General Washington, by Bradley T. Johnson, Chapter 17

Washington and Lee University

General Washington

By General Bradley T. Johnson



WHEN George Washington rose at Mount Vernon on Christmas day, 1783, it is not an exaggeration to say that he was the most illustrious man then living in the world. His prudence, persistence, courage, wisdom, and patriotism had carried an infant state through a long war with the greatest nation of modem history to a successful and glorious conclusion. His dominating influence in the result was thoroughly understood and appreciated in Great Britain; his wisdom and self-denying patriotism were intensely admired in France, where the ideas of the universal brotherhood of man were just germinating; and the breadth of his military combinations, and the force and vigor with which they had been executed, were admired in the new military nation of Prussia more than those of any modem soldier except their own great founder. So that, in Great Britain, France, and Germany, George Washington occupied the most conspicuous place before all men, and was first in honor, first in reverence, and first in love of all living men.

The action, unparalleled in ancient or modern times, of the successful leader of a revolt against constituted authority, in which organized government had been overthrown and a new order established—who had voluntarily laid down his authority, severed his connection with public affairs, and retired to private life—this conduct produced a more profound impression on the world than even the military genius which had directed the war, and the wisdom which had controlled the people through the long ordeal. No one anywhere expected any such event except the men who had known Washington closely—his friends, kinsmen, and neighbors in Virginia, some intimate correspondents, like Jonathan Trumbull, of Connecticut and Thomas Johnson, of Maryland, and his comrades in arms, Nathaniel Greene, Henry Knox, Anthony Wayne, James McHenry, John Laurens, Daniel Morgan, and true men like these whose view was never distorted by envy, ambition, or malice.

The Continental Congress passed an unhappy time from the capitulation of Cornwallis to the definitive treaty of peace. It was plain what position Washington and the army were to occupy. They were to stand first in the respect and the affections of the people and of posterity. But what was the place to be assigned to the statesmen? Like all weak people, they had suffered from a constant terror of the man on horseback. They listened for the knock of the dictator every day at Carpenters’ Hall, and when the Pennsylvania militia surrounded them and gave them thirty minutes to gratify their demands, the Congress thought the hour had struck.

The disbandment of the army during the year was an immense relief, and when the general attended at Annapolis as their servant, and in the position of subordinate had surrendered his commission, and all authority of every kind derived from office, to those who had conferred it on him, he removed the weight of apprehension which covered and threatened them. When, therefore, he arrived at Mount Vernon he was the most illustrious man in the world—the best-beloved citizen, and the idolized hero of a generous, a chivalric, and a sentimental people. Not one human being lived who could or would say, think, or feel any evil of him—not one anywhere in the wide world.

Washington actually persuaded himself that he wanted to end his career in the life of a private gentleman with his family and friends, and, like all men who have long carried a great burden of official responsibility, believed that he could relieve himself of the responsibility by divesting himself of office. But office may be laid aside—conscience, the sense of duty, never can be; and as soon as Washington had leisure to look around him and appreciate the situation of things, it was clear to him that duty called him as imperiously now as when he left Mount Vernon to go to the Congress in 1774–’75, and to the army near Boston in June, 1775.

Washington was fifty-one years of age, in superb health, happy in fortune, friends, and family as few men have ever been. Thirty-three years of his life had been passed in the public service, and it was utterly impossible for him to step aside and let events take their course or other men control them. No living man knew as well what was necessary to be done. Not one could show as well how to do it, nor conduce to the doing of it, as he could. He had struggled through eight years, bearing on his shoulders the responsibility of the revolt, with absolutely no assistance from the confederated colonies. They had no government, no vigor, no life, no credit; they could do nothing, and did nothing.

They had united upon terms of an alliance they called the “Articles of Confederation,” by which they agreed to assist each other in the war, as required by a vote of the Congress, each colony casting an equal vote. This Confederation was only an agreement to agree. It bound no one to action; it never collected a dollar of taxes, nor raised a soldier, except two battalions of volunteers from Canada, who were mustered into the American service as “Congress’s Own.”

The States were divided from each other by social, religious, political, and race differences. From the first settlement, grave disputes had existed between the adventurers and proprietors who were staking their lives and fortunes on English colonization in America. The Virginia companies, prior in time, were prior in right, and acquired by grant from the Crown the larger part of the North American continent subsequently planted by the English. The vacation of their charters subsequently threw all their territory into the control of the Crown which granted it, to Calvert, to Culepeper, to Penn, to Jersey, and various other royal favorites. But though the courts could vacate charters, and abolish grants, they could not extinguish claims or ideas of rights, created in various individuals by ambition or aspiration.

Gentlemen and merchants had subscribed to the Virginia Company, and had adventured lives and fortunes to subdue the empire which it controlled, and of which they were part owners; and when the fiat of the Court of King’s Bench extinguished all charter rights, the original partners in the enterprise to settle the Dominion of Virginia felt grossly wronged by seeing their property divided out among others. They never abandoned their claim to the original boundaries of the Dominion until the Dominion became a republican State, and in so doing recognized the existence of other free and equal States erected in her territory north and south of her. But in recognizing the existence and the right to exist of Maryland and North Carolina, Virginia still held on to her claim to the Western territory.

The County of Illinois, in Virginia, included the whole country west of the Ohio, east of the Mississippi, and south of the lakes. The County of Kentucky comprised the country south of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi. The Dominion during the Revolution consisted of the present States of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota; and when the States were asked to come into the Confederation, the coming in was a tacit acknowledgment of the claim of Virginia to this whole territory. Maryland refused to concede this, and held on with curious tenacity to her claim of the whole Potomac as her southern boundary, and her right to share in the great territory beyond the Mississippi, and she went through the Revolution, represented in Congress, and contributing her full quota to the armed contest, without ever having been a member of the Confederation.

It was not until March, 1781, after Virginia had executed in due form a deed of release to the United States of all her claims to the Western lands, to be held for the common benefit of all the States, that Maryland authorized her representatives in Congress to commit the State to the fortunes of the confederacy by signing the Articles of Confederation. New York claimed Vermont, and a bitter controversy existed between New Jersey, with Pennsylvania on the one side and New York on the other, about rights of navigation and of fishery. Virginia and Maryland were in a constant wrangle as to jurisdiction over the Chesapeake and the Potomac.

The first problem to be solved was the construction of a more perfect Union. Washington, with a political sagacity that was pure intuition, saw at once the point on which the power was to rest. He had read as little history as most gentlemen of his station and generation, and was as little informed as any one of the struggles that races, peoples, and nations have made at various epochs in different climates and environments to acquire, to preserve, and to transmit liberty to their posterities.

