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George Washington In History

( Originally Published 1916 )


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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