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Washingtoniana. -1857

Robert Dinwiddie, lieutenant-governor of Virginia, observing with anxiety and alarm the movements of the French on the frontiers of Pennsylvania, made a treaty with the Indian bands on the Monongahela River, in September, 1753, from whom he gained permission to build a fort at the [211] junction of that river and the Alleghany, now Pittsburg. He also resolved to send a competent messenger to the nearest French post, with a letter demanding explanations, and the release and indemnification of the English traders whom the French had robbed and imprisoned. He chose for this delicate and hazardous service George Washington, then not twenty-two years of age. With three attendants, Washington left Williamsburg, Oct. 31, and, after journeying more than 400 miles (more than half the distance through a dark wilderness), encountering incredible hardships and dangers, amid snow and icy floods and hostile Indians, he reached the French post of Venango, Dec. 4, where he was politely received, and his visit was made the occasion of great conviviality by the officers of the garrison. He had been joined at Cumberland (Md.) by five others. The free use of wine disarmed the French of their prudence, and they revealed to their sober guest their design to permanently occupy the region they then had possession of. Washington perceived the necessity of quickly despatching his business and returning to Williamsburg; and after spending a day at Venango, he pushed forward to Le Boeuf, the headquarters of St. Pierre, the chief commander, who entertained him politely four days, and then gave him a written answer to Dinwiddie's remonstrance, enveloped and sealed. Washington retraced his perilous journey through the wilderness, and after an absence of eleven weeks he again stood in the presence of the governor (Jan. 16, 1754), with his message fulfilled to the satisfaction of all. Washington and his attendants had made such a minute examination of Fort Le Boeuf—its form, size, construction, cannons, and barracks, and the number of canoes in the stream—that he was enabled to construct a plan of it, which was sent to the British government. Washington kept a journal of his diplomatic expedition, and this, to arouse the enthusiasm of the people, was published, and was copied into every newspaper in the colonies. It was reprinted in London, and was regarded as a document of great importance, as unfolding the views of the French, and the first announcement of positive proof of their hostile acts in the disputed territory.

Disputes about rank caused a reference to General Shirley, then (1756) commander-in-chief of the British forces in America, and Washington was chosen by his fellow-officers to present the matter to the

Washigton's House in Fredericksburg.

general. He set out for Boston, a distance of 500 miles, on horseback, Feb. 4, accompanied by two young officers, and stopped several days in the principal cities through which he passed. He was everywhere received with great respect, for the fame of his exploits in the field where Braddock fell had preceded him. In New York he was cordially entertained by Beverly Robinson, son of the speaker of the Virginia Assembly. Mrs. Robinson's sister, Mary Phillipse, was then at his house, and Washington was smitten with her charms. On his return from Boston he [212]

Colonel Washington and Mrs. Custis.

was again entertained at the mansion of Mr. Robinson, and he lingered as long in the company of Miss Phillipse as duty would allow. He wished to take her with him to Virginia as his bride at some time in the near future, but his natural modesty did not allow him to ask the boon of a betrothal. He left the secret with a friend, who kept him informed of everything of importance concerning the rich heiress of Phillipse Manor on Hudson, but delayed to make the proposal of marriage. At length he was informed that he had a rival in Col. Roger Morris, his companion-in-arms under Braddock, who won the fair lady, and the tardy lover married the pretty little Martha Custis three years afterwards.

After the capture of Fort Duquesne, Washington took leave of the army at Winchester with the intention of quitting military life. He had been chosen a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, and was affianced to the charming widow of Daniel Parke Custis, who was about his own age—twenty-six years. They were wedded at the “White House,” the residence of the bride, on Jan. 17, 1759. Then Washington took his seat in the Assembly at Williamsburg. At about the close of the honeymoon of Washington and his wife the speaker of the Assembly (Mr. Robinson), rising from his chair, thanked Washington for his public services. The young colonel, surprised and agitated, rose to reply, but could not summon words. His face crimsoned with confusion, when the accomplished speaker adroitly relieved him by saying, “Sit down, Colonel Washington; your modesty is equal to your valor, and that surpasses the power of any language I possess.” The speaker was the father of Beverly Robinson, of New York, at whose house Washington had met and fell in love with his sister-in-law, Mary Phillipse.

On June 15, 1775, Washington, then a member of Congress from Virginia, was nominated by Thomas Johnson, a member from Maryland, as commander-in-chief of the Continental army, and was chosen, unanimously, by ballot. On the opening of the Senate the next day, the president officially communicated to him a notice of his appointment. Washington immediately arose in his place and made the following reply: “Mr. President, though I am [213] 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 desires 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 approbation. But, lest some unlucky event should happen, unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare, with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with. As to pay, sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress that, as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to accept the arduous employment, at the expense of 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

Washington taking command of the army.

[214] is all I desire.” The Congress, by unanimous vote, resolved that they would maintain and assist the commander-inchief, and adhere to him, with their lives and fortunes, in the cause of American liberty. The commander-in-chief of the Continental army left Philadelphia on June 21, and arrived at Cambridge on July 2. He was everywhere greeted with enthusiasm on the way. His arrival in New York was on the same day that Governor Tryon arrived from England, and the same escort received both. On the morning of July 3, the troops were drawn up in order upon the common, at Cambridge, to receive the commander-in-chief. Accompanied by the general officers of the army who were present, Washington walked from his headquarters to a great elm-tree, at the north side of the common, and under its shadow, stepped

Washington's headquarters at Cambridge, 1775.

forward a few paces, made some remarks, drew his sword, and formally took command of the Continental army. See army (Continental Army).

