and joined the British army.

When the news of the signal victory of the patriots at Moultrie reached
Washington, he announced it to the army, and said:

"With such a bright example before us of what can be done by brave men
fighting in defence of their country, we shall be loaded with a double
share of shame and infamy if we do not acquit ourselves with courage,
and manifest a determined resolution to conquer or die."

A detachment of the army was sent to construct works from Wallabout Bay
to Red Hook. Washington rode out one day to inspect the defences, when
he approached a subaltern officer who was directing his men to raise a
heavy timber to its place. Instead of lending a helping hand, the
conceited fellow stood, shouting:

"Hurrah, boys, _n-o-w_, right _up_, _h-e-a-v-e_," etc.

"Why do you not lend a helping hand?" said Washington, whom the officer
did not know.

"What, sir! I lend a helping hand?" exclaimed the official sprig. "Why,
sir, I'll have you know that I am _corporal_!"

Washington leaped from his saddle, laid hold of the timber with the men,
and helped lift it to its place. Then turning to the "corporal," he said

"Mr. Corporal, my name's George Washington. I have come over from New
York to inspect the works here; so soon as you have done this piece of
work, you will meet me at your commander's, General Sullivan's

Washington despised officers who felt above their business.

On a flying visit to Connecticut, he failed to reach his destination on
Saturday night. Early Sunday morning he completed the few remaining
miles of his journey. On his way, a tithing man came out of a house and
inquired of the coachman:

"Is there any necessity of your travelling on the Lord's Day?"

Washington ordered his coachman to stop, and replied:

"I have no intention of breaking the laws of Connecticut; they meet my
most cordial approbation. But I was disappointed in not being able to
reach my destination last night, where I shall attend church."

Washington waited and waited for the enemy to move, and wondered that he
did not. Putnam wrote to Gates:

"Is it not strange that those invincible troops who were to lay waste
all the country, with their fleets and army, dare not put their feet on
the main?"

About this time General Washington made the following address to his

"The time is now near at hand which must determine whether Americans are
to be free men or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can
call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and
destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness, from
which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions
will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our
cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of a brave
resistance or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve
to conquer or die. Our own, our country's, honor calls upon us for a
vigorous and manly action; and if we now shamefully fail, we shall
become infamous to the whole world. Let us then rely upon the goodness
of our cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory
is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions."

The American army had grown by this time to over twenty thousand men
poorly equipped and fed, though not more than fifteen thousand were
available for immediate action. Congress was slow to provide supplies,
and everything dragged. Many of the men carried only a spade, shovel or
pick-axe. At the call of the country, they responded with shovels in
hand, having no guns. They could throw up works, though destitute of
arms to repel the foe. It was this destitute condition of our army that
led a British officer to write home derisively:

"The rebels are armed with scythes and pitchforks."

To rebuke the growing vice and recklessness of the army, Washington
issued the following order:

"The general is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked
practice of profane cursing and swearing, a vice heretofore little known
in an American army, is growing into fashion. He hopes the officers will
by example, as well as influence, endeavor to check it, and that both
they and the men will reflect that we can have little hope of the
blessing of Heaven on our arms if we insult it by our impiety and folly;
added to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation,
that every man of sense and character detests and despises it."

On the 17th of August Washington observed a movement of the enemy.

"They are embarking," he said to one of his aides, "bound for some
point. Thirty thousand of them will be able to crush us if, as General
Lee says, 'God is on the side of heavy battalions.'"

He was not long in doubt concerning their destination, for they landed
at Long Island.

"They mean to capture Brooklyn Heights," exclaimed Washington; "their
designs are clear enough now."

"The city is at their mercy if they once capture that position," replied
"Old Put," as the soldiers called General Putnam. "They must not be
suffered to gain that position."

"You must go to General Sullivan's aid with six battalions, all the
force we can spare," said Washington. "There is no time to be lost."

In anticipation of such a movement, Washington had stationed a body of
troops on Brooklyn Heights under General Greene; but the latter was
taken sick, and General Sullivan succeeded him, and now General Putnam
was placed in command. No more men could be sent to Brooklyn Heights,
because Washington expected the British fleet would attack the city.

He received the following message from General Livingston of New Jersey:

"I saw movements of the enemy on Staten Island, and sent over a spy at
midnight, who brought back the following intelligence: Twenty thousand
men have embarked to make an attack on Long Island, and up the Hudson.
Fifteen thousand remained on Staten Island, to attack Bergen Point,
Elizabethtown Point, and Amboy." The spy heard the orders read and the
conversation of the generals. "They appear very determined," added he,
"and will put all to the sword."

Again, in expectation of an immediate attack, he addressed the army to
inspire them with determined valor, and said:

"The enemy have landed upon Long Island, and the hour is fast
approaching on which the honor and success of this army, and the safety
of our bleeding country, depend. Remember, officers and soldiers, that
you are free men, fighting for the blessings of liberty; that slavery
will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit
yourselves like men. It is the general's express orders that, if any
man attempt to skulk, lie down, or retreat without orders, he be
instantly shot down for an example."

Fifteen thousand British troops landed and advanced to seize the
Heights. It was on the twenty-first day of August, 1776. A terrific
battle of seven days followed, in which the slaughter and suffering were
fearful. Alternate victory and defeat were experienced by both sides.
Sometimes it was a hand-to-hand fight with bayonets. As Washington
beheld a detachment of his heroic men pierced to death by Hessian
bayonets, he wrung his hands in an agony of spirit, and exclaimed:

"O good God, what brave fellows I must this day lose!"

There were but five thousand Americans pitted in this battle against
fifteen thousand British, and yet they fought seven days.

On the twenty-eighth day of August, the British moved their line of
battle to within a mile of the Yankee breast-works on the Heights. The
capture of the Heights, with all the American soldiers, seemed
inevitable. Between them and New York was the East River, which the
enemy's fleet commanded. Before them was the foe, numbering three to
one. To human view there was no hope for the brave little army of

But on that night a storm arose, and a dense fog enveloped the Heights.
Early in the evening the rain began to fall, and, together, fog and rain
created a dismal scene. At the same time a brisk breeze sprang up,
sufficient to waft the boats across to the New York side. If anything
more were needed to prove that God was favoring the smallest battalions,
it was the fact that the night was clear on the New York side of the

"God is propitious to-night," said Washington to Putnam in a hopeful
tone. "Under cover of this darkness we must cross the river and save our

"Our only salvation," replied Putnam.

Washington superintended the retreat personally, and, as the fog did not
clear away until ten o'clock on the following day, his whole force, with
guns and ammunition, were carried across the river before the enemy
discovered the retreat. This retreat was regarded as one of the most
signal achievements of the war. Sparks says, in his "Life of

"The retreat, in its plan, execution, and success, has been regarded as
one of the most remarkable military events in history, and as reflecting
the highest credit on the talents and skill of the commander. So intense
was the anxiety of Washington, so unceasing his exertions, that for
forty-eight hours he did not close his eyes, and rarely dismounted from
his horse."

"We cannot hold New York," said Washington, at a council of war he
called immediately. "We are at the mercy of the enemy on every hand."

"From Brooklyn Heights British guns can lay this city in ashes," added

"That is true; but the Howes will never order that destruction so long
as half the citizens are Tories," replied Washington.

"Sure enough; that is a voucher against such a measure," responded
Putnam. "But if thirty thousand well-armed and well-fed British troops,
having possession of all the land and water around Manhattan Island,
can't capture this small and undisciplined army, they don't deserve the
name of soldiers."

"And now our men are disheartened," continued Washington. "We lost
nearly two thousand men, killed, wounded, and missing, on Brooklyn
Heights, and many of those who escaped have deserted. We must evacuate
the city."

"And leave it in flames," added Putnam.

"Yes, apply the torch," said another; "we must do it in self-defence.
What a strong position against us it will afford to the enemy!"

Washington saw reasons for adopting this extreme measure, but he could
not take the responsibility. He did write to Congress about it, however,
as follows:

"If we should be obliged to abandon the town, ought it to stand as
winter quarters for the enemy? They would derive great convenience from
it on the one hand, and much property would be destroyed on the other.
At the present, I dare say, the enemy mean to preserve it if they can."

On the tenth day of September, Congress voted to leave the fate of the
city in Washington's hands, and he left it unharmed.

Concerning the alarming desertions after the retreat from Brooklyn
Heights, he wrote, in humane extenuation of the deserters' offence:

"Men just dragged from the tender scenes of domestic life, and
unaccustomed to the din of arms, totally unacquainted with every kind of
military skill, are timid, and ready to fly from their own shadows.
Besides, the sudden change in their manner of living brings on an
unconquerable desire to return to their homes."

Establishing his headquarters at King's Bridge, Washington superintended
the retreat from New York, which was accomplished without the loss of
anything except his heaviest cannon.

Colonel Humphreys wrote: "I had frequent opportunities that day of
beholding Washington issuing orders, encouraging the troops, flying on
his horse covered with foam, wherever his presence was most necessary.
Without his extraordinary exertions the guards must have been inevitably
lost, and it is possible the entire corps would have been cut in

He made a noble stand at Harlem Heights for three weeks, where he had
several encounters with the foe. In one of these, two of his most
brilliant officers were killed, Colonel Knowlton and Major Leith.
Knowlton's last words were, "Did we drive the enemy in?" Speaking of
Colonel Knowlton reminds us of an incident.

Soon after the retreat from Brooklyn, Washington said to Knowlton:

"It is important for me to know the strength of the enemy on Long
Island. Can you name a trusty man who will find out?"

"I can," answered Knowlton. "If he will consent, he is just the man for
such service."

"Send him to me immediately."

Within a short time Nathan Hale of Connecticut, one of the bravest and
most promising young officers in the army, presented himself to the

"Can you ascertain for me the number and strength of the British on Long
Island?" asked Washington.

"I think I can," replied Hale; "I am willing to try."

"You understand that it will cost your life if the enemy capture you. It
is serious business."

"I understand. I understood that when I entered the army," was young
Hale's cool and heroic reply.

"Go, then, and quickly as possible obtain the information I so much

Hale went to Long Island in the capacity of a schoolmaster, obtained the
information that Washington desired, and on his return was discovered
and arrested as a spy. Without trial or court-martial he was executed,
in extremely aggravating circumstances.

"A clergyman, whose attendance he desired, was refused him; a Bible, for
a moment's devotion, was not procured though he requested it. Letters
which on the morning of his execution, he wrote to his mother and
sister, were destroyed; and this very extraordinary reason was given by
the provost-martial, 'that the rebels should not know that they had a
man in the army who could die with so much firmness.' Unknown to all
around him, without a single friend to offer him the least consolation,
as amiable and as worthy a young man as America could boast was thus
hung as a spy." His last words were:

"I lament only that I have but one life to give to the cause of liberty
and the rights of man."

Soon after Washington withdrew his defeated army to Harlem Heights, he
heard cannonading at the landing, where breastworks had been thrown up.
Springing upon his horse, he galloped away in the direction of the
firing, and, before he reached the place, he met his soldiers in full
retreat before a squad of British, numbering not more than sixty or
seventy. He drew his sword, and with threats, endeavored to rally them;
but in vain. He was so shocked by their cowardice, and so determined to
repel the foe, that he would have dashed forward to his death, had not
his aides seized the reins of his charger, and turned him in the other

On the 20th of September, after the British took possession of New York,
a fire started one night in a drinking saloon, where soldiers were
revelling (perhaps celebrating their triumphal entry into the city), and
it spread with great rapidity. The buildings were mostly of wood, so
that the devouring flames licked them up as tinder; and although the
thousands of British soldiers exerted themselves to the utmost to
extinguish the fire, one quarter of the city, about one thousand
buildings, was laid in ashes.

At this time the army in Canada had withdrawn to Crown Point, numbering
about six thousand, one half of them being sick and the other half
disheartened and disaffected. General Washington ordered them to retire
to Ticonderoga for safety and rest. The small-pox was spreading among
them to an alarming degree.

Jealousies among officers, dissatisfaction among soldiers, clashing
interests among the Colonies, and a growing distrust of Washington,
added to the complications of the American cause, and to the trials of
Congress and the commander-in-chief.

Referring to the discordant interests throughout most of the Colonies,
John Adams wrote: "It requires more serenity of temper, a deeper
understanding, and more courage than fell to the lot of Marlborough,
to ride in this whirlwind."

By request, General Lee returned from the South at this time. He was an
accomplished military officer, and his successes at the South added much
to his laurels. Many regarded him superior to Washington. The latter
esteemed him highly as an officer of skill and experience. At a council
of war held soon after his arrival, General Lee said:

"A position is not a good one simply because its approaches are
difficult. No army can maintain itself with the enemy in front and rear,
especially when the enemy's ships command the water on each side, as
they do here. Your recent experience on Long Island and in New York
shows the danger of such position."

"That is very true," answered Washington. "We cannot afford to hazard
too much in the present condition of the army. I have satisfactory
evidence that General Howe's purpose is to surround our camp, and
capture the whole American army."

"And he is not much of a general if he does not do it," responded Lee.
"For my part, I would have nothing to do with the islands to which you
have been clinging so pertinaciously. I would give Mr. Howe a fee-simple
of them."

"Where and when shall we be in a better condition to meet the enemy?"
inquired General George Clinton, a brave but inexperienced officer. "We
must fight the enemy somewhere; why not here?"

"I will answer your inquiry," replied Washington. "We shall be in a
better condition to meet the foe when the Colonies have had time to
furnish their quotas of recruits, as recently ordered by Congress."

At the earnest solicitation of Washington, Congress had voted that the
Colonies should furnish eighty-eight battalions, in quotas, according
to their abilities; that the pay of officers should be raised; troops
serving throughout the war should receive a bounty of twenty dollars
and one hundred acres of land, with a new suit of clothes annually.
Those enlisting for three years were to receive twenty dollars bounty,
but no land. This provision was a response to Washington's frequent
protests against short enlistments and small pay, and it pointed to a
reorganization of the army, on a permanent footing, according to
Washington's frequently expressed ideas. The general had great
expectations of relief from this more liberal policy.

"Our present action should look solely to the safety of the army,"
interjected Lee. "To save it from annihilation or capture is our first

"Certainly," rejoined Washington; "and now let this question be answered
definitely: whether (considering that the obstructions in the North
River have proved insufficient, and that the enemy's whole force is in
our rear on Grog Point), it is now deemed possible, in our situation, to
prevent the enemy from cutting off the communication with the country,
and compelling us to fight them at all disadvantages or surrender
prisoners at discretion?"

Every number of the council except General Clinton decided that it was
impossible to occupy the present position without exposing the army to
destruction or capture; hence, another retreat followed.



Washington withdrew his army to White Plains, leaving nearly three
thousand of his best troops to garrison Fort Washington. Congress
believed that Fort Washington could hold the Hudson secure, and
therefore ordered that a strong garrison be left there. It was not
according to General Washington's idea, after he decided to retreat to
White Plains, but he yielded to the request of Congress. General
Putnam's obstructions in the river amounted to little. Four galleys,
mounted with heavy guns and swivels; two new ships, filled with stones,
to be sunk at the proper moment; a sloop at anchor, having on board an
infernal machine for submarine explosion, with which to blow up the
men-of-war; these were among the aids to the Fort, together with
batteries on either shore, to prevent the enemy ascending the Hudson.
Yet, on the ninth day of October, three British war-ships sailed
triumphantly up the river, sweeping through the obstructions, with
little damage to themselves.

The British pursued the American army. Washington threw up intrenchments
hastily, designing to make but a temporary stay there. General Lee
arrived with the rear division of the army, after the temporary
fortifications were well under way.

"This is but a temporary camp," remarked Washington to Lee. "Yonder
height (pointing to the north) is a more eligible location."

"I judge so," General Lee answered, taking in the situation at once.

"Let us ride out and inspect the ground for ourselves," proposed
Washington. And they galloped away. On arriving at the spot, General Lee
pointed to still another height farther north.

"That is the ground we ought to occupy," he said.

"Well, let us go and view it," replied Washington.

They had not reached the location when a courier came dashing up to

"The British are in the camp, sir!" he exclaimed to Washington.

"Then we have other business to attend to than reconnoitering," quickly
and coolly replied the general, putting spurs to his horse and returning
to camp.

"The pickets are driven in, but our army is in order of battle,"
Adjutant-General Reed informed him, as he reached headquarters.

"Gentlemen, return to your respective posts, and do the best you can,"
the general responded, without the least excitement.

By this time the British army was discovered upon the high ground beyond
the village, advancing in two columns, "in all the pomp and circumstance
of war." General Heath wrote afterwards:

"It was a brilliant but formidable sight. The sun shone bright, their
arms glittered, and perhaps troops never were shown to more advantage."

A brief but hard-fought battle followed, in which there was a loss of
about four hundred men on each side.

The enemy waited for reinforcements, and Washington improved the time to
fall back to Northcastle, five miles, where, in the rocky fastness, he
could defy the whole British army. To add to his advantages, the day on
which the British commander decided upon an attack, after the arrival of
reinforcements, a violent rain set in, and continued through the day,
rendering an attack impossible, so that the Americans had still more
time to strengthen their position.

On the night of Nov. 4, a heavy rumbling sound was heard in the
direction of the British camp. It continued all through the night, and
resembled the noise of wagons and artillery in motion. Day break
disclosed the cause: the enemy was decamping. Long trains were seen
moving over the hilly country towards Dobb's Ferry on the Hudson.

"A feint!" said General Lee, as soon as he discovered the situation.

"A retreat, more like," replied another officer. "The enemy sees little
hope in attacking this stronghold."

"I can hardly believe that so large and well-disciplined an army is
going to withdraw without giving battle," responded Washington. "No
doubt an attack upon Fort Washington is the immediate purpose; and then,
perhaps an invasion into the Jerseys."

There was much speculation among the officers as to the meaning of this
manoeuvre, and all of them were in more or less perplexity. Washington
wrote immediately to Governor Livingston of New Jersey and hurried a
messenger away with the letter:

"They have gone towards North River and King's Bridge. Some suppose they
are going into winter quarters, and will sit down in New York without
doing more than investing Fort Washington. I cannot subscribe wholly to
this opinion myself. That they will invest Fort Washington is a matter
of which there can be no doubt, and I think there is a strong
probability that General Howe will detach a part of his force to make an
incursion into the Jerseys, provided he is going to New York. He must
attempt something on account of his reputation, for what has he done as
yet with his great army?"