If the States were to remain discordant and unsympathetic, they would become the prey of demagogues at home, who would without delay transfer them to some foreign power. Spain would have no difficulty in extending her power along the Gulf of Mexico, until that would become a Spanish sea; and France would as easily extend herself up the Mississippi and Ohio and along the lakes, until she would have been re-established in that position from which George Washington and the Virginians had spent their youth to expel her.

Washington had gone into the war with a bitter feeling toward the French and the Papists, and a sentiment of regretful affection for the mother country; he had come out of it with a warm affection for the French and the Catholics—for the French had proved friends in need, and the Catholics, native and foreign born, had been ardent patriots—and with an intense hostility to the English Government and its adherents, the Tories in America. He loved and respected the Fairfaxes—loyal gentlemen, who grieved over his fall and prayed for his restoration to the ways of duty, of honor, and of patriotism. He conceded to them the right of private judgment, but to them alone. The many distinguished Virginian families who adhered to their oaths of allegiance and refused to rebel against “the best government the world ever saw,” he never, to his dying day, forgave or forgot; and after the war was over, while Mount Vernon was open to all the world who came to pay their respects to the master, no Tory, or son of a Tory, ever broke bread there. Every man who had stood by the flag on land or sea was welcome; any man who had fought it in open, manly, honorable war was welcome; but no one who had deserted friends, and joined with negroes and Indians in servile and savage war, ever again touched the hand of George Washington.

Something has been said—more may be—from the side of those who, faithful to their hereditary allegiance, staked and lost all save honor in the defense of the union with the old mother; but the generation which fought the rebellion, which accomplished disunion, and which established independence, never made allowances for their unsuccessful neighbors, but regarded them with unmitigated contempt and undying hate to the end of their lives. And Washington was a man of his time.

To bring the Western lands in connection with the East was the first step in the problem of the Union. He never saw the Great Lakes, but he saw the future, and he marked out a way by which a free highway by water might be constructed from the Chesapeake to Detroit. And by Detroit now passes annually a tonnage greater than the entire transoceanic trade of the United States. He had originated this enterprise long before, and in 1762 had held a conference at Fredericktown, in Maryland, with Thomas Johnson, George Mason, and other associates in the Ohio Company, for the purpose of devising means to open the Western lands. In a letter to Johnson, in 1772, he presses the subject; and he secured a charter, in 1774, from the Virginia Legislature for a transportation company on the Potomac. Washington failed to secure the co-operation of Maryland, and the war stopped the undertaking.

Before he retired from the army, in the summer of 1783, he rode with Governor Clinton, of New York, up the valley of the Mohawk and reconnoitered the line of water way to the lakes, which Clinton’s son afterward made the route for the Erie Canal. In the autumn of 1784 accompanied by one servant, he rode from Mount Vernon to Winchester, to Wills’ Creek, to the Monongahela, to Fort Pitt, and down the Ohio to the Kanawha, to the New River and across the Blue Mountains to the head waters of the James at Clifton Forge; thence along the Piedmont road to Mount Vernon. This extraordinary expedition was made primarily for the purpose of acquiring personal knowledge of the country, in which he had large investments in land, but also for the purpose of ascertaining the best way of connecting the East and the West. With the wonderful political sagacity which he at times exhibited like inspiration, he was not in favor of acquiring control of the Mississippi “at that time.” Free navigation of the Mississippi could draw the trade of its great watershed to the Gulf of Mexico and so establish the Spaniards there forever. Washington felt the impulse of “manifest destiny.” He knew that the great country of the West would be filled by an energetic, intellectual, courageous, liberty-loving people; their appearance might be delayed; the British, by holding on to the Western posts, in violation of the treaty and their plighted faith, might for a few years keep the Indian tribes in a condition of suppressed excitement, ready at any moment to break out into flagrant war, and thus hinder and delay immigration and settlement; but civilization was bound, by the inevitable law of progress of the human race, to occupy and develop the immense resources which might be made to contribute so immensely to the comfort and happiness of man. It is not probable that Washington ever heard of Evolution or Progress; but he knew that hickory and walnut timber indicated rich land—land that would produce corn, wheat, rye, and oats in profusion; and he knew that wherever there was rich land the pioneer would find it and take it and possess it and cultivate it. He would make “home” there, and wherever the Norman-Anglo-Saxon had established his household altars, from that place he never receded. The rich bottoms and heavy timber of the Ohio and the Kanawha all pointed to future empire, and the soul of the politician-statesman was filled with visions and hopes of the future of such a country bound to the Atlantic and dominated by the liberty-loving, freeborn race that for a thousand years had been engaged in one constant struggle for liberty and justice and right. As soon as Washington arrived at Mount Vernon he set to work with that patient pertinacity which above all others was his distinguishing characteristic.

He wrote to Madison, then attending the Congress at Annapolis, urging him to bring up in the Maryland Legislature, in session at the same place, the question of some arrangement between Maryland and Virginia about jurisdiction over and the navigation of the Chesapeake. Under the public law, as it then stood, the nation controlling the mouth of a river had the right to regulate and tax the access to the high sea of all the inhabitants of its upper waters. It was not until the Treaty of Vienna that the commercial navigation of rivers which separate States was declared to be entirely free in their whole course. This made the Rhine and its confluents free. Similar regulations as to the Elbe were made by the Treaty of Dresden in 1821, and of the Vistula and Po in 1815, and of the Danube by the Treaty of Paris in 1850. The English secured the right of navigation of the Mississippi by the Treaty of 1763 with France, and the right was secured to the English and Americans by the Treaty of 1783.

Therefore, when the Treaty of 1783 acknowledged and recognized thirteen sovereign and independent States, each State had absolute control of all navigable waters within its limits. Connecticut controlled the Connecticut River; New Jersey and Delaware, the Delaware; Virginia, the lower Chesapeake; and thus Maryland and Pennsylvania might both be cut off from the mare liberum, the free highway of commerce of the nations of the world. An agreement between the States was thus absolutely necessary to secure proper commercial facilities to them, and Washington proposed to use the necessities of the situation to promote the grand object he had in view—to wit, the foundation of a solid Union, by binding the East and boundless West by the ties of mutual interest.

While the Maryland Legislature, at his instance, was initiating negotiations with Virginia as to the jurisdiction over and navigation of the Potomac and the Chesapeake, he pressed the Virginia Legislature to grant a charter to the Potomac Company—the enterprise which he had started in 1762, and only gave up when he went to Congress in 1774. He was made president of the company, which was to construct a slack water navigation from Rock Creek, the head of tide, to Wills’ Creek, and then a series of smaller canals and dams across the mountain to the Monongahela, and so bind the East and West, by the ties of interest, into a Union which should last forever. But the fundamental idea in the undertaking was that the navigable line proposed to be created should be a free highway forever to all the people of the United States.