On March 25, 1776, when news of the British evacuation of Boston reached Congress, that body resolved that its thanks be presented to the commander-in-chief and the officers and soldiers under his command, “for their wise and spirited conduct in the siege and acquisition of Boston; and that a medal of gold be struck in commemoration of this great event and presented to his Excellency.” This medal was nearly 2 3/4 inches in diameter. On one side was a profile head of Washington, with the Latin legend, “Georgio Washington, Svpremo Dvci Exercitvvm Asertori Libertatis Comitia Americana” — “The American Congress to George Washington, the Commander-in-chief of its Armies, the Assertor of Freedom.” On the reverse, the device shows troops advancing towards a town; others marching towards the water; ships in view; General Washington in front, and mounted, with his staff, whose attention he is directing to the embarking enemy. The legend is, “Hostibus Primo Fugatis” — “The enemy for the first time put to flight.” The exergue under the device, “Bostonium Recuperatum, XVII. martii. mdcclxxvi.” — “Boston recovered, March 17, 1776.”

On Dec. 27, 1776, the Congress, sitting in Baltimore, alarmed at the dangerous aspect of affairs, “Resolved, that General Washington shall be, and he is hereby, invested with full, ample, and complete powers to raise and collect together, in the most speedy and effectual manner, from any or all of these United States seventy-six battalions of infantry, in addition to those already voted by Congress; to appoint officers for the said battalions of infantry; to raise, officer, and equip 3,000 light-horse, three regiments of artillery, and a corps of engineers. and to establish their pay; to apply to any of the States for such aid of the militia as he shall judge necessary; to form such magazines or provisions, and in such places, as he shall think proper; to displace and appoint all officers under the rank of brigadier-general, and to fill up all vacancies in every other department in the American armies; to take, wherever he may be, [215] whatever he may want for the use of the army, if the inhabitants will not sell it, allowing a reasonable price for the same; to arrest and confine persons who refuse to take the Continental currency [not then beginning to depreciate], or are otherwise disaffected to the American cause; and return to the States of which they are citizens their names and the nature of their offences, together with the witnesses to prove them.” The foregoing powers were vested in Washington for the term of six months ensuing the date of the resolution, unless sooner determined by Congress. These powers were almost equal to those of a Roman dictator. They were conferred before the Congress could possibly have heard of the brilliant victory at Trenton on the morning of the previous day.

Washington's lifeguard was organized in 1776, soon after the siege of Boston, while the American army was encamped in New York, on Manhattan Island. It consisted of a major's command—180 men. Caleb Gibbs, of Rhode Island, was its first chief officer, and bore the title of captain commandant. He held that office until the close of 1779, when he was succeeded by William Colfax, one of his lieutenants. These were Henry P. Livingston, of New York; William Colfax, of New Jersey; and Benjamin Goymes, of Virginia. Colfax remained in command of the corps until the disbanding of the army in 1783. The members of the guard were chosen with special reference to their excellences—physical, moral, and mental—and it was considered a mark of peculiar distinction to belong to the commander-inchief's guard. Their uniform consisted of a blue coat with white facings, white waistcoat and breeches, black half-gaiters, and a cocked hat with a blue and white feather. They carried muskets, and occasionally side-arms. Their motto was “Conquer or die.” Care was taken to have all the States which supplied the Continental army with troops

The Washington medal, Boston, March 17, 1776.

represented in the corps. Its numbers varied. During the last year of the war there were only sixty-five; when, in 1780, the army at Morristown was in [216] close proximity to the enemy, it was increased from the original 180 to 250. The last survivor of Washington's lifeguard was Serg. Uzel Knapp, who died in New Windsor, N. Y., Jan. 11, 1857, when he was a little past ninety-seven years of age. He was a native of Stamford, Conn., and served in the Continental army from the beginning of the war until its close, entering the lifeguard at Morristown, N. J., in 1780. After his death Sergeant Knapp's body lay in state in Washington's headquarters at Newburg three days, and, in the presence of a vast assemblage of people, he was buried at the foot of the flag-staff near that mansion. Over his grave is a handsome mausoleum of brown freestone, made from a design by H. K. Brown, the sculptor. Schuyler Colfax, a grandson of the last commander of the guard, had in his possession a document containing the autograph signatures of the corps in February, 1783, fac-similes of which have been published.

Toryism was more rampant in the city of New York in the summer of 1776 than anywhere else on the continent. The Provincial Congress was timid, and Tryon,

Washington's headquarters at New York.

the royal governor, was active in fomenting disaffection from his marine retreat. Washington made his summer headquarters in New York at Richmond Hill, at the intersection of Charlton and Varick streets, and Tryon, on board the Duchess of Gordon, formed a plot for the uprising of the Tories in the city and in the lower valley of the Hudson to cut off all communication with the mainland, to fire the magazines, to murder Washington, his staff-officers, and other leaders of the American army, or to seize them and send them to England for trial on a charge of treason, and to make prisoners of the great body of the troops. The ramifications of the plot were extensive, and a large numher of persons were employed. The mayor of New York (Mathews) was implicated in it, and even the lifeguard of Washington was tampered with. An Irishman named Hickey, of that guard, was employed to poison Washington. He tried to make the housekeeper at headquarters— the faithful daughter of Fraunce, the famous innkeeper—his accomplice. She feigned compliance. Hickey knew that Washington was fond of green pease, and he made an arrangement for her to have poison in a mess of them served at the table of the commander-in-chief. The maiden gave warning to Washington. Hickey put arsenic in the pease. She conveyed them to Washington, who declined to take any, but caused the immediate arrest of the faithless lifeguardsman, and he was hanged. The horrible plot was revealed, and traced to Tryon as its author.