Satisfied that General Howe intended to capture Fort Washington, he
advised its evacuation. He wrote to General Greene:

"If we cannot prevent vessels from passing up the river, and the enemy
are possessed of all the surrounding country, what valuable purpose can
it answer to hold a post from which the expected benefit cannot be had?
I am, therefore, inclined to think that it will not be prudent to hazard
the men and stores at Mount Washington; but as you are on the spot, I
leave it to you to give such orders as to evacuating Mount Washington as
you may judge best, and so far revoking the orders given to Colonel
Morgan, to defend it to the last."

General Greene took the responsibility to hold the fort; and when
Colonel Morgan received a demand from the enemy to surrender, he
replied: "I shall defend the fort to the last."

After a manly resistance, however, he was forced to surrender; and the
fort, with its garrison of twenty-eight hundred men, and abundant
stores, passed into the hands of the enemy. The prisoners were taken to
New York and confined in the notorious British prison-ship, where they
suffered long and terribly.

This was a very unfortunate affair for the American cause, and caused
the commander-in-chief great anxiety. He wrote to his brother about it
in a gloomy mood, and said:

"In ten days from this date there will not be above two thousand men, if
that number, of the fixed, established regiments on this side of the
Hudson River, to oppose Howe's whole army; and very little more on the
other, to secure the eastern Colonies, and the important passes leading
through the Highlands to Albany, and the country about the lakes.... I
am wearied almost to death with the retrograde movement of things, and I
solemnly protest that a pecuniary reward of twenty thousand pounds a
year would not induce me to undergo what I do, and, after all, perhaps
to lose my character; as it is impossible, under such a variety of
distressing circumstances, to conduct matters agreeably to public

Washington's command was now at Fort Lee (formerly Fort Constitution).
The next movement of the enemy was designed to hem them in between the
Hudson and Hackensack, and capture them. The commander-in-chief ordered
a hasty retreat, the want of horses and wagons making it necessary to
abandon a large quantity of baggage, stores, and provisions, and even
the tents and all the cannon except two twelve pounders. The retreat
over the Hackensack was successfully performed, and here Washington
ordered Colonel Greyson to send the following message to General Lee:

"Remove the troops under your command to this side of the North River,
and there wait for further orders."

The next day Washington wrote to Lee:

"I am of opinion, and the gentlemen about me concur in it, that the
public interest requires your coming over to this side of the Hudson
with the Continental troops."

Not more than three thousand soldiers were with Washington at
Hackensack, without intrenching tools, tents, and necessary supplies. To
risk an engagement in these circumstances was hazardous in the extreme,
and a further retreat became inevitable. Leaving three regiments to
guard the passages of the Hackensack, and to serve as covering parties,
he withdrew to Newark, on the west bank of the Passaic.

To add to the perils of his situation, the term of enlistment of General
Mercer's command was about to expire. He must have reinforcements, or
his entire army would be destroyed. He hurried away Colonel Reed to
Governor Livingston of New Jersey, and General Mifflin to Philadelphia,
to implore aid. At the same time he depended upon General Lee for
immediate reinforcements, not doubting that the latter was obeying his
orders; but, to his amazement, a letter from Lee revealed the startling
fact that he had not moved from Northcastle.

Washington renewed his orders to Lee to move with all possible despatch
and come to his rescue. He said:

"The enemy are pushing on, and part of them have crossed the Passaic.
Their plans have not entirely unfolded, but I shall not be surprised to
find that Philadelphia is the object of their movement."

"We cannot make a stand here," said General Greene.

"By no means," answered Washington. "My hope is to make a stand at
Brunswick, on the Raritan; or, certainly, to dispute the passage of the

"Our retreat to Brunswick must be hastened, or the enemy will be upon
us," added Greene.

The retreat was precipitated; and when the rear-guard of Washington's
command was leaving one end of Newark, the vanguard of the British army
was entering at the other.

On reaching Brunswick, Washington wrote at once to Governor Livingston,
instructing him to collect all the boats and river craft on the Delaware
for seventy miles, remove them to the western bank of the river, away
from the enemy, and guard them.

He was doomed to additional disappointment at Brunswick. Colonel Reed
raised no troops in New Jersey, and many of those raised by General
Mifflin in Pennsylvania were deserting. The term of enlistment of
General Mercer's command had expired, and no inducement or entreaties
could prevail upon them to remain. He could not muster over four
thousand men.

Still worse, a letter from General Lee to Colonel Reed disclosed the
fact that the former had not given heed to the orders of his chief, and
he was still at Northcastle. Moreover, the letter revealed that General
Lee was plotting against him. Colonel Reed was absent when the letter
arrived, and, according to his custom, Washington opened the letter,
supposing it related to military business. What was his surprise to find
that the letter contained insinuations against himself, and also
implicated Colonel Reed, his old friend, in a plot to make Lee

We will say here, once for all, that, while General Lee was an able
military officer, he was an ambitious, arrogant, and deceitful man. On
his return from the South, his fame had reached the zenith, and some
thought he ought to lead the American army. Washington's continued
retreats increased this feeling, until General Lee evidently thought
there was a fair prospect of the removal of Washington, and his own
promotion to commander-in-chief. Even Colonel Reed entertained this
opinion, though afterwards he saw his mistake, and made suitable amends.
This explains Lee's conduct before and after Washington retired from

Judge Jay related the following incident: "A short time before the death
of John Adams, I was conversing with my father about the American
Revolution. Suddenly he remarked:

"'Ah, William! The history of that Revolution will never be known.
Nobody now alive knows it but John Adams and myself.'

"'You surprise me, father; to what can you refer?'

"'The proceedings of the old Congress.'

"'What proceedings?'

"'Those against Washington; from first to last there was a bitter party
against him.'"

The "old Congress" sat with closed doors, so that the public learned
only what it was wise to disclose.

Washington waited for recruits at Brunswick until the 1st of December.
On that day the vanguard of the British army appeared on the opposite
side of the Raritan. Washington destroyed the end of the bridge next to
the village, to intercept the pursuit of the enemy, and retreated.
Stopping at Princeton temporarily, he left twelve hundred troops there,
under Lord Stirling and General Stephens, to keep an eye on the foe, and
continued his retreat to Trenton.

While the American army decreased from week to week, the British army in
pursuit was augmented; for, through the Jerseys, General Howe impressed
men, horses, and wagons, and at the same time many Tories flocked to his
standard. He issued a proclamation, also, offering pardon and protection
to all citizens who would take the oath of allegiance to the king. There
was so little hope of the American cause at that time, and Washington's
army appeared so plainly to be near destruction, that many citizens took
the oath and joined the British army, as they thought, from absolute
necessity. "Many who had been prominent in the cause, hastened to take
advantage of this proclamation," says Irving. "Those who had the most
property to lose were the first to submit; the middle ranks remained
generally steadfast in this time of trial."

A British officer wrote to his friends in London:

"The rebels continue flying before our army. Lord Cornwallis took the
fort opposite Brunswick, plunged into Raritan River, and seized the
town.... Such a panic has seized the rebels that no part of the Jerseys
will hold them, and I doubt whether Philadelphia itself will stop their
career. The Congress have lost their authority.... They are in such
consternation that they know not what to do. The two Adamses are in New
England; Franklin gone to France; Lynch has lost his senses; Rutledge
has gone home disgusted; Dana is persecuting at Albany; and Jay is in
the country, playing as bad a part, so that the fools have lost the
assistance of the knaves."

"This," says Sparks, "was the gloomiest period of the war. The campaign
had been little else than a series of disasters and retreats. The enemy
had gained possession of Rhode Island, Long Island, the city of New
York, Staten Island, and nearly the whole of the Jerseys, and seemed on
the point of extending their conquests into Pennsylvania. By the fatal
scheme of short enlistments, and by sickness, the effective force with
General Washington had dwindled away, till it hardly deserved the name
of an army."

Still Washington was hopeful, and expected that the cause of right would
triumph. When and how he could not tell; but he continued to say, "That
Providence which has brought us out of many difficulties will yet crown
our righteous cause with success."

"I expected substantial aid from the Jerseys," he said to General
Mercer. "I am disappointed that the people have not flocked to our

"I am more than disappointed," replied Mercer; "I am shocked and vexed
at the cowardice of the people."

"What think you," continued Washington, "if we should retreat to the
back part of Pennsylvania, would the Pennsylvanians support us?"

The mountainous regions of Pennsylvania were the field of his early
exploits against the French and Indians, and Mercer was with him there.

"If the lower counties give up, the back counties will do the same,"
Mercer answered in a desponding way.

"We must then retire to Augusta County, Virginia," responded Washington,
his indomitable spirit rising superior to all discouragements. "Numbers
will repair to us for safety, and we will try a predatory war. If
overpowered, we must cross the Alleghanies."

Before this time, Colonel Reed said to him one day, "When shall we stop
this everlasting retreating and make a stand?"

Washington answered, without the least show of resentment:

"If it becomes necessary, we will retreat over every river and mountain
in America."

Such an unconquerable spirit receives its reward at last.

Lee did not leave Northcastle until the last of November. True, he
ordered General Heath to a movement that he claimed would support
Washington; but when General Heath found that Lee was not obeying the
orders of the commander-in-chief, he refused to entertain his commands.

"I am amenable to the commander-in-chief, and cannot supply you with
troops as you order," he said.

"In point of _law_ you are right," said Lee, "but in point of policy I
think you are wrong. I am going into the Jerseys for the salvation of
America; I wish to take with me a larger force than I now have, and
request you to order two thousand of your men to march with me."

"I cannot spare that number."

"Then order one thousand."

"No, not a thousand."

"How many, then?" continued Lee.

"Not one," answered Heath. "I may as well bring this matter to a point
at once; not a single man will I furnish from this post by _your_

"Then," exclaimed Lee in an excited manner, "I will order them myself."

"That makes a wide difference," rejoined Heath. "You are my senior, but
I have received positive written instructions from him who is superior
to us both, and I will not _myself_ break those orders. Read them."

He handed Washington's letter to Lee, in which he positively forbade the
removal of any troops from that post.

"The commander-in-chief is now at a distance," said Lee, after reading
the letter, "and he does not know what is necessary here as well as I

Turning to Major Huntington, Lee said authoritatively:

"You will order two regiments (designating the two) to march early
to-morrow morning to join me."

General Heath was surprised and indignant at Lee's assumption of
authority, and he said to the major, "Issue such orders at your peril!"

Then turning to Lee, he added:

"Sir, if you come to this post, and mean to issue orders here which will
break the positive ones I have received I pray you do it completely
yourself, and through your own deputy adjutant-general, who is present,
and not draw me or any of my family in as partners in the guilt."

"It is right," answered Lee. "Colonel Scammel, do you issue the order."

"I have one more request to make," interrupted General Heath, "and that
is, that you will be pleased to give me a certificate that you _exercise
command_ at this post, and order from it these regiments."

Lee objected, but General George Clinton, who was present, said:

"That is a very reasonable request, General Lee, and surely you cannot
refuse it."

Without replying, he immediately wrote the following:

"For the satisfaction of General Heath, and at his request, I do certify
that I am commanding officer, at this present writing, in this post, and
that I have, in that capacity, ordered Prescott's and Wyllis' regiments
to march."

The next morning General Lee rode up to Heath's door, and said:

"Upon further consideration I have concluded not to take the two
regiments with me. You may order them to return to their former post."

Evidently the ambitious and conceited general had come to the conclusion
that "discretion is the better part of valor."

General Lee did not cross the Hudson until the 4th of December, moving
snail-like, although he knew that Washington's army was in imminent

"Do come on," Washington's last plea was; "your arrival may be
fortunate, and, if it can be effected without delay, it may be the means
of preserving a city whose loss must prove of the most fatal consequence
to the cause of America."

The "city" referred to was Philadelphia. Washington had written to him
that the enemy was designing to capture Philadelphia, a calamity that
must be prevented if possible.

At this time Washington had removed the baggage and stores of his army
across the Delaware. Being reinforced, however, by fifteen hundred
Pennsylvania militia, he resolved to march back to Princeton and await
developments. On his way he met General Stirling, who had evacuated
Princeton, as Cornwallis was marching upon it with a large force.
Returning to Trenton, he hastily collected all the boats possible, and
conveyed his whole force over the Delaware, including General Stirling's
command from Princeton. The rear-guard had scarcely crossed the river
when Cornwallis appeared in the distance with his "bannered hosts." As
Washington had taken possession of all the boats and transports, the
enemy could not cross.

The tact and skill of Washington as a general were as conspicuous in his
retreat through the Jerseys as they were on any battlefield. Thomas
Paine accompanied the army, and he wrote:

"With a handful of men we sustained an orderly retreat for near an
hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field-pieces, the
greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say
that our retreat was precipitate, for we were three weeks in performing
it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back
to meet the enemy, and remained out until dark. The sign of fear was not
seen in our camp; and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected
inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had
never been ravaged."

On the 12th of December, General Lee had marched no farther than
Vealtown, eight miles from Morristown. He continued to disregard
Washington's appeals and instructions, receiving one almost every day.
In some of them the commander-in-chief showed that his patience was well
nigh exhausted.

"I am surprised that you should be in doubt about the route you are to
take after my definite instructions," he wrote on the 11th of December.

"I have so frequently mentioned our situation, and the necessity of your
aid, that it is painful for me to add a word on the subject," he wrote
on the same day.

At Vealtown Lee left his troops in command of General Sullivan, and took
up his own quarters at a "tavern" in Baskingridge, three miles off. He
was very partial to "_taverns_" especially if well stocked with certain
articles to please his palate.

On the next morning, about 11 o'clock, General Lee was writing at the
table, and Major Wilkinson was looking out of the window. The latter
arrived early in the morning with a letter from his commander, General
Gates, and General Lee was replying to it.

"The British cavalry are upon us!" shouted Wilkinson in consternation.

"Where?" exclaimed Lee, springing from his chair.

"Right here, around the house," answered Wilkinson, who beheld a
detachment of British cavalry surrounding the tavern.

"Where are the guards?" cried out Lee, in his surprise and horror.
"Why don't they fire?"

It was a cold morning, and the guards had stacked their arms, and passed
around to the south side of the house to sun themselves. They scarcely
observed the enemy's presence until they heard the demand to surrender.

"If General Lee does not surrender in five minutes I will set fire to
the house!"

At the same time the guards were chased in different directions. The
demand for Lee to surrender was repeated, and he did surrender. Hastily
he was put upon Wilkinson's horse, which stood at the door, and within
three hours the enemy were exulting over him at Brunswick.

"No one to blame but himself," remarked Heath.

"Good enough for him," said many Americans.

General Sullivan was now in command, and he joined the
commander-in-chief as soon as possible.

In Wilkinson's memoir it is said that Lee delayed so strangely in order
to intercept the enemy in pursuit of Washington; and it is added:

"If General Lee had anticipated General Washington in cutting the cordon
of the enemy between New York and the Delaware, the commander-in-chief
would probably have been superseded. In this case Lee would have
succeeded him."

Washington was too magnanimous to exult over the fall of Lee.
Notwithstanding his knowledge of Lee's plans to supersede him, he wrote
to his brother:

"Before you receive this letter, you will undoubtedly have heard of the
capture of General Lee. This is an additional misfortune; and the more
vexatious, as it was by his own folly and imprudence, and without a view
to effect any good, that he was taken. As he went to lodge three miles
out of his own camp, and within twenty miles of the enemy, a rascally
Tory rode in the night to give notice of it to the enemy, who sent a
party of light-horse, who seized him, and carried him off with every
mark of triumph and indignity."



Washington was so anxious for the safety of Philadelphia, that he
appointed General Putnam to command the post, with instructions to
fortify the city at once. At the same time he advised Congress to remove
to Baltimore; and that body, after hastily completing the business
before them, adjourned to meet in the latter city on the 20th of

By this time his army numbered about five thousand available men. One
thousand militia from New Jersey, and fifteen hundred from Pennsylvania,
with five hundred Germans from the latter State, was a very encouraging
increase of his worn and wasted army. Then he had word that General
Gates was coming on with seven regiments detached by Schuyler from the
northern department. Washington was hopeful again, and began to plan an
attack upon the enemy.

Before Congress adjourned to meet at Baltimore, they clothed Washington
with unusual powers. They voted:

"Until Congress orders otherwise, General Washington shall be possessed
of all power to order and direct all things relative to the department
and to the operations of war."

In the days of ancient Rome, such power would have constituted him a
military dictator. It was conferred in answer to a remarkable
communication from Washington himself, one of the most able, practical,
and faithful public documents extant, in which he said:

"It may be thought that I am going a good deal out of the line of my
duty to adopt these measures or advise thus freely. A character to lose,
an estate to forfeit, the inestimable blessings of liberty at stake, and
a life devoted, must be my excuse."

Washington immediately recruited three battalions of artillery. He
promised those whose time of enlistment had expired an increase of
twenty-five per cent to their pay if they would remain, and ten dollars
bounty for six weeks' service. "It is no time to stand upon expense,"
he said.

On the 20th of December, General Sullivan arrived with Lee's army. The
men were in a bad plight, many of them sick and exhausted, others ragged
and desponding. On the same day, also, General Gates arrived with the
remnants of four regiments from the Northern army.

"Now is our time to strike a blow that shall put heart into the friends
of our cause," said Washington to General Greene.

"I am at your service in any enterprise that will do that," answered
Greene. "Explain."

"I propose an immediate attack upon the enemy," said Washington.

"Well, there is no cowardice in that proposition," remarked Greene. "To
recross the Delaware that is filled with ice, and attack the enemy in
his own camp, this wintry weather, is worthy of the commander-in-chief
of the American army."

"Howe has gone into winter quarters in New York," continued Washington.
"His troops are scattered about loosely, because he thinks the rebel
army is powerless. Cornwallis has left our front, and returned to New
York. The Hessians are stationed along the Delaware, facing us, and are
thinking more of a good time, probably, in this Christmas season, than
they are of us. It is a good time to surprise them."

