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Philadelphia, New Haven, Portsmouth and New-York fucceffively. Nothing could equal the beauty and grandeur of these exhibitions. A ship was mounted upon wheels, and drawn through the ftreets ; mechanics erected stages, and exhibited specimens of labour in their several occupations, as they moved along the road; flags with emblems, descriptive of all the arts and of the federal union, were invented and displayed in honour of the government; multitudes of all ranks in life assembled to view the majestic scenes ; while sobriety, joy and harmony marked the brilliant exhibitions, by which the Americans celebrated the establishment of their Empire.
TOTWITSTANDING it has often been asserted with confidence,
that General Washington was a native of England, certain it is his ancestors came from thence to this country so long ago as the year 1657. He, in the third descent after their migration, was born on the 11th of February, (old ftile) 1732, at the parish of Washington, in Westmoreland county, in Virginia. His father's family was numerous, and he was the first fruit of a second marriage. His education having been principally conducted by a private tutor, at fifteen years old he was entered a midshipman on board of a British vessel of war stationed on the coast of Virginia, and his baggage prepared for embarkation : but the plan was abandoned on account of the reluctance his mother expressed to his en. gaging in that profession.
Previous to this transaction, when he was but ten years of age, his father died, and the charge of the family devolved on his eldest brother, His eldeft brother, a young man of the most promising talents, had a command in the colonial troops employed against Carthagena, and on his return from the expedition, named his new patrimonial mansion Mount VERNON, in honour of the admiral of that name, from whom he had received many civilities. He was afterwards made adjutant-general of the militia of Virginia, but did not long survive. At his decease (notwithftanding there are heirs of an elder branch who poffefs a large moiety of the paternal inheritance) the eldest son by the second marriage inherited this seat and a considerable landed property. In consequence of the exten. five limits of the colony, the vacant office of adjutant-general was divided into three districts, and the future Hero of America, before he attained his twentieth year, began his military service by a principal appointment in that department, with the rank of major.
When he was little more than twenty-one years of age, an event occurred which called his abilities into public notice. In 1753, while the government of the colony was administered by lieutenant-governor Dinwid. die, encroachments were reported to have been made by the French, from Canada, on the territories of the British colonies, at the weftward. Young Mr. Washington, who was sent with plenary powers to ascertain the facts, treat with the favages, and warn the French to defist from their aggressions, performed the duties of his mision with fingular industry, intelligence
Of this corps,
and address. His journal, and report to Governor Dinwiddie, which were published, announced to the world that correctness of mind, manliness in stile, and accuracy in the mode of doing business, which have since characterised him in the conduct of more arduous affairs. But it was deemed, by fome, an extraordinary circumstance that fo juvenile and inexperienced a person should have been employed on a negociation, with which subjects of the greatest importance were involved : subjects which shortly after became the origin of a war between England and France, that raged for many years throughout every part of the globe.
As the troubles ftill sublisted on the frontiers, the colony of Virginia raised the next year a regiment of troops for their defence. Mr. Fry, one of the professors of the college, was appointed Colonel, and Major Washington received the commillion of Lieutenant-Colonel. But Colonel Fry died the same summer, without ever having joined ; and of course left his regiment and rank to the second in command. Colonel Washington made indefatigable efforts to form the regiment, establish magazines, and open roads so as to pre-occupy the advantageous post at the confluence of the Allegany and Monongahela rivers, which he had recommended for that purpose in his report the preceding year. He was to have been joined by a detachment of independent regulars from the fouthern colonies, together with some companies of provincials from North-Carolina and Maryland. But he perceived the necessity of expedition, and without waiting for their arrival, commenced his march in the month of May. Notwithstanding his precipitated advance, on his ascending the Laurel-hill, fifty miles short of his object, he was advised that a body of French had already taken poffeffion and erected a fortification, which they named Fort du Quisne. He then fell back to a place known by the appellation of the Great Meadows, for the sake of forage and supplies. Here he built a temporary stockade, merely to cover his stores ; it was from its fate called Fort Neccessity. His force, when joined by Captain M.Kay's regulars, did not amount to four hundred effectives. Upon receiving information from his scouts that a considerable party was approaching to reconnoitre his post, he fallied and defeated them. But in return he was attacked by an army, computed to have been fifteen hundred strong, and after a gallant defence, in which more than one-third of his men were killed and wounded, was forced to capitulate. The garrison marched out with the honours of war, but were plundered by the Indians, in violation of the articles of capitulation. After this disaster, the remains of the Virginia regiment returned to Alexandria, to be recruited and furnished with necessary supplies.