Under the proclamation of the brothers Howe, 2,703 persons in New Jersey, 851 in Rhode Island, and 1,282 in the city of New York and the rural districts subscribed a declaration of fidelity to the British King. Just before the limited time for the operation of this proclamation expired, Lord George Germain issued orders to the Howes not to let “the undeserving escape that punishment which is due to their crimes, and which it will be expedient to inflict for the sake of example to futurity.” At about the same time Washington issued a proclamation [217] from Morristown, N. J. (Jan. 25, 1777), in the name of the United States, that those who had accepted British protection “should withdraw within the enemy's lines, or take the oath of allegiance to the United States of America.” There immediately arose “a conflict of sovereignties.” Clark, a Representative in Congress from New Jersey, declared that an oath of allegiance to the United States was absurd before confederation. Washington had taken the broad ground, from the moment of the Declaration of Independence, that the thirteen States composed a common country under the title of the United States of America; but Congress and the people were not prepared to accept this broad national view. Each State assumed the right only to outlaw those of its inhabitants who refused allegiance to its single self, as if the Virginian owed fealty only to Virginia, or the Marylander to Maryland.

After the American victory at Trenton the whole country rang with the praises of Washington, and the errors of Congress in not heeding his advice in the construction of the army were freely commented upon. That body was now inferior in its material to the first and second Congresses, and was burdened with cliques and factions; and there were protests among the members, who shook their heads in disapprobation of the popularity and power with which Washington was invested. To a proposition to give him power to name generals, John Adams vehemently protested, saying: “In private life I am willing to respect and look up to him; in this House I feel myself to be the superior of General Washington.” On Feb. 24, 1777, when mere “ideal reinforcements” were voted to Washington, after an earnest debate, in which “some of the New England delegates and one from New Jersey showed a willingness to insult him,” they expressed an “earnest desire that he would not only curb and confine the enemy within their present quarters, but, by the divine blessing, totally subdue them before they could be

Washington's headquarters at Morristown, N. J.

reinforced.” To this seeming irony Washington calmly responded: “What hope can there be of my effecting so desirable a work at this time? The whole of our number in New Jersey fit for duty is under 3,000.” The resolution was carried by a bare majority of the States present— Virginia and four New England States. The jealous men were few; the friends and admirers were many. William Hooper, of North Carolina, wrote to Robert Morris: “When it shall be consistent with policy to give the history of that man [Washington] from his first introduction into our service; how often America has been rescued from ruin by the mere strength of his genius, conduct, and courage; encountering every obstacle that want of money, men, arms, ammunition, could throw in his way; an impartial world will say, with you, he is the greatest man on earth. Misfortunes are the elements in which he shines; they are the groundwork on which his picture appears to the greatest advantage. He rises superior to them all; they serve as forts to his fortitude, and as stimulants to bring [218] into view those great qualities which his modesty keeps concealed.”

In the summer of 1777 Washington began to feel the malign influence of the intrigues of Gen. Horatio Gates (q. v.) against him, such as Schuyler had endured. The same faction in Congress which favored Gates's pretensions in the case of Schuyler also favored his ambitious schemes for his elevation to the position of commander-in-chief of the American armies. After Gates had superseded Schuyler (August, 1777), that faction induced the Congress to lavish all their favors upon the former, the favorite of the New England delegation, and to treat Washington with positive neglect. They did not scruple to slight his advice and to neglect his wants. With unpatriotic querulousness some of the friends of Gates in Congress wrote and spoke disparagingly of Washington as a commander while he was on his march to meet Howe (August, 1777). John Adams, warped by his partiality for Gates, wrote, with a singular indifference to facts, concerning the relative strength of the two armies: “I wish the Continental army would prove that anything can be done. I am weary with so much insipidity. I am sick of Fabian systems. My toast is, ‘A short and violent war.’ ” After the defeat of Wayne that followed the disaster at the Brandywine, the friends of Gates in Congress renewed their censures of Washington, and John Adams exclaimed, “O Heaven, grant us one great soul. One leading mind would extricate the best cause from that ruin which seems to await it.” And after the repulse of the British before forts Mercer and Mifflin (October, 1777), Adams exclaimed: “Thank God, the glory is not immediately due to the commander-in-chief, or idolatry and adulation would have been so excessive as to endanger our liberties.” After the surrender of Burgoyne the proud Gates insulted Washington by sending his report immediately to Congress instead of to the commander-in-chief, and was not rebuked; and he imitated the treasonable conduct of Lee by disobeying the orders of Washington to send troops (not needed there) from the Northern Department to assist in capturing Howe and his army or expelling them from Philadelphia. The powerful Gates faction in Congress sustained him in this disobedience, and caused legislation by that body which was calculated to dishonor the commander-inchief and restrain his military operations. They forbade him to detach more than 2,500 men from the Northern army without first consulting Gates and Governor Clinton, and so making him subservient to his inferiors. Emboldened by the evident strength of his faction in Congress, Gates pursued his intrigues with more vigor, and his partisans there assured him that he would soon be virtual commander-in-chief, when, late in November, 1777, he was made president of a new board of war, which was vested with large powers, and by delegated authority assumed to control military affairs which properly belonged to the commander-inchief. Gates found a fitting instrument in carrying forward the conspiracy in General Conway, who, it was rumored, was about to be appointed a major-general in the Continental army, to which appointment Washington made the most serious opposition, because of Conway's unfitness; also because it was likely to drive from the service some of the best generals. Conway heard of this opposition. His malice was aroused, and his tongue and pen were made so conspicuously active that he was considered the head and front of the conspiracy, which is known in history as “Conway's cabal.” He wrote anonymous letters to members of Congress and to chief magistrates of States, filled with complaints and false statements concerning the character of Washington, in which the late disasters to the American arms were charged to the incapacity and timid policy of the commander-in-chief. He also wrote forged letters as if from the pen of Washington. He did his best to sow the seeds of discontent among the officers of the army, and caused some of them to write flattering letters to Gates, and so fed his hopes of having the chief command. Members of Congress joined in this letter-writing in disparagement of the chief. A delegate from Massachusetts (Mr. Lovell) in a letter to Gates said, after threatening Washington with “the mighty torrent of public clamor and vengeance” : “How different your conduct and your fortune! [219] This army will be totally lost unless you come down and collect the virtuous band who wish to fight under your banner.” And Dr. Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia, in an anonymous letter to Patrick Henry, after declaring that the army at Valley Forge had no general at its head, said: “A Gates, a Lee, or a Conway would in a few weeks render them an irresistible body of men. Some of the contents of this letter ought to be made public, in order to awaken, enlighten, and alarm our country.” Henry treated the anonymous letter with contemptuous silence, and sent it to Washington. Rush's handwriting betrayed him. Conway had written to Gates concerning Washington: “Heaven has been determined to save your country, or a weak general and bad counsellors would have ruined it.” When these words reached Washington, he let Conway know the fact. A personal interview ensued, during which Conway justified his words and offered no apology. He boasted of his defiance of the commander-in-chief, and was commended by Gates, Mifflin, and others. The Gates faction in Congress procured Conway's appointment as inspector-general of the army, with the rank of major-general, and made him independent of the chief. The conspirators hoped these indignities would cause Washington to resign, when his place might be filled by Gates. Then the conspiracy assumed another phase. Without the knowledge of Washington the board of war devised a winter campaign against Canada, and gave the command to Lafayette. It was a trick of Gates to detach the marquis from Washington. It failed. Lafayette was summoned to York to receive his commission from Congress. There he met Gates, Mifflin, and others, members of the board of war, at table. Wine circulated freely, and toasts abounded. At length the marquis, thinking it time to show his colors, said: “Gentlemen, I perceive one toast has been omitted, which I will now propose.” They filled their glasses, when he gave, “The commander-in-chief of the American armies.” The coldness with which that toast was received confirmed Lafayette's opinion respecting the men around him, and he was disgusted. The conspirators, finding they could not use the marquis, abandoned the expedition. So, also, was the conspiracy abandoned soon afterwards. Some of Gates's New England friends became tired of him. Conway, found out, was despised, and left the army. He quarrelled with General Cadwallader and fought a duel with him. Conway was wounded, and, expecting to die, wrote an apologetic letter to Washington, deploring the injury he had attempted to do him. He recovered and returned to France.