"Perhaps so," answered Greene. "How about crossing the river with so
much floating ice in it?"

"That is not an insuperable barrier," replied Washington. "Besides, if
we wait until the river is frozen over, the enemy will surprise us."

"You are resolved to attack them?" added Greene.

"Yes, on the 25th, which is close by."

General Greene and the other officers entered into the plan with all
their hearts, as soon as they fully comprehended it. The night of the
25th was the earliest moment the army could move. The intervening time
would be required for preparation.

"A good chance to avenge the loss of Fort Washington, and the wrongs
inflicted upon the people of Jersey by the Hessians," remarked General
Greene to his command. The Hessians had been reckless and destructive in
their march through the Jerseys.

"Miserable hirelings, these Hessians!" exclaimed Major Wilkinson, by way
of stirring up the soldiers to crave an attack upon them. "Such
wretches, fighting us for mere pay, without caring whether liberty or
slavery reigns, deserve to be shot."

The night of the 25th was a boisterous one. A storm was coming on, and
the Delaware rolled tempestuously. But, undismayed, Washington ordered
the army to move at dark. He crossed the Delaware nine miles above
Trenton, where there were fifteen hundred Hessians and a troop of
British light-horse, to march down upon the town. General Ewing, with
his force, was to have crossed a mile below the town, but was prevented
by the quantity of ice. General Putnam, with the troops occupied in
fortifying Philadelphia, crossed below Burlington.

When Washington was ready to march, after crossing the river, a furious
storm of snow and sleet began to beat in the faces of the troops, to
impede their progress. It was eight o'clock before the head of the
column reached the village. Seeing a man chopping wood, Washington

"Which way is the Hessian picket?"

"I don't know," the man replied.

"You may tell," said Captain Forest of the artillery, "for that is
General Washington."

The man changed his aspect instantly. Raising both hands heavenward, he

"God bless and prosper you!"

Then pointing to a house, he said:

"The picket is in that house, and the sentry stands near that tree."

Rising in his stirrups, and waving his sword in the air, Washington
addressed his troops: "There, boys, are the enemies of your country! All
I ask of you is to remember what you are about to fight for! March!"

Soon the battle began. It was a complete surprise to the foe. They
rallied at first, and undertook to make a stand, but were unable to
breast the storm of shot that beat into their very faces. The British
light-horse fled from the town, together with other troops, none of
which could have escaped if General Ewing and General Cadwalader had
been able to cross the river, and coöperate with Washington, according
to his plan. They were to guard the only way of retreat open to the

The battle was short and decisive. Many Hessians were killed, and their
brave commander, Colonel Rahl, fell mortally wounded. He was conveyed
carefully to the house of a Quaker lady, where General Washington paid
him a visit before leaving town.

"The misfortunes of war are to be deplored," remarked Washington, taking
the dying man by the hand, and expressing his sympathy for him.

"Death is preferable to life with this dishonor," answered Rahl.

Washington spoke in praise of the bravery of his men, to which Rahl
replied, though he was really suffering the agony of death:

"I entreat you, General Washington, not to take anything from my men but
their arms."

"I will not," answered Washington; and he kept the promise.

Washington took about a thousand prisoners in this battle, including
thirty-two officers. His seizure of artillery and stores, also, was
quite large. With prisoners and stores he recrossed the Delaware to his

The fame of this brilliant exploit spread from town to town, reviving
the despondent hopes of the many in sympathy with the American cause.

Despatches from Cadwalader and Reed assured Washington that the British
army, fleeing from Trenton, had spread consternation everywhere among
the enemy. Trenton, Bordentown, and other places were deserted by the
foe, who, panic-stricken by the victory of Washington, fled in

Washington saw that now was his time to drive the British from the
Jerseys. He sent to Generals McDougall and Maxwell at Morristown,
ordering them to collect as large a force of militia as possible, and
harass the retreating enemy in the rear. He wrote to General Heath,
also, to come down at once from the Highlands, with the eastern militia;
and he despatched gentlemen of influence in different directions, to
arouse the militia to revenge the wrongs inflicted upon the people by
the Hessians. He said:

"If what they have suffered does not rouse their resentment, they must
not possess the feelings of humanity."

On the 29th of December, Washington crossed the Delaware again with a
portion of his troops, though two days were consumed in the passage of
all of them, on account of the ice and boisterous weather. A portion of
his troops were expecting to go home at the end of the month, as the
term of their enlistment expired; but Washington drew them up in line,
and addressed them, appealing to their patriotism, inviting them to
re-enlist, and offering them ten dollars bounty for six weeks' service.
Most of them remained.

Taking advantage of the power vested in him, the commander-in-chief
wrote to Robert Morris, "the patriot financier at Philadelphia,"
pleading for hard money to meet the emergency.

"If you could possibly collect a sum, if it were but one hundred or one
hundred and fifty pounds, it would be of service."

Scarce as hard money was, Morris obtained the amount of a wealthy
Quaker, and forwarded it to Washington by express the next morning.

After the victory at Trenton, Congress, in session at Baltimore, took
additional action to invest Washington with all necessary powers; and
that body said, in their communication to him:

"Happy is it for this country that the general of their forces can
safely be entrusted with the most unlimited power, and neither personal
security, liberty, or property, be in the least degree endangered

As soon as the news of the capture of the Hessians at Trenton reached
New York, General Howe hurried Cornwallis off to Princeton, where about
eight thousand of his army were wintering, with instructions to attack
Washington. On the second day of January, 1777, the latter posted his
troops on the east side of a small stream, the Assumpink, learning that
Cornwallis was marching upon him. About mid-day Cornwallis approached
with five or six thousand troops, and attempted to cross the river; but
the Americans repulsed him. The engagement continued until dark, when
Cornwallis proposed to cease hostilities and rest until morning.

"Nay," said Sir William Erskine; "now is your time to make sure of

"Oh, no!" replied Cornwallis; "our troops are fatigued and need rest.
The old fox can't make his escape now; for, with the Delaware behind
him, so filled with floating ice that he cannot cross, we have him
completely surrounded. To-morrow morning, fresh and strong, we will fall
upon him, and take him and his rag-a-muffins all at once!"

"Ah, my lord!" rejoined Sir William, "if Washington be the soldier that
I think he is, you will not see him there to-morrow morning."

The escape of the American army seemed impossible. With a superior force
of the British in front, well armed and fresh, and the impossibility of
recrossing the Delaware, together with deep mud in the roads, the
capture of Washington, to human view, seemed inevitable.

Early in the evening Washington conceived the idea of making a forced
march to Princeton during the night, to capture the enemy's stores
there, and then push on to Brunswick for additional booty. But then the
mud was so deep that such a march would not be possible. While he was
thus revolving the matter, the wind suddenly shifted, the clouds broke,
and freezing cold weather set in, so that within two hours the ground
became solid, and the army could move. Again God proved to the
astonished commander-in-chief that He was not always "on the side of the
heaviest battalions."

Stirring up his camp-fire anew, and setting a score of shovellers to
work within hearing distance of the foe, to deceive him, Washington
moved off as quietly as possible to Princeton with his army. There he
met a force Cornwallis had left behind, and a desperate battle followed,
in which the Americans were victorious.

At first Colonel Mawhood's celebrated regiment charged upon the advance
of the American army, driving them back in confusion. But Washington,
ever ready for such an emergency, rode to the front, brandishing his
sword, and calling upon his men to follow. Placing himself in front,
directly facing the foe, he stopped for a moment, as if to say to his
army, "Will you suffer the enemy to shoot your general?" They could not
resist the appeal, and with a yell they turned and dashed forward, with
irresistible might, driving all before them, and the victory was theirs.

Colonel Fitzgerald, one of Washington's aides, was so affected by his
commander's daring, that he dropped the reins on his horse's neck and
drew his cap over his eyes, that he might not see him shot from his
horse. While waiting in this agony of suspense, a shout of triumph rent
the air.

"The British are running!"

"The victory is ours!"

The air was rent with the shouts of the victors.

Lifting his cap, and looking for his loved commander, he beheld him, as
the smoke of the battle cleared, safe and unharmed, waving his hat and
cheering his soldiers on to pursue the foe. Bursting into tears for very
joy, he spurred his horse to Washington's side, and exclaimed:

"Thank God, your excellency is safe!"

Grasping the colonel's hand in gladness, Washington answered:

"Away, my dear colonel, and bring up the troops. THE DAY IS OUR OWN!"

When Cornwallis awoke in the early dawn, he found that his "fox" had

"That is just what I feared," said Sir William Erskine.

"Where can he have gone?" Cornwallis inquired, almost bewildered by the
unexpected revelation.

Just then booming cannon in the distance explained.

"There!" exclaimed Sir William; "There is Washington now, cutting up our

"Capturing our stores at Brunswick!" shouted Cornwallis in reply, as he
took in the situation, and thought what a haul the rebel general would
make in capturing the seventy thousand pounds in money, and the vast
quantity of arms, ammunition, and stores at Brunswick.

Almost franticly he dashed about to hurry his Army away to the latter
place, where he arrived to find everything safe, and himself outwitted

The battle of Princeton, though short, was a costly one to the
Americans. One general, two colonels, one major, and three captains were
killed. From twenty to thirty others were killed and wounded. The
British lost one hundred killed and wounded, and three hundred

The American general slain was Mercer, whom Washington called "the
worthy and brave General Mercer." Early in the conflict his horse was
shot under him, and on foot he was attempting to rally his men, when a
blow from the butt of a British musket felled him to the ground.

"Call for quarters, you mean rebel!" shouted a British officer.

"I am not a rebel," retorted Mercer; "I am a true soldier of liberty,
fighting for his country;" and, as he spoke he thrust his sword at the
nearest man.

Then he was bayoneted, and left for dead. He was subsequently borne to
the house of a Mr. Clark, where he was nursed until he died, a few days
thereafter. Washington supposed that he was killed on the field, until
he was on his way to Morristown. On learning that he was still alive,
he despatched Major George Lewis with a flag and letter to Cornwallis,
requesting that the bearer be allowed to remain with, and nurse, the
wounded general. A few days afterwards, Mercer died in the arms of

The story spread in the American army that the British bayoneted General
Mercer after he gave up his sword. But he said to Major Lewis, who
inquired about it: "The tale which you have heard, George, is untrue. My
death is owing to myself. I was on foot endeavoring to rally my men, who
had given way before the superior discipline of the enemy, when I was
brought to the ground by a blow from a musket. At the same moment the
enemy discovered my rank, exulted in their having taken the rebel
general, as they termed me, and bid me ask for quarters. I felt that I
deserved not so opprobrious an epithet, and determined to die, as I had
lived, an honored soldier in a just and righteous cause; and without
begging my life or making reply, I lunged with my sword at the nearest
man. They then bayoneted and left me."

Washington did not pursue the enemy far, nor push on to Brunswick. Most
of his troops had been two days and nights without sleep, and they were
completely exhausted, so that further engagements without rest were
preposterous. He determined to go into winter quarters at Morristown,
and marched directly to that place. Stopping at Pluckamin to rest his
soldiers for a short time, he wrote to General Putnam:

"The enemy appear to be panic-struck. I am in hopes of driving them out
of the Jerseys. Keep a strict watch upon the enemy. A number of
horsemen, in the dress of the country, must be kept constantly going
backward and forward for this purpose."

Occupying the mountainous region of Morristown, and reinforcing his
little army, he harassed the enemy to such an extent that Cornwallis was
forced to draw in all his out-posts, so that his land communication with
New York was completely cut off.

Hamilton wrote: "The extraordinary spectacle was presented of a powerful
army, straitened within narrow limits by the phantom of a military
force, and never permitted to transgress those limits with impunity."

The British were driven out of the Jerseys at every point except Amboy
and Brunswick, and the remarkable exploit awakened the wonder, and
admiration of even our enemies. Everywhere that the achievements of
Washington, from Dec. 25, 1776, to Jan. 3, 1777, were made known, his
fame was greatly augmented. No such bold and glorious deeds could be
found in the annals of military renown. This was the verdict of the
country; and from that moment the American cause grew stronger.

From that day to this the battles of Trenton and Princeton, including
the crossing and recrossing of the Delaware, have been accorded the
brightest pages of history by writers of every age. It is said that
Frederick the Great of Prussia declared that the deeds of Washington, in
the ten days specified, "were the most brilliant of any in the annals of
military achievements."

The Italian historian, Botta, wrote:

"Achievements so stirring gained for the American commander a very great
reputation, and were regarded with wonder by all nations, as well as by
the Americans. The prudence, constancy, and noble intrepidity of
Washington were admired and applauded by all. By unanimous consent, he
was declared to be the saviour of his country; all proclaimed him equal
to the most renowned commanders of antiquity, and especially
distinguished him by the name of the 'American Fabius.' His name was in
the mouths of all; he was celebrated by the pens of the most
distinguished writers. The most illustrious personages of Europe
lavished upon him their praises and their congratulations."

Washington continued in his winter quarters at Morristown until near the
close of May. Learning that a British fleet of a hundred transports,
bearing eighteen thousand soldiers, had sailed from New York, and
suspecting that Philadelphia was the place of its destination, he broke
up his camp and marched toward that city. His whole force was but seven
thousand three hundred men.

While encamped at Morristown, Washington found that the Lord's Supper
would be celebrated by the Presbyterian Church on a certain Sabbath. He
called upon the pastor, Dr. Johns, and inquired:

"Does it accord with the canons of your church to admit communicants of
another denomination?"

"Most certainly," the doctor answered; "ours is not the Presbyterian
table, General Washington, but the Lord's table; and hence we give the
Lord's invitation to all His followers, of whatever name."

Washington replied, "I am glad of it; that is as it ought to be; but as
I was not quite sure of the fact, I thought I would ascertain it from
yourself, as I propose to join with you on that occasion. Though I am a
member of the Church of England, I have no exclusive partialities."

He encamped at Middlebrook, ten miles from Brunswick; thence advanced to
Coryell Ferry, thirty miles from Philadelphia, where he learned that a
British fleet of two hundred and twenty-eight sail had appeared off the
capes of Delaware. He marched at once to Germantown, six miles from
Philadelphia. Here he could personally superintend the defences of the
city by daily visits thither.

One day he dined with several members of Congress, and was introduced to
a French nobleman, the Marquis de Lafayette. The latter had heard of the
American struggle for liberty, led by the heroic Washington, and, in
common with the lovers of freedom in every land, he was charmed by the
story. He had an interview with Silas Deane, who was in Paris with Dr.
Franklin and Arthur Lee, as commissioners, to consummate alliance with
the French, the result of which was his coming to this country.

Washington welcomed Lafayette with genuine cordiality, and on that day
commenced a life-long friendship with him.

"We ought to feel embarrassed in presenting ourselves before an officer
just from the French army," he said.

"It is to learn, and not to instruct, that I came here," was Lafayette's
polite and modest reply.

Lafayette addressed a communication to Congress, in which he said:

"After many sacrifices I have a right to ask two favors: one is to serve
at my own expense; the other, to commence serving as a volunteer."

Washington was attracted to Lafayette from the first, and he invited him
immediately to a place on his staff.

Lafayette was a remarkable character. He was left an orphan at thirteen
years of age, with a large fortune. Being a favorite in the court of
Louis, he received a commission in the army at fifteen years of age. He
was married at sixteen, and two years later resolved to remove to
America and join in fighting the battle of liberty. His purpose becoming
known, the government prevented his securing a passage. Determined not
to be frustrated in his purpose, he purchased a vessel, and prepared to
sail. His arrest being ordered, he escaped to Passage, where he boarded
a vessel bound for the West Indies. When fairly under way, fearing that
the English colonists in the West Indies might arrest him, he hired the
captain to proceed direct to the American coast. Congress commissioned
him major-general soon after he joined the American army, the youngest
major-general ever known in America, if not in the world. His intimate
relations and aid to Washington make this brief notice necessary.



The plan of the British for 1777 was, for General Howe, with twenty
thousand men, to land at the head of Elk River, and march north through
Philadelphia; while General Burgoyne, starting from Canada with ten
thousand men, should march south to meet Howe, rallying both Tories and
Indians to his standard.

The militia of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Northern Virginia were called
out to defend Philadelphia; and Washington advanced to Wilmington. In
order to impress the Tories of Philadelphia, he marched through the city
at the head of his column, with Lafayette at his side, making an
imposing display that captivated the friends of liberty, and awed the

It was in this campaign that an officer of the army dined with
Washington at his headquarters. Several guests graced the occasion.
When, agreeable to the prevailing custom, the general proposed to drink
a glass of wine with him, the officer replied, "You will have the
goodness to excuse me, as I have made it a rule not to take wine."

The other guests were surprised. They regarded the act as a direct
insult to the commander-in-chief. Washington read their feelings in
their faces, and he remarked: "Gentlemen, my friend is right; I do not
wish any of my guests to partake of anything against their inclination,
and I certainly do not wish them to violate any established _principle_
in their social intercourse with me. I honor Mr. ---- for his frankness,
for his consistency in thus adhering to an established rule which can
never do him harm, and for the adoption of which, I have no doubt, he
has good and sufficient reasons."

While Washington was watching the British fleet, General Burgoyne was
advancing from the north, his Hessian soldiers and Indian allies
indulging themselves in terrifying and plundering the defenceless
inhabitants. On the 16th of August the battle of Bennington was fought,
in which the American troops, under the brave General Stark, won a
decisive victory. Stark addressed his troops in words of cheer before
going into battle, and closed by saying:

"Now, my men, there are the red-coats. Before night they must be ours,
or Molly Stark will be a widow."

Stark captured thirty-two British officers, five hundred and sixty-four
privates, four brass field-pieces, a thousand stand of arms, and a large
quantity of ammunition.

The moral effect of this victory was grand. The farmers rushed to the
American camp, to follow up the victory by surrounding Burgoyne, cutting
off his supplies, and driving him to Saratoga.

Washington hailed the victory with great joy, and proclaimed it at the
head of his army to inspire his troops to nobler deeds.