While the Legislature of Virginia was thus providing for making the Potomac a free highway, that of Maryland appointed commissioners to meet those from Virginia, to settle the jurisdiction and navigation of the Potomac and the Chesapeake. Annapolis is within visiting distance of Mount Vernon. It was then within a good day’s ride. The general would send a servant on a horse to Governor Johnson or Colonel Tilghman or Colonel Howard, requesting the pleasure of their company to dinner the next day, to meet some comrade of Germantown or Yorktown, or some foreign officers visiting Mount Vernon, and by sunrise the following morning the cavalcade would be en route to Mount Vernon for a three o’clock dinner. Such intimate relations increased his influence among the Marylanders, who were already devoted to him. He pressed the Potomac Company and the question of navigation of the Chesapeake first on the Virginians who were farther off, and then on the Marylanders right at his hand. The Virginians chartered the Potomac Company. The Marylanders appointed Thomas Johnson, Thomas Stone, Samuel Chase, and Daniel, of St. Thomas, Jenifer, to meet commissioners from Virginia to settle the navigation and jurisdiction question. Virginia then appointed Edmund Randolph, George Mason, James Madison, Jr., and Alexander Henderson, to meet the Maryland Commissioners, and Maryland then reenacted the charter of the Potomac Company.

Washington’s first move was successful. He had secured the consent and guarantee of Virginia and Maryland that the navigation of the upper Potomac should be free forever, and that the great West should have a free access to tide. But that gave them no access to the ocean. So, when the commissioners of the two States met at Alexandria, in January, 1785, the general met them, and adjourned the whole matter and meeting and negotiations to Mount Vernon. The agreement then made was thoroughly imbued with the ideas of Washington. It gave Marylanders and Virginians equal rights in the Pocomoke, the Potomac, and the Chesapeake, and made these waters free highways to the open sea. The Compact of 1785, as it is called, was the germ of the Constitution of 1789, and, it came from the brain and heart of Washington. It forbade Maryland or Virginia making any regulations of commerce as between their respective ports or over their respective waters which would interfere with the equal rights of citizens of the two States. It declared that the flag covered the cargo, and that the citizens of each State should have the right to be tried for all crimes and offenses committed on the waters of the Pocomoke, the Potomac, and the Chesapeake, by the courts of the State of which he was a citizen. It made the records of judicial proceedings in one State evidence in the other, and it provided for the accession of Pennsylvania and Delaware to it. The Articles of Confederation distinctly prohibited the States from “entering into any treaty, alliance, or confederation.” The negotiations of the Compact of 1785 distinguished between treaty, alliance, or confederation, and the agreement between the two States, and they not only made the agreement between those two, but invited two others to unite with them in the agreement. The compact was promptly ratified by each State, and forms the law of each State today.

The consultations at Mount Vernon disclosed the identity of opinions between those present as to the evil and the remedy and the crying necessity for prompt action. The Articles of Confederation were worse than useless. The very compact they were arranging was a nullification of its plain provisions, while the one which they proposed, if accepted, would result in the subversion of the entire confederation. It was plain that if Delaware and Pennsylvania came into the compact of 1785 and thus secured free trade among themselves, then the other States would hasten to clamor for admission to its benefits. Madison caused to be passed by the Virginia Legislature a resolution, calling on the States to meet in convention in Annapolis in 1786 to revise the Articles of Confederation. That convention was only attended by four of the States, and it issued another call for them all to send delegates to another convention of revision to meet at Philadelphia during the next year.

Virginia promptly selected Washington to head her delegation to that meeting, and associated with him Randolph, Madison, and Mason—three of the Mount Vernon negotiators—and the consultations for Union were transferred from Mount Vernon to Philadelphia, and the negotiations for it from two States to thirteen. On the meeting of the convention Washington was made president, and, although there is no record of his active participation in its debates, there is no doubt that his influence was potent in directing its action.

From the day he assumed command of the army at Cambridge he had suffered from the impotence of the Confederation. His practical mind understood that leagues and alliances between States can never withstand concentrated powers moving against them from the outside, and that dissension and difference in interest and sentiment will always produce feebleness in council and inefficiency in execution among themselves. From the beginning of the movement at Mount Vernon he was not anxious for any action at all as to the Articles of Confederation. The time had not come and opinion was not ripe for their total abrogation, and he wished no half-way measures. He wanted a government, not influence; for, as he said about the Shay rebellion in Massachusetts, “influence is not government.

The Confederation was an advisory body, where each party did as they pleased, and were constrained by no authority save their own sense of right. Washington knew that the Union, which he considered the great guarantee of public liberty and individual happiness and prosperity, required a concrete government, a law-making power to make laws, a judicial power to construe them, and an executive to administer them. He and Randolph arrived at the conclusion, early in the discussion, that the laws must be made by the people, for the people, and be applied to the people. No scheme would operate or last which looked to coercing States; that would lead to war, and the idea of coercion of States was fatal to Union and destructive to liberty.

But they believed that a government might be constructed that, passing by the State governments, would directly represent the citizens, and would operate on the citizens. They had no conception of the idea of a citizenship of the United States apart from the citizenship of the State, but they believed that, securing and preserving the autonomy of States, they would thereby secure the highest guarantee for the perpetuation of the Union, the Union being constructed of a number of States whose citizens became citizens of the Union and on whom the Union operated directly.

With infinite labor, patience, perseverance, and courage, Washington labored in support of the “Virginia plan” introduced in the convention by Mr. Randolph for the new government, and all his influence was exerted toward the creation of a government to operate on individuals and not on States. George Mason separated from his associate negotiators of the Compact of 1785, and resolutely opposed any plan to create a government with centralized power. The idea of a government that governs prevailed over that of one that advises, and the Constitution of the United States was adopted by the convention, and sent to the States for ratification. Then began the greatest, most pregnant labor of Washington’s life. If it can be said “he was the Revolution,” it is beyond doubt equally true that “he was the Constitution and the Union.”

From the day the convention adjourned at Philadelphia until the ratification by the ninth State fulfilled the terms upon which the Constitution was to be put into operation, his correspondence was incessant, copious, all-pervading. He wrote to gentlemen in different States that they must become members of their State conventions to which the Constitution was to be submitted for ratification. He substantially appointed the Convention of Maryland, for he selected the leading members of it. He wrote Johnson that the Constitution ought to be ratified at once, without conditions or amendments. He was not satisfied with it, and some features of it he probably never would assent to, but it was the best that could be done, and the only present means of preserving peace and the Union. The action of New York and Massachusetts was very uncertain. Rhode Island and North Carolina had promptly rejected it. New Hampshire was hanging back, and if the vote of Virginia was to be permitted to be the casting vote, the vanity of that State, he wrote, would be so much inflamed that her action would be very doubtful. If, however, Maryland promptly accepted the new form of government, this would place its ratification by nine States beyond doubt, and render the position of Virginia of little consequence. The situation would ultimately decide her to join the Union. It would be a necessity. The Maryland Convention, accepting the orders from Mount Vernon, ratified the Constitution, and adjourned while a committee to consider amendments, raised on motion of William Paca, was out, and that committee of the last century has not reported to this day.

