George Washington, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about George Washington, Volume II.
wild and silent behind them, for in that direction lay the sure road to national greatness.  The first step was to bind by interest, trade, and habit of communication the Atlantic States with the settlements beyond the mountains, and for this he had planned canals and highways in the days of the confederation.  The next step was to remove every obstacle which fettered the march of American settlement; and for this he rolled back the Indian tribes, patiently negotiated with Spain until the Mississippi was opened, and at great personal sacrifice and trial signed the Jay treaty, and obtained the surrender of the British posts.  When Washington went out of office, the way was open to the western movement; the dangers of disintegration by reason of foreign intrigues on the frontier were removed; peace had been maintained; and the national sentiment had had opportunity for rapid growth.  France had discovered that, although she had been our ally, we were not her dependants; other nations had been brought to perceive that the United States meant to have a foreign policy all its own; and the American people were taught that their first duty was to be Americans and nothing else.  There is no need to comment on or to praise the greatness of a policy with such objects and results as these.  The mere summary is enough, and it speaks for itself and for its author in a way which makes words needless.

CHAPTER V

WASHINGTON AS A PARTY MAN

Washington was not chosen to office by a political party; he considered parties to be perilous things, and he entered the presidency determined to have nothing to do with them.  Yet, as has already been pointed out, he took the members of his cabinet entirely from one of the two parties which then existed, and which had been produced by the divisions over the Constitution and its adoption.  To this charge he would no doubt have replied that the parties caused by the constitutional differences had ceased to exist when that instrument went into operation, and that it was to be supposed that all men were then united in support of the government.  Accepting this view of it, it only remains to see how he fared when new and purely political parties, as was inevitable, sprang into active life.

Whatever his own opinions may have been as to parties and party-strife, Washington was under no delusions in regard either to human nature or to himself, and he had no expectation that everything he said or did would meet with universal approbation.  He well knew that there would be dissatisfaction, and no man ever took high office with a mind more ready to bear criticism and to profit by it.  Three months after his inauguration he wrote to his friend David Stuart:  “I should like to be informed of the public opinion of both men and measures, and of none more than myself; not so much of what may be thought commendable parts, if any, of my conduct, as of those which are conceived

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George Washington, Volume II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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