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Contents

XIV. George Washington

  1. A Virginia boy; what he became; what he learned at school; his writing-books.
  2. Washington's sports and games; playing at war; “Captain George.”
  3. The great battle with the colt, and what came of it.
  4. Washington goes on a visit to Mount Vernon; he makes the acquaintance of Lord Fairfax.
  5. Lord Fairfax hires Washington to survey his land; how Washington lived in the woods; the Indian war-dance.
  6. Washington at the age of twenty-one; the French in the west; the governor of Virginia sends Washington to see the French commander.
  7. The journey back; the Indian guide; how Washington found his way throught the woods; the adventure with the raft.
  8. Major Washington becomes Colonel Washington; Fort Necessity; Braddock's defeat.
  9. End of the war with the French; what the king of England wanted to do; how the people here felt toward him.
  10. The king determines to have the money; the tea-ships, and the “Boston tea-party.”
  11. The king closes the port of Boston; Congress meet at Philadelphia; the names American and British; what General Gage tried to do.
  12. Paul Revere; the fight at Lexington and Concord; Bunker Hill.
  13. Colonel Washington at Mount Vernon; Congress makes him General Washington, and sends him to take command of the American army.
  14. American sharpshooters; Washington's need of cannon and powder; the attack on Canada; the British driven out of Boston.
  15. The Declaration of Independence; “Down with the king!” Washington is driven from New York and across the Delaware River.
  16. Washington's victory at Trenton, New Jersey.
  17. Our victory at Princeton, New Jersey; the British take Philadelphia; winter at Valley Forge; Burgoyne beaten; the king of France agrees to help us.
  18. The war at the south; Jasper; Cowpens; Greene and Cornwallis.
  19. Cornwallis and Benedict Arnold; Lafayette; Cornwallis shuts himself up in Yorktown.
  20. Washington marches against Yorktown, and takes it and the army of Cornwallis.
  21. How the news of the taking of Yorktown was carried to Philadelphia; Lord Fairfax.
  22. Tearing down the British flag at New York; Washington goes back to Mount Vernon; he is elected President; his death; Lafayette visits his tomb.
  23. Summary.

George Washington (1732–1799)Edit

123. A Virginia boy; what he became; what he learned at school; his writing-books.— In 1732, when Franklin was at work on his newspaper, a boy was born on a plantation1 in Virginia who was one day to stand higher even than the Philadelphia printer.

That boy when he grew up was to be chosen leader of the armies of the Revolution; he was to be elected the first president of the United States; and before he died he was to be known and honored all over the world. The name of that boy was George Washington.

Washington's father died when George was only eleven years old, leaving him, with his brothers and sisters, to the care of a most excellent and sensible mother. It was that mother's influence, more than anything else, which made George the man he became.

George went to a little country school, where he learned to read, write, and cipher. By the time he was twelve, he could write a clear, bold hand. In one of his writing-books he copied many good rules or sayings. Here is one: “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial2 fire called conscience.”

124. Washington's sports and games; playing at war; “Captain George.”— But young Washington was not always copying good sayings; for he was a tall, strong boy, fond of all outdoor sports and games. He was a well-meaning boy; but he had a hot temper, and at times his blue eyes flashed fire. In all trials of strength and in all deeds of daring, George took the lead; he could run faster, jump further, and throw a stone higher than any one else in the school.

When the boys played “soldier,” they liked to have “Captain George” as commander. When he drew his wooden sword, and shouted Come on! they would all rush into battle with a wild hurrah. Years afterward, when the real war came, and George Washington drew his sword in earnest, some of his school companions may have fought under their old leader.

125. The great battle with the colt, and what came of it.— Once, however, Washington had a battle of a different kind. It was with a high-spirited colt which belonged to his mother. Nobody had ever been able to do anything with that colt, and most people were afraid of him. Early one morning, George and some of his brothers were out in the pasture. George looked at the colt prancing about and kicking up his heels. Then he said, “Boys, if you'll help me put a bridle on him, I'll ride him.” The boys managed to get the colt into a corner and to slip on the bridle. With a leap, George seated himself firmly on his back. Then the fun began. The colt, wild with rage, ran, jumped, plunged, and reared straight up on his hind legs, hoping to throw his rider off. It was all useless; he might as well have tried to throw off his own skin, for the boy stuck to his back as though he had grown there. Then, making a last desperate bound into the air, the animal burst a blood vessel and fell dead. The battle was over, George was victor, but it had cost the life of Mrs. Washington's favorite colt.

