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And now I found myself a close prisoner, indeed; shut up in two small rooms, which together made about twenty feet square; a warder my constant companion; and a fixed bayonet under my window ; not a friend to converse with, and no prospect of a correspondence.
September 23d.—For some time past I have been frequently and strongly tempted to make my escape from the Tower, assured, “ It was the advice and desire of all my friends, the thing might be easily effected, the face of American affairs was extremely gloomy." That I might have eighteen hours' start before I was missed; time enough to reach Margate and Ostend ; that it was believed there would be no pursuit,” etc., etc. I had always said, “I hate the name of a runaway.” At length I put a stop to farther applications by saying, "I will not attempt an escape. The gates were opened for me to enter; they shall be opened for me to go out of the Tower. God Almighty sent me here for some purpose. I am determined to see the end of it.”
1732-1799. GEORGE WASHINGTON's life is so well known, it is so simple, so grand, that a few words can tell it, and yet volumes would not exhaust it. His mother's remark, “George was always a good son," sums up his character; and his title, “Father of his Country,” sums up his life-work.
He was born at Pope's Creek, Westmoreland County, Virginia, and became a surveyor, being employed in that capacity at the early age of sixteen by Lord Fairfax, governor of Virginia. He joined the English troops sent under General Braddock against the French in 1756, and his bravery and good sense in this expedition gained him great renown. In
1775 he was made commander-in-chief of the American forces against the English and he conducted the war of the Revolution to a successful issue in 1783. He was the first president of the United States, being elected in 1789, and again in 1793, declining a third term in 1797. He retired to private life at Mt. Vernon, his home in Virginia. Here he died, and here he lies buried, his tomb being a shrine of pilgrimage for all his countrymen and admirers.
Innumerable monuments rise all over our land commemorating his virtues and pointing him out as a model for the youth of America. One of the finest is that at Richmond, designed by Crawford, an equestrian statue in bronze, surrounded by colossal figures of Jefferson, Mason, Patrick Henry, Lewis, Marshall, and Nelson. The marble statue by Houdon in the Capitol at Richmond is considered the best figure of Washington; it was done from life in 1788. Other noble memorials are the Column at Baltimore, and the great obelisk at Washington City, called the Washington Monument, the latter designed by Robert Mills, of South Carolina, and intended originally to have a colonnade around the base containing the statues of the illustrious men of our country.
State Papers, Addresses, Letters—12 volumes. Washington's writings are like his character, simple, clear, sensible, without any pretensions to special culture or literary grace. These extracts show his modesty, his love of truth, and his general good sense. See under Madison, Weems, and Henry Lee.
AN HONEST Man. I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain, what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an “ honest man.” -Moral Maxims.
HOW TO ANSWER CALUMNY,
To persevere in one's duty and be silent is the best answer to calumny.-Moral Maxims.
Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, conscience.-Rule from the Copy-book of Washington when a school boy.
ON HIS APPOINTMENT AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF.
[Delivered in Congress, 16 June, 1775.]
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 desire it, I will enter upon the momentous duty, and exert every power
in their service, and for the support of the glorious cause. 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 this arduous employment, at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it. I will keep an exact account of my expenses. Those, I doubt not, they will discharge, and that is all I desire.