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George Washington
CHAPTER I - ORIGINS AND YOUTH
by Thayer, William Roscoe


Zealous biographers of George Washington have traced for him a most respectable, not to say distinguished, ancestry. They go back to the time of Queen Elizabeth, and find Washingtons then who were "gentlemen." A family of the name existed in Northumberland and Durham, but modern investigation points to Sulgrave, in Northamptonshire, as the English home of his stock. Here was born, probably during the reign of Charles I, his great-grandfather, John Washington, who was a sea-going man, and settled in Virginia in 1657. His eldest son, Lawrence, had three children--John, Augustine, and Mildred. Of these, Augustine married twice, and by his second wife, Mary Ball, whom he married on March 17, 1730, there were six children--George, Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, Charles, and Mildred. The family home at Bridges Creek, near the Potomac, in Westmoreland County, was Washington's birthplace, and (February 11, Old Style) February 22, New Style, 1732, was the date. We hear little about his childhood, he being a wholesomely unprecocious boy. Rumors have it that George was coddled and even spoiled by his mother. He had very little formal education, mathematics being the only subject in which he excelled, and that he learned chiefly by himself. But he lived abundantly an out-of-door life, hunting and fishing much, and playing on the plantation. His family, although not rich, lived in easy fashion, and ranked among the gentry.

No Life of George Washington should fail to warn the reader at the start that the biographer labors under the disadvantage of having to counteract the errors and absurdities which the Reverend Mason L. Weems made current in the Life he published the year after Washington died. No one, not even Washington himself, could live down the reputation of a goody-goody prig with which the officious Scotch divine smothered him. The cherry-tree story has had few rivals in publicity and has probably done more than anything else to implant an instinctive contempt of its hero in the hearts of four generations of readers. "Why couldn't George Washington lie?" was the comment of a little boy I knew, "Couldn't he talk?"

Weems pretended to an intimacy at Mount Vernon which it appears he never had. In "Blackwood's Magazine" John Neal said of the book, "Not one word of which we believe. It is full of ridiculous exaggerations." And yet neither this criticism nor any other stemmed the outpouring of editions of it which must now number more than seventy. Weems doubtless thought that he was helping God and doing good to Washington by his offensive and effusive support of rudimentary morals.

Weems had been dead a dozen years when another enemy sprang up. This was the worthy Jared Sparks, an historian, a professor of history, who collected with much care the correspondence of George Washington and edited it in a monumental work. Sparks, however, suffered under the delusion that something other than fact can be the best substance of history. According to his tastes, many of Washington's letters were not sufficiently dignified; they were too colloquial, they even let slip expressions which no man conscious that he was the model of propriety, the embodiment of the dignity of history, could have used. So Mr. Sparks without blushing went through Washington's letters and substituted for the originals words which he decided were more seemly. Again the public came to know George Washington, not by his own words, but by those attributed to him by an overzealous stylist-pedant. Well might the Father of his Country pray to be delivered from the parsons.

One of the earliest records of Washington's youth is the copy, written in his beautiful, almost copper-plate hand, of "Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior, In Company and Conversation." These maxims were taken from an English book called "The Young Man's Companion," by W. Mather. It had passed through thirteen editions and contained information upon many matters besides conduct Perhaps Washington copied the maxims as a school exercise; perhaps he learned them by heart.

They are for the most part the didactic aphorisms which greatly pleased our worthy ancestors during the middle of the eighteenth century and later. Some of the entries referred to simple matters of deportment: you must not turn your back on persons to whom you talk. Others touch morals rather than manners. One imagines that the parson or elderly uncles allowed themselves to bestow this indisputably correct advice upon the youths whom they were interested in. A boy brought up rigidly on these doctrines could hardly fail to become a prig unless he succeeded in following the last injunction of all: "Labor to keep alive in your heart, that little spark of celestial fire called conscience."

