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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY
Until the Father of His Country had finished his life, it was not known that human nature could produce political careers so unselfish. Poets and dramatists had not even planned them, so truly is the human imagination harnessed to the low-rolling car of Reality. It was thought that sane and powerful men, when they could, would grasp and hold power and found dynasties. When Robespierre watered the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants ; when Danton threw at the feet of his enemies the head of a King; they had but risen from learning the lesson taught by the living Washington. They might have read hints of that lesson in the books of Rousseau, but they had seen it in full with their own eyes in the life of Washington.
Why is General Washington greater than Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin? Because men recognize but one law force. They all reason, argue, convince, submit, after they must, after they feel compulsion. He, therefore, who uses the ultima ratio he who relies wholly upon force will ever be first. It is the law of gravity. We do not complain that the heaviest weight sinks to the bottom. A man may be a genius in bringing on the fight; he may be without peer in harvesting the rewards of a victory; if he cannot, did not, lead the battle and win, he must righteously give way to the captain who did.
Granting that General Washington could have been King, and chose rather the glary of being father of a democracy, thus leaping to the front place in human interest, why, then, was he not merely fortunate in receiving the nomination of Commander-in-Chief from John Adams, rather than to see that nomination go to John Hancock, or Gates, or Greene, or Knox, or Ethan Allen, or Joseph Warren? To this, the testimony is direct from all surrounding points that any other commander would have failed. General Washington was the one calm man who could understand the situation, keep his temper, keep the British from splitting the Union in twain and hold the hills till the French came.
General Washington, as a captain, resembled Marshal Daun, Maria Theresa's beloved leader. He took few risks. The Duke of Wellington in Spain seems to have copied General Washington's methods. General Grant certified to General Washington's skill when General Lee's army was held to be in itself the Great Rebellion, and all other matters cities, railroads, ports, crops were forgotten. General Washington gave up New York and Philadelphia willingly rather than to attempt to defend them. The British took the cities and waited for General Washington to sue for mercy. When the French arrived, the British themselves surrendered. This, barring Burgoyne's capitulation to General Washington's subordinate at Saratoga, is the main part of the story. The fact that over seven years elapsed between Bunker Hill and Yorktown, and over eight years between Bunker Hill and peace, may be taken as a measure of the poverty and lack of public spirit manifested by the colonies and exemplified in their Congress. But it also measures General Washington's patience. Little attention was paid to the repeated requests of either General Washington or Dr. Franklin. Only one of the colonies was originally in an insurrectionary mood. When the British came up the Virginia rivers, no one opposed them, and the only feeling of the fleeing natives was that Washington ought to be on hand to protect them. If the Revolution had come later, the people would have been by that time hungrier for liberty.
The geographical history of Washington is not difficult to understand. His earlier life was on the Upper Rappahannock and Lower Potomac rivers, with trips to Williamsburg, southeast of Richmond, and a journey to the West Indies. His military life was spent in the environs of Pittsburg, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, with a dash far down to Yorktown at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, near Williamsburg.
Augustine Washington married Jane Butler, who died, leaving him three sons and a daughter. He then married Mary Ball, who bore him four sons and two daughters. Mary was the mother of George Washington, and he was her first child. He was born February 22, 1732, at Bridges Creek, Virginia. The old-style-date of those days was February 11. The birthplace was afterward burned. The family then went to live in a large house, with two great chimneys, overlooking the Rappahannock River, near Fredericksburg, which lay across the stream. The hereditary and early influences controlling the nature of the Father of His Country have been described in another volume of this series.* In 1743 Augustine Washington died, leaving his widow with ten children. George was sent to Fredericksburg to learn his alphabet and arithmetic from one Hobby, sexton of the parish; next he went to live with his half-brother, Augustine, at Bridges Creek, where Mr. Williams kept a school which George attended. He was a tall, muscular boy, and a leader of his playmates. His moral education had been rigid, and accorded well with a highly practical and severe turn in his own nature. He took nearly every-thing in earnest, and early set out to coin money and good repute from the wisdom of his stern mother's maxims. Tales of his moral sentimentalism are as incredible as they appear to be unsound in history and tradition.
Mr. Williams taught his pupil arithmetic, perhaps geometry, and certainly trigonometry, with the practical addition of surveying. We must consider Virginia as largely a wooded country watered by many rivers. English lords had acquired this country by gift or purchase, and had settled the river regions with friends, retainers, or purchasers of land; vast areas remained for sale; much was still unsurveyed. The profession of surveying was the best one a young man could follow, and this pupil was fitted by nature for the hardships of the task. It is thought he owned a little book called "The Young Man's Companion." Out of this, when he was only a lad, he copied or digested over one hundred rules of etiquette and moral conduct. He considered them so good that he would do well to adopt them. "Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called con-science." These rules how and when to take the hat off, how to act at table, how to keep the conscience keenly alive were to be carefully studied, along with the surveying. He was very confident that all depended on him, and that nothing could be more just. Such are the traces which the early papers of the Father of His Country have left, showing the sane, sensible, docile tendencies of this muscular son of the silent imperious woman who bore him.
The half-brother of George Washington, Lawrence, fourteen years older, was no inconsiderable figure. Lawrence went abroad as a sailor, entered the British navy, fought with Admiral Vernon at Carthagena, and, returning to Virginia, built a house on the Potomac River, which he gratefully named Mt. Vernon in honor of his commander a mansion sometime to be the Mecca of democratic faith. At fifteen George Washington was a visitor at Mt. Vernon. Lawrence meanwhile had married the daughter of William Fairfax, who was agent for the Fairfax estate, one of the vast grants of which we have spoken. Lord Fairfax, himself chief of the house, inheritor of the grant, then sixty years old, was in America inspecting the property, and desirous to learn how much of it there might be. Lord Fairfax took a deep and generous interest in George Washington on seeing him. The twain went fox-hunting together, and after the young man had mastered the art of surveying, Lord Fairfax commissioned him to go with George Fairfax, William's brother, over the Blue Ridge Mountains and come back with a survey of the ultra-montane acres of the Fairfax estate that lay in the wilderness. In March, 1748, George Fairfax and George Washington set forth, through Ashly's Gap into the valley of the Shenandoah River, went on their way up to the Potomac River, in spring floods, surveyed the region in the South Branch of the Potomac ; met a party of Indians, who celebrated their acquaintance with a war dance; met a train of German emigrants ; slept out-doors all the time, and got back to Mt. Vernon some-what speedily, April 12th. Careful entries were made in a diary. Lord Fairfax was well pleased to hear he had so many acres in such a garden-spot, and procured the appointment of public surveyor for George, so his surveys would have authority. This gave to the young man some three years more of the same kind of work. "Since last October," he writes, "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, whichever 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 is my constant gain every day that the-weather will permit of my going out." When he was not off at work, he amused himself by fox-hunting with Lord Fairfax, or reading or studying at the Fairfax mansion near Mt. Vernon.