When the Constitution was accepted by eleven States, its author and creator of necessity became its director, and was selected, by the unanimous vote of all the States and the unanimous wish of all the people, to put it in operation. He secured the election in the different States of men selected by him, known to him, and esteemed by him, to constitute the first Congress. He had great doubts about the success of the experiment, but he was determined that he would give every energy of mind, heart, and body to insure it. He was convinced that the paramount, overreaching, all-pervading duty of patriotism was to secure a perpetual union of all the States. He was convinced that the first step toward that, beyond government or administration, above mere constitutional arrangements, was to secure the valley of the Ohio to the seaboard by proper commercial connections. Hence the Potomac and the James River Companies and the Compact of 1785.

With this territory, bound together by social and material ties, he believed a State would be founded which would eventually include the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, and the islands of the West Indies, and he foresaw the time when the Gulf of Mexico would become an American sea, dominated by the arts and the arms, the intelligence and the valor of the Union. The key of Washington’s whole conduct for the rest of his life will be found in this deep faith of his in the manifest destiny of the Union.

There was a great deal of human nature in him, and he resented the conduct of the British Government toward the Americans during the war. Theories about taxation without representation, and trials without juries, did not affect his mind so much; but he felt bitterly to the day of his death—as did all the men of that time—the hiring of the Hessians to ravage and destroy, and the inciting of the Indians to all the horrors of savage warfare. He insisted on his Americanism—that the American, in courage, in intellect, in force and vigor, in regard for justice and right and reverence for truth, was the equal of any race that ever lived, and he repudiated for himself, his compatriots, and his country, that provincialism which looks to other social conditions for standards for morals or other political systems for ideas and models. He believed that the American was to develop a new race and a new civilization, which for power, for energy, for virtue, and for valor has never been equaled in this world. For this reason he laid down the broad principle, ever since received by the Republic, that America never would enter into the politics of Europe nor be bound by entangling alliances with it. This doctrine was afterward applied by Mr. Monroe to mean that, as America took no part in the disputes of Europe, Europe should not acquire interests in America, so as to embroil herself in American interests.

And it seems as if the doctrine of nonintervention was to apply not only to the two American continents and the Atlantic islands on the American coast, but as well to the archipelagoes of the Pacific. By the Treaty of Peace the British were to deliver possession of the posts in the Northwest to the Americans. They did not do so, and during President Washington’s first term he was constantly harassed by the apprehension that they would stir up the savages against the outlying settlements in the vast counties of Illinois and Kentucky.

As the French Revolution developed he never was sanguine that any great good would result from the destruction of institutions which were the growth of centuries. He saw the suffering that would surely ensue; the benefits that were to grow out of it he failed to appreciate. He organized his government with Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State; Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury; Henry Knox, Secretary of War, and Edmund Randolph, Attorney General. Hamilton and Randolph had served on his staff, and Knox had been known and trusted since the camp at Cambridge. Jefferson was the only one who had not been a soldier and a comrade. He had been American minister to France, where he had fraternized with that Revolution, and adopted some of the most extreme ideas of the French philosophy of human rights.

On the breaking out of the war in Europe the sympathies of the Americans naturally crystallized around France, and the French Revolutionary Government claimed the assistance of the United States against Great Britain as guaranteed by the Treaty of Alliance. Washington loved Lafayette, he liked De Rochambeau and De Grasse, and many French comrades of the war, but he never did admire French ways; their demonstrativeness, their effusion, were offensive to him; and while he was anxious to fulfill all the obligations of public faith, he was equally anxious to afford the Americans opportunity to build up their enormous country and develop their great destiny by the arts of peace.

The Union was his highest aspiration, and peace and neutrality had become necessary to the Union. Hamilton gave as his opinion that the other party to the Treaty of Alliance having ceased to exist, its successor—the Revolutionary Government—could not claim the benefit of its treaties. Jefferson claimed that the treaty was made with the French nation, which lives forever, and therefore the treaty bound the American succession to the Confederation, as well as the French Republic succeeding the monarchy. Washington decided with Hamilton—properly decided, but on the wrong ground. Treaties are not modified by changes in the form of government of the contracting parties, but continue in force as long as the contractors choose to perform their obligations. But for that very reason there can be no perpetual treaty. No Government can bind the future forever, and the same right to change forms of government, of which each nation must, of course, be the sole judge for itself, must reserve to each party the right to release itself from the obligations of any treaty upon fair notice.

The United States preserved their neutrality. The first duty presented to the new Government was that of creating public credit and public revenue. Hamilton, in a report unequaled in any language in any age of the world for grasp of conditions, for appreciation of principles, for vigor of intellect, proposed as the first step toward rehabilitation of credit, that the Union should assume all the debts of all the States created in the course of the war in the common enterprise. Washington understood that such a measure would draw large and powerful interests to the support of a government on maintenance of which their property depended, and he urged the measure with all his influence. It was adopted as part of a compromise by which the site of the Federal city was finally fixed on the Potomac River, at the mouth of Rock Creek.

The revenue measure was unfortunately conceived. It levied a tax on distilled spirits in the hands of the manufacturer. Hamilton was neither an Englishman nor an American. He was West Indian by birth, and he knew nothing by observation of the deep-seated aversion people have for tax-gatherers spying about their houses. But theoretically a tax on spirits was an ideal tax. It taxed a luxury; no one need pay it unless he chose to use spirits, and it would be cheaply and easily collected. These theoretical views did not turn out to be practical. The mountaineers from Fort Pitt to King’s Mountain flew to arms and drove the Federal tax-gatherers from their borders.

In 1785 there had been an insurrection against the State authorities of Massachusetts, led by one Shay, and Washington had been urgent upon the Governor that it was of the greatest importance that the power of Government should be promptly exhibited, and the rising suppressed without a moment’s delay and by the strong hand. “We must show to the world,” said he, “that we have a government which will govern, and not advise.” As soon as he was assured that rebellion against the Union had arisen in Pennsylvania, he made Congress pass a law authorizing him to call out the militia to suppress any insurrection anywhere; and he issued his proclamation calling out the militia of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, and appointed Light Horse Harry, Governor Lee, of Virginia, to command them.