When he was eleven years old, Washington's father died, and his older half-brother, Lawrence, who inherited the estate now known as Mount Vernon, became his guardian. Lawrence had married the daughter of a neighbor, William Fairfax, agent for the large Fairfax estate. Fairfax and he had served with the Colonial forces at Cartagena under Admiral Vernon, from whom the Washington manor took its name. Lord Fairfax, William's cousin and head of the family, offered George work on the survey of his domain. George, then a sturdy lad of sixteen, accepted gladly, and for more than two years he carried it on. The Fairfax estate extended far into the west, beyond the immediate tidewater district, beyond the fringe of sparsely settled clearings, into the wilderness itself. The effect of his experience as surveyor lasted throughout George Washington's life. His self-reliance and his courage never flagged. Sometimes he went alone and passed weeks among the solitudes; sometimes he had a companion whom he had to care for as well as for himself. But besides the toughening of his character which this pioneer life assured him, he got much information, which greatly influenced, years later, his views on the development, not only of Virginia, but of the Northwest. Perhaps from this time there entered into his heart the conviction that the strongest bond of union must sometime bind together the various colonies, so different in resources and in interests, including his native commonwealth.

From journals kept during some of his expeditions we see that he was a clear observer and an accurate reporter; far from bookish, but a careful penman, and conscious of the obligation laid upon him to acquire at least the minimum of polite knowledge which was expected of a country gentleman such as he aspired to be.

Here is an extract in which he describes the squalid conditions under which he passed some of his life as a woodsman and surveyor.
We got our suppers and was lighted into a Room and I not being so good a woodsman as ye rest of my company, striped myself very orderly and went into ye Bed, as they calld it, when to my surprize, I found it to be nothing but a little straw matted together without sheets or any thing else, but only one thread bare blanket with double its weight of vermin, such as Lice, Fleas, etc. I was glad to get up (as soon as ye light was carried from us). I put on my cloths and lay as my companions. Had we not been very tired, I am sure we should not have slep'd much that night. I made a Promise not to sleep so from that time forward, chusing rather to sleep in ye open air before a fire, as will appear hereafter.

Wednesday 16th. We set out early and finish'd about one o'clock and then Travelled up to Frederick Town, where our Baggage came to us. We cleaned ourselves (to get rid of ye game we had catched ye night before), I took a Review of ye Town and then return'd to our Lodgings where we had a good Dinner prepared for us. Wine and Rum Punch in plenty, and a good Feather Bed with clean sheets, which was a very agreeable regale.
The longest of Washington's early expeditions was the "Journey over the Mountains, began Fryday the 11th of March 1747/8." The mountains were the Alleghanies, and the trip gave him a closer acquaintance than he had had with Indians in the wilds. On his return, he stayed with his half-brother, Lawrence, at Mount Vernon, or with Lord Fairfax, and enjoyed the country life common to the richer Virginians of the time. Towns which could provide an inn being few and far between, travellers sought hospitality in the homes of the well-to-do residents, and every one was in a way a neighbor of the other dwellers in his county. So both at Belvoir and at Mount Vernon, guests were frequent and broke the monotony and loneliness of their inmates. I think the reputation of gravity, which was fixed upon Washington in his mature years, has been projected back over his youth. The actual records are lacking, but such hints and surmises as we have do not warrant our thinking of him as a self-centred, unsociable youth. On the contrary, he was rather, what would be called now, a sport, ready for hunting or riding, of splendid physical build, agile and strong. He liked dancing, and was not too shy to enjoy the society of young women; indeed, he wrote poems to some of them, and seems to have been popular with them. And still, the legend remains that he was bashful.