In 1751 Lawrence Washington was so ill with consumption that it was thought best for George to go with him to Barbadoes, in the West Indies, where George caught the small-pox, recovered, and was back at Mt. Vernon in February, 1752. In July Lawrence died, leaving George guardian of a daughter, and heir to the estate if that daughter should die without issue. Lawrence, with the advice of Lord Fairfax, had become a great land-speculator on the Ohio River, and had long seen that he must fight to preserve the rights or arrogations of his land company against those of the French. With good military sense he had sheltered at Mt. Vernon two brave soldiers of Carthagena, Adjutant Muse, a Virginian, and Jacob Van Braam, a Dutch soldier. These two men formed the college of war by which America learned to be free. Adjutant Muse taught to George Washington the manual of arms, tactics, and the art of war. Jacob Van Braam instructed his pupil in the exercise of the sword. The learner was then appointed Adjutant-General for Northern Virginia, with the rank of Major. The Governor at Williamsburg, Dinwiddie, desired to deliver a message to the advancing Frenchmen that they were encroaching on Virginia Plantation. He therefore commissioned Major Washington, with Von Braam, servants, and horses (October, 1753), to go to the Ohio River, under guidance of the frontiersman Christopher Gist and make known the views of the English. His desire was to conciliate the Indians and ally them against the French. Major Washington was received politely at French Creek on the Ohio River, and brought back a vague answer from the French commandant. He returned to Williamsburg already a hero, as he had attended many a perilous war-dance of the Indians, and had succeeded where other Virginians had previously turned back in fear. His personal report was that war could not be avoided.
The settlers were not in harmony with a declaration of war. The British Governor was not seconded by his peace-loving Assembly, and the colonies or provinces to the North were even less bellicose. Colonel Fry was put in command, with Washington Lieutenant-Colonel, and the latter recruited two companies at Alexandria and hurried forward in advance of Fry to protect the frontier. He had not gone far, before he was convinced that there was a state of war already. He reached the Monongahela River, and there made a protest to the Governor because of the inadequacy of supplies and men. Coming up with a small body of French soldiery, he surprised, surrounded, and fired on their camp. Ten French were killed, twenty-one captured, and one escaped. Colonel Fry died, but the rest of the regiment advanced and met Colonel Washing-ton. This "massacre," as it was called, had roused the French and they came on, four to one. They surrounded Colonel Washington and made him agree to march off and not come back for a year. The Indians, his allies, and critics, said he showed little military skill, and ordered them around very harshly, but the French they denounced as cowards. He had written a boastful letter about loving to hear the bullets whistle, and now with the "massacre" and surrender on his hands, he did not figure heroically at Paris when the news got there. The fact, however, that Colonel Washington had offered battle in the open field before he agreed to march away, was gratifying to the Virginia Assembly, and they voted him thanks, with a Colonel's pay. At this critical juncture, the English Government issued an order that any officer bearing the King's commission should outrank any officer not bearing such paper. When General Sharpe asked Colonel Washington to join him, the Colonel indignantly refused, as any sub-lieutenant from England might out-rank him. General Braddock arrived with two regiments of regulars, and hearing of Colonel Washington, at once offered him a staff-position as Colonel, where nobody could give him orders but his General. Colonel Washington gladly accepted, early in 1755. In Pennsylvania Benjamin Franklin began bargaining for Braddock's Quaker wagons, on his own bond. Who could believe that these Frenchmen, now swooping in on all sides, were to help free America, losing it first themselves?
Braddock was hot and fiery. The dignity of the provincial "Estates" nettled him. He rebuked Colonel Washington when he spoke of the savages as warriors, and, after many delays, reached Fort Duquesne (Pittsburg). Before that French stronghold, July 8, 1755, "Braddock's defeat" took place, with Colonel Washington pushing to the front, though ill. Six hundred Indians and 200 French killed or wounded 700 English. Sixty-two out of eighty-six English officers were killed or wounded. Colonel Washington had two horses killed under him, and four bullets went through his clothes. General Braddock himself was mortally wounded, and Colonel Washington buried him four days afterward, reading the funeral service at the grave. He led back his little band of defeated soldiers, and solemnly pondered on the reasons of their disaster and retreat. He was appointed to command the Virginia frontier, and passed twenty months in that region, with the episode of the trip to Boston, which we will describe. A Captain Dagworthy appeared on the scene with a King's commission, and thought to take Washington's command. On this Colonel Washington, in buff and blue uniform, with a white and scarlet cloak over his shoulders, and a sword knot of red and gold, with an aide on each side and servants following in the rear, set out for Boston to protest to Governor Shirley, the Commander-in-Chief. The Colonel's horse was a good one, caparisoned in the finest London housings, with "livery lace" and the Washington coat-of-arms. His cavalcade made a stir wherever it went. The Colonel's journey was a complete success. Captain Dagworthy and his thirty men were put to the rearward by Governor Shirley, and Colonel Washington attended several balls, and looked well over Puritan Boston. Again Colonel Washington returned to the frontier, leading a dull life, till the spring of 1758, when, on a journey to Williamsburg, he stopped to dine with his friend Major Chamberlayne at William's Ferry. There he met Martha Dandridge, the young, rich, and handsome widow of Daniel Parke Custis, who lived at the White House, near by. On his return he called there and made an offer of marriage, which was duly accepted. The French Fort Duquesne fell, and he at once resigned his commission and hurried home to prepare for a brilliant wedding. Colonel Washington was now an important personage in Virginia. He owned many acres of Western lands that were secure. He had the military dignity of a Colonel; he had traveled to the West Indies and to Boston; he had been in battle; he had a family connection with Lord Fairfax; he secured his position as a tobacco-planter by wedding a lady with a fortune of her own. His fellow-officers came on in generous number, and the Governor of Virginia headed them. The bride was attired in silk and satin brocades, laces, and ropes of pearls ; the Colonel in blue and silver, trimmed with scarlet, and with gold buckles on his knees and on his shoes. The bride went home in a coach drawn by six horses, her husband and the great gentlemen on horseback. He had been elected a member of the House of Burgesses (Legislature) and now re-moved to Williamsburg. When he took his seat, the Speaker paid him a high compliment, in the Virginian fashion. The Colonel rose to reply, but stood stammering and blushing. "Sit down, Colonel Washington," said the Speaker, "your modesty equals your valor, and that surpasses the power .of any language I possess."