Another bloody battle was fought at Fort Schuyler, where the Americans
bravely defended and held the fort. The Indians conducted so much like
fiends incarnate that even the Hessians were shocked. A Hessian officer

"These savages are heathen; huge, warlike, and enterprising, but wicked
as Satan. Some say they are cannibals, but I do not believe it; though,
in their fury, they will tear the flesh of the enemy with their teeth."

A Miss McCrea, daughter of a New Jersey clergyman, was visiting friends
at the North. Her lover was a Tory, and he was in the British army, so
that she felt no anxiety at the approach of Burgoyne.

Early one morning she was startled by the horrid yells of savages, who
had surrounded the house where she was visiting. Before she was scarcely
aware of her peril, they burst into the house, in their wild fury,
seized her, and bore her away in triumph. While they were disputing as
to whom the prize belonged, a drunken chief buried his tomahawk in her
head, whereupon she was scalped and left dead upon the ground.

Nine days after the battle of Bennington, Washington learned that
General Howe was landing his troops in Elk River, seventy miles from
Philadelphia. It was not, however, until the 8th of September that the
two armies met, and the battle of Brandywine was fought.

Washington had eleven thousand men, and Howe eighteen thousand. It was a
sanguinary contest, in which the Americans were defeated, with a loss of
twelve hundred. Lafayette conducted himself with great coolness and
bravery, and was wounded by a bullet that passed through his leg.

The consternation in Philadelphia was now appalling. Many of the
citizens fled; Congress adjourned to Lancaster; confusion and dismay
turned the city into Bedlam.

Washington retreated to Germantown to prepare for another battle. He was
beaten, but not dismayed.

Another instance of the providential care over Washington occurred just
before the battle of Brandywine. In disguise, accompanied by a single
officer in a Hussar dress, he reconnoitered one day. Major Ferguson
beheld him at a distance, and, supposing he belonged to the enemy, he
ordered three riflemen to steal near to him and fire. But, for some
unaccountable reason, he recalled the riflemen before they fired. What
was his surprise on the next day to learn that the supposed enemy, whom
he would have shot, was his own general, Washington!

Howe could not ascend the Delaware to Philadelphia because it was
defended by Forts Mifflin and Mercer. He prepared to attack them.

A large force of British were at Germantown, and on the night of Oct. 2,
Washington performed a march of fifteen miles and attacked them. A quick
and signal victory perched upon his banners, and the enemy fled in
confusion. The victory was turned into defeat, however, by a serious
blunder. The British had been driven three miles, leaving tents and
baggage behind, and were still on the retreat when in the dense fog,
several Jersey and Maryland regiments approaching, were mistaken for
British reinforcements. The cry was raised: "We are surrounded and
retreat cut off!" whereupon the Americans retreated in confusion.

General Sullivan wrote of Washington in that battle:

"I saw, with great concern, our brave commander-in-chief exposing
himself to the hottest fire of the enemy, in such a manner that regard
for my country obliged me to ride to him and beg him to retire. He, to
gratify me and others, withdrew a short distance; but his anxiety for
the fate of the day soon brought him up again, where he remained till
our troops had retreated."

At great sacrifice of men and money, the British removed the
obstructions from the river, and took possession of Philadelphia.

Dr. Franklin was in Paris when the news reached him, "Howe has taken
Philadelphia." "No," replied Franklin, "Philadelphia has taken Howe."

The sequel proved that Franklin had an eye upon the future.

Although the prospect was gloomy in Pennsylvania, glad tidings came to
Washington from the north. The Americans completely surrounded
Burgoyne's army at Saratoga, so that farther retreat was impossible. On
the 16th of October, 1777, after holding a council of war, Burgoyne
surrendered to General Gates, remarking:

"The fortune of war has made me your prisoner."

"I shall always be ready to testify that it has not been through any
fault of your excellency," Gates replied.

Burgoyne's army was reduced from nine thousand men, to five thousand
seven hundred and fifty-two. These prisoners were allowed a free passage
to Europe, under the irrevocable condition not to serve again in the
British ranks. Seven thousand stand of arms, a large number of tents, a
long train of artillery, and a great quantity of clothing and stores
fell into the hands of the victors.

The celebrated Polish patriot Kosciusko was chief engineer in Gates'
command when Burgoyne was captured.

The British made Philadelphia their winter quarters, where the troops
indulged themselves in almost unrestrained revelry. They forced many
sympathizers with the American cause to vacate their dwellings for the
accommodation of their own number; and many were quartered upon
patriotic families, with the express understanding that failure to
supply their wants would be resented.

Washington went into winter quarters at Valley Forge, about twenty miles
from Philadelphia. The tale of suffering connected with that place
during that long, dreary winter, is known to the world.

Arriving there, many of the troops without blankets or shoes, ragged,
worn out, and desponding, they were exposed to the snows and blasts of
December until they could cut down trees and build their own huts. Two
days after encamping, General Huntington reported to Washington:

"My brigade are out of provisions, nor can the commissary obtain any

General Varnum reported:

"Three days successively we have been destitute of bread. Two days we
have been entirely without meat." Against his own judgment, in order to
prevent mutiny in his army, Washington was forced to forage the country
and seize supplies wherever he could find them, paying for them in
money, or certificates redeemable by Congress.

Yet we find Washington writing thus:

"For some days past there has been little less than a famine in the
camp. A part of the army has been a week without any kind of flesh, and
the rest, three or four days. Naked and starving as they are, we cannot
enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiers,
that they have not been ere this excited by their suffering to a general
mutiny and desertion."

Sickness and mortality prevailed to an alarming extent among the troops,
while scarcely any medicines were at hand. Even scores of horses
perished by hunger and the severity of the weather.

One day circumstances drew Washington's attention to a hungry soldier
who was on guard. The general had just come from his own table and he

"Go to my table and help yourself."

"I can't; I am on guard," the soldier replied. Immediately taking the
soldier's gun to play the part of sentinel, Washington said, "Go."

The soldier enjoyed the first square meal he had eaten for two days, and
at the same time he learned that his general had true sympathy with the
"boys," and that official distinction did not lift him above the
humblest of their number.

With his army in such a deplorable condition, and his cannon frozen up
and immovable, Washington knew very well that, almost any day, the
British might march out of Philadelphia and capture or annihilate his
entire command. His anxiety and trouble can be more easily imagined than

To add to the trials of that winter, Washington learned of a conspiracy
against him, the object of which was to supersede him by General Gates
as commander-in-chief. His old friend Dr. Craik wrote to him:

"Notwithstanding your unwearied diligence and the unparalleled sacrifice
of domestic happiness and care of mind which you have made for the good
of your country, yet you are not wanting in secret enemies, who would
rob you of the great and truly deserved esteem your country has for you.
Base and villanous men, through chagrin, envy, or ambition, are
endeavoring to lessen you in the minds of the people, and taking
underhand methods to traduce your character," etc.

Generals Gates, Mifflin, and Conway were engaged in this plot; but their
timely and complete exposure redounded to the honor of Washington.

The duel which General Hamilton fought with General Conway, in which the
latter was severely wounded, grew out of this affair. Hamilton could not
endure the presence of an officer who was secretly plotting against his

In the month of February Mrs. Washington joined her husband at Valley
Forge, to share his winter quarters with him, as she had done at
Cambridge and Morristown. She wrote to a friend:

"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.

"The commander-in-chief shared the privations of the camp with his men.
His cabin was like theirs."

The presence of Mrs. Washington at Valley Forge was a blessing to the
army. She occupied her time fully in caring for the sick, sewing and
mending for the "boys," and making herself generally useful.

Again the commander-in-chief interceded with Congress for more liberal
pay for his soldiers. Alluding to the sufferings of his soldiers, he

"To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets
to lie on, without shoes (for the want of which their marches might be
traced by the blood from their feet), and almost as often without
provisions as with them, marching through the frost and snow, and at
Christmas taking up their winter quarters within a day's march of the
enemy, without a house or hut to cover them till it could be built,
and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience
which, in my opinion, cannot be paralleled."

It was during this memorable winter at Valley Forge that a man by the
name of Potts was strolling through the woods, when he heard the sound
of a human voice. Cautiously approaching the spot whence the voice
proceeded, what was his surprise to discover Washington on his knees
engaged in earnest prayer for his country. On returning home, Potts
called to his wife, "Sarah, Sarah, all is well. George Washington will

"What is the matter now, Isaac? Thee seems moved," Mrs. Potts replied.
(They were Quakers.)

"I have this day seen what I never expected to see," Mr. Potts
continued. "Thee knows that I have always thought the sword and the
gospel utterly inconsistent, and that no man could be a soldier and a
Christian at the same time. But George Washington has this day convinced
me of my mistake."

He then described the scene he had witnessed, adding:

"If George Washington be not a man of God, I am greatly deceived; and
still more shall I be deceived if God does not, through him, work out a
great salvation for America."

Baron Steuben, a renowned European general, coming to this country at
this juncture to proffer his services, through the influence of Dr.
Franklin, Washington induced Congress to commit the reorganization of
the army to him. This proved a fortunate arrangement for the future of
the army and country, next to the appointment of General Green

Previously a distinguished Pole, Thaddeus Kosciusko, who was educated in
the military school at Warsaw, had come to him with a letter from Dr.

"And what do you seek here?" inquired Washington.

"To fight for American independence," replied Kosciusko.

"What can you do?"

"Try me."

Washington welcomed him heartily, and throughout the Revolution he
proved to be an able and faithful ally.

Count Pulaski, another famous general of Poland, had joined the American
army at the solicitation of Dr. Franklin, who introduced him by letter
to Washington.

Washington had corresponded with the British general respecting an
exchange of General Lee and Ethan Allen, but he was unable to effect an
exchange until this winter of his trials at Valley Forge. General
Prescott, who captured Allen in Canada, ironed him, and sent him to
England, was himself captured in the summer of 1777; and Washington
proposed to exchange him for General Lee, and Colonel Campbell for
Colonel Allen. It was not, however, until near the close of the long
dreary winter at Valley Forge that his proposition was accepted. Lee
rejoined the army, but Allen returned to his home in Vermont, where he
hung up his sword and retired to private life.

In the spring of 1778, the glad news came that an alliance with France
was accomplished, and henceforth the struggling Colonies might expect
assistance from that country. At the same time a war between France and
England was imminent, a calamity that would prove favorable to the
patriots of America, since the British Government could not keep its
army in Philadelphia and wage a war with France.

Lafayette was instrumental in consummating the alliance with France. For
this purpose he left the United States in 1779, and returned in March,
1780. His own country received him with open arms, and honored him by
appointing him to one of the highest positions in their army.

In the month of May there were some indications that the enemy were
about to evacuate Philadelphia. The news that a French fleet under Count
D'Estaing was about to sail to this country, to aid the Colonies in
their fight for independence, caused Sir Henry Clinton, who had
succeeded Howe in the command of the British army, to fear that he might
be blockaded in the Delaware.

"Shall we allow the enemy to leave the city without attacking them?"
inquired Washington at the council of war.

"Yes," promptly answered General Lee, just restored to his command. "If
they will go, let them go. This army is too weak to attack the British
in their stronghold."

"The two armies are now nearly equal in numbers," said Washington, "and
experience has so far shown that the British have had nothing to boast
whenever they have come in conflict with an equal number of Americans."

"Very true," responded Lee; "but let them evacuate if they will. The
risk of a battle is too great to run. I would build a bridge of gold for
them if they would retreat over it."

Washington, Lafayette, Wayne, and Cadwalader were the only members of
the council who favored an immediate attack. Without deciding the
question, Washington requested each one to furnish his opinion in
writing. Before this was done, however, the city was evacuated. On the
eighteenth day of June the whole British army crossed the Delaware into
New Jersey, eleven thousand strong, with an immense baggage and
provision train, and marched for New York by way of New Brunswick and

The American army was in pursuit as speedily as possible.

"We must compel an engagement," said Washington, eager to give the foe a
sound drubbing before it was too late.

"And we must do it as soon as possible," answered Lafayette.

"There is no time to lose, neither," said Greene.

General Lee was opposed to a general engagement.

They were near Monmouth Court-house, and it was the night of June 27.

General Lee had command of the advance, five thousand picked men, and
his orders were, "Attack the enemy to-morrow."

At midnight a horseman was galloping up to Washington's headquarters,
when the sentinel challenged him.

"Doctor Griffith, chaplain and surgeon in the Virginia line, on business
highly important with the commander-in-chief."

"Officer of the guard!" cried the sentinel. That officer appeared.
Doctor Griffith repeated his errand.

"Impossible; my orders are positive," replied the guard.

"But I must," persisted the doctor.

"You cannot," repeated the guard. "The commander-in-chief is intensely

"Present, sir, my humble duty to his excellency, and say that Dr.
Griffith waits upon him with secret and important intelligence, and
craves an audience of only five minutes duration."

He was soon ushered into Washington's presence.

"The nature of the communication I am about to make to your excellency
must be my apology for disturbing you at this hour of the night,"
observed the doctor. "While I am not permitted to divulge the names of
the authorities from which I have obtained my information, I can assure
you they are of the very first order, whether in point of character or
attachment to the cause of American independence. I have sought this
interview to warn your excellency against the conduct of Major-General
Lee in to-morrow's battle. My duty is fulfilled, and I go now to pray to
the God of battles for success to our arms, and that He may always have
your excellency in His holy keeping."

Doctor Griffith retired, and the battle of Monmouth was fought on the
next day. Washington, with his aides, was approaching the scene of
action, when he met a little fifer boy who archly observed:

"They are all coming this way, your honor."

"Who are coming, my little man?" inquired General Knox.

"Why, our boys, your honor; our boys, and the British right after them,"
answered the fifer.

"Impossible!" exclaimed Washington, and put spurs to his horse.

Sure enough, he soon met General Lee's advance in full retreat.

"What is the meaning of all this, sir?" he called out to General Lee.

The latter was dumbfounded, and made no reply.

"I demand, sir, to know the reason of this retreat," shouted Washington
in a tone of anger.

"By my own order," answered Lee, vexed by the commander's sharp address.

"Go to the rear, you cowardly poltroon!" shouted Washington, thoroughly
aroused and indignant over the conduct of the officer.

At that juncture, his favorite aid, Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton, leaped
from his horse and, drawing his sword, addressed the general:

"We are betrayed! Your excellency and the army are betrayed! And the
time has come when every true friend of America and her cause must be
ready to die in their defence!"

Under the magic influence of the commander-in-chief the retreat was
speedily arrested, and one of the most glorious victories of the
Revolution achieved.

Washington was almost ubiquitous in his exertions, and his noble white
charger galloped over the battlefield, utterly regardless of danger,
until the splendid beast sank under the excessive heat, and died.
Immediately the general mounted another war-horse of equal spirit, and,
brandishing his sword high in the air, called to the troops:

"Stand fast, my boys, and receive your enemy! The Southern troops are
advancing to support you!"

On the evening before, the officers drew up a memorial to Washington,
entreating him not to expose himself in battle, as he did at Princeton,
Trenton, and other places. Dr. Craik, who was present, remarked:

"It will not have the weight of a feather with him." Then referring to
the Indian chief's prophecy on the banks of the Ohio, "The Great Spirit
protects him; he cannot be shot in battle," he added, "I believe it."

In the bloody contest of the next day, a round shot from the British
artillery ploughed the ground directly in front of the general, throwing
up a cloud of dirt over his person.

"Dat wash very near!" exclaimed Baron Stuben. Dr. Craik and several of
the officers who were together on the previous evening were witnesses.
Pleased by this remarkable confirmation of his faith in the Indian's
prophecy, Dr. Craik smiled and, without uttering a word, pointed his
finger towards heaven, as much as to say, "The Great Spirit protects

At the close of the day the battle-ground was in possession of the
Americans. Washington's orders were to attack the foe again as soon as
they began to move in the morning. But in the morning no enemy could be
found; they had silently retreated during the night.

The Americans lost two hundred and twenty killed and wounded; and the
British two hundred and fifty, and one hundred prisoners.

Major-General Lee was court-martialed for his conduct on the field of
Monmouth, and was suspended from all command for one year. Many believed
that he was an arch-traitor, who deserved a halter, although the
evidence of it was not then conclusive. But eighty years thereafter (in
1858), papers were discovered in Lee's handwriting, in which he
communicated to Lord and Sir William Howe, while he was a prisoner in
New York, a plan for subjugating the Colonies. The only explanation of
his conduct, after the fall of Fort Washington, is found in his
treasonable designs. He never returned to the service.

On the 13th of July Washington received news of the arrival of the
French fleet, consisting of twelve ships of the line and six frigates,
and four thousand men for a land force. Immediate consultation with the
commander, Count D'Estaing, led him to cross the Hudson and establish
his army at White Plains.

Rhode Island was in the possession of the British, and Washington
proposed to recover it by the united action of his army and the French
fleet. After several weeks of rough campaigning, Washington was
compelled to abandon his purpose, because the eccentric D'Estaing
resolved to take his fleet to Boston for rest and repairs.

For the winter of 1778-'79 he stationed his army in cantonments from
Long Island Sound to the Delaware, while his own headquarters were near
Middlebrook. This arrangement was designed to protect the country and
watch the enemy.

The next year, 1779, the enemy carried on a predatory war, striking here
and there with detachments of troops, plundering, burning, and ravaging
the neighborhood. Washington was fully occupied in repulsing the enemy
engaged in this sort of warfare.

As illustration of the cruel measures adopted by the British commander,
an expedition was sent to Connecticut; they captured the fort at New
Haven, destroyed all the vessels in the harbor, with all the artillery,
ammunition, and stores, and plundered several private houses. They
burned the town of Fairfield, destroying ninety-seven dwelling houses,
sixty-seven barns and stables, forty-eight store-houses, three places of
worship, two school-houses, a court-house, a jail, and all the vessels
and public stores they could lay their hands on. Norwalk was also burned
in the same ruthless manner; and the depredations extended into
Massachusetts, injuring or destroying such towns as offered good harbors
for privateers.