From our earliest glimpses of him, Washington appears as a youth very particular as to his dress. He knew how to rough it as the extracts of his personal journals which I have quoted show, and this passage confirms:
I seem to be in a place where no real satisfaction is to be had. Since you received my letter in October last, I have not sleep'd above three or four nights in a bed, but, after walking a good deal all the day, I lay down before the fire upon a little hay, straw, fodder, or bearskin, which ever is to be had, with man, wife, and children, like a parcel of dogs and cats, and happy is he who gets the berth nearest the fire. There's nothing would make it pass off tolerably but a good reward. A doubloon is my constant gain every day that the weather will permit my going out, and sometimes six pistoles. The coldness of the weather will not allow of my making a long stay, as the lodging is rather too cold for this time of year. I have never had my clothes off but lay and sleep in them, except the few nights I have lay'n in Frederic Town. [Footnote: Hapgood, p, 11.]
Later, when Washington became master of Mount Vernon, his servants were properly liveried. He himself rode to hounds in the approved apparel of a fox-hunting British gentleman, and we find in the lists of articles for which he sends to London the names of clothes and other articles for Mrs. Washington and the children carefully specified with the word "fashionable" or "very best quality" added. Still later, when he was President he attended to this matter of dress with even greater punctilio.

One incident of this early period should not be passed by unmentioned. Admiral Vernon offered him an appointment as midshipman in the navy, but Washington's mother objected so strongly that Washington gave up the opportunity. We may well wonder whether, if he had accepted it, his career might not have been permanently turned aside. Had he served ten or a dozen years in the navy, he might have grown to be so loyal to the King, that, when the Revolution came, he would have been found in command of one of the King's men-of-war, ordered to put down the Rebels in Boston, or in New York. Thus Fate suggests amazing alternatives to us in the retrospect, but in the actual living, Fate makes it clear that the only course which could have happened was that which did happen.

In 1751 the health of Washington's brother, Lawrence, became so bad from consumption that he decided to pass the winter in a warm climate. He chose the Island of Barbados, and his brother George accompanied him. Shortly before sailing, George was commissioned one of the Adjutants-General of Virginia, with the rank of Major, and the pay of £150 a year. They sailed on the Potomac River, perhaps near Mount Vernon, on September 28, 1751, and landed at Bridgetown on November 3d. The next day they were entertained at breakfast and dinner by Major Clark, the British officer who commanded some of the fortifications of the island. "We went," says George Washington, in a journal he kept, "myself with some reluctance, as the smallpox was in his family." Thirteen days later, George fell ill of a very strong case of smallpox which kept him housed for six weeks and left his face much disfigured for life with pock marks, a fact which, so far as I have observed his portraits, the painters have carefully forgotten to indicate.

The brothers passed a fairly pleasant month and a half at the Barbados. Major Clark, and other gentlemen and officials of the island, showed them much attention. They enjoyed the hospitality of the Beefsteak and Tripe Club, which seems to have been the fashionable club. On one occasion, Washington was taken to the play to see the "Tragedy of George Barnwell." This may have been the first time that he went to the theatre. He refers to it in his journal with his habitual caution:
Was treated with a play ticket by Mr. Carter to see the Tragedy of George Barnwell acted: the character of Barnwell and several others was said to be well perform'd there was Musick a Dapted and regularly conducted by Mr.
But Lawrence Washington's consumption did not improve: he grew homesick and pined for his wife and for Mount Vernon. The physicians had recommended him to spend a full year at Barbados, in order to give the climate and the regimen there a fair trial, but he could not endure it so long, and he sailed from there to Bermuda, whence he shortly returned to Virginia and Mount Vernon. George, meanwhile, had also gone back to Virginia, sailing December 22, 1751, and arriving February 1, 1752. Even from his much-mutilated journal, we can see that he travelled with his eyes open, and that his interests were many. As he mentioned in his journal thirty persons with whom he became acquainted at the Barbados, we infer that in spite of bashfulness he was an easy mixer. This short journey to the Barbados marks the only occasion on which George Washington went outside of the borders of the American Colonies, which became later, chiefly through his genius, the United States.[Footnote: J.M. Toner: The Daily Journal of Major George Washington in 1751-2 (Albany, N.Y., 1892).]