At thirty he was owner, by inheritance, of Mt. Vernon, where he lived. He was a successful tobacco-raiser. He set up a fine stable, with a pack of hounds Vulcan, Music, Sweetlips, etc., all registered and daily inspected. It would be well to note how a fashionable sport had made him its devotee. He says* (1767) :
"Went a-hunting with Jacky Custis, and catched a fox after three hours' chase; found it in the creek." "Mr. Bryan Fairfax, Mr. Grayson, and Phil Alexander came home by sunrise. Hunted and catched a fox with these, Lord Fairfax, his brother, and Colonel Fairfax, all of whom, with Mr. Fairfax and Mr. Wilson, of England, dined here." "November 26, 29. Hunted again, with the same party." "1768, January 8th. Hunting again with the same party. Started a fox and ran him four hours. Took the hounds off at night." "January 15. Shooting." "16. At home all day with cards ; it snowing." "23. Rid to Muddy Hole and directed paths to be cut for fox-hunting." "February 12. Catched two foxes." "February 13. Catched two more foxes." "March 2. Catched fox with bob'd tail and cut ears after seven hours' chase, in which most of the dogs were worsted." "December 5. Fox hunting with Lord Fair-fax and his brother and Colonel Fairfax. Started a fox and lost it. Dined at Belvoir and returned in the evening."
He was hot-tempered a soldier's mettle. He wrote to a Major in answer to an impertinent letter: "I would not have taken the same language from you personally without letting you feel some marks of my resentment." He discovered a poacher, in a boat, shooting his canvas-back ducks. Colonel Washington was on horseback ashore. He dashed his horse into the water, dragged the canoe ashore, pulled out the poacher and beat him to a finish. People were a little afraid of him, and he thought they ought to be providing they were "rascals."
At this date the lord of the manor notes that he has so much company that though he owns a hundred cows he must buy butter. It was probable that he considered it his duty to serve a term as Governor of Virginia when-ever it should please his Majesty to gratify Lord Fairfax in the appointment.
By this time political excitement had reached a high stage at Boston. The Stamp Act had been passed by Parliament, and Patrick Henry, a new and almost unknown member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, had offered resolutions that were considered very radical. Colonel Washington had voted for these resolutions, but did not foresee war. Some years later, when the colony had determined to refuse to import the taxed articles, he had strictly upheld this course, using none of the articles under the taboo. Two new British Governors came, and he admired them both and frequented their houses. He traveled down the Ohio to inspect his lands. When next Colonel Washington sat in the Legislature, the port of Boston had been sealed by England. June I, 1774, was appointed a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer in Virginia out of sympathy with Boston. Lord Dunmore, the Governor of Virginia, at once prorogued the Legislature because it had so voted. Colonel Washington dined with Lord Dunmore, but nevertheless fasted on the day appointed. A town meeting at Boston was directing the policy of the colonies.; the tobacco nobility of the Virginia rivers was going along leisurely toward rebellion.
Now the Fairfaxes would be ruined if there were a rebellion; they therefore called for grateful recollections on Colonel Washington's part, and asked him to oppose war. But he was far above considerations of gratitude when his liberties were in danger. He made plain to the Fairfaxes that the King must not take Samuel Adams away to England, or abolish the town-meetings of Boston, or the charter of Massachusetts Bay. "Has not Gage (Governor at Boston) acted like a Bashaw?" "Shall we supinely sit and see one province after another fall a sacrifice to despotism?" Thus the Colonel at Mt. Vernon wrote to the supplicating Fairfaxes.
The Fairfax County meeting sent Colonel Washing-ton to Williamsburg August 1, 1774. He rose in the Virginia Convention and said : "I will raise a thousand men, subsist them at my own expense, and march them to the relief of Boston." He had carefully considered the case, and he was at once as clear as Samuel Adams. There was not a moment of indecision, for it was his profession as a soldier and his desire as a brave man, to lead the fight, if there were to be any.
Virginia sent six delegates to the first Continental Congress. Colonel Washington, Patrick Henry, and Edmund Pendleton traveled together. Congress sat in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia. Here Samuel Adams met Colonel Washington. Both men had little to say on the floor during the fifty-one days of the session. Patrick Henry said : "If you speak of solid information and sound judgment, Colonel Washington is unquestionably the greatest man on the floor." This Congress did little, following the Quaker policy at Philadelphia. Colonel Washington returned to Mt. Vernon and drilled troops, a company at a time. Soldiers began to arrive. May to, 1775, when he next appeared at the Second Continental Congress, he was in his buff and blue uniform. Thus two men Franklin and Washington made their attire reveal their sentiments, as the Indians put on their war-paint and head-dresses. Colonel Washington was chair-man of the military committee. At Boston Samuel Adams had left Joseph Warren in charge, and his army (outside Boston) was now surrounding Gage in Boston. June 15, John Adams at Philadelphia, forcing Congress to act, nominated Colonel Washington to be Commander-in-Chief. Nothing seemed more reasonable to Colonel Washington or to the Southerners than that he should be chosen. He accepted, and at once went out to review the troops. The Quakers had long heard he was a mighty man of war. They looked upon him, noted his muscular frame, and his high demeanor, and liberally subscribed money.
Again Colonel Washington now General Washington rode forth, but this time at the head of a brilliant troop of officers, bound for Boston. The news of Bunker Hill came to him only twenty miles out. "Did the militia fight?" he asked. He was overjoyed to hear they had done nobly. He left General Schuyler in charge at New York, and took General Lee on to Cambridge. He was with his army of Bostoneers July 2. The next day, under the Cambridge elm, he drew his sword against King George. The patriots easily marked him by his size and demeanor, and called him "his Excellency." We shall note that the New Englanders now become General Washington's best friends ; that they abide by him till his death ; that he, in turn, leans hard on their courage and patience; that, in the end, if they found Samuel Adams in doubt, they thought, between two idols, Samuel Adams, the incorruptible, the unerring, must be mistaken.
With headquarters at the Wadsworth House, he counted 14,000 raw recruits. Entrenchments were thrown up, and rules separating officers from men, after the Old-World military fashion, were enforced. General Washington was now in a position similar to that of the Tory Governor. He had a hundred town-meetings on hand each troop was a town-meeting, electing its own officers. After he had brought order to his military republics, he advised with thirteen Governors and Assemblies and Congress. He sought for powder. He sent expeditions into Canada. He addressed Gage in Boston, and Gage, in the King's name, talked to him about "rebels," "criminals," "cords." Some of General Washington's pet Virginia riflemen, with "Wild West" fringes flying, came to Boston and engaged in a serious street-fight with fishermen. Into the brawl strode the tall General; he took one combatant in each hand; he shook all internecine strife out of them, leaving only the original rebellion which he approved. He, like Benjamin Franklin, was constituted a prize or admiralty judge, and was harassed with petty marine details.