When the conspiracy to deprive Washington of the chief command of the army was fully ripe, a day was secretly chosen when a committee of Congress should be appointed to arrest Washington at Valley Forge. At that time there was a majority of the friends of the conspirators in Congress (then sitting at York, Pa.), because of the absence of the New York delegation. Only Francis Lewis and Col. William Duer were at York. The latter was very ill. Lewis, halving been informed of the designs of the conspirators, sent a message to Duer. The latter asked his physician whether he could be removed to the court-house, where Congress was in session. “Yes,” said the doctor, “but at the risk of your life.” “Do you mean that I would expire before reaching the place?” asked Duer. “No,” said the physician, “but I will not answer for your life twenty-four hours afterwards.” “Very well,” responded Duer, “prepare a litter.” It was done, and Duer was carried to the floor of Congress. The arrival of Gouverneur Morris, of the New York delegation, at the same time, satisfied the conspirators that they would be defeated, and they gave up the undertaking.

On Sept. 17, 1777, the Continental Congress, expecting to be obliged to fly from Philadelphia, again invested Washington with almost dictatorial powers, to last for sixty days. He was authorized to suspend misbehaving officers; to fill all vacancies; to take provisions and other necessaries for the army, wherever he could find them within 70 miles of his headquarters, paying the owners therefor, or giving certificates for the redemption of which the public faith was pledged; and to remove and secure for the benefit of the owners all goods which might prove serviceable to the public. On Dec. 30 these powers were extended to April 10, 1778. [220] Through the exertions of General Lafayette, who went to France in 1779, arrangements were made with Louis XVI. to send to the aid of the struggling Americans a French land and naval force. The French troops were to be placed under the command of Lieutenant-General the Count de Rochambeau. In order to prevent any clashing of military authority, General Washington, who was to be supreme commander of the allied armies, was created by the King a lieutenant-general of France, that he might be on an official equality with Rochambeau, who was commanded to serve under Washington. This was a wise arrangement. The commission granted to Washington by the French monarch was brought over by Lafayette on his return to America. The ships and troops speedily followed. In the following summer Washington contemplated the aspect of public affairs with great anxiety and even alarm. The French fleet and army were blockaded at Newport, and the commander-in-chief was doubtful whether his own army could be kept together for another campaign. He was, therefore, exceedingly anxious to strike a decisive blow. He proposed to Rochambeau an attack on New York, but that was thought too hazardous without a superior naval force. Letters were sent to the French admiral in the West Indies, entreating assistance, and, in September, Washington proceeded to Hartford to hold an appointed personal conference there with Rochambeau. They met on Sept. 21. Rochambeau was accompanied by Admiral Ternay, commander of the French fleet at Newport. The conclusion was that the season was too far advanced for the allies to perform anything of importance, and, after making some general arrangements for the next campaign, Washington returned to West Point, on the Hudson. It was during this absence from camp that the treason of Arnold was revealed. Washington met Rochambeau a second time at Hartford. It was on May 21, 1781. Their meeting was celebrated by discharges of cannon. After partaking of refreshments, the generals and suites rode to Wethersfield, a few miles below Hartford, escorted by a few private gentlemen, and, at the house of Joseph Webb, where Washington was lodged, a conference was held. An agreement was then made for the French army to march to the Hudson River as speedily as possible.

The earliest celebration of Washington's birthday found on record occurred in

The Webb House.

