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the critical moment, however, Washington came into the meeting of remonstrance which was being held, and in a forcible paper completely changed the attitude of the discontented ones. One who was present said after hearing the address, “Every doubt was dispelled, and the tide of patriotism rolled again in its wonted course.” The treaty of peace was signed on January 20, 1783; on the 2d of November, Washington took leave of his army, resigning his commission as commander-in-chief on December 23. He went at once to Mount Vernon, which he had visited but twice during the long struggle, and passed a happy Christmas with his family.

The country was still in a very unsettled condition. There was no strong central government, and everywhere there were signs of internal rebellion. A Federal Convention was held in Philadelphia in 1787 to outline a plan of government. Of this convention Washington was elected president. The great work of framing the Constitution of the United States was accomplished at this meeting, which remained in session four months. It was necessary that this document should be ratified by at least two-thirds of the states concerned, and this was not done until the summer of 1788. In the election which followed the ratification of the Constitution, Washington was unanimously chosen the first President of the United States. It was intended that the new Constitution should go into operation on March 4, 1789, but the new Congress was so tardy in coming together, and in counting the electoral votes, that it was not until April 30 that Washington took the oath of office. No other man could have pleased the people so fully. They were assured of his integrity, of his firmness of purpose, and of his wisdom. Then, as now, he was "first in the hearts of his fellow citizens."

In nothing else did he show his broadmindedness and wisdom more than in the selection of his first cabinet. Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, was made Secretary of State; Alexander Hamilton, of New York, Secretary of the Treasury; Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, AttorneyGeneral; Henry Knox, of Massachusetts, Secretary of War; and John Jay, Chief Justice. With such a cabinet it was possible for him to do much. National credit was established, a bill for the raising of revenues was adopted, a national bank incorporated, the Supreme Court of the United States organized, and important amendments to the Constitution framed. It was Washington's desire at the end of his term of office to retire from public service, but the whole country, including even those who differed radically from him in politics, would not hear of it. He could not resist the appeals and again became a candidate. The second term of his administration, upon which he entered in 1793, was a stormy one, and it was with no little pleasure that he saw it draw to a close. His farewell address, prepared after consultation with Madison and Hamilton, was a matter of serious consideration in his mind for some time, and was written some months before it was delivered.

Soon after the inauguration of Adams on March 4, 1797, Washington returned to his home at Mount Vernon. He had passed through eight years of severe public service; he was now sixty-five years old; and he felt that he was no longer able to endure the strain under which he had labored. Yet he was not to be allowed to live in quiet. Grave difficulties arose with France, and for a time war seemed certain. It was thought best by Congress to raise an army. Washington was at once urged to become its leader, and he felt that he could do nothing but accept. On July 3, 1798, he received his commission as “Lieutenant-General and Commander-in-chief of all the armies raised, or to be raised, in the United States." He began at once to make preparations for war, but the two countries fortunately settled their difficulties, and the war was averted. Washington did not live to see a treaty of peace signed. Early in December, 1799, while riding about his estate, he contracted a severe cold. He was taken seriously ill, and the end came on December 14. He was buried at Mount Vernon on December 18, where his body still lies.


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In personal appearance Washington was no ordinary

He was straight, muscular, and about six feet, two inches tall. From his early manhood he was fond of the most vigorous athletic sports. The strength of his arm and the size of his hand were unusual, and his power of endurance was very great. He had blue eyes, a florid complexion, and heavy brown hair, which, according to the custom of the day, he kept powdered. He was occasions careful in his dress and courteous in his manners. In his social relations he was reserved and dignified.

In the case of a man idealized as Washington has been, it is not easy to give a just estimate of character. In late years, though we do not think him less great, we have come to look upon him as possessing more of the ordinary human characteristics than our fathers accorded to him. It is pretty certain that he had an ardent temper which it was necessary for him to learn to control, and this occasionally led him to speak forcibly. When this has been said, we have counted the list of his weaknesses. In his home life he was careful, methodical, and considerate of all. Though he was a slave holder, he did not believe in the institution. In a letter to a friend he said, “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery." In his will he provided that on the death of Mrs. Washington all the slaves he owned should receive their freedom. All that had to do with the management of his estate showed the greatest thoughtfulness and good sense. As a military general he exhibited courage, fearlessness, skill, and judgment that place him among the great military leaders of the world. He was modest, generous, and self-sacrificing. For his services as commander-in-chief of the Continental armies he would never accept a cent beyond his bare expenses. Not even his enemies, if there were such, ever doubted his integrity. His patriotism, his unselfishness, his loyalty to the highest principles, and his devotion to his family, to his country, and to God, give him a place among “the greatest of good men and the best of great




It may be helpful to the student of the Farewell Address to know something of its history and the conditions under which it was written. A good deal of discussion has arisen with reference to the authorship of the address, and as to just how much of it can be justly attributed to Washington.

Near the close of his first term of office, Washington felt strongly that he did not care for reëlection. He had been for nearly twenty years in the public service, and he wished very much for the quiet of his own home. In view of the fact that he expected to go out of office, he began to consider the subject of a farewell address to the people. He and Madison were at this time close friends, and he naturally consulted him as to the character and substance of the address. After attempting to persuade the President not to decline renomination, Madison sent him a rough draft of an address which contained the subject matter suggested to him by President Washington in the correspondence which they had had. When Washington later decided that he would become a candidate for renomination, the subject of the Farewell Address was for the time dropped. In 1796, having made up his mind positively that he would not accept renomination, he again began to consider the subject of a farewell address. He and Madison were not at this time on the same confidential terms as they had been four years previously, and he now asked Hamilton to advise him. Before doing this he had prepared a few preliminary sentences which he prefixed to the original draft sent him by Madison, and this was followed by suggestions put down without much regard for form or care in arrangement. On presenting this paper to Hamilton for his advice, the President requested that he would "redress” it, and if it seemed better, to "throw the whole into a new form,” keeping, of course, the ideas as they

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had been presented in the original paper. Hamilton did reorganize the form entirely. This new form pleased the President, and after very carefully going over it, he published it as we now have it, September 19, 1796. As to how much of the mechanical execution of the address may be attributed to Madison, how much to Hamilton, and how much to Washington himself, we are not likely ever definitely to settle. Nor does this fact make any great difference. Whoever may have been responsible for arranging them and getting them into the best form, there is no doubt that the ideas in the address are Washington's.

The conditions under which the government of the United States existed during the administration were critical indeed. The whole scheme was in many ways an experiment. There was little or no precedent by which the leaders might be guided, and even the people themselves were not unanimous in thinking that the Constitution which had been adopted was the best that could be devised. Many of the most intelligent people both in Europe and America seriously doubted whether or not the Federal Union could long exist. The people had not yet become real Americans, but were still Europeans in their feelings and sympathies. Grave difficulties had arisen with France which were even then threatening war; party differences were growing intense; the commercial relations with European countries were unsettled; and sectional animosities were being stirred up. The Whisky Rebellion in Pennsylvania in 1794 was only an indication of the general feeling extant against the regulations of the government. The whole scheme of government was new, and the people were not willing to give it a sufficient trial, but wanted at once to change to something else. What was most needed was a wise administration of the laws then in existence, and a strong, firm determination on the part of all sections and interests to pull together. It was under such conditions as these that Washington framed his Farewell Address.

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