March 4, 1776, at night, however, he took possession of Dorchester Heights, and made Boston untenable. Lord Howe had assumed command in Boston, and on the 17th he evacuated with 12,000 troops, leaving cannon, but pillaging the city. General Washington made a glowing report of what he had done without powder. He was now forced, as he saw the English going from Boston harbor to New York harbor and southward, to consider the devastation of his own home. He wrote letters hoping the patriots would bear up, and he became bitter against Tories. They were "execrable parricides." No mercy should be shown to them. If they were to prevail, himself and Dr. Franklin must perish, therefore, we find both these fathers remorseless against their worst enemies. The Quarterly Review has recently published an able article to show that the Tories were noble people, and that they suffered sharply for their King when they started Northward. We who owe so little to them, and so much to General Washington and his colleagues, will do well to tear down statues to Major Andre, to burn books that apologize for Benedict Arnold, and to repeat that the Father of His Country, from the evacuation of Boston, hated Tories as he hated serpents "abominable pests of society," he called them. They were busy with a plot to assassinate him. They forged letters making him out a Tory, so as to weaken his influence. He had to go to Philadelphia to stir the Quakers to further action, or they would treat with Howe. One of the Howes tried to treat with "Mr. Washington ;" then with "George Washington, Esq.," etc., etc., the orderly explaining that the "etc., etc.," was a term that covered all sorts of offices; then Howe asked for authority "to give the man his title."
But King George refused. Howe had 30,000 men. General Washington, as a military necessity, ought to burn New York and retire. The provincial tax-payers demanded a battle, at any odds, in front of New York, and no evacuation by the Federals. He stayed on Long Island in Brooklyn. His General Sullivan was surrounded, and his own main works were reached. The loss was 2,000 men. Nine thousand Continentals were left in a critical position. Out of this dilemma General Washing-ton escaped on the night of August 29, 1776, and retreated up Manhattan Island. The militia began to fade away, and to talk about Braddock's defeat, listening to industrious Tory recollections, all of which tended to discourage the spirit of independence alike in soldier and civilian. The English next made a dash in on the Americans at Kip's Landing, where Washington, with his own eyes, saw the cowardice of his men at the mere sight of red-coats. This rendered him furious. In his anger he struck the fleeing men with his sword. He retreated swiftly to King's Bridge, with 12,000 men, 25,000 British coming up slowly after him. The British lost six days in advancing and General Washington got up the Hudson River to White Plains on strong ground. General Howe came up and drove General Washington's forces into a still stronger place. Howe now prepared to winter at Dobbs' Ferry. General Washington, against his own wishes, had left two forts down the river occupied with his troops. Both fell to the British. Fort Washington, the second, was carried by storm and 2,600 Continentals with munitions were captured. With this deplorable loss, General Washington began to fall back into New Jersey, and Lee was defeated through neglect of orders. December 2, 1776, General Washington, with 3,000 ragged men, was at Princeton, New Jersey. There was a growing feeling of discouragement in his army. The New Jersey militia would not turn out. Howe's amnesty was circulated everywhere. As the troops neared Philadelphia, the signers of the Declaration voted to die at their posts, and then adjourned to Baltimore.
General Howe did not press on; he went back for Christmas-tide at New York City. Now, if General Washington could have received some aid from Congress, it would have been well. He wrote them how his life was at stake, his character was to be lost, his estate was to be confiscated; could they not then, see that his advice must be for the best? But they considered that they must debate it. At Christmas, as Howe and his red-coats were under the mistletoe, General Washington prepared to strike the British with his six little groups, or detachments. He would fall upon the English at Trenton, across the Delaware River. Gates, Ewing, Putnam, Griffin, Cadwallader, all should cross the Delaware in midwinter with him, and surprise Trenton. Orders were given. Gates simply would not do it. Griffin met the enemy and retreated. Putnam and Ewing believed they could not do it. Cadwalader started to do it, and the broken ice deterred him. General Washington arrived at the river, to do his part, with 2,400 men. It was not too bad for him. He went over in boats, on a terrible night. From the landing it was a nine-mile march in a sleet-storm to Trenton. "Our arms are wet," Sullivan sent word. "Then tell your General to use the bayonet, for the town must be taken." The town was taken. The Hessians threw down their arms and fled, at seeing an invading army come in out of the storm. A thousand of them were captured. General Washington returned to his old position. If all had obeyed him, New Jersey would have been taken. Congress at once gave him almost dictatorial powers. From that moment, George Washington has been statuesque, incomparable, in American minds.
Cornwallis now came out of New York to recapture Trenton. He marched past Princeton, leaving three regiments. He came up with General Washington across a river, as night was falling. Leaving his camp-fires burning on the river, General Washington fell on Princeton, and, himself between the lines, came off unscathed and put the three regiments to flight. The British thought fit to retire to New York and wait for campaigning weather. The American soldiers had left the bloody tracks of their bare feet in the snow. At this price, and on this slight thread of Washington's high resolve, did Liberty depend this winter. The patriotic spirit revived on sight of such personal valor, and men said one to another that they must be led by a prophet.
The exact personal appearance of General Washington at this time has been described. Ackerson commanded a company of patriots. It is three days before crossing the Delaware. Ackerson writes to his son, in 1811: "In military costume, Washington was a heroic figure, such as would impress the memory ever afterward. He had a large, thick nose, and it was very red that day, giving me the impression that he was not so moderate in the use of liquors as he was supposed to be. I found afterward that this was a peculiarity. His nose was apt to turn scarlet in a cold wind. He was standing near a small camp-fire, evidently lost in thought, and making no effort to keep warm. He seemed six feet and a half in height, was as erect as an Indian, and did not for a moment relax from a military attitude. His exact height was six feet two inches in his boots. He was then a little lame from striking his knee against a tree. His eye was so gray that it looked almost white, and he had a troubled look on his colorless face. He had a piece of woolen tied around his throat, and was quite hoarse. Perhaps the throat-trouble from which he finally died had its origin about then. Washington's boots were enormous. They were number thirteen. His ordinary walking-shoes were number eleven. His hands were large in proportion, and he could not buy a glove to fit him, and had to have his gloves made to order. His mouth was his strong feature, the lips being always tightly compressed. That day they were compressed so tightly as to be painful to look at. At that time he weighed 200 pounds, and there was no surplus flesh about him. He was tremendously muscled, and the fame of his great strength was everywhere. His large tent, when wrapped up with the poles, was so heavy that it required two men to place it in the camp-wagon. Washington would lift it with one hand and throw it in the wagon, as easily as if it were a pair of saddle-bags. He could hold a musket with one hand and shoot with precision as easily as other men did with a horse-pistol. His lungs were his weak point, and his voice was never strong. He was at that time in the prime of life. His hair was a chestnut brown, his cheeks were prominent, and his head was not large in contrast to every other part of his body, which seemed large and bony at all points. His finger-joints and wrists were so large as to be genuine curiosities. As to his habits at that period, he was an enormous eater, but was content with bread and meat, if he had plenty of it. But hunger seemed to put him in a rage. It was his custom to take a drink of rum or whisky on awakening in the morning."