When the boys went in to breakfast, their mother, knowing that they had just come from the pasture, asked how the colt was getting on. “He is dead, madam,” said George; “I killed him.” “Dead!” exclaimed his mother. “Yes, madam, dead,” replied her son. Then he told her just how it happened. When Mrs. Washington heard the story, her face flushed with anger. Then, waiting a moment, she looked steadily at George, and said quietly, “While I regret the loss of my favorite, I rejoice in my son, who always speaks the truth.”

126. Washington goes on a visit to Mount Vernon; he makes the acquaintance of Lord Fairfax.— George's eldest brother, Lawrence Washington, had married the daughter of a gentleman named Fairfax,3 who lived on the banks of the Potomac. Lawrence had a fine estate a few miles above, on the same river; he called his place Mount Vernon. When he was fourteen, George went to Mount Vernon to visit his brother.

Lawrence Washington took George down the river to call on the Fairfaxes. There the lad made the acquaintance of Lord Fairfax, an English nobleman who had come over from London. He owned an immense piece of land in Virginia. Lord Fairfax and George soon became great friends. He was a gray-haired man nearly sixty, but he enjoyed having this boy of fourteen as a companion. They spent weeks together on horseback in the fields and woods, hunting deer and foxes.

127. Lord Fairfax hires Washington to survey4 his land; how Washington lived in the woods; the Indian war-dance.— Lord Fairfax's land extended westward more than a hundred miles. It had never been very carefully surveyed; and he was told that settlers were moving in beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, and were building log cabins on his property without asking leave. By the time Washington was sixteen, he had learned surveying; and so Lord Fairfax hired him to measure his land for him. Washington was glad to undertake the work; for he needed the money, and he could earn in this way from five to ten dollars a day.

Early in the spring, Washington, in company with another young man, started off, on foot, to do this business. They crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains, and entered the Valley of Virginia, one of the most beautiful valleys in America.

The two young men would work all day in the woods, with a long chain, measuring the land. When evening came, Washington would make a map of what they had measured. Then they would wrap themselves up in their blankets, stretch themselves on the ground at the foot of a tree, and go to sleep under the stars.

Every day they shot some game,—squirrels or wild turkeys, or perhaps a deer. They kindled a fire with flint and steel, and roasted the meat on sticks held over the coals. For plates they had clean chips; and as clean chips could always be got by a few blows with an axe, they never washed any dishes, but just threw them away, and had a new set for each meal.

While in the valley they met a band of Indians, who stopped and danced a war-dance for them. The music was not remarkable,—for most of it was made by drumming on a deerskin stretched across the top of an old iron pot,—but the dancing could not be beat. The savages leaped into the air, swung their hatchets, gashed the trees, and yelled till the woods rang.

When Washington returned from his surveying trip, Lord Fairfax was greatly pleased with his work; and the governor of Virginia made him one of the public surveyors. By this means he was able to get work which paid him handsomely.

128. Washington at the age of twenty-one; the French in the west; the governor of Virginia sends Washington to see the French commander.— By the time Washington was twenty-one he had grown to be over six feet in height. He was as straight as an arrow and as tough as a whiplash. He had keen blue eyes that seemed to look into the very heart of things, and his fist was like a blacksmith's sledge-hammer. He knew all about the woods, all about Indians, and he could take care of himself anywhere.

At this time the English settlers held the country along the seashore as far back as the Alleghany5 Mountains. West of those mountains the French from Canada were trying to get possession of the land. They had made friends with many of the Indians; and, with their help, they hoped to be able to drive out the English and get the whole country for themselves.

In order to hold this land in the west, the French had built several forts south of Lake Erie; and they were getting ready to build some on the Ohio River. The governor of Virginia was determined to put a stop to this. He had given young Washington the military title of major6; he now sent Major Washington to see the French commander at one of the forts near Lake Erie. Washington was to tell the Frenchman that he had built his forts on land belonging to the English, and that he and his men must either leave or fight.

Major Washington dressed himself like an Indian, and attended by several friendly Indians and by a white man named Gist (Jist), who knew the country well, he set out on his journey through what was called the Great Woods.

The entire distance to the farthest fort and back was about a thousand miles. Washington could go on horseback part of the way, but there were no regular roads, and he had to climb mountains and swim rivers. After several weeks' travel, he reached the fort; but the French commander refused to give up the land. He said that he and his men had come to stay, and that if the English did not like it they must fight.