Richmond, Va., Feb. 11 (O. S.), 1782. The Virginia gazette, or the American Advertiser, made the following record four days after the event: “Tuesday last, being the birthday of his Excellency, General Washington, our illustrious commander-inchief, the same was commemorated here with the utmost demonstrations of joy.” The event was celebrated at Talbot Courthouse, Md., the next year. Leading citizens assembled at Cambridge, where a public dinner was provided, at which the following regular toasts were drunk: “1. General Washington—long may he live!—the boasted hero of liberty; 2. Congress; 3. Governor and State of Maryland; 4. Louis XVI.—the protector of the rights of mankind; 5. Continental army; 6. Maryland line; 7. May trade and navigation flourish; 8. The seven United Provinces [Holland], our allies; 9. The Count de Rochambeau and French army; 10. May the union between the powers in alliance ever continue on the basis of justice and equality; 11. May the friends of freedom prove the sons of virtue; 12. Conversion to the unnatural sons of America; 13. May the Union of the American States be perpetual.” The day was celebrated in New York in 1784. It was celebrated there and in other places on Feb. 11, each year, until 1793, when the day was changed to the 22d to adapt it to the new style. [221]

With returning peace, the prospects of the Continental army, about to be disbanded, appeared very gloomy. For a long time neither officers nor private soldiers had received any pay, for the treasury was empty, and there appeared very little assurance that its condition would be improved. There was wide-spread discontent in the army, and also wide-spread distress throughout the country. Contemplating the inherent weakness of the new government, many were inclined to consider it a normal condition of the republican form, and wished for a stronger one, like that of Great Britain. This feeling became so manifest in the army that

Washington refusing a Dictatorship.

[222] Colonel Nicola, a foreigner by birth, and of weighty character, commanding a Pennsylvania regiment, wrote a reprehensible letter to Washington in May, 1782, in which, professing to speak for the army, he urged the necessity of a monarchy to secure an efficient government and the rights of the people for the Americans. He proposed to Washington to accept the headship of such a government, with the title of King, and assured him that the army would support him. Nicola received from the patriot a stern rebuke. “If I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself,” he wrote, “you could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable.” If there was then a budding conspiracy to overthrow the inchoate republic, it was effectually crushed in the germ.

On June 8, 1783, Washington addressed a circular letter to the governor of each of the United States, which was (like his Farewell Address, issued thirteen years afterwards) an earnest plea for union. In this paternal and affectionate address, the commander-in-chief of the armies stated four things which he deemed to be essential to their well-being, and even to their very existence—namely, “An indissoluble union of the States under one general head; a sacred regard to public justice; the adoption of a proper peace establishment, and the prevalence of that pacific policy and friendly disposition among the people of the United States which would induce them to forget their local prejudices and politics, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and, in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interests of the community.” “These,” he said, “are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our independence and national character must be supported.” The commander-in-chief requested each governor to whom the address was sent to lay it before his legislature at its next session, that the sentiments might be considered as “the legacy of one who ardently wished, on all occasions, to be useful to his country, and who, even in the shade of retirement, would not fail to implore the divine benediction upon it.”

On Dec. 4, 1783, Washington assembled his officers who were near in the large public room of Fraunce's Tavern, corner of Broad and Pearl streets, New York, to exchange farewells with them. After

Fraunci's Tavern.

the officers had assembled Washington entered the room, and, taking a glass of wine in his hand, said, “With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable.” Having tasted the wine, he continued, “I cannot come to each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged to you if each will come and take me by the hand.” The scene was touching and impressive. While their cheeks were suffused with tears Washington kissed each of his beloved companions-in-arms on the forehead. Then the commander-in-chief left the room, and, passing through a corps of light infantry, walked to Whitehall Ferry, followed by a vast procession of citizens. At 2 P. M. he entered a barge and crossed the Hudson to Paulus's Hook (now Jersey City), on his way to the Congress at Annapolis.

After parting with his officers in New York, Washington stopped at Philadelphia, where he deposited in the office of the comptroller an account of his expenses during the war, amounting to (including that spent for secret service) $64,315. Then he went on to Annapolis, where the Congress was in session, and, at noon, Dec. 23, 1783, he entered the Senate chamber of the Maryland Statehouse, according to previous arrangements, and delivered to General Mifflin, [223] president of that body, his commission, which he had received from it in June, 1775. In so doing, the commander-inchief delivered a brief speech, with much feeling. Mifflin made an eloquent reply, and closed by saying: “We join you in commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, beseeching him to dispose the hearts and minds of its citizens to improve the opportunity afforded them of becoming a happy and respectable nation. And for you, we address to Him our earnest prayers that a life so beloved may be fostered with all His care; that your days may be

Washington resigning his commission.

as happy as they have been illustrious, and that He will give you that reward which the world cannot give.” Washington and his wife set out for Mount Vernon on the day before Christmas, where he was welcomed back to private life by the greetings of his family and flocks of colored servants.

On Aug. 7, 1783, the Continental Congress, sitting at Princeton, resolved unanimously “That an equestrian statue of General Washington be erected at the place where the residence of Congress shall be established.” The matter was referred to a committee consisting of Messrs. Arthur Lee, Ellsworth, and Mifflin, to prepare a plan. The committee reported the same day “That the statue be of bronze; the general to be represented in a Roman dress, holding a truncheon in his right hand, and his head encircled with a laurel wreath. The statue to be supported by a marble pedestal, on which are to be represented, in basso-relievo, the following principal events of the war, in which General Washington commanded in person, viz.: the evacuation of Boston, the capture of the Hessians at Trenton, the battle at Princeton, the action at Monmouth, and the surrender at Yorktown. On the upper part of the front of the pedestal to be engraved as follows: ‘The United States, in Congress assembled, ordered this statue to be erected in the year of our Lord 1783, in honor of George Washington, the illustrious commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States of America during the war which vindicated and secured their liberty, sovereignty, and independence.’ ” It was further resolved that the statue should be made by the best artist in Europe, under the direction of the United States minister at Versailles (Benjamin Franklin), and that the best resemblance of General Washington that could be procured should be sent to the minister, together with “the fittest description of the events which are to be the subject of the [224] bassorelievo.” Happily for historic truth, that statue of Washington “in a Roman dress” was never executed. Washington died on Dec. 14, 1799, and on the 23d

The State-House, Annapolis, Md.