Nor had he lost his hot temper, though it was nearly always well under control. He told an officer to cross the river and bring back some information. He was pacing his tent with the flannel on his sore neck when the officer returned. "What did you learn?" The officer related that he had found the night dark and stormy and the river full of ice. Therefore he could not cross; there-fore he had learned nothing that General Washington did not know already. The fire flew from Washington's eyes now, and the Chief, uttering an oath, hurled a leaden ink-stand at the officer's head. "Be off ! and send me a man." The officer found the river very easy to cross, and the storm less furious than the one he had called up. He returned with valuable news.
The New Jersey Building at the World's Fair of 1893 was a replica of the house in Morristown at which General Washington made his headquarters in the early months of 1777. Here the Chief was again compelled to act as a recruiting-officer, a drill-sergeant, so loath were Americans to make war. There were few re-enlistments, and the terms of service were ridiculously short. It was at this house that a horde of foreign officers began to come in on the Commander-in-Chief. In Paris, in 1871, a regiment was made up of officers, but the scheme was unknown in earlier days. Lafayette and Steuben visited him here. General Washington hoped Cornwallis would go south and capture Philadelphia; he feared the British General might go north and join with the British General, Burgoyne. The enemy did not move till very late in the season, and then came south with 18,000 men, landing from ships in Chesapeake Bay, near Philadelphia. Washington marched his army of 11,000 men through the Quaker City to meet Sir William Howe, late in August. The two armies met at the Brandywine, and Howe won the battle, Sullivan again being outflanked and driven in, as at Brooklyn. General Wayne led 1,500 men to harass the British rear, and was worsted a day or so later. Howe now took peaceable possession of Philadelphia, and chose ground at Germantown, a suburb. Here General Washington attempted a surprise with about 11,000 men at daybreak, October 4, 1777, and was again defeated, and forced to withdraw; but the enemy did not pursue him. General Washington lost about 1,200 men.
At this sad moment came the cheering news that Burgoyne had surrendered to Gates at Saratoga, with 5,752 soldiers, 39 cannon, and 5,000 stand of arms. Burgoyne had previously lost 3,000 men in various ways. With this, Vergennes, Minister of Foreign Affairs at Paris, let Franklin know that France was ready to make a treaty of alliance with the United States of America against England. Meanwhile, Howe tried to lure General Washing-ton out to fight him again, but the American Commander could not be drawn out of the hills which he held, and Howe went back into Philadelphia. "Philadelphia has taken Howe," said Dr. Franklin, at Paris.
John Adams, who had urged Gates for a command, seems to have receded from his support of General Washington as soon as Gates succeeded. A cabal, headed by an Irish soldier named Conway, was formed to get Gates in chief command. General Washington would not resign, as the plotters had hoped, although they were able to sting his pride. He wrote to Patrick Henry that the brave New Englanders were prompt to fly against Burgoyne, while there was no such stuff in the hearts of the Friends along the Delaware.
While General Washington was building huts at his winter cantonment of Valley Forge, and his men, barefoot, were standing about the fires for lack of blankets to lie down in, the Pennsylvania Legislature, evidently in retaliation, passed a resolution asking him to go on fighting in the winter. At this moment he was compelled to forage on the nearest Quakers for food, so little had they done for his army. He wrote indignantly to Congress, calling its attention to the resolution, and remarking that his army was "occupying a cold bleak hill, and sleeping under frost and snow, without clothes or blankets."
It was not long, however, ere the conduct of the Legislatures became more obedient and helpful to General Washington; the Conway cabal was exposed to the attention of the fighting classes, who at once showed their indignation, and the Commander-in-Chief, with all his misfortunes, was clearly seen to be the hope of the colonies. He set Baron Steuben in charge of drill and discipline; he put Greene in as Quartermaster ; he had a better army in the spring than in the autumn before, and Howe gave way to Clinton in Philadelphia as commander of the British army, which was to be taken as an indorsement of Washington's campaign. Howe had regarded the patriot army as so many fugitives in the hills, who could not be caught, and Clinton did not reverse his policy. The country must be tranquillized in other ways, the English thought. Therefore the spring was lost, talking of peace; then Clinton sent 5,000 men to the West Indies and 3,000 to Florida. He actually reduced himself to 10,000, while General Washington had kept 13,000 together. The effect of the French alliance led the Ministry at London to believe that it would be wise to concentrate nearly all their troops at New York City. Clinton accordingly pre-pared to evacuate Philadelphia, and General Washington set out to strike him on the rear guard of his army. Lee did not approve the move, because he thought the Continentals ought to build a golden bridge for their enemy to fly by. General Washington put Lafayette in charge; therefore Lee grew jealous and demanded the command, so he was sent out, May 27, 1778, with Generals Wayne and Lafayette under him. He was ordered to strike the rear guard at once; the next day he was sure the British soldiers would defeat his new recruits. He lost so much time that Clinton got his baggage to the front and was able to march Cornwallis with a large force back where they could make a good defense; thus the British advanced on a General (Lee) who had feared all along he was going to be defeated. The subordinate Generals had sent for' General Washington in hot haste. But as General Washington came forward he met returning stragglers and then regiments, and then Lee, all in pell-mell retreat. General Washington was in a towering rage, and frightened Lee. He sent Lee to court-martial and dismissal. He rallied Lee's troops, joined the main body to them as it came up, advanced in battle to the field held by Lee in the morning, lay down in possession, and in the morning Clinton was on the march to New York. This was the battle of Mon-mouth, where the British lost 500 men in killed and wounded. It increased the belief of the people that Washington was a fighting General, if he had troops that would not flee, and it ruined Lee, who, because he had fought in Europe, had carried many a council-of-war the wrong way.
The rest of 1778 was spent in attending upon the French. General Washington was still plagued with foreign officers. "I do most devoutly wish," he wrote, "that we had not a single foreigner among us except the Marquis de Lafayette." In another letter to the same purpose, General Washington hopes he is somewhat a "citizen of the world." Yet he had near him, on his staff, Alexander Hamilton, still more of an anti-Gallican. The Chief was of that proud spirit that accepted aid with sorrow, and could not pledge himself to be grateful. Congress had moved back to Philadelphia. As 1779 grew old, General Washington was in attendance on that body, obtaining pay for mutinous troops, giving advice, deploring the stock-jobbing, gambling, and other concomitants of war. He wishes he "could bring those murderers of our cause, the monopolizers, forestallers, and engrossers, to condign punishment. I would to God that some of the most atrocious in each State was hung in gibbets upon a gallows five times as high as the one prepared by Haman." "Idleness, dissipation, and extravagance seem to have laid fast hold of" the people, and "speculation, peculation and an insatiable thirst for riches seem to have got the better of every other consideration, and almost of every order of men; party disputes and personal quarrels are the great business of the day." He did much letter-writing that autumn and winter, while the French fleet was in New England waters, and the American General Gates, in command of Boston-region, was afraid Clinton might strike at him. Savannah had fallen to the English. General Washing-ton, with headquarters at Newburg, set to work to hold the Hudson River and hem in Clinton, believing that the Hudson was the line that would, if taken by the British, divide the colonies, and no other. He wished to send Greene south, but Congress chose Gates, who later was badly defeated, with the French as auxiliaries. The English raided both New England and Virginia, and the Virginian Governor was unable to gather the militia or make a defense.
