Washington's Birthday eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 265 pages of information about Washington's Birthday.
in short, had that greatness of character which is the highest expression and last result of greatness of mind; for there is no method of building up character except through mind.  Indeed, character like his is not built up, stone upon stone, precept upon precept, but grows up, through an actual contact of thought with things,—­the assimilative mind transmuting the impalpable but potent spirit of public sentiment, and the life of visible facts, and the power of spiritual laws, into individual life and power, so that their mighty energies put on personality, as it were, and act through one centralizing human will.  This process may not, if you please, make the great philosopher or the great poet; but it does make the great man,—­the man in whom thought and judgment seem identical with volition,—­the man whose vital expression is not in words, but deeds,—­the man whose sublime ideas issue necessarily in sublime acts, not in sublime art.  It was because Washington’s character was thus composed of the inmost substance and power of facts and principles, that men instinctively felt the perfect reality of his comprehensive manhood.  This reality enforced universal respect, married strength to repose, and threw into his face that commanding majesty which made men of the speculative audacity of Jefferson, and the lucid genius of Hamilton, recognize, with unwonted meekness, his awful superiority.


[24] From “Character and Characteristic Men.”  Published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

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Washington’s ideas concerning education have the approval of educators of our day.  He was in advance of his age; it is a question if we have quite caught up with him.  Of the two plans of his mature years and ripened experience, one has been realized, the West Point idea, which brings together, from every State and Territory of the Union, young men to be trained for military service; that other plan of a National University, with schools of administration and statesmanship, is yet being considered.

Washington shared neither the least nor the most of the educational advantages of his colony.  The elder brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, had realized their father’s hopes, and had been sent to England for their schooling as he had been for his, but the early death of the father defeated that plan for George, so he obtained the early preparation for his life work from the “home university,” over which Mary Washington presided, a loving and wise head.  At times George was with his brother Augustine at Bridges Creek, to be near the best parish school, and then he was at home; but all the time he was advancing rapidly in that school of men and affairs.  “He was above all things else, a capable, executive boy,”

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