Congress adopted a joint resolution that a marble monument should be erected to the memory of Washington at the national capital. Early in the session of Congress (1799-1800) the question of erecting a monument in accordance with the resolves at his death was discussed. It was proposed to erect a marble mausoleum of a pyramidal shape, with a base 100 feet square. This was objected to by many members opposed to his administration, who thought a simple slab sufficient, as history, they said, would erect a better monument. At the next session it was brought up, and reference was made to the resolve of Congress in 1783. The bill for a mausoleum finally passed the House, with an appropriation of $200,000. The Senate reduced the amount to $150,000. The House proposed other amendments, and the matter was allowed to rest indefinitely. Finally, in 1878, Congress made an appropriation for finishing an immense obelisk to the memory of Washington, begun by private subscriptions. Meanwhile Congress had caused an equestrian statue of bronze to be erected in a square at the national capital. The State of Virginia had also erected a monument surmounted by a bronze equestrian statue, at Richmond; and the citizens of New York caused an equestrian statue of bronze to be erected at Union Square, by Henry K. Brown, superior to any yet set up. In an order-book in the handwriting of Washington, which came into the possession of Prof. Robert W. Weir, instructor of drawing in the United States Military Academy, and which he deposited in the archives of the War Department at the national capital in the year 1873, may be found the famous order against profanity, written by the commander-in-chief's own hand:

The following is a list of the localities of the principal headquarters of Washington during the Revolutionary War; Craigie House, Cambridge (residence of the late Henry W. Longfellow), 1775-76; No. 180 Pearl Street and No. 1 Broadway, New York City, 1776; also Morton House (afterwards Richmond Hill), at the junction of Varick and Charlton streets; Roger Morris's house, Harlem Heights, New York, 1776; the Miller House, near White Plains, Westchester co., N. Y., 1776; Schuyler House, Pompton, N. J., 1777; the Ring House, at Chad's Ford, on the Brandywine, and the Elmar House, Whitemarsh, 1777; the Potts House, Valley Forge, 1777-78; Freeman's Tavern, Morristown, N. J., 1777-78; the Brinkerhoff House, Fishkill, N. Y., 1778; at Fredericksburg (in Putnam county, N. Y.) 1779; Ford Mansion, Morristown, 1779-80; New Windsor-on-the-Hudson, 1779, 1780, and 1781; Hopper House, Bergen county, [225] N. J., 1780; Birdsall House, Peekskill, N. Y., 1780; De Windt House, at Tappan, 1780; Moore's house, Yorktown, Va., 1781; Hasbrouch House, Newburg, 1782, 1783; Farm-house at Rocky Hill, N. J., near Princeton, 1783; and Fraunce's Tavern, corner of Broad and Pearl streets, New York City, where he parted with his officers, 1783.

During his whole military career Washington never received the slightest personal injury. In the desperate battle on the Monongahela, where Braddock was mortally wounded, Washington was the only officer unhurt. To his mother he wrote: “I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me.” To his brother John he wrote: “By the all-powerful dispensation of Providence I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation. Death was levelling my companions on every side.” In that battle an Indian chief singled Washington out for death by his rifle, but could not hit him. Fifteen years afterwards, when Washington was in the Ohio country, this chief travelled many miles to see the man who he and his followers, who tried to shoot him, were satisfied was under the protection of the Great Spirit. He said he had a dozen fair shots at him, but could not hit him.

John Parke Custis, an only son of Mrs. Washington, by a former husband, was aide to the commander-in-chief at Yorktown, at the beginning of the siege. Seized with camp-fever, he retired to Eltham, the seat of Colonel Bassett, a kinsman, where he died. At the conclusion of the ceremonies at the surrender of Cornwallis, Washington hastened to the bed-

Fac-Simile of Washington's order against profanity.


Washington in 1789 (from savage's portrait).

side of his dying step-son. He was met at the door by Dr. Craik, who told him that all was over. The chief bowed his head, and, giving vent to his sorrow by a flood of tears, he turned to the weeping widow—mother of four children—and said: “I adopt the two younger children as my own.” These were Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, the former three years of age and the latter six months.

Washington as President.

Presidential electors were chosen by the people in the autumn of 1788, who met in electoral college on the first Wednesday in February, 1789, and chose the President and Vice-President. His election was announced to him by Charles Thomson, who had been sent to Mount Vernon for the purpose, with a letter from John Langdon, pro tempore president of the Senate. Thomson arrived on April 14, 1879. Washington accepted the office, and towards evening the same day rode rapidly to Fredericksburg to bid farewell to his aged mother. On the morning of the 16th, accompanied by Thomson, Colonel Humphreys, and his favorite body-servant, he began his journey towards New York, everywhere on the way greeted with demonstrations of reverence and affection. He was received at New York with great honors, and on April 30 he took the oath of office as President of the United States, administered by Robert R. Livingston, chancellor of the State of New York. The ceremony took place in the open outside gallery of the old City Hall, on the corner of Wall and Nassau streets, in the presence of both Houses of Congress and a vast [227] multitude of citizens. He was dressed in a plain suit of dark-brown cloth and white silk stockings, all of American manufacture. He never wore a wig. His ample

Washington's House in Cherry Street, New York, in 1789.

hair was powdered and dressed in the fashion of the day, clubbed and ribboned. After taking the oath and kissing the sacred volume on which he had laid his hands, he reverently closed his eyes, and in an attitude of devotion said, “So help me, God!” The chancellor said, “It is done!” And then, turning to the people, he shouted, “Long live George Washington, the first President of the United States.” The shout was echoed and re-echoed by the populace, when Washington and the members of Congress retired to the Senate chamber, where the President delivered his inaugural address. Then he and the members went in procession to St. Paul's Chapel, and there invoked the blessings of Almighty God upon the new government.