The spring of 178o was coming on badly enough, with General Washington bound to hold the Hudson, at least, when the French came to Newport with 5,000 men, and Gates set out to mend things in South Carolina. But General Rochambeau and General Washington did not agree. The Frenchman thought he must wait till more ships came. The summer went on and Gates was fearfully defeated at Camden. The South was lost. Next came the treason of Benedict Arnold, who, to loosen General Washington's grip op the Hudson, had sold West Point, and was about to deliver the stronghold to Major André. General Washington had gone to meet Rochambeau at Hartford. The people had hailed him as FATHER, and their feelings were so affectionate toward him, after coming out of the atmosphere of Valley Forge and the Hudson, that he was in high spirits. Arnold made his hair-breadth escape from the very grasp of General Washington, and, a few minutes later, was on a British man-of-war. "Whom can we trust now ?" cried the Chief, and then was silent. He hanged the spy André* who had come to get West Point.
The winter of 1780-81 was another Valley Forge of difficulties. Even the American troops rebelled. Pennsylvania made terms with its regiments, but when the New Jersey men followed, General Washington hanged two mutineers. How many more winters the great man could have endured at Newburg cannot be conjectured. His own State was still being ravaged. But Greene in the South turned the day, as Gates had once turned it in the North. By a series of brilliant victories Cornwallis was driven northward toward the Chesapeake, and all the marauding British parties were massed with him. He was ordered, from London, to establish a base on the Chesapeake, and Clinton, at New York, began to grow jealous of him. General Washington alarmed Clinton into the be-lief that he was surely to be attacked, so Clinton was not willing to go southward. The French fleet blocked the Chesapeake, and landed 3,000 men under Lafayette. General Washington prepared to strike at Cornwallis, leaving Heath at New York with enough force to keep Clinton on the defensive. Congress took little heart in General Washington's plans, and debated cutting down his army at the moment he was trying to show the French he had an opportunity to win. He could get no money, for the French were just now spending their own appropriations, and seeing that Dutch contractors did not get all the money. While the army of General Washington went by water to Yorktown the General, with Rochambeau, visited Mt. Vernon and Williamsburg. He had been gone six years. Cornwallis was now within strong lines at Yorktown, with a French fleet outside and a larger American army surrounding him. The siege began September 28th. Cornwallis surrendered, October 19, 1781, his ships and seamen to De Grasse, the French Admiral ; his army and impedimenta to General Washington. There were 7,073 of the red-coats whom General Washington took. General Alexander Hamilton distinguished himself in the final assault. As the troops scaled the works General Washington said : "The work is done, and well done. Bring me my horse."
Nothing happened at Newburg while he was away, and Congress grew more compliant. Yet when Vergennes, at Paris, demanded that the man who needed the money (Washington) should disburse the last French subsidy that Franklin had induced him to bestow, Congress objected, and Franklin had to audit the bills, as of yore.
There was one late episode of the war that should be noted. A troop of armed Tories in the British service under one Lippencott had captured an American captain, and hanged him as a traitor to their King. General Washington demanded the surrender of the lynchers. -Sir Guy Carleton, in command at New York, refused, but tried Lippencott by court martial, who escaped on a technicality. General Washington chose a British captive officer by lot, Captain Asgill, who had high family connections. The pressure was sufficient to secure Asgill's escape from a sad death by reprisal. Washington let Vergennes at Paris and Congress at Philadelphia save Asgill. This melancholy affair tended toward peace, for the British aristocrats began to feel the penalties of their tyranny, and were glad to get Asgill away from the American Chief.
In May, 1782, the fears of the democratic-republicans took shape in a letter by Colonel Nicola, representing a large party in the army, reciting the weaknesses, follies, and jealousies of Congress, and begging General Washington to assume the dictatorship by force. General Washington's answer was noble and straightforward. He "viewed the letter with abhorrence," "reprehended it with severity." He said, beautifully and truly: "If I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable."
Nations do not spring full-armed into existence. The land of George Washington was a weakling in its infancy. Long after Yorktown, a newly-recruited regiment, had the audacity to again frighten the Quakers, and drive Congress out of Philadelphia to Princeton. General Washington put down this mutiny, and was angry, because the upstarts had never seen battle, and he thought —considering how much he had endured from raw troops that they were imposing even on themselves. The Newburg addresses by the military were of the same order with Nicola's letter, and caused General Washington as much chagrin. Peace came none too soon, for such was the inchoate condition of things that another year of Valley-Forging might have resulted in anarchy.
General Washington's last months with the army were spent in various trips through New York, in advising Congress at Princeton, and in preparing addresses to Governors and the army. As preparations for the evacuation of New York City progressed, he moved to Harlem, and on November 25, 1783, two long years after Yorktown, accompanied by Governor Clinton, made his entry into the chief city. There had been a conflagration that had destroyed 300 houses while he was gone. He was ready to resign his commission. At Fraunces' Tavern, December 4th, he assembled his officers. Lifting a glass of wine, he said : "With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you, most devoutly wishing that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable." "I shall be obliged," he said, "if each of you will come and take me by the hand." Tears were in his eyes. He said no more, but embraced them one by one, in the fashion of partings in those days. They went with him to the wharf. They felt very lonesome and fatherless when he had disappeared.
He adjusted his accounts at Philadelphia, but charged no salary for all those years. He had disbursed about $75,000 in all sorts of ways, and much of this he had advanced. He appeared at noon of December 23d before Congress. The members were seated, with hats on, to represent the sovereign power. The spectators stood, uncovered. The President of the Congress stated that the United States, in Congress assembled, were prepared to receive the communication of General Washington. He then rose and read his farewell, the noblest document recording the deeds of men. He drew his spectacles, saying, "You see I have grown old in your service." He submitted his resignation and asked to be retired to private life, his country being no longer harassed by considerable foes. His resignation was accepted, he walked out of the hall, and the group of law-makers once more looked about them and found everybody small but him ; there was even no elder brother to guide them.