129. The journey back; the Indian guide; how Washington found his way throught the woods; the adventure with the raft.— One the way back, Washington had to leave his horses and come on foot with Gist and an Indian guide sent from the fort. This Indian guide was in the pay of the French, and he intended to murder Washington in the woods. One day he shot at him from behind a tree, but, luckily, did not hit him. Then Washington and Gist managed to get away from him, and set out to go back to Virginia by themselves. There were no paths through the thick forest; but Washington had his compass with him, and with that he could find his way just as the captain of a ship finds his at sea. When they reached the Alleghany River, they found it full of floating ice. They worked all day and made a raft of logs. As they were pushing their way across with poles, Washington's pole was struck by a big piece of ice which he says jerked him out into water ten feet deep. At length the two men managed to get to a little island, but as there was no wood on it, they could not make a fire. The weather was bitterly cold, and Washington, who was soaked to the skin, had to take his choice between walking about all night, or trying to sleep on the frozen ground in his wet clothes.

130. Major Washington becomes Colonel Washington; Fort Necessity; Braddock's defeat.— When Major Washington got back to Virginia, the governor made him a colonel.7 With a hundred and fity men, Colonel Washington was ordered to set out for the west. He was to “make prisoners, kill or destroy,” all Frenchmen who should try to get possession of land on the Ohio River. He built a small log fort, which he named Fort Necessity. Here the French attacked him. They had five men to his one. Colonel Washington fought like a man who liked to hear the bullets whistle past his ears,—as he said he did,—but in the end he had to give up the fort.

Then General Braddock, a noted English soldier, was sent over to Virginia, by the king, to drive the French out of the country. He started with a fine army, and Washington went with him. He told General Braddock that the French and the Indians would hide in the woods and fire at his men from behind trees. But Braddock paid no attention to the warning. On his way through the forest, the brave English general was suddenly struck down by the enemy; half of his army were killed or wounded, and the rest put to flight. Washington had two horses shot under him, and four bullets went through his coat. It was a narrow escape for the young man. One of those who fought in the battle said, “I expected every moment to see him fall,”—but he was to live for greater work.

131. End of the war with the French; what the king of England wanted to do; how the people here felt toward him.— The war with the French lasted a number of years. It ended by the English getting possession of the whole of America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. All this part of America was ruled by George the Third, king of England. The king now determined to send over more soldiers, and to keep them here to prevent the French in Canada from trying to get gack the country they had lost. He wanted the people here in the thirteen colonies8 to pay the cost of keeping these soldiers. But this the people were not willing to do, because they felt that they were able to protect themselves without help of any kind. Then the king said, If the Americans will not give the money, I will take it from them by force,—for pay it they must and shall. This was more than the king would have dared say about England; for there, if he wanted money to spend on his army, he had to ask the people for it, and they could give it or not, as they thought best. The Americans said, We have the same rights as our brothers in England, and the king cannot force us to give a single copper against our will. If he tries to take it from us, we will fight. Some of the greatest men in England agreed with us, and said that they would fight, too, if they were in our place.

132. The king determines to have the money; the tea-ships, and the “Boston tea-party.”— But George the Third did not know the Americans, and he did not think that they meant what they said. He tried to make them pay the money, but they would not. From Maine to Georgia, all the people were of one mind. Then the king thought that he would try a different way. Shiploads of tea were sent over to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston. If the tea should be landed and sold, then every man who bought a pound of it would have to pay six cents more than the regular price. That six cents was a tax, and it went into the king's pocket. The people said, We won't pay that six cents. When the tea reached New York, the citizens sent it back again to England. They did the same thing at Philadelphia. At Charleston they let it be landed, but it was stored in damp cellars. People would not buy any of it any more than they would buy so much poison, so it all rotted and spoiled. At Boston they had a grand “tea-party.” A number of men dressed themselves up like Indians, went on board the tea-ships at night, broke open all the chests, and emptied the tea into the harbor.