The States furnished fifteen thousand troops, and Washington accompanied them as far as Bedford, in Pennsylvania. Lee moved farther west, but the insurrection dispersed. Some of the leaders were arrested and tried by the Federal Court at Philadelphia and convicted of treason, and were pardoned by the President. The necessary lesson that there was a government which could and would govern had been taught.

By one of the curious antitheses of history, the only other time the power of the President to call out the militia to suppress rebellion was exercised, was when it was invoked to suppress rebellion led by the Governor of Virginia and the son of Light Horse Harry Lee. Washington assumed control of the Government impressed with the idea that better government could be obtained by ignoring those differences of opinion that must exist in free societies, and the organizations that of necessity arise to enforce policies. The great difference that had arisen before the Constitutional Convention was whether or not the Articles of Confederation should be revised or a new government formed; and in the convention itself, whether the new government to be organized should be founded on States or on the people. Hamilton and Edmund Randolph favored a consolidated government, with great powers to operate directly on the people; William Patterson, of New Jersey, and Patrick Henry advocated a government representing sovereign States, of whom the Federal agent should be the representative, and connected with the people only through the States. The Constitution was a compromise between the two theories, but was more largely impressed with the ideas of Randolph than those of Patterson. It was a Virginian victory, to be, in the future, the source of unnumbered woes to her.

The new Government was organized on the principle of ignoring these radical differences. Hamilton was placed at the head of finance, and Randolph made supervisor of the administration of the laws, while Jefferson, just returned from France, where he had signalized himself as the ardent sympathizer with the radical democracy of the Revolution, was charged with the conduct of foreign affairs and exterior relations. It required the experience of four years to convince the President that popular government can only be carried on by means of parties—organizations of citizens who agree in desiring that certain things shall be done and certain policies be applied to public affairs, and who agree to join together in united effort to secure the objects of their desires. Mr. Jefferson, the radical Democrat, did not agree on any single principle with Mr. Hamilton, the conservative Republican. The one believed that mankind had sufficient virtue, intelligence, and self-control to organize society so as to secure the largest happiness to the great body of the citizenship.

Col. Hamilton, referring to the history of the English race and the experience of mankind, believed that liberty and happiness could only be obtained and retained by constant struggle against the selfishness of human nature; that the strong would oppress the weak, the wise would take advantage of the simple, unless they were restrained by the whole of society acting through a strong government. Mr. Jefferson believed that the less government there was, the better for the happiness, the liberty, and the security of the people. Mr. Hamilton was convinced that happiness, liberty, and security would all be lost unless preserved by a powerful government; that reliance upon the virtue and patriotism and unselfishness of individuals to protect the weak and preserve their rights would be found by experience to be futile, and that selfishness would prove to be the radical motive of general human action. Such opinions of necessity produced clashing acts. The advocates of Union gathered around Hamilton, and he selected all his agents in administering his great office from among them. Jefferson selected people who sympathized with him to carry out his plans and to advocate his ideas and to expound his democratic principles.

Washington, after a worrying experience, became convinced that his preconceived idea that government could be administered on nonpartisan lines by nonpartisans was radically wrong; and he became equally well satisfied that to carry on a government for free people, its conduct must accord with their opinions and sympathize with their sentiments; that a government of opinion must be operated along the line of that opinion, and this required that every agent, from President to tide waiter, must sympathize with and earnestly support that opinion. The idea that a government of opinion could or would be successfully conducted by agents, principals, or subordinates opposed to such opinion and hostile to its development, was effectually refuted in President Washington’s mind.

Early in 1793 war was declared between Great Britain and France. After mature consideration by the Cabinet, the policy of neutrality was determined upon, and Randolph drafted the proclamation which has been the model for precise statement and the basis of the policy of neutrality which has been practiced by the United States ever since, and which has as much as any one thing contributed to the enfranchisement, the development, and the perpetuity of the Union of the States. Directly after the proclamation of neutrality Genet landed at Charleston as minister from the Revolutionary Government of France to the United States of America. The Gallic temperament is never inclined to minimize its own importance or to diminish the value of the achievements of its people. In the great gallery of pictures of French exploits at St. Cloud is a conspicuous representation of the surrender of a British army under Lord Cornwallis to a French one under the General Count de Rochambeau and Admiral Count de Grasse, at Yorktown, in America; and at that period among the French the American Revolution was regarded as an achievement of French statesmanship executed by French arms.

The part played by the Americans was regarded as merely subsidiary and insignificant. As the British had Indian allies, so the French had American auxiliaries, only differing from the other in degrees of barbarism. Of course, among French officers, the aristocracy, and the educated classes generally, a clearer appreciation of the conditions obtained; but the French democracy believed that America was the creation and should be the creature of France. Mr. Genet, therefore, upon landing, assumed the part of a Roman proconsul taking possession of a conquered province, or a British political agent advising an Indian rajah. He began at once to equip vessels, arm them, man them, and send them out with letters of marque to attack British commerce on the high seas. He authorized and ordered all French consuls in American ports to sit as courts of admiralty and to adjudicate all questions of prize of war.

The general American feeling was partial to France and bitter against England, and Genet’s measures and movements were hailed with enthusiasm wherever he went in the Southern country. His route was a triumphal march from Charleston to Philadelphia. His letters of marque began to bring in prizes to Charleston and to Norfolk, and there was profit as well as glory and danger in attacking the British under the French flag. Privateers multiplied, and in a few months would swarm the seas. Genet brought an English prize, the Little Sarah, to Philadelphia, where he proceeded to fit her out as a fighting ship. Mifflin, ex-quartermaster general and ex-President of the Board of War of the Confederacy, was then Governor of Pennsylvania, and in concert with Alexander Hamilton took appropriate steps to arrest the vessel and prevent the infraction of the proclamation.

Jefferson, alarmed for his friends, the French, applied to Genet to stop his illegal proceedings. Genet frankly declined to engage that the vessel should not sail, but stated that she would not be ready before Wednesday. Upon this statement Jefferson procured Mifflin’s guard to be withdrawn, and the Little Sarah, rechristened La Petite Democrat, dropped down the river and lay in the stream opposite Chester. Genet then promised that the vessel should not sail until the President, absent at Mount Vernon, should decide as to the legality of his action. While Washington was hurrying from Mount Vernon, La Petite Democrat went to sea, and the Secretary of State went to the country.

The affair of Genet brought matters to a crisis. The Secretary of State had two years before brought Philip Freneau, a writer, to Philadelphia, paid him out of the public purse as a sinecure clerk in the State Department, and established him in charge of the organ of the Jeffersonian Radical Democracy, the National Gazette. The propaganda of the new philosophy distinguished itself by a prompt attack on the Hamiltonian theories and the Federalists. Of course this led to opposition to the chief of the Federalists, the President, and criticism of his policy, his principles, his manners, and his morals.

