Ten years later, the whole aspect had changed. The same country, for which our forefathers in the colonies had sacrificed some of their noblest sons, was now beginning to oppress these very colonies. By unjust taxation, England tried to replenish her treasury, which a protracted war across the seas had made empty. But though the war against the French in the interest of England had cost the colonies in America some of its best blood, it had not been without its salutary lesson. America had learned its own strength as well as the weakness of the British soldiers and her public officials. Washington, above all, knew these facts too well. He was, however, no agitator, and for many reasons was deeply attached to old England. He, therefore, cautioned reserve and forbearance without sacrificing his patriotism.
In the meantime the Revolution came to an outbreak. Washington was called upon by his compatriots to lead them on to liberty. After careful examination and due consideration he consented, and Washington took command of the colonial troops in the war against England. “It is my intention,” said he, “if needs be, to sacrifice my life, my liberty and all my possessions in this holy cause.”
Thus, we see him leading the army, animated with the noblest sentiments. General Washington was now forty-three years of age and in the full power of manhood. His personality was distinguished and his bearing serene. He electrified the whole army.
The Colonial troops, however, were not at all times equal to the well-drilled English soldiers, and General Washington had a difficult task before him. But what the Americans lacked in military tactics, they doubly possessed in enthusiasm and courage.
From Lexington and Boston, Bunker Hill and Concord, through Connecticut, New York, Philadelphia, Valley Forge, and from Princeton to Morristown was a wearisome march. Want of provisions for the army under his command, as well as many other disappointments, might well have discouraged any but the stoutest heart. General Washington was a hero, and he trusted in God and the ultimate success of the country’s just cause. When at last the American army was in sorest distress, there came unexpected help from many quarters.
Such noble and self-sacrificing men as Lafayette, Steuben, Kosciusko, De Kalb and De Grasse arrived to aid our new republic, and after an unrelenting war of six long years, British rule was forever banished from the land.
On the 4th of December, 1782, General Washington took leave of the continental army. His memorable speech on that occasion is a masterpiece of unselfish patriotism.
He retired to his home at Mount Vernon, followed by the heartfelt blessings of a grateful people. His private life was one of regularity in all his doings. His hospitality was renowned, and Mount Vernon soon became a much frequented, much beloved place of reunion for many distinguished visitors.