Exasperated by the reluctance of the Tories to flock to the British
standard, and the numerous desertions of English and Germans from his
army, King George sent his emissaries to instigate the savages of the
Mohawk to plunder and butchery. The terrible massacres of Cherry Valley
and Wyoming, in which hundreds of men, women, and children were
remorselessly slaughtered, and their habitations committed to the
flames, followed. The brutality of those scenes are known to the world,
because they are matters of history.

Some of the ablest statesmen of England fearlessly denounced the king
and his court for prosecuting a war with such barbarity. Lord Chatham

"Were I an American as I am an Englishman, I would never lay down my
arms: never, _never_, NEVER!"

The king and his court maintained, however, that they were justified in
resorting to any measures to subdue American rebels.

Two remarkable expeditions which Washington organized that year were
those which captured Stoney Point, under General Wayne; and Paulus Hook,
under Major Henry Lee. These grand achievements inspirited the American
army, and did much to convince the British that they were engaged in a
fruitless attempt to reduce the Colonies to their domination.

As winter approached, the French fleet, which sailed from Boston to the
West Indies, appeared off the Southern coast, to co-operate with General
Lincoln, who commanded the Southern Department. On this account the
British commander was compelled to operate in that direction.

Washington, whose headquarters had been at West Point for several
months, went into winter quarters at Morristown, where the experience of
Valley Forge was repeated with additional rigor.

The cruel treatment of Americans captured by the British had long
engaged Washington's attention, and reference to it here is in point.
Many of their prisoners were confined in old ships, where they suffered
all that hunger, thirst, filth, and abuse could inflict. On account of
the dreadful sufferings endured by the prisoners, these ships were
called "floating hells."

The "Jersey Prison Ship" and the old "Sugar House," converted into
prisons by Lord Howe, are notorious for their infamous character in
American history. Congress appealed in vain to the commanding British
general, and Washington wrote to him upon the subject again and again.
In one letter Washington said:

"From the opinion I have ever been taught to entertain of your
lordship's humanity, I will not suppose that you are privy to
proceedings of so cruel and unjustifiable a nature; and I hope that,
upon making the proper inquiry, you will have the matter so regulated
that the unhappy persons whose lot is captivity may not in the future
have the miseries of cold, disease, and famine added to their other
misfortunes.... I should not have said thus much, but my injured
countrymen have long called upon me to endeavor to obtain a redress of
their grievances, and I should think myself as culpable as those who
inflict such severities upon them were I to continue silent."

A Rev. Mr. Andros of Massachusetts was confined in the "Jersey Prison
Ship." After his escape and the close of the war, he published a small
book detailing the sufferings of its occupants. One brief paragraph
therefrom is all our space will permit.

"Her dark and filthy exterior corresponded with the death and despair
reigning within. It is supposed that eleven thousand American seaman
perished in her. None came to relieve their woes. Once or twice, by
order of a stranger on the quarter-deck a bag of apples was hurled
promiscuously into the midst of hundreds of prisoners, crowded as thick
as they could stand, and life and limb were endangered in the struggle.
The prisoners were secured between the decks by iron gratings; and when
the ship was to be cleared of watch, an armed guard forced them up to
the winches, amid a roar of execrations and reproaches, the dim light
adding to the horrors of the scene. Thousands died whose names have
never been known, perishing when no eye could witness their fortitude,
nor praise their devotion to their country."

The brave Lingan, hero of Fort Washington, was confined in the "Jersey;"
and it was amid the horrors around him that he exclaimed:

"Sweet, O my country, should be thy liberties, when they are purchased
at this monstrous price!"

Custis relates that one day, when a coffin was brought in which proved
too short for the dead comrade, and it was proposed to cut off his head
in order to adapt the body to the receptacle, Lingan "sprang from his
couch of pain, and, laying his hand upon the lifeless corpse of the
departed soldier, swore he would destroy the first man who should thus
mutilate the body of his friend."



The treason of Arnold in 1780 contributed, on the whole, to the fidelity
of the army in 1781. The poorest soldier in the ranks scorned "to become
an Arnold."

Washington placed Arnold in command at West Point in 1780. Arnold had
long been interceding for the position, and it was found subsequently
that he had been in treasonable correspondence with the British
commander fifteen months when he assumed command of that post. The
correspondence was commenced voluntarily by Arnold, and was conducted on
the part of Sir Henry Clinton by his aid, Major John André, under the
signature of John Anderson.

General Arnold was harassed by burdensome debts. He was a gambler, too,
and, of course, devoid of moral principle. His object was to pay his
debts with British gold.

His correspondence ripened into a plan by Arnold to deliver West Point
into the hands of the British, for which purpose a midnight meeting was
arranged between him and Major André. The meeting occurred at Dobb's
Ferry, when Arnold delivered to André a plan of the works at West Point,
together with a plan of attack by the British, when the post would be
surrendered on the ground that the American troops were too few to hold
it. The papers were concealed in André's stockings.

On his return, even after he had passed the American lines, three
patriotic representatives of the New York yeomanry, John Paulding, Isaac
Van Wart, and David Williams, stopped him, the first aiming his musket
at his head.

"Gentlemen, I hope you belong to our party," said André with as much
composure as he could command.

"What party?" responded Paulding.

"The lower party," replied André.

"We do," they said.

"I am a British officer, and have been up the country on particular
business," continued André, now feeling that he was among friends. He
was deceived by the dress which Paulding wore,--that of a refugee.
Paulding had been a prisoner in the hands of the British, confined in
that terrible prison known as the "Sugar House." He was released only
four days before. In that place his citizen's suit was taken from him,
and replaced by the refugee garb, so that the barbarity of André's
countrymen became the cause of his detection.

"I must not be detained for a moment," continued André, taking out his
gold watch, the sight of which showed to his captors that he was a man
of consequence.

"We are Americans, and you are our prisoner!" exclaimed Paulding.

André was astounded by this revelation, and he was ready to pay any
amount of money to his captors if they would let him go.

"Dismount!" shouted Paulding, seizing his horse's bridle.

"Beware, gentlemen, or you will get yourselves into trouble," replied

"We will take care of that," retorted Paulding. "Any letters about you?"


"We'll find out about that," said Paulding; and they proceeded to search
him. Finding nothing of a suspicious character about his clothes, they
were disposed to let him proceed, when Paulding said:

"Boys, I am not satisfied; his boots must come off."

His boots were drawn off, and the concealed papers were found in his

"My God!" exclaimed Paulding, "he is a spy."

They conducted their prisoner to North Castle, and he was finally hung
as a spy.

Arnold escaped to a British man-of-war, and figured thereafter as a
general in the king's army, despised even by those who commissioned him.

Near the close of the winter of 1781, and through the spring, the enemy
committed many depredations on our coast, in which Arnold played a
conspicuous part. In Virginia and Connecticut his command wantonly
destroyed a large amount of property. New London was burned under his
generalship. Washington employed every means possible to capture the
traitor, but in vain.

The British directed their chief efforts against the South, designing to
spread consternation by their terrible ravages. Richmond was laid in
ashes. Along the shores of the Potomac and Chesapeake they plundered and
burned. They threatened to destroy Washington's home at Mount Vernon,
and landed for the purpose of applying the torch to every building. The
agent, Lund Washington, saved the property from destruction by
furnishing the enemy with a large quantity of supplies. When the general
heard what his agent had done, he wrote to him as follows:

"I am very sorry to hear of your loss; I am a little sorry to hear of my
own; but that which gives me most concern is, that you should go on
board the enemy's vessels, and furnish them with refreshments. It would
have been a less painful circumstance to me to have heard that, in
consequence of your non-compliance with their request, they had burnt my
house and laid the plantation in ruins."

In July, 1781, Washington planned an attack upon New York by the
combined French and American forces. But his purpose was suddenly
changed by hearing that the portion of the French fleet at the West
Indies, under Count de Grasse, had sailed for the Chesapeake. Cornwallis
was at Yorktown with his command, and his capture would give the
Americans an illustrious prisoner. General Lafayette, who had returned
from France, was in Virginia, looking after the British general as well
as he could.

Immediately Washington put his army in motion for Virginia, leaving only
troops enough to guard the passes of the Hudson. He marched directly for
Williamsburg, to join Lafayette. On his way he called at Mount Vernon,
from which he had been absent six years. "Here, unannounced, he darted
into his home, like the first sunbeam after a storm, only to disappear
again under as black a cloud as any of those that had brought the
thunder. He had come but to tell his wife that he was on his way to seek
a battle, an unequal though glorious contest, from which he might never

Washington joined Lafayette at Williamsburg on the 14th of September.
Hastily arranging the siege of Yorktown, Cornwallis was surprised, one
bright morning, to find that the heights around him were swarming with
American soldiers, and the bay in front securely occupied by the French

On the 6th of October the bombardment of the British works commenced
with terrible earnestness. An eye witness said:

"General Washington put the match to the first gun, and a terrible
discharge of cannon and mortars immediately followed."

"What part of the town can be most effectively cannonaded?" Washington
inquired of Governor Nelson, who was present.

Pointing to a large, fine house on an eminence, the governor replied:

"That is probably the headquarters of the enemy; fire at that."

It was Governor Nelson's own residence.

Four days the cannonading continued with great effect. At the expiration
of that time, Washington ordered the capture of two redoubts, lying
between him and the British works. These redoubts were so near as to
prove a great annoyance to the American troops. To the Americans was
assigned the capture of one, and to the French the capture of the other.
At the point of the bayonet these redoubts were taken; not a gun was
fired. As soon as Lafayette held possession of the redoubt taken by the
Americans, he despatched a message to Baron de Viomenil announcing the
fact, and inquired where the baron was.

"Tell the marquis," answered the baron, "that I am not in mine, but I
will be in five minutes;" and he was.

During the whole of the bombardment, Washington, as usual, was seen in
the most exposed positions, cheering his men and directing the assault.
One day, as he stood beside the grand battery with Knox and Lincoln, and
shot and shell flew around him, one of his aides, anxious for his
general's safety, remarked:

"That is a very exposed situation, general."

"If you think so, you are at liberty to step back," Washington promptly

Just then a musket ball struck the cannon in the embrasure, rolled
along, and fell at the general's feet.

"My dear general, we can't spare you yet," exclaimed General Knox,
grasping Washington's arm.

"Only a spent ball," responded Washington coolly; "no harm was done."

On the 17th of October Cornwallis sent a flag, with a letter, to
Washington, asking for a cessation of hostilities twenty-four hours,
that consultation might be had respecting terms of surrender. It was
not, however, until the 19th that the terms of capitulation were agreed
upon, and the renowned Cornwallis with his army became Washington's

The time and method of the formal surrender being agreed upon,
Washington warned his troops against any exultant demonstrations that
might wound the feelings of the conquered.

"My brave fellows," he said, "let no sensation of satisfaction for the
triumphs you have gained induce you to insult your fallen enemy. Let no
shouting, no clamorous huzzaing, increase their mortification. Posterity
will huzza for us."

By the surrender of Cornwallis, Washington received over seven thousand
prisoners, and one hundred and sixty pieces of cannon. Counting the
sailors, negroes, and Tories who became prisoners, the whole number
amounted to nearly twelve thousand.

Thatcher describes the scene of the formal surrender as follows:

"About two o'clock the garrison sallied forth, and marched between the
two columns (the Americans on one side and the French on the other) with
slow and solemn steps, colors cased, and drums beating a British march.
They were all well clad, having been furnished with new suits prior to
the capitulation. They were led by General O'Hara on horseback, who,
riding up to General Washington, took off his hat and apologized for
the non-appearance of Lord Cornwallis, on account of indisposition.
Washington received him with dignified courtesy, but pointed to
Major-General Lincoln as the officer who was to receive the submission
of the garrison. By him they were conducted into a field where they were
to ground their arms. In passing through the line formed by the allied
army, their march was careless and irregular, and their aspect sullen.
The order to "ground arms" was given by their platoon officers with a
tone of deep chagrin, and many of the soldiers threw down their muskets
with a violence sufficient to break them. This irregularity was checked
by General Lincoln; yet it was inexcusable in brave men in their
unfortunate predicament. The ceremony over, they were conducted back to
Yorktown, to remain under guard until removed to their places of

There were twenty-eight stand of colors to be delivered up. Twenty-eight
British captains, each bearing a flag, were drawn up in line. Opposite
to them, twenty-eight American sergeants were placed to receive the
colors. At a given signal the colors were surrendered.

The next day Washington addressed his army in words of gratulation and
tender regard. He issued the following order, also, to the army:

"Divine service is to be performed to-morrow in the several brigades and
divisions. The commander-in-chief earnestly recommends that the troops
not on duty shall universally attend, with that seriousness of
deportment and gratitude of heart which the recognition of such
reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demand of us."

In the midst of this rejoicing, Washington received the sad intelligence
that his step-son, John Parke Custis, was lying at the point of death.
Mr. Custis accompanied his mother, Mrs. Washington, to Cambridge, the
first winter of the Revolution, and became one of her husband's aides.
He was taken sick after the army invested Yorktown, and no hope of his
recovery was entertained. He longed to live, however, to witness the
surrender of Cornwallis. On the day of the ceremony of capitulation, he
was taken from his bed and conveyed to the place, where he might behold
the scene. The ceremony over, he was willing to be conveyed to Elthain,
where he was taken immediately. Within thirty hours thereafter, the
message came to the general that Custis was in a dying condition.

At midnight Washington, accompanied by a single officer and groom,
started on horseback for Elthain. By rapid riding he reached there in
the morning twilight.

"Is there no hope?" he said to Dr. Craik, who met him at the door.

The doctor shook his head. Bursting into tears, Washington stepped into
an adjoining room to indulge his grief, requesting to be left alone.
While bowed in sorrow there, Custis expired.

On entering the chamber of death, Washington lovingly embraced the
weeping wife and mother, now a widow, tears responding to tears, his
deep sorrow showing how dearly he loved the departed one.

When he was able to control his grief, he turned to the group of
sorrowing friends, and said:

"From this moment I adopt his two youngest children as my own."

His presence being demanded at Yorktown, without rest or refreshment he
mounted a fresh horse, and returned thither before his absence was
known, except to some of his aides.

It deserves to be recorded that the capture of Cornwallis could not have
been accomplished without the co-operation of the French fleet; so that
the reader has before him the remarkable fact that, in Washington's
early military career, he joined the English to conquer the French,
while in his closing military life, twenty-five years thereafter, he
joined the French to conquer the English.

Another example of the divine blessing upon small battalions was
furnished by the surrender at Yorktown. Cornwallis planned, during the
siege, to withdraw his troops over the river in sixteen large boats,
which he collected for the purpose, and, having reached Gloucester
Point, escape to New York. On the night arranged for the flight, a
violent storm arose, so that it was impossible for him to cross the
river. That was his last, lost opportunity. Divine Providence thwarted
his purpose, and gave victory to American arms.

In the siege of Yorktown Washington rode a splendid sorrel charger,
white-faced and white-footed, named Nelson, and "remarkable as the first
nicked horse seen in America." The general cherished this fine animal
with strong affection. "This famous charger died at Mount Vernon many
years after the Revolution at a very advanced age. After the chief had
ceased to mount him, he was never ridden, but grazed in a paddock in
summer, and was well cared for in winter; and as often as the retired
farmer of Mount Vernon would be making a tour of his grounds, he would
halt at the paddock, when the old war-horse would run, neighing, to the
fence, proud to be caressed by the great master's hand."

No sooner did Cornwallis surrender than the commander-in-chief
despatched a courier on horseback to Philadelphia, to bear the glad
tidings to Congress. It was past midnight when the courier reached the
city, and the night watchmen, on their respective beats, had just cried,
"Twelve o'clock and all is well!"

They caught the glad news with joy, and the next hour they cried:


Wakeful citizens in bed could scarcely believe their ears. They started
up, and listened. Again the joyful tidings were repeated:


Hundreds sprang from their beds in wild delight. Lights began to appear
in the dwellings, darting from room to room. Soon men and women rushed
from their habitations into the streets in the greatest excitement. Some
were half dressed, scarcely knowing, in their exuberance of joy, whether
they were in the flesh or out. Many wept to hear the news confirmed, and
as many laughed. Not a few caught up the watchmen's cry, and ran from
street to street, announcing, at the top of their voices:


Every minute added to the throng in the streets; men, women, and
children joining in the exhilarating exercise of sounding out their
excessive delight upon the night air. Neighbors clasped hands and
embraced each other to express their gladness. Many were too full for
utterance; they broke down in tears with their first attempt to join in
the general acclaim. Such a varied, impulsive, uncontrollable expression
of joy was never before witnessed in that city.

Soon the bell on the old State-House rang out its gladsome peals, the
same old bell that signalled the adoption of the Declaration of
Independence, July 4, 1776. Other bells, one after another, united in
the grand chorus of jubilation, supplemented by the thunder of artillery
from the fortifications about the city, until every method of expressing
real joy seemed to combine, as if by magical art.

At an early hour on the next morning Congress convened, and listened to
the reading of Washington's letter, announcing the surrender of
Cornwallis. The scene can be better imagined than described. That body
was quite unfitted for the transaction of any business, except that
which eulogized the commander-in-chief, and the brave men who had fought
the battles of the country. Irving says:

"Congress gave way to transports of joy. Thanks were voted to the
commander-in-chief, to the Counts De Rochambeau and De Grasse, to the
officers of the allied armies generally, and to the corps of artillery
and engineers especially. Two stands of colors, trophies of the
capitulation, were voted to Washington; two pieces of field ordnance to
De Rochambeau and De Grasse; and it was decreed that a marble column,
commemorative of the alliance between France and the United States, and
of the victory achieved by their associated arms, should be erected in

Finally, Congress issued a proclamation, appointing a day for general
thanksgiving and prayer, in acknowledgment of this signal interposition
of Divine Providence.

This done, Congress adjourned to assemble, at a later hour, in a public
house of worship, there to join, with the grateful multitude, in praise
and thanksgiving to God for His blessing upon the cause of liberty.

When the news of Cornwallis' surrender reached England, the
disappointment and chagrin were well-nigh universal. The British
ministry were astounded by the unexpected tidings. Lord Germain
announced the fact to Lord North.

"And how did he take it?" inquired a public man.

"As he would have taken a ball in the breast," replied Germain.