Curious as it seems now, the leaders of the Democracy pretended to believe, and taught their disciples to believe, during the three first presidential terms—the two of Washington and the one of John Adams—that there was a deep-seated purpose in the minds of the Federalists to establish a monarchical government in America, on the basis of the Federal Union, and as a preparation for this to introduce aristocratic customs in social life. Washington always opened the Congress in person, reading his address to them from manuscript. He made a general rule that the President of the United States would return no calls nor accept social invitations. He set apart a day for the reception of everybody, gentle and simple, but he received them standing, and they were presented to him individually by name by one of his aids-de-camp. He invariably wore a velvet suit, silk stockings, lace ruffles, a dress sword, and powder. This was the custom of the society in which he had been reared in Fairfax, at Williamsburg, at Belvoir, and the way he was accustomed to live at Mount Vernon.

He had been occupying a conspicuous and responsible place—the most conspicuous and responsible in America—for twenty years, and position and power of necessity produce dignity and gravity in the possessor. But these simple, reasonable, and necessary social rules gave real offense to many, and were made the pretext of complaint by some. The clerk of the Secretary of State filled the National Gazette with complaints of the aping of regal state by his Excellency. Powdered hair was held up to special detestation as a sign of aristocracy and a mark of gentle birth and breeding.

So the Democrats attended on the President’s levees with plain hair and unpowdered heads. After one of these official functions, a friend found Mrs. Martha busily engaged going through the parlors with a maid and a basin, soap and towel, erasing from the walls the marks made by the unpowdered heads of the callers of the preceding evening by reposing their unwigged craniums against her freshly whitened wails. “Why, Mrs. Washington, what in the name of goodness are you about?” cried the visitor. “Oh, those dirty Democrats!” was the tidy housewife’s reply, pointing to the spots made by Democratic polls on the walls. With such a temper “in kitchen and in castle hall” an issue was soon made. In August, 1793, the French Government was requested to recall Mr. Genet, who, deprived of his official status and relieved of his political inflammation, remained in the country, and lived and died a good patriotic American citizen. But the issue with Genet proved that Jefferson and the Democracy were not to control the policy of the country. Events soon demonstrated that as long as Washington was President they were not to exert any influence over it. In the following year (1794) he sent Thomas Pinckney, of South Carolina, to Spain, who negotiated a treaty which defined the boundaries of Florida, and secured to the United States the free navigation of the Mississippi. The termination of the war had left the Americans with feelings of bitter hatred, detestation, and horror toward the British and the Tories. The enormities of the invading troops engaged in suppressing the rebellion are almost incredible. The British sacked the town of New Haven and carried off the library of Yale College, as they did also at Princeton and Williamsburg.

It is recorded that “Arnold, after his Virginia raid, returned to New York rich as a nabob with the plunder of Virginia. Phillips was now sent to make his fortune out of what Arnold left unplundered.” Judge Thomas Jones, an eminent New York judge under the royal Government of one of the richest and most aristocratic families of the province who adhered to the loyal side, has left a History of New York during the Revolutionary War, which has been recently published. He says: —The war, in fact, was not levied at rebellion, but at the Treasury of Great Britain; at his Majesty’s loyal subjects within the lines; indiscriminately against all persons wherever the army moved; against erudition, religion, and literature in general. Public libraries were robbed, colleges ruined, and churches of all denominations burned and destroyed; while plunder, robberies, peculation, whoring, gaming, and all kinds of dissipations were cherished, nursed, encouraged, and openly countenanced.”

General Fitzpatrick, with Sir William Howe’s army advancing to the occupation of Philadelphia, wrote to his sister-in-law, Lady Ossory, “from the Head of Elk River, Maryland, September 1, 1777,” on the advance to Brandywine: “The scene we are witnesses to is the most vile and execrable that can be conceived. A soldier of ours was yesterday taken by the enemy beyond our lines, who had chopped off an unfortunate woman’s fingers in order to plunder her of her rings. I really think the return of this army to England is to be dreaded by the peaceable inhabitants, and will occasion a prodigious increase of business for Sir J. Fielding and Jack Ketch. I am sure the office of the latter can never find more deserving objects for its exercise.”

In addition to the native British ruffian and brutal Hessian, the Administration called to its aid the red savages of the wilderness, armed them, and set them loose. They offered and paid rewards for scalps without regard to age or sex; that of the babe in arms was merchantable as well as that of feeble old age, that of the matron or maid as well as that of stalwart ranger or sturdy farmer. War is barbarism. It is the release of the fierce, bad passions of men from the moral and physical restraint imposed by generations of self-control. But there is no law in war but the law of force. The strongest do as they please; and in a war of invasion, suppressing a rebellion, all restraints of religion, morals, sentiment, and right are thrown aside, and its taint infects everything, and must be destroyed. It was so in 1688, after Monmouth’s rebellion; it was so in 1745, after Charles Edward’s rising; and it was so in 1775–’81, and always will be so. The revival of such memories would be detrimental, if unnecessary; but their recall is now useful to better understand the next episode and trial in Washington’s life.

The Treaty of Peace had bound the English to surrender to the United States all the military posts on the lakes and west of the Ohio. With a profound sense of the importance of the Western country to the prosperity, the safety, and the glory of the United States, Washington had urged on the Confederation the necessity of securing the fulfillment of this treaty engagement. But the British Government deferred and delayed, postponed and procrastinated, until Washington became President. It had never gone beyond acknowledging the independence of the several States, but had never recognized the United States—the Union under the Constitution. It sent no minister to the Union, and received none from the Union. Inflamed by the passion the war had created—for he had felt none before—Washington became satisfied that the British intended to make a new effort at conquest.

It was this suspicion that was a potent force in directing his energy, his mind, and his enthusiasm toward the prompt construction of a Union which would have concentrated power enough to resist the attack on liberty more vigorously than the Confederacy had been enabled to do. It was this feeling that prompted his first move at Mount Vernon in arranging the Compact of 1785, the Annapolis Convention of 1786, and that in Philadelphia in 1787. A speech was reported as having been made by Lord Dorchester at Montreal to a grand council of Indian chiefs, promising them that he would soon send them on the warpath against the Americans. At the same time the British Administration published an order in council substantially excluding American commerce from British West Indian ports.