133. The king closes the port of Boston; Congress meet at Philadelphia; the names American and British; what General Gage tried to do.— The king was terribly angry; and orders were given that the port of Boston should be closed, so that no ships, except the king's war-ships, should come in or go out. Nearly all trade stopped in Boston. Many of the inhabitants began to suffer for want of food; but throughout the colonies the people tried their best to help them. The New England towns sent droves of sheep and cattle, New York sent wheat, South Carolina gave two hundred barrels of rice; the other colonies gave liberally in money and provisions. Even in England much sympathy was felt for the distressed people of Boston, and in London a large sum of money was raised to help those whom the king was determined to starve into submission.9

The colonies now sent some of their best men to Philadelphia to consider what should be done. As this meeting was made up of those who had come from all parts of the country, it took the name of the General or Continental Congress.10

About this time, too, a great change took place; for the people throughout the country began to call themselves Americans, and too speak of the English troops that the king sent over here, as British soldiers.

In Boston, General Gage had command of these soldiers. He knew that the Americans were getting ready to fight, and that they had stored up powder and ball at Concord (Con′kurd), about twenty miles from Boston. One night he secretly sent out a lot of soldiers to march to Concord and destroy what they found there.

134. Paul Revere; the fight at Lexington and Concord; Bunker Hill.— But Paul Revere (Re-veer′), a Boston man, was on the watch; and as soon as he found out which way the British were going, he set off at a gallop for Lexington, on the road to Concord. All the way, he roused people from their sleep, with the cry, “The British are coming!”

When the king's soldiers reached Lexington, they found the Americans, under Captain Parker, ready for them. Captain Parker said to his men, “Don't fire unless you are fired on; but if they want a war, let it begin here.” The fighting did begin there, April 19, 1775; and when the British left the town on their way to Concord, seven Americans lay dead on the grass in front of the village church. At Concord, that same day, there was still harder fighting; and on the way back to Boston, a large number of the British were killed.

Not quite two months later, June 17, 1775, a battle was fought on Bunker Hill in Charlestown, just outside of Boston. General Gage thought the Yankees wouldn't fight; but they did fight, in a way that General Gage never forgot; and though they had at last to retreat because their powder gave out, yet the British lost more than a thousand men. The contest at Bunker Hill was the first great battle of the Revolution; that is, of that war which overturned the British power in America, and made us a free people. Many Englishmen thought the king was wrong. They would not fight against us, and he was obliged to hire a large number of German soldiers to send to America. These Germans had to fight us, whether they wanted to or not, for their king forced them to come.

135. Colonel Washington at Mount Vernon; Congress makes him General Washington, and sends him to take command of the American army.— At the time the battle of Bunker Hill was fought, Colonel George Washington was living very quietly at Mount Vernon. His brother Lawrence had died, and Mount Vernon was now his home. Washington was very well off; he had a fine estate and plenty of slaves to do the work on it; but when he died, many years later, he took good care to leave orders that all of his slaves should be set free as soon as it could be done.

Congress now made Colonel Washington general-in-chief of all the forces and sent him to Cambridge, a town just outside of Boston, to take command of the American army. It was called the Continental Army because it was raised, not to fight for the people of Massachusetts, but for all the Americans on the continent, north and south. Washington took command of the army under a great elm on what was then the Common.11 Six months later he raised the first American flag over the camp at Cambridge.

136. American sharpshooters; Washington's need of cannon and powder; the attack on Canada; the British driven out of Boston.— Men now came from all parts of the country to join the Continental Army. Many of them were sharpshooters.12 In one case an officer set up a board with the figure of a man's nose chalked on it, for a mark. A hundred men fired at it at long distance, and sixty hit the nose. The newspapers gave them great praise for their skill and said, “Now, General Gage, look out for your nose.”

Washington wanted to drive General Gage and the British soldiers out of Boston; but for months he could not get either cannon or powder. Benjamin Franklin said that we should have to fight as the Indians used to, with bows and arrows.

While Washington was waiting, a number of Americans marched against the British in Canada; but the cold weather came on, and they nearly starved to death: our men would sometimes take off their moccasins13 and gnaw them, while they danced in the snow to keep their bare feet from freezing.

At last Washington got both cannon and powder. He dragged the cannon up to the top of some high land overlooking Boston harbor.14 He then sent word to General Howe (for Gage had gone), that if he did not leave Boston he would knock his ships to pieces. The British saw that they could not help themselves, so they made haste to get on board their vessels and sail away. They never came back to Boston again, but went to New York.

137. The Declaration of Independence; “Down with the king!” Washington is driven from New York and across the Delaware River.— Washington got to New York first. While he was there, Congress, on the 4th of July, 1776, declared the United States independent,—that is, entirely free from the rule of the king of England. In New York there was a gilded lead statue of King George the Third on horseback. When the news of what Congress had done reached that city, the cry rose: “Down with the king!” That night some of our men pulled down the statue, melted it up, and cast it into bullets.

