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Page:Collier's New Encyclopedia v. 10.djvu/358

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Washington became Commander-in-Chief of the American army on June 15, 1775, and for several years his history was that of the Revolutionary War, elsewhere recorded. Suffice it here to say that he created the American army; fought the English generals, Howe, Clinton, Burgoyne, and Comwallis, with various results; till, finally, he surrounded Cornwallis at Yorktown, and compelled him to capitulate. To his intrepidity, prudence, and moderation the United States is almost wholly indebted for the independence which was secured to it by the treaty of peace concluded in 1783. Soone after this event Washington resigned his commission to Congress, and in his address on that occasion the magnanimity of the hero was blended with the wisdom of the philosopher. He returned to his seat at Mount Vernon and, like Cincinnatus of old, he returned to his former and favorite pursuit of agriculture. The federation of the States having failed to afford an efficient government, Washington proposed conventions for commercial purposes, which led to the Convention of 1787, of which he was a member, which founded the present Federal Constitution, considered by him as the only security against anarchy and civil war. Under this Constitution he was chosen President, and inaugurated in New York, April 30, 1789. His government was marked by that well-tempered prudence which distinguished all his conduct. Having been re-elected as president, he held office till 1797, when he again retired to his estate at Mount Vernon. In 1797, when there arose a difficulty with France, threatening hostilities, he was appointed Lieutenant-General and Commander-in-Chief, a post which he accepted with extreme reluctance, but with that spirit of obedience to the call of duty which has been the governing rule of his life. On Dec. 12, 1799, he was exposed in the saddle, for several hours, to cold and snow, and attacked with acute laryngitis, for which he was repeatedly and largely bled, but sank rapidly, and died, Dec. 14.

Washington was childless, but most happy in his domestic relations. He was mourned even by his enemies and deserved the record: “First in peace, first in war, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” The following estimate of the character and intellect of the great American patriot is from President Jefferson:

“His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and, as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion. Hence the common remark of his officers of the advantages he derived from councils of war, where, hearing all suggestions, he selected whatever was best; and certainly no general ever planned his battles more judiciously; but, if deranged during the course of action, if any member of his plan was disarranged by sudden circumstances, he was slow in readjustment. The consequence was that he often failed in the field, but rarely against an enemy in station, as at Boston and York. He was incapable of fear, meeting personal danger with the calmest concern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining, if he saw a doubt; but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was the most pure, his justice the most inflexible, I have ever known; no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man. His temper was naturally irritable and high-toned; but reflection and resolution had obtained a firm and habitual ascendency over it * * * * His person was fine, his stature exactly what one could wish. Though in the circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved with safety, he took a free share in conversation, his colloquial talents were not above mediocrity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas nor fluency of words. In public, when called on for a sudden opinion, he was unready, short, and embarrassed. Yet he wrote readily, rather diffusely, in an easy and correct style. He read little, and that only on subjects of agriculture and English history.”

WASHINGTON, FORT, a Revolutionary fortress on Manhattan Island (New York City), captured by the British in 1776.

WASHINGTON, TREATY OF, a treaty between Great Britain and the United States, signed May 8, 1871. Under its terms the “Alabama” claims, the San Juan boundaries, and certain fisheries disputes were settled by arbitration.

WASHINGTON AND JEFFERSON COLLEGE, an educational institution in Washington, Pa.; founded in 1802, under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church; reported at the close of 1919: Professors and instructors, 18; students, 290. President, S. C. Black, LL. D.