Next to the Western country and the policy of neutrality, and as part of the same grand system to build up and solidify the Union, Washington desired peace. Arts, industry, happy labor, would, he knew, construct a powerful nation, which in time would lead the world in arts and arms, as in virtue and valor, intelligence and character. He wrote Lafayette, in 1791, “We must have the free navigation of the Mississippi, and we surely will have it if we remain a nation.” Everything depended on that—peace, order, happiness, progress. He proposed to send Hamilton to England. But by this time it had become clear to him, that if he was to administer the Government on the lines of the policy he had marked out, he could only do it by the assistance of those who believed in that policy and in him. Mr. Jefferson had diverged so far from the President that both became convinced that it was wisest to sever official relations. The Secretary of State resigned, and Mr. Randolph, the Attorney-General, we promoted to the place. After a short service Randolph retired, on account of some captured dispatches sent by the French minister to his Government, reflecting on Randolph’s official conduct, and sent by the captors to the British minister at Philadelphia. Washington offered the portfolio to Thomas Johnson, his old partner in the Ohio and Potomac Companies, who had nominated him for commander in chief, who had been the first State Governor of Maryland, and filled the place of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, until forced to resign by ill health. He urged Johnson to accept the duty, for, said he, “there has never been a time in which the services of tried friends of the Government were as much needed as they are now.” Johnson, though a younger man than Washington by some months, insisted that his age relieved him from the duty and incapacitated him for the labor, and so declined. He then invited Patrick Henry to take the place, and upon his declining, offered it to Timothy Pickering. Pickering, in the Continental Congress, representing Massachusetts, had been one of the coterie of which the Adamses and James Lovell were members, who criticised Washington’s “Fabian policy” during the war, and who always opposed his recommendations for a regular army. He was not, therefore, bound to the President by sentimental ties, but he was an able man, a sincere patriot, and a convinced Federalist. He believed the system of a Federal Union was wise, was strong, and could be successfully operated, and would serve to maintain liberty.

Washington had directed Gouverneur Morris, who was going to England on private business, to sound the British Government unofficially as to when the surrender of the Western posts might be expected, the complete execution of the treaty would be carried out and ministers interchanged, and as to the feasibility of negotiating a commercial treaty. Morris made advances, was repelled with indifference bordering on insolence, and reported that nothing was to be done, except that they would send a minister to the United States. In due time George Hammond arrived, and almost immediately opened a spirited correspondence with Mr. Jefferson concerning Mr. Genet’s notorious violation of treaty rights by fitting out privateers in American ports to prey upon the British.

The dismissal of Genet got matters into better train, and Washington returned to his fixed purpose to establish certain relations with Great Britain. If she intended to live up to the treaty in good faith he intended to know it. If she purposed to use it as a cloak to cover designs of future aggression on American commerce or the Western country, he intended to know that. He was clear in his conviction that the new nation could only vindicate its right to live by being ready at all times to defend that right by arms. A people that will not fight for their rights have none, was his belief.

The proposition to send Hamilton as minister plenipotentiary met with such an acrid opposition from the Jeffersonian Democracy that he gave it up, and selected John Jay, Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, a man of ability, spotless character, experience in affairs of learning, and thoroughly imbued with the American ideas of the President. Jay was a gentleman and an accomplished man of the world, and was received with the distinction due to his personal character, his social standing, and his official position by the society of London. He was presented, and kissed the Queen’s hand, which was denounced as a grave infraction of republican principles by the Jeffersonians.

He negotiated a treaty which provided for the payment by the United States of debts due to British merchants, as settled by arbitration, for surrender of the Western posts on July 1, 1796, and that Americans should have the right to trade with the West Indies on condition that they should not transport the productions of those colonies to Europe. It secured the right to trade direct with the colonies of Great Britain in the East or the West, but excluded the right to participate in the carrying trade between those countries, and also between them and Europe. The commercial clauses were entirely unsatisfactory to the American aspiration for freer trade. They felt already the pulsations of the growing vigor which will in time make them lords of the seas; and the seaboard, from Boston to Charleston, blazed with indignant protests against the treaty, and was lighted by the burning of John Jay’s effigy.

Washington determined to sign the treaty, as the best that could be done at that time, after the Senate had ratified it, on condition that the West India article should be modified. But before anything definite was done, the British Government, with British insolence, put its own construction on the unratified treaty by ordering the seizure of all vessels carrying provisions to France or French territories and allies. That is, they declared the high seas a mare clausum, to be regulated and used at the will of Great Britain. No such storm of popular indignation against any public act of public officials has ever been raised in the United States as that exhibited against Jay’s Treaty.

Public meetings at Boston, at New York, at Baltimore, at Richmond—presided over by Chancellor Wythe, in Richmond, by Livingston in New York, Rodney in Delaware, Christopher Gadsden and the Rutledges in South Carolina—all denounced the sale of American rights of free trade on the high seas. Washington disapproved of the agreement, but it was the best that could be done at that time. It settled the question of the Western posts and the Western country, that was extremely pressing and demanded prompt settlement.

That other question of equal rights for American commerce on the high seas, and freer trade with all the world, his broad mind knew would settle itself in time. If the United States became strong enough to maintain its claim to rights by arms, they would be conceded; if not, not. And it required another war with Great Britain to settle the right, in which the military genius of the American race was exhibited on land and sea, and the right to a free flag established, never to be questioned by any power which shall ever arise in this world. The War of 1812 was waged to resist the British claim to the right of search and of impressment on the high seas. The treaty of 1815 made peace between the belligerents, without referring to the casus belli, but the right of search and the right of impressment perished under the thunder of American guns, and since then has been as dead as the first Pharaoh.

Therefore, content to do what could be done, confident that the future could take care of itself, immovable by popular clamor and impenetrable to popular rage, on August 18, 1795, he signed the Jay Treaty. The episode of the Jay Treaty was but another illustration of the powerful intellect of Washington. His indomitable will had been known of all men for the preceding twenty years. But the country needed peace—rest to grow; that secured, everything would be safe. The constant threat from the Spaniard and the British was on the Western border.

At any moment Indian war might break out from the Ohio to the Savannah. The counties of Kentucky and Illinois would at once seize the British posts on the lakes and the Spanish garrison at the mouth of the Mississippi, and the country be precipitated into a war with Spain and Great Britain, instigated by them through their savage agents. He therefore took the step to guarantee peace and save the Union. Maritime rights must settle themselves in time. The creation of a great, large, wide-spreading Americanism, which would obliterate petty local jealousies and provincial narrowness, and would embrace the continent in its patriotism and the illimitable future in its hope, was the most earnest desire of Washington’s heart.

He was the most direct man that ever lived, and as clear-sighted. He saw as far and went as straight to his object as any statesman of history. But he was also gifted with an intuition into character and motive which was almost unerring. He never made a mistake about men but twice. He sometimes did about policies. But his treatment of the Jay controversy was an interesting exhibition of sagacity and tact. The selectmen of Boston sent him the burning protest of the town meeting against the ratification of the treaty. He answered the whole proceeding with a phrase. His reply to them is dated, “United States, 28th of July, 1795.” It is the only instance in his whole life where he dated any paper in this way. But the phrase told the whole story: The United States to the town of Boston; the grand, magnificent whole—custodian of the happiness, the hopes, the aspirations of untold generations yet to be born—to the infinitesimal part, about a question of present barter, exchange, and trade. That was the thought he presented to the world in the date of his letter to Boston.