The next month there was a battle on Long Island, just across from New York City; the British gained the victory. Washington had to leave New York, and Lord Cornwallis (Corn-wall′is), one of the British generals, chased him and his little army clear across the state of New Jersey. It looked at one time as though our men would all be taken prisoners; but Washington managed to seize a lot of small boats on the Delaware River and get across into Pennsylvania: as the British had no boats, they could not follow.

138. Washington's victory at Trenton, New Jersey.— Lord Cornwallis left fifteen hundred German soldiers at Trenton on the Delaware. He intended, as soon as the river froze over, to cross on the ice and attack Washington's army. But Washington did not wait for him. On Christmas night (1776) he took a large number of boats, filled them with soldiers, and secretly crossed over to New Jersey. The weather was intensely cold, the river was full of floating ice, and a furious snowstorm set in. Many of our men were ragged and had only old, broken shoes. They suffered terribly, and two of them were frozen to death.

The Germans at Trenton had been having a jolly Christmas, and had gone to bed, suspecting no danger. Suddenly Washington, with his men, rushed into the little town and captured a thousand German soldiers. It was all done so quickly that the men found themselves prisoners almost before they knew what had happened. The rest of the Germans escaped to tell Lord Cornwallis how the Americans had beaten them. When Washington was driven out of New York, many Americans thought he would be captured. Now they were filled with joy. The battle of Trenton was the first battle won by the Continental Army.

139. Our victory at Princeton, New Jersey; the British take Philadelphia; winter at Valley Forge; Burgoyne beaten; the king of France agrees to help us.— Washington took his thousand prisoners over into Pennsylvania. A few days later he again crossed the Delaware into New Jersey. While Cornwallis was fast asleep in his tent, Washington slipped around him, got to Princeton, and there beat a part of the British army. Cornwallis woke up and heard Washington's cannon. “That's thunder,” he said. He was right; it was the thunder of another American victory.

But before the next winter set in, the British had taken the city of Philadelphia, then the capital of the United States. Washington's army was freezing and starving on the hillsides of Valley Forge, about twenty miles northwest of Philadelphia.

But good new was coming. The Americans had won a great victory at Saratoga (Sar-a-toe′gah), New York, over the British general, Burgoyne (Bur-goin′). Dr. Franklin was then in Paris. When he heard that Burgoyne was beaten, he hurried off to the palace of the French king to tell him about it. The king of France hated the British, and he agreed to send money, ships, and soldiers to help us. When our men, at Valley Forge, heard the news they leaped and hurrahed for joy. Now long after that the British left Philadelphia, and we entered it in triumph.

140. The war at the south; Jasper; Cowpens; Greene and Cornwallis.— While these things were happening at the north, the British sent a fleet of vessels to take Charleston, South Carolina. They hammered away with their big guns at a little log fort under command of Colonel Moultrie (Mole′tree). In the battle, a cannon-ball struck the flag-pole on the fort, and cut it in two. The South Carolina flag fell to the ground outside the fort. Sergeant15 William Jasper leaped down, and, while the British shot were striking all around him, seized the flag, climbed back, fastened it to a short staff, and raised it to its place, to show that the Americans would never give up the fort. The British, after fighting all day, saw that they could do nothing against palmetto logs16 when defended by such men as Moultrie and Jasper; so they sailed away with such of their ships as had not been destroyed.

Several years later, Charleston was taken. Lord Cornwallis then took command of the British army in South Carolina. General Greene, of Rhode Island, had command of the Americans. He sent Daniel Morgan with his sharpshooters to meet part of the British army at Cowpens (Cow′pens); they did meet them, and sent them flying. Then Cornwallis determined to whip General Greene or drive him out of the state. But General Greene worried Cornwallis so that at last he was glad enough to get into Virginia. He had found North and South Carolina like two hornets' nests, and the further he got away from those hornets, the better he was pleased.

141. Cornwallis and Benedict Arnold; Lafayette; Cornwallis shuts himself up in Yorktown.— When Lord Cornwallis got into Virginia, he found Benedict Arnold waiting to help him. Arnold had been a general in the American army; Washington gave hime the command of the fort at West Point, on the Hudson River, and trusted him as though he was his brother. Arnold deceived him, and secretly offered to give up the fort to the British. We call a man who is false to his friends and to his country a traitor; it is the most shameful name we can fasten on him. Arnold was a traitor; and if we could have caught him, we should have hanged him; but he was cunning enough to run away and escape to the British. Now he was burning houses and towns in Virginia, and doing all that he could—as a traitor always will—to destroy those who had once been his best friends. He wanted to stay in Virginia and assist Cornwallis; but that general was a brave and honorable man: he despised Arnold, and did not want to have anything to do with him.