What a strange chapter it has been, looking back at it ! A tobacco-planter of heroic build, with a noble self-assurance never seen before nor since, has stopped fox-hunting to make war. He has tried one thing after another. A man of imperious authority over those near to him, he has exerted but little at a distance, because of his distaste for the distant exercise of power. He has had fits of retreat and starts of formidable advancing; he has fought in mid-winter and laid still in mid-summer. Some years he has scarcely fought at all. Yet he has made several forays, quick movements, worthy of either Frederick or Napoleon. He has struck at Trenton, Monmouth, and Yorktown with the genius of the first of captains.
What kind of a General would Washington have made if he had gotten a big army together? He did not have Frederick's opportunity. He had, at heart, more fire than Wellington. He was, at times, as cautious as Daun. He was a Founder of a new public thing res publica and ranks with Ahmes in Egypt, Moses in Israel, and Peter the Great in Russia. But he was in himself more like the heroes of the Dark and Middle Ages, for his armor and his lance were too heavy for his colleagues.
His trustful leaving of the service of the new Nation at the time it had shaken off Great Britain was typical of his grand and simple nature. But nothing was less likely than that he could be spared. The people had heard he was extremely desirous to see a Union of States well established, and they now set out to do as he had advised them. They thought the Chief must be left a time in peace. How did he pass his time meanwhile? Lafayette sent him a pack of French wolf-hounds, but there was no hunting. Still he was in the saddle a good deal, thinking. Every painter and historian visited Mt. Vernon. The great man found he must have a secretary. He went to see his mother and she blessed him. Then he rode away to the Ohio. He came back and wrote letters, showing his extreme solicitude. "My sentiments and opinions have been neglected," he says, "though given as a last legacy, in a most solemn manner." Thereat the people, after he had once more advised, hastened to attempt the institution of some central offices and powers. A Constitutional Convention was called. General Washington pleaded illness, but went as a delegate for Virginia to Philadelphia. The bells rang when he arrived. The Convention met. He was installed as President of the body. After four months of labor, on September 17, 1787, he affixed his signature to the present Constitution of the United States, saying: "Should the States reject this excellent Constitution, the probability is that opportunity will never be offered to cancel another in peace; the next will be drawn in blood."
General Washington went back to Mt. Vernon urging the adoption of the Constitution; urging the election of Federalists, or Constitution men, and therefore the Constitution was adopted and the Federalists were elected. There was to be a President, and that office had been fitted to his stature. The Chief had not asked the people to make anybody else President, so there was no vote for anybody else. Unhappy the Elector who would have so humiliated his people as to put a slight on that sanctified and anointed hero, patient as the sphinx, unpretentious as the solid monuments of the furthest ages.
General Washington made a splendid progress to take the Presidency of the United States. His barge to New York City was rowed by thirteen white uniformed pilots. The great harbor gave him no mean or unbeautiful welcome. The crowds not only uncovered, but bowed as their hero went by, in the beloved buff and blue uniform.
On the 30th of April, 1789, in citizens' clothes, he appeared before the Congress, took the oath, and kissed the Bible. The Chancellor who had sworn him cried, "Long Live George Washington, President of the United States !" The new President said : "In our progress to-ward political happiness, my station is new ;" therefore the people might have seen he did not intend to be King. Yet his own peculiar personality demanded some arrangements that it would have tasked Jefferson to concede. As President he shook hands with nobody. He returned no calls. He would have felt easier as "His Highness" by salutation, because he thought he held a sublime office. The French Ambassador expected to be intimate, but the President compelled him to wait on Jefferson, the Secretary of State. Washington could be no more a friend now of France than of King George. Yet the Chief was glad to appoint Jefferson, pupil of Rousseau and Samuel Adams. How did Washington come to appoint an opponent of Hamilton? Jefferson supported the Constitution that was the reason; those patriots who did not (before it was adopted) were left out of the Cabinet. All the Supreme Court was to be named all Constitution men, Federalists, John Jay at the head. The President traveled to Boston, to dine with John Hancock, Governor. The Governor did not call, as he should have done. The President prepared to leave Boston. Then Hancock, in flannel sheets, gouty to the death, had to be carried up a pair of stairs had to beg for a half-hour to make his call.
This precedent soon became doctrine namely, that in the United States the President, representing all the people, outranks everybody else.
When Congress came together January 4, 1790, in New York City, the President approached the hall in the following state: A Colonel and a Major on two white horses; the President, alone, in his own coach, drawn by four horses; his chariot with his private secretaries; a man on horseback; in three coaches, the Chief Justice, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Treasury (Jefferson absent, not approving this panoply). In the Senate Chamber the President, with his retinue, passed between all the Congressmen and Senators, who stood. He was seated be-side the Vice-President (John Adams). He rose and spoke. This was the way the President's Message was first delivered. He departed at once, as he had come. It will be seen that this was exactly as he went to Boston in such state as befitted his personal station. The people, too, saw no harm in it, so lovingly do they trust great leaders, so fortunately did they confide in George Washington.
President Washington put down the Whisky Rebellion and had Indian wars out in (what is now) Indiana. It would be the logical act of the new Nation to ally itself with France against the oppressor, but Washington was by connection with Lord Fairfax, an English gentleman. When England and France again went to war, it therefore came to pass that the President fell slightly out of harmony with the American people, and for the first time (that is, when George Washington could be seen) they looked affectionately toward Thomas Jefferson, who had written the Declaration of Independence. Now the Chief seemed clearly wrong. There could be no mistake, they thought. He was catering to the British, and ill-treating Citizen Genet, Ambassador from France (not from Vergennes' France, not even from Lafayette's France, but from Robespierre's France! for there had been an awful set of changes there). How much sympathy had the Chief for the man who slew Vergniaud, Brissot, not to speak of the bad sense of slaying the King and Queen of France? Citizen Genet came on like Fouché at Lyons or Carrier at Nantes. "Make way for Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" he cried. "Organize Jacobin Clubs, wear red caps, above all attend our admiralty court, set up here at Charleston, where we bestow prizes and fit privateers !" Behold Citizen Genet, carrying Equality or Death to George Washington! This was perhaps one of the most grotesque things in history. At first, of course, Jefferson was close in touch with the Ambassador from France; then frantic with disgust. George Washington, too, was wise in asking Jefferson to himself send away Genet. Especially, when Citizen Genet announced that he would call an election of the people to vote on President Washington. By the time Citizen Genet had been recalled at Jefferson's demand, he did not dare to go back to France. He there-upon became a quiet and inoffensive inhabitant of America. He was weary. He did General Washington a monstrous wrong with his red flag and red night-cap. Jay was burned in effigy, Hamilton was stoned, there was a town-meeting in Faneuil Hall against the President's signature to the English treaty made by Jay, and much excitement in the Nation. George Washington dated a letter, "United States, July 28, 1795." He said he was doing his duty. He said, at last, that he was preparing his "mind for the obloquy that disappointment and malice" were collecting to heap on him. Again, he could not sup-port James Monroe at Paris, and once more went against the people's ideas of liberty. They could not understand that he was a truer friend of forceful Liberty than had ever lived, or perhaps ever would live again, nor could Monroe, so when Washington recalled him from France there remained one more triumph in store for those (not Jefferson and Monroe) who envied George Washington because nature had made him grand and simple. At last it is possible that Jacobin editors thought they would do well to write scurrilous articles about "the tyrant Washington," and they took up Jefferson and Genet's cry of "Monarchists," "Aristocrats," and "corrupt squadrons," the latter being Jefferson's way of attacking Hamilton's financial legislation. One editor said Washington "maintained the seclusion of a monk and the supercilious distance of a tyrant." At last the House of Congress refused to adjourn on his birthday for half an hour, in order that members might call on him and pay their respects. But the Nation was now made. It had been founded. It had elected him twice trustingly, it would elect him again, but it allowed editors to ungenerously assail him. He clearly saw his work was done. He prepared his Farewell Address once more, but this time without tears. Yet, out of the wealth of his love of America, he offered the people another legacy from the treasury of a freeman's advice : "Let. there be no sectionalism, no North, South, East, or West. Beware of attacks, open or covert, upon the Constitution. Do not encourage party spirit. Promote education, avoid debt. As a Nation, have neither passionate hatreds [of England] nor passionate attachments [to France]."
