, 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
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
, 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.
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
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
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
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
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
, 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.
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.
immediately arose in his place and made the following reply: “Mr. President
, though I am
truly sensible of the high honor done me in this appointment, yet I feel great distress from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important trust.
However, as the Congress
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
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.
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
forward a few paces, made some remarks, drew his sword, and formally took command of the Continental
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,
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.
'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
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
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
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
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.
, 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
the royal governor, was active in fomenting disaffection from his marine retreat.
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.
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
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
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.”
, a Representative in Congress from New Jersey
, declared that an oath of allegiance to the United States
was absurd before confederation.
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
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
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
The jealous men were few; the friends and admirers were many.
, 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
) 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!
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
: “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.
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
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
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?”
“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.
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.
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
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.|
, 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.
Governor and State of Maryland
Louis XVI.—the protector of the rights of mankind; 5.
Continental army; 6. Maryland line
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
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.
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
, 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.
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
's Hook (now Jersey City
), on his way to the Congress
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
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
as happy as they have been illustrious, and that He will give you that reward which the world cannot give.”
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
, 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
), 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
Happily for historic truth, that statue of Washington
“in a Roman dress” was never executed.
died on Dec. 14, 1799, and on the 23d
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
, 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
, 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 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.|
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.
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
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.
arrived on April 14, 1879.
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
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.
returned from France
in the autumn of 1789, to take a seat in Washington
He was filled with the French
enthusiasm for republican ideas and hatred of monarchy, and he was chilled by the coldness of Washington
, and others towards the cause of the French
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.
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.
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.
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
, which continually attacked the administration, with being the organ of Jefferson
, edited by a clerk in his office.
The whole article was courteous in words, but extremely bitter in allusions.
It produced an open rupture between the two secretaries, which Washington
vain to heal in a letter to Jefferson
, not long afterwards, left the cabinet, which Washington
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 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
The journey of 1,887 miles was made with the same pair of horses.
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
received the unanimous vote of the electoral college, the members of that body then numbering 130.
received seventy-seven votes and Clinton
The Kentucky electors voted for Jefferson
, 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
, 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.
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
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?
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
, 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.|
returned it to the President
The latter adopted most of the suggestions, and,
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
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.
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.