For many years I have studied minutely the career of Washington, and with every step the greatness of the man has grown upon me; for analysis has failed to discover the act of his life which, under the conditions of the time, I could unhestitatingly pronounce to have been an error. Such has been my experience, and, although my deductions may be wrong, they at least have been carefully and slowly made. I see in Washington a great soldier, who fought a trying war to a successful end impossible without him; a great statesman, who did more than any other man to lay the foundations of a republic which has endured in prosperity for more than a century. I find in him a marvelous judgment which was never at fault, a penetrating vision which beheld the future of America when it was dim to other eyes, a great intellectual force, a will of iron, an unyielding grasp of facts, and an unequaled strength of patriotic purpose. I see in him, too, a pure and high-minded gentleman of dauntless courage and stainless honor, simple and stately of manner, kind and generous of heart. Such he was in truth. The historian and the biographer may fail to do him justice, but the instinct of mankind will not fail. The real hero needs not books to give him worshipers. George Washington will always receive the love and reverence of men, because they see embodied in him the noblest possibilities of humanity.
ANECDOTES AND STORIES
Washington’s relations with children are most interesting. He always wrote of them as the “little ones.”
Through his life he adopted or assumed the expenses of nine of the children of his “kith and kin.”
Dumas says that he arrived at Providence with Washington at night. “The whole population had assembled from the suburbs; we were surrounded by a crowd of children carrying torches, all were eager to approach the person of him whom they called their father, and pressed so closely around us that they hindered us from proceeding. General Washington was much affected, stopped a few moments, and, pressing my hand, said, ’We may be beaten by the English, it is the chance of war; but behold an army which they can never conquer.’”
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In journeying through New England, Washington spent a night in a private house where all payment was refused. Writing to his host he said: “Being informed that you have given my name to one of your sons, and called another after Mrs. Washington’s family, and being, moreover, very much pleased with the modest and innocent looks of your two daughters, Patty and Polly, I do for these reasons send each of these girls a piece of chintz; and to Patty, who bears the name of Mrs. Washington, and who waited upon us more than Polly did, I send five guineas with which she may buy herself any little ornament, or she may dispose of them in any manner more agreeable to herself. As I do not give these things with a view to have it talked of, or even its being known, the less there is said about the matter the better you will please me; but, that I may be sure the chintz and money have got safe to hand, let Patty, who I dare say is equal to it, write me a line informing me thereof, directed to the President of the United States at New York.”