Washington had been elected to the presidency a second time by the unanimous vote of the electoral colleges, and there was a general desire that he should serve for a third term. But he felt that he had done his duty, and earned his retirement from public life and the enjoyment of domestic comfort. In September, 1796, he issued his farewell address—a paper unequaled in the language for grasp of intellect, for patriotic sentiment, and for prophetic forecast. In it he set forth the principles which had guided him since the definitive Treaty of Peace had established the United States. “Be united,” he said, “be AMERICANS. . . . Observe justice and good faith toward all nations, . . . and be independent politically of all. In a word, be a nation, be AMERICANS, and be true to yourselves.” The “nation” that he exhorted them to form was a homogeneous race, controlling geographical territory with the same political institutions, united by identity of descent, customs, traditions and principles. But Washington never dreamed of a Nation which would obliterate State lines and local institutions, and reduce the historic States to the status of counties.

He supported the administration of John Adams, who succeeded him in 1797 as the lineal successor to his policy. Adams sent Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry as ministers plenipotentiary to France, to negotiate a treaty with the French Republic. The gentlemen of the Directory demanded $6,400,000 from the United States by way of loan to the Republic, and a bonus of $250,000 to the Directory themselves. The American envoys spurned the demand with spirit. They remained in Paris seeking to come to some understanding. The Directory emphasized their view of the unreasonableness of the American position by passing a decree subjecting to capture neutral vessels and their cargoes if any portion of such cargoes were of British manufacture. As the Americans controlled the carrying trade of the world, this was equivalent to a confiscation of their commerce.

Congress promptly authorized the President to enlist ten thousand men as a provisional army to be called into actual service in case of war. Adams nominated Washington to be lieutenant general and commander in chief of all the armies raised or to be raised, on July 3,1798, and he was confirmed the next day. He was then sixty-six years and five months old, a vigorous, hale man. He might have discharged the duties of commander in chief in the field, but the experiment was a doubtful one. He himself was of the opinion that the senior generals of the last war were too old for active service, and therefore selected Alexander Hamilton for inspector general and chief of staff, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Henry Knox to have the rank of major generals in the order named.

The view which Washington had taken concerning the old generals was justified, as the exception in favor of Knox was not, by the event. Knox refused to serve under Hamilton and Pinckney, both of whom he had ranked in the old army sixteen years before. But Pinckney promptly accepted, with the offer that, if it would reconcile General Knox, he would give up second place to him and take the junior rank himself. Early in November, 1798, Washington went to Philadelphia to consult with his two major generals and the Secretary of War. Five weeks were spent on this work, and the result was reduced to form by Hamilton, signed by Washington, and forwarded to the Secretary of War, James McHenry. The organization of the army was perfected on paper. He proposed Alexander Hamilton, inspector; Charles C. Pinckney, Henry Knox, or, if either refuses, Henry Lee, with the rank of major generals; Henry Lee—if not a major general—John Brooks, William S. Smith, or John E. Howard, brigadiers; Edward Hand, or Jonathan Dayton, or, William S. Smith, adjutant general; Edward Carrington, quartermaster general; James Craik, director of the hospital. Washington never believed that there would be a French invasion. Acting on his lifelong principle, that the best way to prevent war was to be prepared for it, he arranged for the collection of his army, its organization and its mobilization. The promptness with which the Americans took up the glove satisfied the French. Their governors were changed, and the new organization opened negotiations with the United States for a peaceful settlement. John Quincy Adams, then envoy to Paris, made an amicable adjustment, and war was averted. But Washington did not live to see the restoration of peace. At Mount Vernon he was busy, since his return from Philadelphia on the expiration of his second term, in putting his farms in order, in restoring his property, which had been greatly impaired in his twenty years’ absence, and in arranging his affairs generally. He erected a separate building for the safe keeping of his papers, military and civil, and employed a gentleman named Rawlins to record his vast and extended correspondence. He also gave to Tobias Lear, his old comrade and secretary, charge of all his papers, and supervised him in arranging and docketing them. No stranger of distinction came to America without calling at Mount Vernon to pay his respects to the greatest character of the age, as was the common phrase—“to gratify curiosity” was Washington’s own word. They were invariably invited to stay to dinner and to remain overnight. The invitation was always accepted at the giving, and the acceptance was the custom of the country, and consequently the table of Mount Vernon from year’s end to year’s end was never without guests. As was the custom with all country gentlemen, Washington’s work of the day was done in the morning—the largest part before breakfast, the remainder before noon. The host rises with the sun and rides over the plantation in early morning, to see that the machinery has been properly started and is working smoothly. The guests meet first at breakfast.

That was and is the custom at Virginian country houses on great estates. It prevails to-day at Westover, just as it did at Belvoir before the war, and at Mount Vernon after the master had returned. The morning of December 12, 1799, was overcast and cloudy. He rode out as usual to make the rounds of his farms and look after his servants and his stock. By midday a light, powdery snow began to fall, which soon changed into a cold, drizzling rain, penetrating the clothes and pervading the lungs—such a rain as is usual in the Chesapeake region at that time of year. After being out two hours he came in, and declined to change his clothes, for he said they were dry, and had protected him perfectly. The next day he went out again, and that night he was taken with an acute sore throat-acute œdematous laryngitis is now known to be the scientific designation of it. Dr. James Craik, his comrade, friend, and medical adviser, was called in, who arrived with two other physicians. They bled him and administered calomel, and he died the next day. The medical treatment has been greatly criticised as ignorant, barbarous, and the cause of his death. It seems that this criticism is unjust, and the highest authorities as specialists on diseases of the throat of the present day say that the science and skill of Washington’s medical attendants were fully up to the standard of medical knowledge in Virginia and in America at that day. At this time the case would be conducted differently, but it was treated with the best knowledge that any one had at that time. He had directed Colonel Lear that his body should not be placed in the vault for three days after his death, and the funeral took place on the 18th of December, 1799. It was attended by the militia, Free Masons and corporation of Alexandria, and his many friends from the neighborhood.

The world stood uncovered out of respect for the illustrious dead, and America mourned him as her best-beloved son. He was the first, as he is still the greatest, American. The Congress wore black during the session. When the news of his death reached England, Lord Bridport, who commanded sixty sail of the line lying at Torbay, lowered his flag half mast, every ship doing the same; and the First Consul of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, in announcing his death to the army in a general order, directed that all the flags and standards of the armies of France and service of the Republic should be draped in crape for ten days.

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