"What did he say?"

"He opened his arms and exclaimed wildly, as he paced up and down the
apartment, 'O God, it is all over!'"

As soon as Washington could leave he retired to Mount Vernon for a few
days, from which place he wrote to General Greene:

"I shall remain but a few days here, and shall proceed to Philadelphia,
when I shall attempt to stimulate Congress to the best improvement of
our late success by taking the most vigorous and effectual measures to
be ready for an early and decisive campaign the next year. My greatest
fear is that Congress, viewing this stroke in too important a point of
light, may think our work too nearly closed, and will fall into a state
of languor and relaxation. To prevent the error, I shall employ every
means in my power; and if, unhappily, we sink into that fatal mistake,
no part of the blame shall be mine."

To another he wrote:

"The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he
must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked
that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations."



"Now we must follow up this grand victory with harder blows," remarked
Washington to Lafayette.

"Then you do not believe the war is ended yet?" Lafayette replied

"Of course not. The king will not yield to 'rebels' so willingly as
that. We must concentrate our entire force upon New York now."

"Every lover of his country ought to be stimulated to greater deeds
now," added Lafayette.

"And Congress ought to respond promptly and liberally to the demands of
the hour," said Washington. "The legislatures of the several Colonies
ought to be prompt and liberal, also, in providing men and means. Give
us men and supplies equal to the emergency, and our independence can be
permanently established."

Washington waited upon Congress personally, and he wrote letters to the
governors of the several Colonies, pleading for more liberal aid than
ever, that the war might be successfully prosecuted to the bitter end.

While these negotiations were progressing, the king superseded Sir Henry
Clinton by the appointment of Sir Guy Carleton as commander-in-chief of
the British army. The latter commander was in favor of peace, and he
appealed to the British Parliament for conciliatory action; nor was his
plea in vain. After a long and acrimonious struggle, Parliament adopted
a resolution advising reconciliation. From that moment, peace
negotiations were commenced, but were not fully consummated until Nov.
30, 1782, at Paris. It was the nineteenth day of April, 1783, when the
welcome news, received in this country, was announced to the army.

The surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, contrary to the expectations of
Washington, thus proved to be the end of the war. In just eight years
from the time the first battle of the Revolution was fought at
Lexington, April 19, 1775, the proclamation of peace was made to the
army. "Thus ended a long and arduous conflict, in which Great Britain
expended near a hundred millions of money, with a hundred thousand
lives, and won nothing. America endured every cruelty and distress, lost
many lives and much treasure, but delivered herself from a foreign
dominion, and gained a rank among the nations of the earth."

The enemy evacuated New York and other posts and returned to England,
and Washington occupied the same, and proceeded to disband the army.
Addressing his officers and companions in arms, with deep emotion he

"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 have been glorious and honorable. I cannot come to each
of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged if each of you will come
and take me by the hand."

He could say no more. Tears blinded his eyes, and emotion caused his
voice to tremble. Silently, one after another, these heroes of many
battles and sufferings approached and grasped his hand. No one spoke a
word. Each felt more than language could express. The scene was
affecting beyond description.

Congress was in session at Annapolis, and thither he journeyed to return
his commission. A perfect ovation attended him all the way. The
occupants of every town, village, and farmhouse turned out to hail the
conqueror. Men, women, and children vied with each other in
demonstrations of love and honor. Cannon pealed, bells rung, music
wafted, voices sounded, banners waved, in honor "of the only man," as
Jefferson said, "who had the confidence of all."

Congress received him in a manner to attest their profoundest respect
and love. Resigning his commission, he said:

"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 life."

Our American Cincinnatus retired to his farm and plough, which he left
eight years before at the call of his country. He designed to spend the
remainder of his days in retirement at Mount Vernon. His large estates
demanded his attention, and his tastes for agricultural pursuits adapted
him to the situation.

Under his careful and efficient supervision, his Mount Vernon estate
rapidly improved. He enlarged his house, so that he might accommodate
the numerous distinguished visitors who now paid him their respects. He
studied agriculture by consulting the best authorities, doing it not
alone for the purpose of improving his own estates, but also to aid his
newly emancipated country in developing its resources.

He lent his great influence to educational and religious enterprises, so
essential to the stability and progress of the free and independent
Colonies. Through his influence, two companies were organized to extend
the navigation of the James and Potomac rivers. Grateful for his aid in
creating enterprises of so great public benefit, the General Assembly
presented him with one hundred and fifty shares of the stock, worth
fifty thousand dollars. He declined to accept the large gift, saying:

"What will the world think if they should hear that I have taken fifty
thousand dollars for this affair? Will they not suspect, on my next
proposition, that money is my motive? Thus for the sake of money, which,
indeed, I never coveted from my country, I may lose the power to do her
some service, which may be worth more than all money."

He assured the Assembly that if they would contribute the amount for a
national university in what is now the District of Columbia, and a
literary institution in Rockbridge County, since called Washington
College, he should esteem their gift even more than he would were he to
accept and devote it to his own private use; and they complied with his

As before the war, he continued to remember the poor, whose veneration
for him was greater than ever. His methods of assisting them were often
original, and always practical; as, for example, keeping a boat on the
Potomac for their use in fishing. Here was an opportunity for them to
obtain subsistence without sacrificing the virtues of industry and

Mr. Peake, who had charge of one of his plantations, said:

"I had orders to fill a corn-house every year for the sole use of the
poor in my neighborhood, to whom it was a seasonable and most precious
relief, saving numbers of poor women and children from miserable famine,
and blessing them with a cheerful plenteousness of bread."

One year, when there was a scarcity of corn, and the price of it went up
to a dollar per bushel, the suffering among the poor was much increased.
Washington ordered his agent to distribute all that could be spared from
the granaries, and he purchased several hundred bushels in addition, at
the high price, to be used in charity.

Governor Johnson of Maryland, a hero of '76, related the following
incident to Mr. Weems:

The governor went to the Virginia Springs for his health. The place was
crowded with people, but he secured "a mattress in the hut of a very
honest baker" whom he knew. The baker did a large business, and every
day Mr. Johnson noticed that many poor negroes came for loaves, and took
them away without paying a cent.

"Stophel," said Mr. Johnson one day, "you seem to sell a world of bread
here every day, but notwithstanding that, I fear you don't gain much by

"What makes you think so?" replied Stophel.

"You credit too much."

"Not I, indeed, sir; I don't credit at all."

"Ay, how do you make that out? Don't I see the poor people every day
carrying away your bread, and yet paying you nothing?"

"Pshaw! what of that? They will pay me all in a lump at last."

"At _last_!" exclaimed the governor, "at the _last day_, I suppose. You
think the Almighty will stand paymaster, and wipe off all your old
scores for you at a dash."

"Not by any means, squire. The poor bakers can't give such long credit;
but I will tell you how we work the matter. Washington directed me to
supply these poor people at his expense, and I do it. Believe me,
squire, he has often, at the end of the season, paid me as much as
eighty dollars, and that, too, for poor creatures who did not know the
hand that fed them; for I had strict orders from him not to mention it
to anybody."

In a former chapter we learned the magnanimity of his conduct towards
one Payne, who knocked him down for a supposed insult. Mr. Payne relates
that after the Revolution he called upon Washington at Mount Vernon.

"As I drew near the house," he says, "I began to experience a rising
fear lest he should call to mind the blow I had given him in former
days. Washington met me at the door with a kind welcome, and conducted
me into an adjoining room where Mrs. Washington sat.

"'Here, my dear,' said he, presenting me to his lady, 'here is the
little man you have so often heard me talk of, and who, on a difference
between us one day, had the resolution to knock me down, big as I am; I
know you will honor him as he deserves, for I assure you he has the
heart of a true Virginian.'"

Mr. Payne adds: "He said this with an air which convinced me that his
long familiarity with war had not robbed him of his nobleness of heart.
And Mrs. Washington looked at him as if he appeared to her greater and
lovelier than ever."

The same industry distinguished him on his return to his farms, for
which he was so well known before the war. His rule was to rise at four
o'clock and retire at nine. The forenoon was employed in labor and
overseeing the work on his plantations. The presence of company did not
interrupt his systematic methods. He would say to such:

"Gentlemen, I must beg leave of absence this forenoon. Here are books,
music, and amusements; consider yourselves at home, and be happy."

But Washington was not allowed to remain long in private life. In 1787,
a convention assembled in Philadelphia to form a confederacy of States.
Washington was a member of that body, and was unanimously made its
presiding officer. The convention sat four months, in which time the
confederacy of States was consummated, called the United States, with
the present Constitution essentially.

This new order of things required the election of a president, and
Washington was unanimously elected. He was inaugurated on the thirtieth
day of April, 1789, in the city of New York, then the seat of
government. That the position was not one of his own seeking is quite
evident from a letter which he wrote to General Knox:

"My movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings
not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his
execution, so unwilling am I, in the evening of life, nearly consumed in
public cares, to quit a peaceful abode for an ocean of difficulties,
without the competency of political skill, abilities, and inclinations
which are necessary to manage the helm."

His journey to New York was accomplished in his own carriage, drawn by
four horses. No king or conqueror was ever treated to a more
enthusiastic ovation than was he from Mount Vernon to New York. The
expression of a lad to his father indicates the exalted notions which
the common people entertained of the great general. On getting a good
view of him the lad exclaimed:

"Why, pa, he is only a man, after all!"

At Trenton, where he crossed the Delaware with his retreating, depleted
army, his welcome was both imposing and beautiful. Upon the bridge an
arch was erected, adorned with laurel leaves and flowers. Upon the
crown of the arch, formed of leaves and flowers, were the words:

    "DECEMBER 26TH, 1776."

Beneath was the sentence:


The president was obliged to pass under this arch to enter Trenton,
where the female portion of the population met him. On one side little
girls dressed in white stood, each one bearing a basket of flowers. On
the other side were arranged the young ladies, and behind them the
married women. The moment Washington and his suit approached the arch,
the girls scattered their flowers before him, and the whole company of
females sung the following ode, written for the occasion by Governor

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

     Virgins fair and matrons grave,
     Those thy conquering arm did save,
     Build for thee triumphal bowers.
     Strew, ye fair, his way with flowers!
     Strew your hero's way with flowers!"

The reader may well suppose that his reception in New York as the
_first_ President of the United States, and the "greatest general on
earth," as many supposed, was grand indeed. No expense or pains were
spared to make it worthy of the occasion.

Washington called to his cabinet, Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State;
Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury; General Knox, Secretary
of War; Edmund Randolph, Attorney-General; and John Jay, Chief Justice.

He said, in his inaugural address:

"When I contemplate the interposition of Providence, as it was visibly
manifested in guiding us through the Revolution, in preparing us for the
reception of a general government, and in conciliating the good will of
the people of America towards one another after its adoption, I feel
myself oppressed and almost overwhelmed with a sense of the divine
munificence. I feel that nothing is due to my personal agency in all
those complicated and wonderful events, except what can simply be
attributed to the exertions of an honest zeal for the good of my

The parade and pomp attending the first presidency in New York City
exceeded anything of the kind we behold at the present day. Considering
the condition of the country, as compared with its wealth and prominence
now, the style of living and display in presidential circles was
remarkable. Washington rode in a chariot drawn by six fine horses,
attended by a retinue of servants. These horses were expensively
caparisoned. His stable, under the charge of Bishop, his favorite
servant, held twelve of the finest horses in the country. Two of them
were splendid white chargers for the saddle. After the seat of
government was removed to Philadelphia, the stables were under the care
of German John, "and the grooming of the white chargers will rather
surprise the moderns." Mr. Custis says:

"The night before the horses were to appear on the street, they were
covered over with a paste, of which whiting was the principal component
part; then the animals were swathed in body-cloths, and left to sleep
upon clean straw. In the morning the composition had become hard, was
well rubbed in and curried and brushed, which process gave to the coats
a beautiful, glossy, and satin-like appearance. The hoofs were then
blacked and polished, the mouths washed, teeth picked and cleansed, and
the leopard-skin housings being properly adjusted, the white chargers
were led out for service."

While the seat of government was in New York the president visited the
New England States. He had been brought almost to the door of death by a
malignant carbuncle, and it was thought, on his recovery, that such a
tour would be beneficial. Besides, the people of New England were
clamorous to see him.

The sickness referred to confined him to his room six weeks, during
which time "Dr. Bard never quitted him." The public anxiety was very
great, and the president understood full well that his condition was
very critical. One day he said to the doctor:

"I want your candid opinion as to the probable termination of this

"Your condition is serious, but I expect that you will recover," Dr.
Bard replied.

"Do not flatter me with vain hopes," responded the president. "I am not
afraid to die, and I am prepared to hear the worst."

"I confess, Mr. President, that I am not without serious apprehensions,"
added the doctor.

"Whether to-night or twenty years hence makes no difference; I know that
I am in the hands of a good Providence," was the royal answer of the
Christian ruler.

His tour through the New England States was attended with every
demonstration of honor that love and confidence could devise. At Boston
the president's well-known punctuality set aside all conventional rules,
and asserted its superiority. A company of cavalry volunteered to
escort him to Salem. The time appointed to start was 8 o'clock in the
morning. When the Old South clock struck the hour, the escort had not
appeared; nevertheless Washington started, and reached Charles River
bridge before the cavalry overtook him. The commander of the cavalry
once belonged to Washington's "military family," and the latter turned
to him and said:

"Major, I thought you had been too long in my family not to know when
it was eight o'clock."

At Philadelphia, to which place the seat of government was removed in
1790, the president frequently entertained members of Congress at his
own table. They soon learned that there was no waiting for guests in his
mansion. Precisely at the hour, Washington took his seat at the table,
whether guests had arrived or not. One day a member came in ten minutes
after the family were seated at the dining table. The president greeted
him with the remark: "We are punctual here."

He arranged with a gentleman to meet him with reference to the purchase
of a pair of horses. He named the hour. The owner of the horses was ten
minutes behind the time, and he found the president engaged with other
parties. It was a whole week before he was able to see the president
again. The latter taught the dilatory man an important lesson.

At Philadelphia, a house belonging to Robert Morris, the national
financier, was rented, and converted into a presidential mansion as
imposing and elegant, for that day, as the "White House" at Washington
is for our day. It was not contemplated to make Philadelphia the
permanent seat of government. Washington thought the capital should be
located on the Potomac, and it was respect for his judgment especially
that located it where it is.

One Reuben Rouzy owed Washington a thousand pounds. An agent of the
president, without his knowledge, brought an action against Rouzy for
the money, in consequence of which he was lodged in jail. A friend of
the debtor suggested that Washington might know nothing of the affair,
whereupon Rouzy sent a petition to the president for his release. The
next post brought an order for his release, with a full discharge, and
a severe reprimand to the agent.

Rouzy was restored to his family, who ever afterwards remembered their
"beloved Washington" in their daily prayers. Providence smiled upon the
debtor, so that in a few years he offered the whole amount, with
interest, to Washington.

"The debt is already discharged," said Washington.

"The debt of my family to you, the preserver of their parent, can never
be discharged," answered Rouzy. "I insist upon your taking it."

"I will receive it only upon one condition," added the president.

"And what is that?"

"That I may divide it among your children," replied Washington.

The affair was finally settled on this basis, and the amount was divided
at once among the children.

The success of his first presidential term created the universal desire
that he should serve a second term.

"It is impossible; my private business demands my attention," he said to

"Public business is more important," suggested Jefferson. "Besides, the
confidence of the whole Union is centred in you."

"I long for home and rest," retorted Washington. "I am wearing out with
public service."

"I trust and pray God that you will determine to make a further
sacrifice of your tranquility and happiness to the public good,"
remarked Hamilton, joining in the plea for a second term of service.

"It will be time enough for you to have a successor when it shall please
God to call you from this world," said Robert Morris; thus limiting the
demands of his country only by the demand of death.

His objections were overcome, and he was unanimously elected to a second
term, and was inaugurated March 4, 1793, in Philadelphia.

His second presidential term proved equally successful with the first.
Serious difficulties with England, France, and Spain were settled; a
treaty with the Indian tribes was affected, and a humane policy adopted
towards them. The mechanic arts, agriculture, manufactures, and internal
improvements, advanced rapidly under his administration. Domestic
troubles disappeared, and peace and harmony prevailed throughout the
land; in view of which, Jefferson said:

"Never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great
and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have
merited from man an everlasting remembrance."

During his presidency he made a tour through the Southern States. His
arrangement for the same furnishes a remarkable illustration of the
order and punctuality for which he was known from boyhood. Thinking that
the heads of the several State departments might have occasion to write
to him, he wrote out his route thus:

"I shall be, on the eighth of April, at Fredericksburg; the eleventh, at
Richmond; the fourteenth, at Petersburg; the sixteenth, at Halifax; the
eighteenth, at Tarborough; the twentieth, at Newtown;" and thus on to
the end, a journey of nineteen hundred miles.

Custis says: "His punctuality on that long journey astonished every one.
Scarcely would the artillery-men unlimber the cannon when the order
would be given, 'Light your matches; the white chariot is in full
view!'" Washington rode in a white chariot.

His industry, which had become proverbial, enabled him to perform a
great amount of work. General Henry Lee once said to him:

"Mr. President, we are amazed at the amount of work you are able to

"I rise at four o'clock, sir, and a great deal of the work I perform is
done while others are asleep," was Washington's reply.

At the same time his _thoroughness_ and method appeared in everything.
Mr. Sparks says:

"During his presidency it was likewise his custom to subject the
treasury reports and accompanying documents to the process of tutelar
condensation, with a vast expenditure of labor and patience."

Another biographer says:

"His accounts, while engaged in the service of his country, were so
accurately kept, that to this hour they are an example held up before
the nations."

In all these things the reader must note that "the boy is father of the

Under his administration there was no demand, as now, for "civil service
reform." His nearest relative and best friend enjoyed no advantage over
others for position. Real qualifications and experience for office he
required. Alluding to the severity with which he treated the idea of
giving friends and favorites position, a public man remarked:

"It is unfortunate to be a Virginian."

At the close of his long service, he wrote:

"In every nomination to office, I have endeavored, as far as my own
knowledge extended, or information could be obtained, to make fitness of
character my primary object."