In July, 1752, Lawrence Washington died of the disease which he had long struggled against. He left his fortune and his property, including Mount Vernon, to his daughter, Sarah, and he appointed his brother, George, her guardian. She was a sweet-natured girl, but very frail, who died before long, probably of the same disease which had carried her father off, and, until its infectious nature was understood, used to decimate families from generation to generation.

To have thrust upon him, at the age of twenty, the management of a large estate might seem a heavy burden for any young man; but George Washington was equal to the task, and it seems as if much of his career up to that time was a direct preparation for it. He knew every foot of its fields and meadows, of its woodlands and streams; he knew where each crop grew, and its rotation; he had taken great interest in horses and cattle, and in the methods for maintaining and improving their breed; and now, of course being master, his power of choosing good men to do the work was put to the test. But he had not been long at these new occupations before public duties drew him away from them.

Though they knew it not, the European settlers in North America were approaching a life-and-death catastrophe. From the days when the English and the French first settled on the continent, Fate ordained for them an irrepressible conflict. Should France prevail? Should England prevail? With the growth of their colonies, both the English and the French felt their rivalry sharpened. Although distances often very broad kept them apart in space, yet both nations were ready to prove the terrible truth that when two men, or two tribes, wish to fight each other, they will find out a way. The French, at New Orleans, might be far away from the English at Boston; and the English, in New York, or in Philadelphia, might be removed from the French in Quebec; but in their hatreds they were near neighbors. The French pushed westward along the St. Lawrence to the Great Lakes, and from Lake Erie, they pushed southward, across the rich plains of Ohio, to the Ohio River. Their trails spread still farther into the Western wilderness. They set up trading-posts in the very region which the English settlers expected to occupy in the due process of their advance. At the junction of the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, they planted Fort Duquesne, which not only commanded the approach to the territory through which the Ohio flowed westward, but served notice on the English that the French regarded themselves as the rightful claimants of that territory.

In 1753 Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, had sent a commissioner to warn the French to cease from encroaching on the lands in the Ohio wilderness which belonged to the King of England, but the messenger stopped one hundred and fifty miles short of his goal. Therefore, the Governor decided to despatch another envoy. He selected George Washington, who was already well known for his surveying, and for his expedition beyond the mountains, and doubtless had the backing of the Fairfaxes and other influential gentlemen. Washington set out on the same day he received his appointment from Governor Dinwiddie (October 31, 1753), engaged Jacob Van Braam, a Hollander who had taught him fencing, to be his French interpreter; and Christopher Gist, the best guide through the Virginia wilderness, to pilot the party. In spite of the wintry conditions which beset them, they made good time. Washington presented his official warning to M. Joncaire, the principal French commander in the region under dispute, but he replied that he must wait for orders from the Governor in Quebec. One object of Washington's mission was to win over, if possible, the Indians, whose friendship for either the French or the English depended wholly on self-interest. He seems to have been most successful in securing the friendship of Thanacarishon, the great Seneca Chief, known as the Half-King. This native left it as his opinion that
the colonel was a good-natured man, but had no experience; he took upon him to command the Indians as his slaves, and would have them every day upon the scout and to attack the enemy by themselves, but would by no means take advice from the Indians. He lay in one place from one full moon to the other, without making any fortifications, except that little thing on the meadow, whereas, had he taken advice, and built such fortifications as I advised him, he might easily have beat off the French. But the French in the engagement acted like cowards, and the English like fools.[Footnote: Quoted by Lodge, I, 74.]
Believing that he could accomplish no more at that time, Washington retraced his steps and returned to Williamsburg.