March 3, 1797, he gave a farewell dinner to President John Adams, Vice-President Jefferson, and other high officers. Compared with the leave taking from his Generals at New York, where he had been obeyed, his manner now to the statesmen who had underestimated him was joyous. He was glad to leave one and all. But they were not merry. They, again, were lonesome. The next day, this phenomenon was to be recorded, namely : The people took back their own into the great body of private life, and yet there were eyes for nobody else. The hall was nearly emptied when General Washington went out; a multitude followed him to his lodgings. And when he saw this once more, he turned and bowed very low, and tears were in his eyes, for the personal trust and love of the people rewarded him and exalted him in spirit.
Beside the fact that President Adams made him Commander-in-Chief of the provincial army again, there were episodes in his life at Mt. Vernon, but the casual reader need not be wearied with their recital. Yet it cannot perhaps be amiss to look in on him once with the eyes of the actor Bernard.
Bernard, on horseback, riding near Alexandria, came on an overturned chaise which had carried a man and woman; she was unconscious; the man was unhurt; at the same time another horseman rode up. "The horse was now on his legs, but the vehicle still prostrate, heavy in its frame, and laden with at least half a ton of luggage. My fellow-helper set me an example of activity in relieving it of the internal weight; and when all was clear we grasped the wheel between us, and to the peril of our spinal columns, righted the conveyance. The horse was then put in and we lent a hand to help up the luggage. All this helping, hauling, and lifting occupied at least half an hour, under a meridian sun, in the middle of July, which fairly boiled the perspiration out of our foreheads." The chaise went on, after the usual Virginian proffer of civilities. "Then my companion offered very courteously to dust my coat, a favor the return of which enabled me to take deliberate survey of his person. He was a tall, erect, well-made man, evidently advanced in years, but who appeared to have retained all the vigor and elasticity resulting from a life of temperance and exercise. His dress was a blue coat buttoned to his chin, and buckskin breeches. Though the instant he took off his hat I could not avoid the recognition of familiar lineaments, which, indeed, I was in the habit of seeing on every sign-post and over every fireplace, still I failed to identify him,, and to my surprise I found that I was an object of equal speculation in his eyes. 'Mr. Bernard, I believe,' " and asked Bernard to go on to his house, now in sight. " 'Mt. Vernon!' I exclaimed ; and then drawing back with a stare of wonder, 'Have I the honor of addressing General Washington?' With a smile whose expression of benevolence I have rarely seen equaled, he offered his hand and replied : 'An odd sort of introduction, Mr. Bernard; but I am pleased to find you can play so active a part in private, and without a prompter.' "
General Washington had seen Bernard act. This charming host was the same person who, when President, as President, would not shake hands with anybody. They went on, and had a pleasant chat. "His eyes burned with a steady fire" they looked "glorious" to Bernard, who seems to have been a man not easily dazzled.
When the Bastile was taken, Lafayette sent its great key to General Washington. It hangs at Mt. Vernon. When Lafayette went to an Austrian dungeon, General Washington shed tears. He educated young Lafayette.
December 13, 1799, General Washington had a sore throat, as of old on the Delaware. The next day he was choking to death, and died where such cases are today successfully treated by the surgeons. His death was without pompous utterance. He said it was the debt we must all pay, was anxious to leave his affairs in good shape, and kept his mind on the estate of Mt. Vernon to the last. He died childless. They said, who had escaped slavery by his sword, that he was the father only of his country. His home, where he died, Mt. Vernon, has been visited by every lover of liberty and admirer of greatness who has journeyed toward the Chesapeake. For over forty years it has been a museum of national character. The State of Virginia, to familiarize its form to the entire Nation, copied it for headquarters at the World's Fair of 1893, and the building was always over-crowded.
One critical question may be asked : What did the Father and the Chief think of Benjamin Franklin? He said to Bernard, that day, after extolling the New Englanders, as if to settle it all, "Dr. Franklin is a New Englander." He looked on Dr. Franklin with the veneration that he paid to science, and to all things good. He thought Dr. Franklin was one of the few helpful civilians in the war, and loved him for his aid. When he went to the Constitutional Convention, his first act was to call on Dr. Franklin to pay his respects.
Reader, we can translate ourselves on the swift car of thought to the rivers of Siberia, the valleys of the Indies, the monuments of an early world, the capitals of Europe. Wherever we shall rest, we may turn our eyes toward that Continent which sits far northward on the western globe, and there rides a Nation, like Charles Wain on the midnight sky. By the doctrine of a man's equality in birth; by the privilege then given to the babe that it may put forth its limbs, to the man that he may reach out with his intellect, this United States of America has offered a sanctuary to the foes of Kings, and has made the general story of mankind more happy. The migratory millions have not gone back. What heart-string in the whole harp of human existence that has not snapped through the partings from Europe, yet never with a discord in the hymn of Freedom ! And not you alone need gaze ! the old and wrinkled world is peering ! the fond mistress of tyrants! her face has turned from scorn to fear ! She hears the voices of her victims saluting something toward the West. It is not the new and splendid Nation. It is a shade, that once was the hope of Europe's poets before they had won their pensions. 'Twould deck a chapter in a pretty book like William Tell. So said their lenient Kings. It was the Father of His Country, truly, but his country was a plantation! Now, it is the Father of His Country, and his country the envy of the world. Stand there, George Washington grown misty, immovable grown somewhat like a god !