At one time two applicants for an important office presented their
appeals, through friends. One of them was an intimate friend of the
president, often at his table. The other was a political enemy, though a
man of experience. No one really expected that his political enemy would
be appointed, but he was.

"Your appointment was unjust," a person dared to say to Washington.

"I receive my friend with a cordial welcome," answered Washington. "He
is welcome to my house and welcome to my heart; but, with all his good
qualities, he is not a man of business. His opponent is, with all his
political hostility to me, a man of business. My private feelings have
nothing to do with this case. I am not George Washington, but President
of the United States; as George Washington, I would do this man any
kindness in my power; but as President of the United States, I can do

In 1793 Washington was deeply affected by the news of Lafayette's exile
and incarceration in Germany. He took measures at once to secure his
release, if possible, and sent him a thousand guineas. Lafayette's son,
who was named after the American general, George Washington Lafayette,
came to this country, accompanied by his tutor, when his father was
driven into exile. After the close of Washington's public life, young
Lafayette became a member of his family at Mount Vernon. His father was
not liberated until 1797.

The following maxims, gleaned from his prolific writings, disclose the
principles which governed his actions in public life, and at the same
time they magnify his ability as a writer. When we reflect that his
schooldays embraced instruction only in reading, writing, and
arithmetic, to which he added surveying later, the clearness and
elegance of his style become a matter of surprise. His epistolary
correspondence is a model to all who would attain excellence in the art;
and his grasp of thought and practical view of government and science,
are unsurpassed by any statesman. Of the large number of notable
extracts we might collect from his writings, we have space for a few
only, as follows:

"Our political system may be compared to the mechanism of a clock, and
we should derive a lesson from it; for it answers no good purpose to
keep the smaller wheels in order if the greater one, which is the
support and prime mover of the whole, is neglected."

"Common danger brought the States into confederacy; and on their union
our safety and importance depend."

"Remember that actions, and not the commission, make the officer. More
is expected from him than the title."

"Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness."

"True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and
withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the

"To share the common lot, and participate in conveniences which the
army, from the peculiarity of our circumstances, are obliged to undergo,
has with me, been a fundamental principle."

"The value of liberty is enhanced by the difficulty of its attainment,
and the worth of character appreciated by the trial of adversity."

"It is our duty to make the best of our misfortunes, and not suffer
passion to interfere with our interest and the public good."

"In my estimation, more permanent and genuine happiness is to be found
in the sequestered walks of connubial life than in the giddy rounds of
promiscuous pleasure, or the more tumultuous and imposing scenes of
successful ambition."

"Without virtue and without integrity, the finest talents and the most
brilliant accomplishments can never gain the respect and conciliate the
esteem of the truly valuable part of mankind."

"Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder."

"A good moral character is the first essential in a man. It is,
therefore, highly important to endeavor not only to be learned, but

"The eyes of Argus are upon us, and no slip will pass unnoticed."

"It is much easier to avoid disagreements than to remove discontents."

"The man who would steer clear of shelves and rocks, must know where
they lie."

"Do not conceive that fine clothes make fine men, any more than fine
feathers make fine birds."

"We ought not to look back, unless it be to derive useful lessons from
past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dear-bought

"Gaming is the child of Avarice, the brother of Iniquity, and the father
of Mischief."

"Religion is as necessary to reason as reason is to religion. The one
cannot exist without the other."

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

"Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds
of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect
that national morality can prevail, in exclusion of religious

We might fill many pages with similar quotations from his writings, but
must forbear.

He was urged strongly to serve his country a third presidential term,
but he resolutely declined. Retiring from public service, he left a
remarkable farewell address to the people of the United States, which is
here given in full. Every American boy who has patriot blood in his
veins will delight in being familiar with its every thought and precept.



    The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the
    executive government of the United States being not far distant,
    and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be
    employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with
    that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it
    may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice,
    that I should now apprize you of the resolution I have formed,
    to decline being considered among the number of those out of
    whom a choice is to be made. I beg you, at the same time, to do
    me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been
    taken without a strict regard to all the considerations
    appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to
    his country; and that, in withdrawing the tender of service,
    which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no
    diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of
    grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a
    full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

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

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

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

    5. In looking forward to the moment which is intended to
    terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not
    permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of
    gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors
    it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast
    confidence with which it has supported me; and for the
    opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my
    inviolable attachment by services faithful and persevering,
    though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have
    resulted to our country from these services, let it always be
    remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our
    annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated
    in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances
    sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging,
    in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has
    countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your
    support was the essential prop of the efforts, and the guarantee
    of the plans by which they were effected.

    6. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with
    me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that
    Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its
    benevolence; that your union and brotherly affection may be
    perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your
    hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in
    every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in
    fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the
    auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a
    preservation, and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will
    acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause,
    the affection, and the adoption of every nation which is yet a
    stranger to it.

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

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

    9. For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest.
    Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country
    has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of America,
    which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always
    exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation
    derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of
    difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and
    political principles. You have in a common cause fought and
    triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are
    the work of joint councils and joint efforts, of common dangers,
    sufferings, and successes. But these considerations, however
    powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are
    greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your
    interest; here every portion of our country finds the most
    commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the
    union of the whole.

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

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

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

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

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

    15. All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all
    combinations and associations, under whatever plausible
    character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract,
    or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted
    authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and
    of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it
    an artificial and extraordinary force--to put in the place of
    the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a
    small but artful and enterprising minority of the community;
    and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties,
    to make the public administration the mirror of the
    ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than
    the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common
    councils, and modified by mutual interests. However combinations
    or associations of the above description may now and then answer
    popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things
    to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and
    unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the
    people, and to usurp to themselves the reins of government,
    destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to
    unjust dominion.

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

    17. I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the
    State, with particular reference to the founding of them on
    geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more
    comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner
    against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.
    The spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature,
    having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It
    exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less
    stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular
    form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their
    worst enemy. The alternate domination of one faction over
    another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party
    dissension, which, in different ages and countries, has
    perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful
    despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and
    permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result,
    gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose
    in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the
    chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate
    than his competitor, turns this disposition to the purposes of
    his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

    18. Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which
    nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common
    and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to
    make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage
    and restrain it. It serves always to distract the public
    councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the
    community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles
    the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally
    riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence
    and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the
    government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus
    the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the
    policy and will of another.

    19. There is an opinion that parties in free countries are
    useful checks upon the administration of the government, and
    serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, within certain
    limits, is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical
    cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor,
    upon the spirit of party. But in those of a popular character,
    in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be
    encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there
    will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose;
    and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to
    be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A
    fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to
    prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it
    should consume.

    20. It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a
    free country should inspire caution in those intrusted with its
    administration, to confine themselves within their respective
    constitutional spheres, avoiding, in the exercise of the powers
    of one department, to encroach upon another. The spirit of
    encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the
    departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of
    government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of
    power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the
    human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this
    position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of
    political power, by dividing and distributing it into different
    depositories, and constituting each the guardian of public weal
    against invasions by the others, has seen evinced by experiments
    ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our
    own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to constitute
    them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or
    modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular
    wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment, in a way which the
    Constitution designates; but let there be no change by
    usurpation: for though this, in one instance, may be the
    instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free
    governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly
    overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit
    which the use can at any time yield.

    21. Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political
    prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In
    vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should
    labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these
    firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere
    politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to
    cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections
    with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where
    is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the
    sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the
    instruments of investigation in courts of justice? and let us
    with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be
    maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the
    influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure,
    reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national
    morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. 'Tis
    substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary
    spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with
    more or less force to every species of free government. Who that
    is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon
    attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

    22. Promote, then, as an object of primary importance,
    institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In
    proportion as the structure of a government gives force to
    public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be
    enlightened. As a very important source of strength and
    security, cherish public credit: one method of preserving it is
    to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of
    expense by cultivating peace; and remembering, also, that timely
    disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much
    greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the
    accumulations of debt, not only by shunning occasions of
    expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge
    the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not
    ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we
    ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs
    to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion
    should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of
    their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in
    mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue;
    to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be
    devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant;
    and the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection
    of the proper object (which is always a choice of difficulties),
    ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the
    conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of
    acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue which the
    public exigencies may at any time dictate.

    23. Observe good faith and justice towards all nations;
    cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality
    enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not
    equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and
    at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the
    magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by
    an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the
    course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would
    richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a
    steady adherence to it? Can it be that Providence has not
    connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue?
    The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment
    which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by
    its vices?

    24. In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential
    than that permanent inveterate antipathies against particular
    nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be
    excluded; and that in place of them just and amicable feelings
    towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges
    towards another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in
    some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its
    affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from
    its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against
    another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury,
    to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and
    intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute
    occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and
    bloody contests. The nation prompted by ill will and resentment
    sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best
    calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in
    the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason
    would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the
    nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride,
    ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace
    often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the

    25. So likewise a passionate attachment of one nation for
    another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite
    nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common
    interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and
    infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former
    into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter,
    without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to
    the concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to
    others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the
    concessions, by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have
    been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a
    disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal
    privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted,
    or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite
    nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their
    own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity;
    gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation,
    a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal
    for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition,
    corruption, or infatuation.

    26. As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such
    attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened
    and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford
    to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of
    seduction, to mislead public opinions, to influence or awe
    public councils! Such an attachment of small or weak towards a
    great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellites
    of the latter. Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence
    (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens), the jealousy of
    a free people ought to be _constantly_ awake, since history and
    experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most
    baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy, to be
    useful, must be impartial, else it becomes the instrument of the
    very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it.
    Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive
    dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate, to see danger
    only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of
    influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the
    intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and
    odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and
    confidence of the people, to surrender their interests. The
    great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is,
    in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as
    little political connection as possible. So far as we have
    already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect
    good faith. Here let us stop.

    27. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have
    none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in
    frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially
    foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in
    us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary
    vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and
    collisions of her friendships or enmities. Our detached and
    distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different
    course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government,
    the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from
    external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will
    cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon, to be
    scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the
    impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly
    hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or
    war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

    28. Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why
    quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving
    our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace
    and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship,
    interest, humor, or caprice? 'Tis our true policy to steer clear
    of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world, so
    far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not
    be understood as patronizing infidelity to existing engagements.
    I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private
    affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it,
    therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine
    sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary, and would be
    unwise, to extend them. Taking care always to keep ourselves, by
    suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we
    may safely trust to temporary alliances for extra ordinary

    29. Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are
    recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our
    commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand,
    neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences;
    consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and
    diversifying, by gentle means, the streams of commerce, but
    forcing nothing; establishing with powers so disposed, in order
    to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our
    merchants, and to enable the government to support them,
    conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present
    circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and
    liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as
    experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping
    in view that 'tis folly in one nation to look for disinterested
    favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its
    independence whatever it may accept under that character; that
    by such acceptance it may place itself in the condition of
    having given equivalent for nominal favors, and yet of being
    reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no
    greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from
    nation to nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure,
    which a just pride ought to discard.

    30. In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old
    and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the
    strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will
    control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation
    from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of
    nations: but if I may even flatter myself, that they may be
    productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that
    they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party
    spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigues, and
    guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope
    will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare,
    by which they have been dictated. How far, in the discharge of
    my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which
    have been delineated, the public records, and other evidences of
    my conduct, must witness to you and to the world. To myself the
    assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed
    myself to be guided by them.

    31. In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my
    proclamation on the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my plan.
    Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your
    representatives in both houses of Congress, the spirit of that
    measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempt
    to deter or divert me from it. After deliberate examination,
    with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well
    satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the
    case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to
    take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far
    as should depend upon me, to maintain it with moderation,
    perseverance, and firmness.

    32. The consideration which respects the right to hold the
    conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will
    only observe, that, according to my understanding of the matter,
    that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent
    powers, has been virtually admitted by all. The duty of holding
    a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from
    the obligation which justice and humanity impose upon every
    nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain
    inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other
    nations. The inducements of interest for observing that conduct,
    will be best referred to your own reflection and experience.
    With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time
    to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions,
    and to progress, without interruption, to that degree of
    strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly
    speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

    33. Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am
    unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible
    of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed
    many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the
    Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend.
    I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never
    cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five
    years of my life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal,
    the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to
    oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
    Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated
    by that fervent love towards it which is so natural to a man who
    views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for
    several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation
    that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without
    alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my
    fellow citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free
    government--the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy
    reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.


On closing his presidential career, March 4, 1797, Washington retired to
Mount Vernon, to spend the remnant of his days in retirement. It was not
long, however, before the prospect of a war with France prompted the
nation to ask him to take command of its armies, to which he consented,
although he declared that there would be no war--a conclusion which
subsequent events fully justified. John Adams was president, 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."

Having said nothing particularly concerning Washington as a
slave-holder, we may add, in closing this chapter, that he believed,
with Jefferson, that slavery was a cruel wrong, and ought to be
abolished. He said to Jefferson, before he was president:

"I never mean, unless some particular circumstances should compel me to
it, to possess another slave by purchase; it being among my first wishes
to see some plan adopted by which slavery in this country may be
abolished by law." In another letter he says, "I can only say there is
not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan
adopted for the abolition of it; but there is only one proper and
effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is by
legislative authority, and this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall
never be wanting."

During his presidency in New York, Mrs. Washington's favorite maid Ovey
ran away, and she besought her husband to take measures to find her.
Laughing, Washington replied:

"I, who have been fighting for liberty, would appear finely in pursuit
of a runaway slave!"

He freely expressed his abhorrence of slavery to Lafayette during the
war; and when the latter purchased an estate in Cayenne, with the
intention of freeing the slaves upon it, Washington wrote to him:

"Your late purchase is a generous and noble proof of your humanity.
Would to God a like spirit might diffuse itself generally in the minds
of the people of this country!"

His will provided for the emancipation of his slaves, so far as
possible. "Under the tenure by which the dower negroes are held he could
not manumit them." But the will ran thus:

"Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will and desire that all the
slaves whom I hold _in my own right_ shall receive their freedom."

After his death, Mrs. Washington proceeded to emancipate the slaves,
agreeable to his wishes, at expressed in his last "will and testament."



In December, 1799, there came a cold, bleak morning, with drizzling rain
and sleet.

"I would not go out this uncomfortable day," Mrs. Washington said to her
husband, observing that he was preparing to go out to his daily task.

"It is not much of a storm," Washington replied. "Besides, I have a
piece of work under way that I must superintend."

"I fear that you will take cold," continued Mrs. Washington. "Sitting at
the fire is more fitting for a man of your age than exposing yourself in
such a storm."

He went, however, nor returned until almost time for dinner. His locks
were covered with snow and sleet, and he was quite wet.

Mrs. Washington advised him to change his apparel, but he declined,

"The wet is of little consequence. I shall soon be dry."

In the evening he read aloud to his family as usual although he was
somewhat hoarse. The next day, the storm was still more severe, and he
remained within doors, complaining of a slight cold. Again he read aloud
to his family in the evening. This was on Friday, the thirteenth day of

On retiring, Mr. Lear, his private secretary, said to him:

"General, you had better take something for your cold."

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

About three o'clock in the morning he awoke with a chill, feeling very
unwell. Still, he would not allow his wife to get up, fearing that she
might take cold. A servant came in to build a fire, when he sent for Mr.
Rawlins, an overseer, to bleed him, which, at that time, was a method
of treatment universally adopted. The overseer was accustomed to bleed
negroes, but he hesitated to practise on Washington.

"I would not be bled; you need more strength instead of less,"
interposed his wife, but Washington had confidence in the method. "Don't
be afraid," he said to the overseer; "make the orifice large enough."

But he grew worse rapidly, and early in the morning Dr. Craik was sent
for. Washington said to Mr. Lear, his private secretary:

"I cannot last long. I feel that I am going. I believed from the first
that the attack would prove fatal."

"I hope not," answered Mr. Lear, rather surprised by these words. "The
doctor will give you relief, I trust, when he arrives."

"Do you arrange and record all my military letters and papers; arrange
my accounts and settle my books, as you know more about them than any
one else," Washington continued.

"That I will do," replied Mr. Lear; "but I hope you will live many years

"Do you think of anything else it is essential for me to do? for I am
confident that I shall continue but a very short time with you,"
continued Washington.

"I can think of nothing," answered Mr. Lear, and then repeated his
opinion that he was not so near the end.

Smiling, the great man responded:

"I am certainly near the end, and I look forward to the hour of
dissolution with perfect resignation."

Turning to Mrs. Washington, he said, "Go to my desk, and in the private
drawer you will find two papers; bring them to me."

The papers were brought, when he added, taking one paper in each hand:

"These are my wills. Preserve this one, and burn the other."

Dr. Craik arrived about ten o'clock, and remained with him until his
death. Drs. Brown and Dick were sent for, and every effort possible made
to save his life.

"I am much obliged for all your care and attention," he said to the
physicians; "but do not trouble yourselves any more about me. Let me
pass away quietly. I cannot last long."

Later he said to Dr. Craik:

"Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go." He was then struggling
for breath.

At eight o'clock in the evening he appeared unable to speak. Mr. Lear

"I aided him all in my power, and was gratified in believing he felt it,
for he would look upon me with eyes speaking gratitude, but unable to
utter a word without great distress."

At ten o'clock he appeared to make a desperate effort to speak, and at
length said to Mr. Lear: "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."

Mr. Lear signified his assent by a nod.

As if not satisfied with that, Washington looked up to him again, and

"Do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir," Mr. Lear answered distinctly.

"It is well," added the dying man--the last words he spoke.

Mr. Lear describes the closing scene thus:

"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 placed it on
my breast. Dr. Craik closed his eyes, and he expired without groan or

Mrs. Washington had been sitting in silent grief all the while, at the
foot of the bed; but now she inquired with calmness:

"Is he gone?"

No one could answer; hearts were too full for utterance. But Mr. Lear
"held up his hand as a signal that he was gone."