A young nobleman named Lafayette (Lah-fay-et′) had come over from France, on purpose to help us against the British. Corwallis laughed at him and called him a “boy”; but he found that General Lafayette was a “boy” who knew how to fight. The British commander moved toward the seacoast; Lafayette followed him; at length Cornwallis shut himself up with his army in Yorktown.

142. Washington marches against Yorktown, and takes it and the army of Cornwallis.— Washington, with his army, was then near New York City, watching the British there. The French king had done as he agreed, and had sent over war-ships and soldiers to help us; but so far they had never been able to do much. Now was the chance. Before the British knew what Washington was about, he had sent the French war-ships down to Yorktown to prevent Cornwallis from getting away by sea. Then, with his own army and a large number of French soldiers besides, Washington quickly marched south to attack Yorktown by land.

When he got there he placed his cannon round the town, and began battering it to pieces. For more than a week he kept firing night and day. One house had over a thousand balls go through it. Its walls looked like a sieve. At last, Cornwallis could not hold out any longer, and on October 19, 1781, his army came out and gave themselves up as prisoners.

The Americans formed a line more than a mile long on one side of the road, and the French stood facing them on the other side. The French had on gay clothes, and looked very handsome; the clothes of Washington's men were patched and faded, but their eyes shone with a wonderful light—the light of victory. The British marched out slowly, between the two lines: somehow they found it pleasanter to look at the bright uniforms of the French than to look at the eyes of the Americans.

143. How the news of the taking of Yorktown was carried to Philadelphia; Lord Fairfax.— People at a distance noticed that the cannon had suddenly stopped firing. They looked at each other, and asked, “What does it mean?” All at once a man appears on horseback. He is riding with all his might toward Philadelphia, where Congress is. As he dashes past, he rises in his stirrups, swings his cap, and shouts with all his might, “Cornwallis is taken! Cornwallis is taken!” Then it was the people's turn to shout; and they made the hills ring with, “Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!”

Poor Lord Fairfax, Washington's old friend, had always stood by the king. He was now over ninety. When he heard the cry, “Cornwallis is taken!” it was too much for the old man. He said to his negro servant, “Come, Joe; carry me to bed, for I'm sure it's high time for me to die.”

144. Tearing down the British flag at New York; Washington goes back to Mount Vernon; he is elected President; his death; Lafayette visits his tomb.— The Revolutionary War had lasted seven years,—terrible years they were, years of sorrow, suffering, and death,—but now the end had come, and America was free. When the British left New York City, they nailed the British flag to a high pole on the wharf; but a Yankee sailor soon climbed the pole, tore down the flag of England, and hoisted the stars and stripes in its place. That was more than a hundred years ago. Now the English and Americans have become good friends, and the English people see clearly that the Revolution ended in the way that was best for both of us.

When it was certain that there would be no more fighting, Washington went back to Mount Vernon. He hoped to spend the rest of his life there. But the country needed him, and a few years later it chose him the first President of the United States.

Washington was made President in New York City, which was the capital of the United States at that time. A French gentleman who was there tells us how Washington, standing in the presence of thousands of people, placed his hand on the Bible, and solemnly swore that with the help of God he would protect and defend the United States of America.

Washington was elected President twice. When he died, many of the people in England and France joined America in mourning for him; for all men honored his memory.

Lafayette came over to visit us many years afterward. He went to Mount Vernon, where Washington was buried. There he went down into the vault,17 and, kneeling by the side of the coffin, covered his face with his hands, and shed tears of gratitude to think that he had known such a man as Washington, and that Washington had been his friend.

145. Summary.— George Washington, the son of a Virginia planter, became the leader of the armies of the United States in the war of the Revolution. At the close of the war, after he had made America free, he was elected our first President. His name stands to-day among those of the greatest men in the history of the world.