Governor Dinwiddie, being much disappointed with the outcome of the expedition, urged the Virginian Legislature to equip another party sufficiently strong to be able to capture Fort Duquesne, and to confirm the British control of the Ohio. The Burgesses, however, pleaded economy, and refused to grant funds adequate to this purpose. Nevertheless, the Governor having equipped a small troop, under the command of Colonel Fry, with Washington as second, hurried it forth. During May and June they were near the Forks, and with the approach of danger, Washington's spirit and recklessness increased. In a slight skirmish, M. de Jumonville, the French commander, was killed. Fry died of disease and Washington took his place as commander. Perceiving that his own position was precarious, and expecting an attack by a large force of the enemy, he entrenched himself near Great Meadows in a hastily built fort, which he called Fort Necessity, and thought it possible to defend, even with his own small force, against five hundred French and Indians. He miscalculated, however. The enemy exceeded in numbers all his expectations. His own resources dwindled; and so he took the decision of a practical man and surrendered the fort, on condition that he and his men be allowed to march out with the honors of war. They returned to Virginia with little delay.

The Burgesses and the people of the State, though chagrined, did not take so gloomy a view of the collapse of the expedition as Washington himself did. His own depression equalled his previous exaltation. As he thought over the affairs of the past half-year in the quiet of Mount Vernon, the feeling which he had had from the start, that the expedition had not been properly planned, or directed, or reŽnforced in men and supplies, was confirmed. Governor Dinwiddie's notion that raw volunteers would suffice to overcome trained soldiers had been proved a delusion. The inadequate pay and provisions of the officers irritated Washington, not only because they were insufficient, but also because they fell far short of those of the English regulars.

In his penetrating Biography of Washington, Senator Lodge regards his conduct of the campaign, which ended in the surrender of Great Meadows, and his narrative as revealing Washington as a "profoundly silent man." Carlyle, Senator Lodge says, who preached the doctrine of silence, brushed Washington aside as a "bloodless Cromwell," "failing utterly to see that he was the most supremely silent of the great men of action that the world can show." Let us admit the justice of the strictures on Carlyle, but let us ask whether Washington's letters at this time spring from a "silent" man. He writes with perfect openness to Governor Dinwiddie; complains of the military system under which the troops are paid and the campaign is managed; he repeatedly condemns the discrimination against the Virginian soldiers in favor of the British regulars; and he points out that instead of attempting to win the popularity of the Virginians, they are badly treated. Their rations are poor, and he reminds the Governor that a continuous diet of salt pork and water does not inspire enthusiasm in either the stomach or the spirit. No wonder that the officers talk of resigning. "For my own part I can answer, I have a constitution hardy enough to encounter and undergo the most severe trials, and, I flatter myself, resolution to face what any man durst, as shall be proved when it comes to the test, which I believe we are on the borders of." In several other passages from letters at this time, we come upon sentiments which indicate that Washington had at least a sufficiently high estimation of his own worth, and that his genius for silence had not yet curbed his tongue. There is the famous boast attributed to him by Horace Walpole. In a despatch which Washington sent back to the Governor after the little skirmish in which Jumonville was killed, Washington said: "'I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound.' On hearing of this the King said sensibly, 'he would not say so if he had been used to hear many.'" This reply of George II deserves to be recorded if only because it is one of the few feeble witticisms credited to the Hanoverian Kings. Years afterward, Washington declared that he did not remember ever having referred to the charm of listening to whistling bullets. Perhaps he never said it; perhaps he forgot. He was only twenty-two at the time of the Great Meadows campaign. No doubt he was as well aware as was Governor Dinwiddie, and other Virginians, that he was the best equipped man on the expedition, experienced in actual fighting, and this, added to his qualifications as a woodsman, had given him a real zest for battle. In their discussion over the campfire, he and his fellow officers must inevitably have criticized the conduct of the expedition, and it may well be that Washington sometimes insisted that if his advice were followed things would go better. Not on this account, therefore, must we lay too much blame on him for being conceited or immodest. He knew that he knew, and he did not dissemble the fact. Silence came later.