"It is well," responded Mrs. Washington, with firm, unfaltering voice.
"All is over now; I shall soon follow him; I have no more trials to pass

Mr. Custis says, "Close to the couch of the sufferer resting her head
upon that ancient Book with which she had been wont to hold pious
communion a portion of every day for more than half a century, was the
venerable consort, absorbed in silent prayer, and from which she only
arose when the mourning group prepared to lead her from the chamber of
the dead. Such were the last hours of Washington."

The news of the ex-president's death spread rapidly for that day when
railroads and telegraphs were unknown, and the sadness and mourning were
universal. Congress was in session at Philadelphia, but did not receive
the sad intelligence until the 18th of December, the day of the funeral
at Mount Vernon.

The members of Congress appeared to be overwhelmed by the calamity, and
immediately adjourned. On assembling the next day, they eulogized both
by speech and resolution the illustrious dead; ordered that a marble
monument, bearing the record of his great achievements, be erected at
Washington; and appointed General Henry Lee to deliver a eulogy before
both branches of Congress on the 26th. The Senate addressed an eloquent
and pathetic letter to President Adams, in which it was said:

"On this occasion it is manly to weep. To lose such a man, at such a
crisis, is no common calamity to the world. Our country mourns a father.
The Almighty Disposer of human events has taken from us our greatest
benefactor and ornament. It becomes us to submit with reverence to Him,
'who maketh darkness his pavilion.'... Thanks to God, his glory is
consummated! Washington yet lives on earth, in his spotless example; his
spirit is in Heaven.

"Let his country consecrate the memory of the heroic general, the
patriotic statesman, and the virtuous sage. Let them teach their
children never to forget that the fruits of his labors and his example
are their inheritance."

The funeral ceremonies were performed at Mount Vernon on the 18th, under
the direction of Rev. Mr. Davis, rector of the parish, assisted by other
clergymen. The people came from many miles around to pay a grateful
tribute of respect to the honored dead. Almost the entire population of
Alexandria, nine miles distant, was there, including its military
companies. Eleven pieces of cannon were sent from that city, and one of
its leading citizens, Robert Morris, anchored a schooner in the Potomac,
in front of the Mount Vernon residence, from which minute-guns were
fired during the funeral exercises and the march of the long procession
to the tomb.

His remains were deposited in the old family vault, which was so
dilapidated that the proprietor was thinking of building a new one. Only
two or three days before he was taken sick, he called the attention of
his nephew to the spot where he should build it, and, referring to other
work demanding his attention, he added:

"But the tomb must be built first, since I may need it first."

It would be quite impossible to describe the scene of sorrow that
pervaded the country when the death of Washington became known. Congress
enacted that the 22d of February, Washington's birthday, should be
observed for funeral services throughout the nation. Every method of
expressing grief known to an afflicted people was called into
requisition. Houses of worship, public halls, State capitals,
schoolrooms, stores, and even dwellings were hung in mourning draperies
on that day. Sermons, eulogies, and resolutions by public bodies were
multiplied throughout the Union. The sorrow was universal.

Irving says:

"Public testimonials of grief and reverence were displayed in every
part of the Union. Nor were these sentiments confined to the United
States. When the news of Washington's death reached England, Lord
Bridport, who had command of a British fleet of nearly sixty sail of the
line, lying at Torbay, lowered his flag half-mast, every ship following
the example; and Bonaparte, First Consul of France, on announcing his
death to the army, ordered that black crape should be suspended from all
the standards and flags throughout the public service for ten days."

The great American orator of that day, Fisher Ames, delivered a eulogy
before the Massachusetts Legislature, in which he said:

"The fame he enjoyed is of the kind that will last forever; yet it was
rather the effect than the motive of his conduct. Some future Plutarch
will search for a parallel to his character. Epaminondas is perhaps the
brightest name of all antiquity. Our Washington resembled him in his
purity and the ardor of his patriotism; and like him, he first exalted
the glory of his country."

Lord Brougham said:

"How grateful the relief which the friend of mankind, the lover of
virtue, experiences, when, turning from the contemplation of such a
character [Napoleon], his eye rests upon the greatest man of our own or
of any age; the only one upon whom an epithet, so thoughtlessly lavished
by men, may be innocently and justly bestowed!"

Edward Everett, by whose efforts and influence "The Ladies' Mount Vernon
Association of the Union" were enabled to purchase (twenty-five years
ago) two hundred acres of the estate, including the mansion-house and
tomb, for preservation and improvement, says, in his biography of

"In the final contemplation of his character, we shall not hesitate to
pronounce Washington, of all men that have ever lived, THE GREATEST OF

Posterity honors itself by calling him




In obedience to your will, I rise, your humble organ, with the hope of
executing a part of the system of public mourning which you have been
pleased to adopt, commemorative of the death of the most illustrious and
most beloved personage this country has ever produced; and which, while
it transmits to posterity your sense of the awful event, faintly
represents your knowledge of the consummate excellence you so cordially

Desperate, indeed, is any attempt on earth to meet correspondently this
dispensation of Heaven; for while, with pious resignation, we submit to
the will of an all-gracious Providence, we can never cease lamenting, in
our finite view of Omnipotent Wisdom, the heart-rending privation for
which our nation weeps. When the civilized world shakes to its centre;
when every moment gives birth to strange and momentous changes; when our
peaceful quarter of the globe, exempt, as it happily has been, from any
share in the slaughter of the human race, may yet be compelled to
abandon her pacific policy, and to risk the doleful casualties of war;
what limit is there to the extent of our loss? None within the reach of
my words to express; none which your feelings will not disavow.

The founder of our federate republic, our bulwark in war, our guide in
peace, is no more. Oh that this were but questionable! Hope, the
comforter of the wretched, would pour into our agonizing hearts its
balmy dew; but, alas! there is no hope for us. Our Washington is removed
forever. Possessing the stoutest frame and purest mind, he had passed
nearly to his sixty-eighth year in the enjoyment of high health, when,
habituated by his care of us to neglect himself, a slight cold,
disregarded, became inconvenient on Friday, oppressive on Saturday, and,
defying every medical interposition, before the morning of Sunday, put
an end to the best of men. An end did I say? His fame survives, bounded
only by the limits of the earth and by the extent of the human mind. He
survives in our hearts, in the growing knowledge of our children, in the
affections of the good throughout the world; and when our monuments
shall be done away, when nations now existing shall be no more, when
even our young and far-spreading empire shall have perished, still will
our Washington's glory unfaded shine, and die not, until love of virtue
cease on earth, or earth itself sink into chaos.

How, my fellow-citizens, shall I single to your grateful hearts his
pre-eminent worth? Where shall I begin in opening to your view a
character throughout sublime? Shall I speak of his warlike achievements,
all springing from obedience to his country's will, all directed to his
country's good?

Will you go with me to the banks of the Monongahela to see your youthful
Washington supporting, in the dismal hour of Indian victory, the
ill-fated Braddock, and saving, by his judgment and by his valor, the
remains of a defeated army, pressed by the conquering savage foe? Or
when oppressed America, nobly resolving to risk her all in defence of
her violated rights, he was elevated by the unanimous voice of Congress
to the command of her armies, will you follow him to the high grounds of
Boston, where, to an undisciplined, courageous, and virtuous yeomanry,
his presence gave the stability of system, and infused the invincibility
of love of country? Or shall I carry you to the painful scenes of Long
Island, York Island, and New Jersey, when, combating superior and
gallant armies, aided by powerful fleets, and led by chiefs high in the
roll of fame, he stood the bulwark of our safety, undismayed by
disaster, unchanged by change of fortune? Or will you view him in the
precarious fields of Trenton, where deep glooms, unnerving every arm,
reigned triumphant through our thinned, worn down, unaided ranks,
himself unmoved? Dreadful was the night! It was about this time of
winter. The storm raged; the Delaware, rolling furiously with floating
ice, forbade the approach of man. Washington, self-collected, viewed the
tremendous scene; his country called. Unappalled by surrounding dangers,
he passed to the hostile shore; he fought, he conquered. The morning sun
cheered the American world. Our country rose on the event, and her
dauntless chief, pursuing his blow, completed on the lawns of Princeton
what his vast soul had conceived on the shores of the Delaware.

Thence to the strong grounds of Morristown he led his small but gallant
band, and through an eventful winter, by the high efforts of his genius,
whose matchless force was measurable only by the growth of difficulties,
he held in check formidable hostile legions, conducted by a chief
experienced in the art of war, and famed for his valor on the
ever-memorable heights of Abraham, where fell Wolfe, Montcalm, and,
since, our much lamented Montgomery, all covered with glory. In this
fortunate interval, produced by his masterly conduct, our fathers,
ourselves, animated by his resistless example, rallied around our
country's standard, and continued to follow her beloved chief through
the various and trying scenes to which the destinies of our Union led.

Who is there that has forgotten the vales of Brandywine, the fields of
Germantown, or the plains of Monmouth? Everywhere present, wants of
every kind obstructing, numerous and valiant armies encountering,
himself a host, he assuaged our sufferings, limited our privations, and
upheld our tottering republic. Shall I display to you the spread of the
fire of his soul by rehearsing the praises of the hero of Saratoga and
his much loved compeer of the Carolina? No: our Washington wears not
borrowed glory. To Gates, to Greene, he gave, without reserve, the
applause due to their eminent merit; and long may the chiefs of Saratoga
and of Eutaws receive the grateful respect of a grateful people.

Moving in his own orbit, he imparted heat and light to his most distant
satellites; and, combining the physical and moral force of all within
his sphere, with irresistible weight he took his course, commiserating
folly, disdaining vice, dismaying treason, and invigorating despondency,
until the auspicious hour arrived when, united with the intrepid forces
of a potent magnanimous ally, he brought to submission the since
conqueror of India; thus finishing his long career of military glory
with a lustre corresponding with his great name, and in this, his last
act of war, affixing the seal of fate to our nation's birth.

To the horrid din of war sweet peace succeeded; and our virtuous chief,
mindful only of the public good, in a moment tempting personal
aggrandizement, hushed the discontents of growing sedition, and,
surrendering his power into the hands from which he had received it,
converted his sword into a plough-share, teaching an admiring world that
to be truly great you must be truly good.

Were I to stop here, the picture would be incomplete and the task
imposed unfinished. Great as was our Washington in war, and much as did
that greatness contribute to produce the American republic, it is not in
war alone his pre-eminence stands conspicuous; his various talents,
combining all the capacities of a statesman with those of a soldier,
fitted him alike to guide the councils and the armies of our nation.
Scarcely had he rested from his martial toils, while his invaluable
parental advice was still sounding in our ears, when he who had been our
shield and our sword was called forth to act a less splendid but more
important part.

Possessing a clear and penetrating mind, a strong and sound judgment,
calmness and temper for deliberation, with invincible firmness and
perseverance in resolutions maturely formed, drawing information from
all, acting from himself with incorruptible integrity and unvarying
patriotism, his own superiority and the public confidence alike marked
him as the man designed by Heaven to lead in the great political, as
well as military, events, which have distinguished the area of his life.

The finger of an overruling Providence pointing at Washington was
neither mistaken nor unobserved, when, to realize the vast hopes to
which our Revolution had given birth, a change of political system
became indispensable.

How novel, how grand, the spectacle! independent States stretched over
an immense territory, and known only by common difficulty, clinging to
their Union as the rock of their safety, deciding, by frank comparison
of their relative condition, to rear on that rock, under the guidance of
reason, a common government, through whose commanding protection liberty
and order, with their long train of blessings, should be safe to
themselves and the sure inheritance of their posterity!

This arduous task devolved on citizens selected by the people, from a
knowledge of their wisdom and confidence in their virtue. In this august
assembly of sages and of patriots, Washington of course was found; and,
as if acknowledged to be most wise where all were wise, with one voice
he was declared their chief. How well he merited this rare distinction,
how faithful were the labors of himself and his compatriots, the work of
their hands, and our union, strength, and prosperity, the fruits of that
work best attest.

But to have essentially aided in presenting to his country this
consummation of her hopes, neither satisfied the claims of his
fellow-citizens on his talents, nor those duties which the possession of
those talents imposed. Heaven had not infused into his mind such an
uncommon share of its ethereal spirit to remain unemployed, nor bestowed
on him his genius unaccompanied by the corresponding duty of devoting it
to the common good. To have framed a constitution, was showing only,
without realizing, the general happiness. This great work remained to be
done; and America, steadfast in her preference, with one voice summoned
her beloved Washington, unpractised as he was in the duties of civil
administration, to execute this last act in the completion of the
national felicity. Obedient to her call, he assumed the high office with
that self-distrust peculiar to his innate modesty, the constant
attendant of pre-eminent virtue. What was the burst of joy through our
anxious land on this exhilarating event is known to us all. The aged,
the young, the brave, the fair rivalled each other in demonstrations of
their gratitude; and this high-wrought, delightful scene was heightened
in its effect by the singular contest between the zeal of the bestowers
and the avoidance of the receiver of the honors bestowed. Commencing his
administration, what heart is not charmed with the recollection of the
pure and wise principles announced by himself as the basis of his
political life? He best understood the indissoluble union between virtue
and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of
an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public
prosperity and individual felicity. Watching with an equal and
comprehensive eye over this great assemblage of communities and
interests, he laid the foundations of our national policy in the
unerring, immutable principles of morality, based on religion,
exemplifying the pre-eminence of free government by all the attributes
which win the affections, of its citizens, or command the respect of the

    "O fortunatos dimium sua si bona norint!"

Leading through the complicated difficulties produced by previous
obligations and conflicting interests, seconded by succeeding houses of
Congress, enlightened and patriotic, he surmounted all original
obstructions and brightened the path of our national felicity.

The presidential term expiring, his solicitude to exchange exaltation
for humility returned with a force increased with increase of age; and
he had prepared his farewell address to his countrymen, proclaiming his
intention, when the united interposition of all around him, enforced by
the eventful prospects of the epoch, produced a further sacrifice of
inclination to duty. The election of president followed, and Washington,
by the unanimous vote of the nation, was called to resume the chief
magistracy. What a wonderful fixture of confidence! Which attracts most
our admiration: a people so correct or a citizen combining an assemblage
of talents forbidding rivalry, and stifling even envy itself? Such a
nation deserves to be happy; such a chief must be forever revered.

War, long menaced by the Indian tribes, now broke out; and the terrible
conflict, deluging Europe with blood, began to shed its baneful
influence over our happy land. To the first outstretching his invincible
arm, under the orders of the gallant Wayne, the American eagle soared
triumphant through distant forests. Peace followed victory, and the
melioration of the condition of the enemy followed peace. God-like
virtue, which uplifts even the subdued savage!

To the second he opposed himself. New and delicate was the conjuncture,
and great was the stake. Soon did his penetrating mind discern and seize
the only course continuing to us all the blessings enjoyed. He issued
his proclamation of neutrality. This index to his whole subsequent
conduct was sanctioned by the approbation of both houses of Congress,
and by the approving voice of the people.

To this sublime policy he invariably adhered, unmoved by foreign
intrusion, unshaken by domestic turbulence.

    "Justum et tenacem propositi virum,
     Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
     Non vultus instantis tyranny
     Mente quatit solida."

Maintaining his pacific system at the expense of no duty, America,
faithful to herself and unstained in her honor, continued to enjoy the
delights of peace, while afflicted Europe mourns in every quarter, under
the accumulated miseries of an unexampled war, miseries in which our
happy country must have shared had not our pre-eminent Washington been
as firm in council as he was brave in the field.

Pursuing steadfastly his course, he held safe the public happiness,
preventing foreign war and quelling internal disorder, till the
revolving period of a third election approached, when he executed his
interrupted but inextinguishable desire of returning to the humble walks
of private life.

The promulgation of his fixed resolution stopped the anxious wishes of
an affectionate people from adding a third unanimous testimonial of
their unabated confidence in the man so long enthroned in their hearts.
When before was affection like this exhibited on earth? Turn over the
records of Greece, review the annals of mighty Rome, examine the volumes
of modern Europe, you search in vain. America and her Washington only
afford the dignified exemplification.

The illustrious personage, called by the national voice in succession to
the arduous office of guiding a free people, had no difficulties to
encounter. The amicable effort of settling our difficulties with France,
begun by Washington and pursued by his successor in virtue, as in
station, proving abortive, America took measures of self-defence. No
sooner was the public mind roused by a prospect of danger than every eye
was turned to the friend of all, though secluded from public view and
gray in public service. The virtuous veteran, following his plough,[D]
received the unexpected summons with mingled emotions of indignation at
the unmerited ill-treatment of his country, and of a determination once
more to risk his all in her defence.

    [D]: General Washington, though opulent, gave much of his time
         and attention to physical agriculture.

The annunciation of these feelings in his affecting letter to the
president, accepting the command of the army, concludes his official

_First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his
countrymen_, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of
private life; uniform, dignified, and commanding, his example was as
edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting.

To his equals he was condescending; to his inferiors, kind; and to the
dear object of his affections, exemplarily tender; correct throughout,
vice shuddered in his presence, and virtue always felt his fostering
hand; the purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public

His last scene comported with the whole tenor of his life. Although in
extreme pain, not a sigh, not a groan escaped him; and with undisturbed
serenity he closed his well-spent life. Such was the man America has
lost; such was the man for whom our nation mourns.

Methinks I see his august image, and hear falling from his venerable
lips these deep-sinking words:

"Cease, sons of America, lamenting our separation. Go on and confirm,
by your wisdom, the fruits of our joint councils, joint efforts, and
common dangers; reverence religion; diffuse knowledge throughout your
lands; patronize the arts and sciences; let liberty and order be
inseparable companions. Control party spirit, the bane of free
government; observe good faith to, and cultivate peace with, all
nations; shut up every avenue to foreign influence; contract rather than
extend national connections; rely on yourselves only; be Americans in
thought, word, and deed. Thus will you give immortality to that union
which was the constant object of my terrestrial labors; thus will you
preserve undisturbed, to the latest posterity, the felicity of a people
to me most dear; and thus will you supply (if my happiness is now aught
to you) the only vacancy in the round of pure bliss high Heaven

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