Mr. Jefferson returned from France in the autumn of 1789, to take a seat in Washington's cabinet. He was filled with the French enthusiasm for republican ideas and hatred of monarchy, and he was chilled by the coldness of Washington, Adams, Hamilton, and others towards the cause of the French revolutionists. He became morbidly sensitive and suspicious, especially of Hamilton, regarding him as still a champion of a limited monarchy, for which he had expressed his preference in the convention that framed the Constitution. The consequence was, that bitter animosity grew up between them, which gave Washington great uneasiness, and they became the acknowledged leaders of two violently opposing parties—Federalists and Republicans. When Washington thought of retiring from the Presidency, at the close of his first term, Jefferson, who knew and valued his sterling patriotism, urged him to accept the office a second time. In a letter to him, he boldly avowed his belief that there was a conspiracy on foot to establish a monarchy in this country on the ruins of the republic, and pointed to the measures advocated by Hamilton as indicative of a scheme to corrupt legislators and people. Washington plainly told Jefferson that his suspicions about a monarchical conspiracy were unfounded, and that the people, especially of the great cities, were thoroughly attached to republican principles. But Jefferson was firm in his belief in a conspiracy, and, finally, criminations and recriminations having taken place in the public prints between the two secretaries, Hamilton charged Freneau's Gazette, which continually attacked the administration, with being the organ of Jefferson, edited by a clerk in his office.

Washington's Masion on Broadway, New York, in 1790.

The whole article was courteous in words, but extremely bitter in allusions. It produced an open rupture between the two secretaries, which Washington tried in [228] vain to heal in a letter to Jefferson. Jefferson, not long afterwards, left the cabinet, which Washington regretted.

Soon after the adjournment of Congress, March, 1791, Washington started on a three months tour through the Southern States to make himself better acquainted with the people and their wants, and to observe the workings of the new system of government. He found that the opposition to the national Constitution so strongly shown in that region had assumed the character of opposition to the administration, and his reception was not so warm as it had been during his tour in New England. He stopped a few days on the Potomac, and selected the site for

The President's House in Philadelphia, 1794.

the national capital. His course lay through Virginia by way of Richmond into North Carolina, and by a curved route to Charleston, S. C. He extended it to Savannah, Ga., whence he ascended the right bank of the river to Augusta; and, turning his face homeward, passed through Columbia and the interior of North Carolina and Virginia. The journey of 1,887 miles was made with the same pair of horses.

Washington strongly desired to retire to private life at the close of his first term as President. The public more strongly desired his continuance in office. It was a critical time in the life of the republic, and he patriotically yielded to what seemed to be the demands of public interests, and became a candidate for re-election. The lines between the two political parties in the nation were now (1792) distinctly drawn. Opposition to the funding system was substituted for opposition to the Constitution. Both parties were in favor of the re-election of Washington, but divided on the question of who should be Vice-President. The opposition (Republicans) concentrated their votes on George Clinton; the Federalists supported John Adams. Washington received the unanimous vote of the electoral college, the members of that body then numbering 130. Adams received seventy-seven votes and Clinton fifty. The Kentucky electors voted for Jefferson for Vice-President, and one of the South Carolina votes was given to Aaron Burr.

As soon as the news of the execution of Louis XVI., in Paris (January, 1793), reached England and the Continental powers, they coalesced against France, and war between them and the Revolutionists was announced. When the news of this event and the conduct of Genet reached Washington, at Mount Vernon, his mind was filled with anxiety. By the treaty of commerce, French privateers were entitled to a shelter in American ports—a shelter not to be extended to the enemies of France. By the treaty of alliance, the United States was bound, in express terms, to guarantee the French possessions in America. War between England and the United States was threatened in the aspect of events. Washington hastened to Philadelphia to consult with his cabinet. The questions were put: Whether a proclamation to prevent citizens of the United States interfering in the impending war should be issued? Should it contain a declaration of neutrality, or what? Should a minister from the French Republic be received? If so, should the reception be absolute or qualified? Was the United States bound to consider the treaties with France as applying to the present state of the parties, or might they be renounced or suspended? Suppose the treaties binding, what was the effect of the guarantee? Did it apply in the case of an offensive war? Was the [229] present war offensive or defensive on the part of France? Did the treaty with France require the exclusion of English ships-of-war, other than privateers, from the ports of the United States? Was it advisable to call an extra session of Congress? After careful discussion, it was unanimously concluded that a proclamation of neutrality should be issued, that a new French minister should be received, and that a special session of Congress was not expedient. There were some differences of opinion upon other points under discussion. A proclamation of neutrality was put forth April 22, 1793. It announced the disposition of the United States to pursue a friendly and impartial policy towards all of the belligerent powers; it exhorted and warned citizens of the United States to avoid all acts contrary to this disposition; declared the resolution of the government not only not to interfere on behalf of those who might expose themselves to punishment or forfeiture under the law of nations by aiding or abetting either of the belligerents, but to cause all such acts, done within the jurisdiction of the United States, to be prosecuted in the proper courts.

It was the wish of a majority of the American people that Washington should hold the office of chief magistrate for a third time. He yearned for the happiness of private life, and he would not consent; and in the fall of 1796 John Adams was elected President of the United States. Before the election took place, Washington issued (Sept. 17) a farewell address to the people. It was an earnest appeal to them to preserve the Union of the States as the only sure hope for the continuance of their liberties, and of the national life and prosperity. When the President had written out his address, he submitted it to Hamilton, Jay, and Madison for their criticism and suggestions. This was done. Several suggestions were made and a few verbal alterations. Unwilling to mar the draught which Washington had submitted to them, Hamilton made a copy, introducing a few grafts and making fewer prunings, and

The President's equipage.

