While there are many stories which show Washington’s straightforwardness, here is one which shows much diplomacy. He was asked by Volney, a Frenchman and a revolutionist, for a letter of recommendation to the American people. This request put him in an awkward position, for there were good reasons why he could not give it, and other good reasons why he did not wish to refuse. Taking a sheet of paper, he wrote:
C. Volney needs no recommendation from
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GREAT GEORGE WASHINGTON
All this time while George Washington had been growing up,—first a little boy, then a larger boy, and then a young surveyor,—all this time the French and English and Indians were unhappy and uncomfortable in the country north of Virginia. The French wanted all the land, so did the English, and the Indians saw that there would be no room for them, whichever had it, so they all began to trouble each other, and to quarrel and fight.
These troubles grew so bad at last that the Virginians began to be afraid of the French and Indians, and thought they must have some soldiers of their own ready to fight.
George Washington was only nineteen then, but everybody knew he was wise and brave, so they chose him to teach the soldiers near his home how to march and to fight.
Then the king and the people of England grew very uneasy at all this quarreling, and they sent over soldiers and cannon and powder, and commenced to get ready to fight in earnest. Washington was made a major, and he had to go a thousand miles, in the middle of winter, into the Indian and French country, to see the chiefs and the soldiers, and find out about the troubles.
When he came back again, all the people were so pleased with his courage and with the wise way in which he had behaved, that they made him lieutenant-colonel.
Then began a long war between the French and the English, which lasted seven years. Washington fought through all of it, and was made a colonel, and by and by commander of all the soldiers in Virginia. He built forts and roads, he gained and lost battles, he fought the Indians and the French; and by all this trouble and hard work he learned to be a great soldier.
In many of the battles of this war, Washington and the Virginians did not wear a uniform, like the English soldiers, but a buckskin shirt and fringed leggings, like the Indians.
From beginning to end of some of the battles, Washington rode about among the men, telling them where to go and how to fight; the bullets were whistling around him all the time, but he said he liked the music.
By and by the war was over; the French were driven back to their own part of the country, and Washington went home to Mount Vernon to rest, and took with him his wife, lovely Martha Washington, whom he had met and married while he was fighting the French and Indians.