The result of the expeditions to and skirmishes at the Forks of the Ohio was that England and France were at war, although they had not declared war on each other. A chance musket shot in the backwoods of Virginia started a conflict which reverberated in Europe, disturbed the peace of the world for seven years, and had serious consequences in the French and English colonies of North America. The news of Washington's disaster at Fort Necessity aroused the British Government to the conclusion that it must make a strong demonstration in order to crush the swelling prestige of the French rivals in America. The British planned, accordingly, to send out three expeditions, one against Fort Duquesne, another against the French in Nova Scotia, and a third against Quebec. The command of the first they gave to General Edward Braddock. He was then sixty years old, had been in the Regular Army all his life, had served in Holland, at L'Orient, and at Gibraltar, was a brave man, and an almost fanatical believer in the rules of war as taught in the manuals. During the latter half of 1754, Governor Dinwiddie was endeavoring against many obstacles to send another expedition, equipped by Virginia herself, to the Ohio. Only in the next spring, however, after Braddock had come over from England with a relatively large force of regulars, were the final preparations for a campaign actually made. Washington, in spite of being the commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces, had his wish of going as a volunteer at his own expense. He wrote his friend William Byrd, on April 20, 1755, from Mount Vernon:
I am now preparing for, and shall in a few days set off, to serve in the ensuing campaign, with different views, however, from those I had before. For here, if I can gain any credit, or if I am entitled to the least countenance and esteem, it must be from serving my country without fee or reward; for I can truly say, I have no expectation of either. To merit its esteem, and the good will of my friends, is the sum of my ambition, having no prospect of attaining a commission, being well assured it is not in Gen'l Braddock's power to give such an one as I would accept of. The command of a Company is the highest commission vested in his gift. He was so obliging as to desire my company this campaign, has honoured me with particular marks of his esteem, and kindly invited me into his family--a circumstance which will ease me of expences that otherwise must have accrued in furnishing stores, camp equipages, etc. Whereas the cost will now be easy (comparatively speaking), as baggage, horses, tents, and some other necessaries, will constitute the whole of the charge.[Footnote: Ford, I, 146-49.]
The army began to move about the middle of May, but it went very slowly. During June Washington was taken with an acute fever, in spite of which he pressed on, but he became so weak that he had to be carried in a cart, as he was unable to sit his horse. Braddock, with the main army, had gone on ahead, and Washington feared that the battle, which he believed imminent, would be fought before he came up with the front. But he rejoined the troops on July 8th. The next day they forded the Monongahela and proceeded to attack Fort Duquesne. Writing from Fort Cumberland, on July 18th, Washington gave Governor Dinwiddie the following account of Braddock's defeat. The one thing happened which Washington had felt anxious about--a surprise by the Indians. He had more than once warned Braddock of this danger, and Benjamin Franklin had warned him too before the expedition started, but Braddock, with perfect British contempt, had replied that though savages might be formidable to raw Colonials, they could make no impression on disciplined troops. The surprise came and thus Washington reports it:
When we came to this place, we were attacked (very unexpectedly) by about three hundred French and Indians. Our numbers consisted of about thirteen hundred well armed men, chiefly Regulars, who were immediately struck with such an inconceivable panick, that nothing but confusion and disobedience of orders prevailed among them. The officers, in general, behaved with incomparable bravery, for which they greatly suffered, there being near 60 killed and wounded--a large proportion, out of the number we had!

The Virginia companies behaved like men and died like soldiers; for I believe out of three companies that were on the ground that day scarce thirty were left alive. Capt. Peyroney and all his officers, down to a corporal, were killed; Capt. Polson had almost as hard a fate, for only one of his escaped. In short, the dastardly behaviour of the Regular troops (so-called) exposed those who were inclined to do their duty to almost certain death; and, at length, in despite of every effort to the contrary, broke and ran as sheep before hounds, leaving the artillery, ammunition, provisions, baggage, and, in short, everything a prey to the enemy. And when we endeavored to rally them, in hopes of regaining the ground and what we had left upon it, it was with as little success as if we had attempted to have stopped the wild bears of the mountains, or rivulets with our feet; for they would break by, in despite of every effort that could be made to prevent it.