[230] returned it to the President. The latter adopted most of the suggestions, and,

Washington's breakfast-table.

making a fair copy in his own handwriting, sent it to C. Claypoole, of Philadelphia, who published a daily paper, and in that it was first printed. The original manuscript of this address was in the possession of the late Robert Lennox, of New York. It was also published on a handsomely printed broadside, with a portrait of Washington at the head, drawn by Joseph Wright, and engraved by David Edwin.

Washington's farewell address to the people of the United States.

Six months before the close of Washington's second term he refused to be a candidate for reelection. He issued the following farewell address, Sept. 17, 1796.

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

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

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

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, [231] external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety; and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

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

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

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

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 [232] 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 parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of 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 counsels and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

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

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and, while it contributes in different ways to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications by land and water will more and more find, a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, 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.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, 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 governments, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is that your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other. [233]

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

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 heart-burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the general government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances 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 systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give 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 [234] 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 fashion, rather than the organs 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 for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular 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 will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that, for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the 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.

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

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

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

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continued 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 doors 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. [235]

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 the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those intrusted with its 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 the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for, though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious 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.

It is 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?

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion 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 [236] 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; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that in the course of time and things the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. 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 victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions, by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding with the 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.

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 opinion, to influence or awe the public councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter. [237]

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 defence 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 purpose, 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.

Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these [238] counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they have been dictated.

How far, in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of April 22, 1793, is the index of 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 attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of 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 everfavorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

The leaders of the Anti-Federal or Republican party became more and more violent in their censure of their opponents, and finally they indulged in personal abuse of Washington, charging him with venality and even with immorality. The chief vehicle of this abuse was a newspaper called the Aurora, published by Benjamin Franklin Bache, a grandson of Dr. Franklin. When Washington was about to retire from the Presidency in 1797 a writer in that journal said: “If ever a nation has been debauched by a man, the [239] American nation has been debauched by Washington. If ever a nation has been deceived by a man, the American nation has been deceived by Washington. Let his conduct, then, be an example to future ages. Let it serve to be a warning that no man may be an idol. Let the history of the federal government instruct mankind that the mask of patriotism may be worn to conceal the foulest designs against the liberties of a people.” On the day when he resigned the chair of state to John Adams (March 4, 1797), a writer in the Aurora, after declaring that he was no longer possessed of the “power to multiply evils upon the United States,” said, “When a retrospect is taken of the Washingtonian administration for eight years, it is the subject of the greatest astonishment that a single individual should have cankered the principles of republicanism in an enlightened people, just emerged from the gulf of despotism, and should have carried his designs against the public liberty so far as to put in jeopardy its very existence. Such, however, are the facts, and with them staring us in the face this day ought to be a jubilee in the United States.” They also republished spurious letters of Washington. These examples will suffice to show the malignity of party spirit in the early days of

Reduced fac-simile of a check drawn by Washington.

the republic, when even Washington was not spared from the lash of public abuse. It fell with even more severity on others. Both parties were guilty of the offence.

In 1798 Washington approved the war measures of the administration, and he was appointed (July 7) lieutenant-general and commander-in-chief of all the armies of the United States—raised and to be raised. The venerated patriot, then sixty-six years of age, responded with alacrity. “You may command me without reserve,” he wrote to President Adams, qualifying the remark by the expressed desire that he should not be called into active service until the public need should demand it, and requesting the appointment of his friend, Alexander Hamilton, then forty-one years of age, acting commander-inchief. Hamilton was appointed the first major-general, and, in November, Washington met his general officers in Philadelphia, and made arrangements for the complete organization of the regular forces on a war-footing. Washington believed from the beginning that the war-clouds would disperse, and not gather in a tempest, and events justified his faith. War was averted.

A pamphlet was published in London, in 1777, containing letters purporting to have been written by Washington, in the summer of 1776, to members of his family. These letters contained sentiments so totally at variance with his character and conduct that, whatever effect they may have had in England, they had none in this country, where he was known. In them Washington was made to deprecate the misguided zeal and rashness of Congress in declaring independence, and pushing the opposition to Great Britain to so perilous an extremity. In the preface it [240] was stated that, when Fort Lee was evacuated, General Washington's servant was left behind sick; that in his possession was a small portmanteau belonging to the general, in which, among other things of trifling value, were the drafts of letters to Mrs. Washington, her son (John Parke Custis), and his manager at Mount Vernon, Lund Washington, and that these had been transmitted to England by an officer into whose hands they had fallen. This fiction was contrived to deceive the public into a belief of their genuineness. It is well known that Washington was not at Fort Lee at the time of the surprise and evacuation, and that no servant of his nor a particle of his baggage fell into the hands of the enemy during the war. The pamphlet was republished by Rivington, in New York, and extensively circulated by the Tories, to injure the commander-in-chief. The author of these spurious epistles was never publicly known. The chief paid no attention to the publication, regarding it as beneath his notice. During his second Presidential term, party malignity was carried so far as to reprint the letters as genuine. Even then he did not notice them; but when he was about to retire from public life he wrote to the then Secretary of State (Timothy Pickering), under date of March 3, 1797, referring to the letters and the motives of their production, saying, “Another crisis in the affairs of America having occurred, the same weapon has been resorted to to wound my character and deceive the people.” He then gave the dates and addresses of the letters, seven in number, and added, “As I cannot know how soon a more serious event may succeed to that which will this day take place (his retirement from office), I have thought it a duty which I owe to myself, to my country, and to truth, now to detail the circumstances above recited, and to add my solemn declaration that the letters herein described are a base forgery, and that I never saw or heard of them until they appeared in print.”

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