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Letter/label/spacer or doddleFIRST PRESIDENT.Letter/label/spacer or doddle19

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 Letter/label/spacer or doddleLetter/label/spacer or doddle

HE Father of our Country was born in Westmorland Co., Va., Feb. 22 , 1732. His parents were Augustine and Mary (Ball) Washington. The family to which he belonged has not been satisfactorily traced in England. His great-grandfather, John Washington, emigrated to Virginia about 1657, and became a prosperous planter. He had two sons, Lawrence and John. The former married Mildred Warner and had three children, John, Augustine and Mildred. Augustine, the father of George, first married Jane Butler, who bore him four children, two of whom, Lawrence and Augustine, reached maturity. Of six children by his second marriage, George was the eldest, the others being Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, Charles and Mildred.
   Augustine Washington, the father of George, died in 1743, leaving a large landed property. To his eldest son, Lawrence, he bequeathed an estate on the Potomac, afterwards known as Mount Vernon, and to George he left the parental residence. George received only such education as the neighborhood schools afforded, save for a short time after he left school, when he received private instruction in mathematics. His spelling was rather defective.
   Remarkable stories are told of his great physical strength and development at an early age. He was an acknowledged leader among his companions, and was early noted for that nobleness of character, fairness and veracity which characterized his whole life.
   When George was 14 years old he had a desire to go to sea, and a midshipman's warrant was secured for him, but through the opposition of his mother the idea was abandoned. Two years later he was appointed surveyor to the immense estate of Lord Fairfax. In this business he spent three years in a rough frontier life, gaining experience which afterwards proved very essential to him. In 1751, though only 19 years of age, he was appointed adjutant with the rank of major in the Virginia militia, then being trained for active service against the French and Indians. Soon after this he sailed to the West Indies with his brother Lawrence, who went there to restore his health. They soon returned, and in the summer of 1752 Lawrence died, leaving a large fortune to an infant daughter who did not long survive him. On her demise the estate of Mount Vernon was given to George.
   Upon the arrival of Robert Dinwiddie, as Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, in 1752, the militia was reorganized, and the province divided into four military districts, of which the northern was assigned to Washington as adjutant general. Shortly after this a very perilous mission was assigned him and accepted, which others had refused. This was to proceed to the French post near Lake Erie in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The distance to be traversed was between 500 and 600 miles. Winter was at hand, and the journey was to be made without military escort, through a territory occupied by Indians. The



20Letter/label/spacer or doddleGEORGE WASHINGTON.Letter/label/spacer or doddle

trip was a perilous one, and several times he came near losing his life, yet he returned in safety and furnished a full and useful report of his expedition. A regiment of 300 men was raised in Virginia and put in command of Col. Joshua Fry, and Major Washington was commissioned lieutenant-colonel. Active war was then begun against the French and Indians, in which Washington took a most important part. In the memorable event of July 9, 1755, known as Braddock's defeat, Washington was almost the only officer of distinction who escaped from the calamities of the day with life and honor. The other aids of Braddock were disabled early in the action, and Washington alone was left in that capacity on the field. In a letter to his brother he says: "I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet I escaped unhurt, though death was leveling my companions on every side." An Indian sharpshooter said he was not born to be killed by a bullet, for he had taken direct aim at him seventeen times, and failed to hit him.
   After having been five years in the military service, and vainly sought promotion in the royal army, he took advantage of the fall of Fort Duquesne and the expulsion of the French from the valley of the Ohio, to resign his commission. Soon after he entered the Legislature, where, although not a leader, he took an active and important part. January 17, 1759, he married Mrs. Martha (Dandridge) Custis, the wealthy widow of John Parke Custis.
   When the British Parliament had closed the port of Boston, the cry went up throughout the provinces that "The cause of Boston is the cause of us all." It was then, at the suggestion of Virginia, that a Congress of all the colonies was called to meet at Philadelphia, Sept. 5, 1774, to secure their common liberties, peaceably if possible. To this Congress Col. Washington was sent as a delegate. On May 10, 1775, the Congress re-assembled, when the hostile intentions of England were plainly apparent. The battles of Concord and Lexington had been fought. Among the first acts of this Congress was the election of a commander-in-chief of the colonial forces. This high and responsible office was conferred upon Washington, who was still a member of the Congress. He accepted it on June 19, but upon the express condition that he receive no salary. He would keep an exact account of expenses and expect Congress to pay them and nothing more. It is not the object of this sketch to trace the military acts of Washington, to whom the fortunes and liberties of the people of this country were so long confided. The war was conducted by him under every possible disadvantage, and while his forces often met with reverses, yet he overcame every obstacle, and after seven years of heroic devotion and matchless skill he gained liberty for the greatest nation of earth. On Dec. 23, 1783, Washington, in a parting address of surpassing beauty, resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the army to to (sic) the Continental Congress sitting at Annapolis. He retired immediately to Mount Vernon and resumed his occupation as a farmer and planter, shunning all connection with public life.
   In February, 1789, Washington was unanimously elected President. In his presidential career he was subject to the peculiar trials incidental to a new government; trials from lack of confidence on the part of other governments; trials from want of harmony between the different sections of our own country; trials from the impoverished condition of the country, owing to the war and want of credit; trials front the beginnings of party strife. He was no partisan. His clear judgment could discern the golden mean; and while perhaps this alone kept our government from sinking at the very outset, it left him exposed to attacks from both sides, which were often bitter and very annoying.
   At the expiration of his first term he was unanimously re-elected. At the end of this term many were anxious that he be re-elected, but he absolutely refused a third nomination. On the fourth. of March, 1797, at the expiraton (sic) of his second term as President, he returned to his home, hoping to pass there his few remaining years free from the annoyances of public life. Later in the year, however, his repose seemed likely to be interrupted by war with France. At the prospect of such a war he was again urged to take command of the armies. He chose his subordinate officers and left to them the charge of matters in the field, which he superintended from his home. In accepting the command he made the reservation that he was not to be in the field until it was necessary. In the midst of these preparations his life was suddenly cut off. December 12, he took a severe cold from a ride in the rain, which, settling in his throat, produced inflammation, and terminated fatally on the night of the fourteenth. On the eighteenth his body was borne with military honors to its final resting place, and interred in the family vault at Mount Vernon.
   Of the character of Washington it is impossible to speak but in terms of the highest respect and admiration. The more we see of the operations of our government, and the more deeply we feel the difficulty of uniting all opinions in a common interest, the more highly we must estimate the force of his talent and character, which have been able to challenge the reverence of all parties, and principles, and nations, and to win a fame as extended as the limits of the globe, and which we cannot but believe will he as lasting as the existence of man.
   The person of Washington was unusally (sic) tan, erect and well proportioned. His muscular strength was great. His features were of a beautiful symmetry.
   He commanded respect without any appearance of haughtiness, and ever serious without being dull.


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