The General was wounded in the shoulder and breast, of which he died three days after; his two aids-de-camp were both wounded, but are in a fair way of recovery; Colo. Burton and Sr. John St. Clair are also wounded, and I hope will get over it; Sir Peter Halket, with many other brave officers, were killed in the field. It is supposed that we had three hundred or more killed; about that number we brought off wounded, and it is conjectured (I believe with much truth) that two thirds of both received their shot from our own cowardly Regulars, who gathered themselves into a body, contrary to orders, ten or twelve deep, would then level, fire and shoot down the men before them.[Footnote: Ford, I, 173-74-75.]
In this admirable letter Washington tells nothing about his own prowess in the battle, where he rode to all parts of the field, trying to stem the retreat, and had two horses shot under him and four bullet holes in his coat. He tried to get the troops to break ranks and to screen themselves behind rocks and trees, but Braddock, helpless without his rules, drove them back to regular formation with the flat of his sword, and made them an easy mark for the volleys of the enemy. Washington's personal valor could not fail to be admired, although his audacity exposed him to unjustified risks.

On reaching Fort Cumberland he wrote to his brother John, on July 18th:
As I have heard, since my arrival at this place, a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and assuring you, that I have not as yet composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation.[Footnote: Ibid. 175-76.]
The more he thought over the events of that day, the more was he amazed--"I join very heartily with you in believing," he wrote Robert Jackson on August 2d, "that when this story comes to be related in future annals, it will meet with unbelief and indignation, for had I not been witness to the fact on that fatal day, I should scarce have given credit to it even now."[Footnote: Ford, I, 177.]

Although Washington was thoroughly disgusted by the mismanagement of military affairs in Virginia, he was not ready to deny the appeals of patriotism. From Mount Vernon, on August 14, 1755, he wrote his mother:
Honored Madam, If it is in my power to avoid going to the Ohio again, I shall; but if the command is pressed upon me, by the general voice of the country, and offered upon such terms as cannot be objected against, it would reflect dishonor upon me to refuse; and that, I am sure must or ought to give you greater uneasiness, than my going in an honorable command, for upon no other terms I will accept of it. At present I have no proposals made to me, nor have I any advice of such an intention, except from private hands.[Footnote: Ibid. 180-81.]
Braddock's defeat put an end to campaigning in Virginia for some time. The consternation it caused, not only held the people of the sparse western settlements in alarm but agitated the tidewater towns and villages. The Burgesses and many of the inhabitants had not yet learned their lesson sufficiently to set about reorganizing their army system, but the Assembly partially recognized its obligation to the men who had fought by voting to them a small sum for losses during their previous service. Washington received £300, but his patriotic sense of duty kept him active. In the winter of 1758, however, owing to a very serious illness, he resigned from the army and returned to Mount Vernon to recuperate.

During the long and tedious weeks of sickness and recovery, Washington doubtless had time to think over, to clarify in his mind, and to pass judgment on the events in which he had shared during the past six or seven years. From boyhood that was his habit. He must know the meaning of things. An event might be as fruitless as a shooting star unless he could trace the relations which tied it to what came before and after. Hence his deliberation which gave to his opinions the solidity of wisdom. Audacious he might be in battle, but perhaps what seems to us audacity seemed to him at the moment a higher prudence. If there were crises when the odds looked ten to one against him, he would take the chance. He knew the incalculable value of courage. His experiences with the British regulars and their officers left a deep impression on him and colored his own decisions in his campaigns against the British during the Revolutionary War. To genius nothing comes amiss, and by genius nothing is forgotten. So we find that all that Washington saw and learned during his years of youth--his apprenticeship as surveyor, his vicissitudes as pioneer, tasks as Indian fighter and as companion of the defeated Braddock--all contributed to fit him for the supreme work for which Fate had created him and the ages had waited.

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