When and where was George Washington born? What did he learn at school? What did he write in one of his writing-books? Tell about his sports and games at school. What is said of “Captain George”? Tell the story about the colt. What did George's mother say? Tell about George's visit to his brother and to the Fairfaxes. What is said of Lord Fairfax? What did he hire Washington to do? Tell about his surveying and his life in the woods. Tell about the Indian war-dance. What did the governor of Virginia do when Washington returned? What is said of Washington at the age of twenty-one? Tell about his journey to the French forts and his return. What is said about the Indian guide? What is said about the raft? What did the governor of Virginia do when Washington returned? What did the governor order him to do? What is said about Fort Necessity? Tell about General Braddock, and about what happened to Washington. What is said about the end of the war? What did King George the Third determine to do? What did the king want the Americans to do? How did they feel? What did the king say? What did the Americans say to that? What did some of the greatest men in England say? What did the king then try to do? Tell about the tea-ships. What happened in Boston? What was done to Boston? What help did the people of Boston get? What did the colonies now do? What did the people now begin to call themselves? What did they call the English troops?

Who commanded the British soldiers in Boston? What did he do? What about Paul Revere? What did Captain Parker, of Lexington, say to his men? What happened at Lexington and at Concord? Tell about the battle of Bunker Hill. What did many Englishmen refuse to do? Where was Colonel Washington living? What did Congress do? Where did Washington take command of the army? Tell about the sharpshooters. Tell about the march to Canada. How did Washington take Boston? Where did the British go? Where did Washington go? What did Congress do on July 4, 1776? What happened in New York? What is said about the battle of Long Island? What did Cornwallis do? Tell about the victory at Trenton. What happened at Princeton? What city did the British take? Where was Washington's army? What happened at Saratoga? What did the king of France do? What happened at the south? Tell about Sergeant Jasper. What is said about General Greene? What did Cornwallis do? Where did he go? What is said about Benedict Arnold? What is said about Lafayette? Where did Cornwallis shut himself up with his army? What did Washington do? Tell about the surrender of Cornwallis. How was the news carried to Philadelphia? What is said of Lord Fairfax? How long had the war lasted? What was done at New York? What is said of General Washington after the war? Tell how he was made President. What happened when he died? What is said of Lafayette?


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FootnotesEdit

1 Plantation: George Washington was born on a plantation (or large estate cultivated by slaves) on Bridges Creek, a small stream emptying into the Potomac. Not long after George's birth (February 22, 1732), his father moved to an estate on the Rappahannock River, opposite Fredericksburg.

2 Celestial: heavenly, divine.

3 Fairfax: this was the Hon. William Fairfax; he was cousin to Lord Fairfax, and he had the care of Lord Fairfax's land.

4 Survey: to find out the form, size, and position of a piece of land by measuring it in certain ways.

5 Alleghany (Al-le-ga′ni): It is also spelled Allegheny.

6 Major (mā′jer): an officer in the army next above a captain, but below a colonel.

7 Colonel (kur′nel): the chief officer of a regiment of soldiers.

8 These thirteen colonies or settlements were: First, the four New England colonies (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island; Maine was then part of Massachusetts, and Vermont was claimed by both New Hampshire and New York). Secondly, four middle colonies (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, with Delaware). Thirdly, five southern colonies (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia).

9 When the news reached Virginia that the king of England had determined to close the port of Boston, many people began to talk of taking up arms to defend the rights of the colonists. Washington said little; but he went to church, and fasted all day.

10 Congress: this word means a meeting or assembly of persons. The General or Continental Congress was an assembly of certain persons sent usually by all of the thirteen American colonies to meet at Philadelphia or Baltimore, to decide what should be done by the whole country. The first Congress met in 1774, or shortly before the Revolution began, and after that from time to time until near the close of the Revolution.

11 A stone slab marks what is generally believed to be the “Washington Elm.” The elm stands not far from the Memorial Hall of Harvard University. On the slab is this inscription: “Under this tree Washington first took command of the American Army, July 3, 1775.”

12 Sharpshooters: men who can fire and hit a small mark with a bullet at a long distance.

13 Moccasins (mok′ka-sins): Indian shoes made of deerskin.

14 Dorchester Heights, in what is now South Boston.

15 Sergeant (sar′jent): a military officer of low rank.

16 Palmetto (pal-met′toe) logs: the wood of the palmetto tree is very soft and spongy; the cannon-balls, when they struck, would bury themselves in the logs, but would neither break them to pieces nor go through them.

17 This was the old family tomb or vault at Mount Vernon. It is quite near the house. Later, Wahington's remains were carried to a new tomb which stands farther away from the house.