In the year 1755, the British government sent to this country General Braddock, who, by the junction of two veteran regiments from Ireland, with the independent and provincial corps in America, was to repel the French from the confines of the English settlements. Upon a royal arrangement of rank, by which “no officer who did not immediately derive his commiffion from the king, could command one who did,” Col. Washington relinquished his regiment, and went as an extra aid-de-camp into the family of General Braddock. In this capacity, at the battle of Monongahela he attended that general, whose life was gallantly facrificed in attempting to extricate his troops from the fatal ambuscade into
which his over-weening confidence had conducted them. Braddock had several horses shot under him, before he fell himself; and there was not an officer, whose duty obliged him to be on horseback that day, excepting Colonel Washington, who was not either killed or wounded. This circumstance enabled him to display greater abilities in covering the retreat, and saving the wreck of the army, than he could otherwise have done. As soon as he had secured their passage over the ford of the Monongahela, and found they were not pursued, he haftened to concert measures for their further security with Colonel Dunbar, who had remained with the second division and heavy baggage at fome distance in the rear. To effect this he travelled with two guides all night, through an almost empervious wilderness. notwithstanding the fatigues he had undergone in the day, and notwithftanding he had so imperfectly recovered from lickness, that he was obliged in the morning to be fupported with cushions on his horse. The public accounts in England and America were not parfimonious of applause for the essential service he had rendered on so trying an occasion.
Not long after this time, the regulation of rank, which had been so injurious to the colonial officers, was changed to their satisfaction, in consequence of the discontent of the officers and the remonftrance of Colonel Washington; and the supreme authority of Virginia, impressed with a due fenfe of his merits, gave him, in a new and extensive commission, the command of all troops raised and to be raised in that culony.
It would not comport with the intended brevity of this sketch, to mention in detail the plans he suggested, or the system he pursued for defending the frontiers, till the year 1758, when he commanded the van brigade of General Forbes's army in the capture of Fort Du Quesne. A fimilar reason will preclude the recital of the personal hazards and atchievements which happened in the course of his service. The tranquillity on the frontiers of the middle colonies having been restored by the success of this campaign, and the health of Colonel Washington having become extremely debilitated by an inveterate pulmonary complaint, in 1759 he resigned his military appointment. Authentic documents are not wanting to shew the tender regret which the Virginia line expressed at parting with their commander, and the affectionate regard which he entertained for them.
His health was gradually re-established. He married Mrs. Custis*, a handsome and amiable young widow, poffeffed of an ample jointure, and settled as a planter and farmer on the estate where he now resides in Fairfax county. After some years he gave up planting tobacco, and went altogether into the farming business. He had raised seven thoufand bushels of wheat, and ten thousand of Indian corn in one year. Although he has confined his own cultivation to this domestic tract of about nine thoufand acres, yet he possesses excellent lands in large quantities, in several other counties. His judgment in the quality of soils, his command of money to avail himself of purchases, and his occafional employment in early life as a surveyor, gave him opportunities of making advantageous locations, many of which are improved.
After he left the army, until the year 1775, he thus cultivated the arts of peace. He was constantly a member of assembly, a magistrate of his K
General and Mrs. Washington were both born in the same year,
county, and a judge of the court. He was elected a delegate to the first congress in 1774, as well as to that which assembled in the
following. Soon after the war broke out, he was appointed by Congress commander in chief of the forces of the United Colonies.
It is the less necessary to particularize, in this place, his transactions in the course of the late war, because the impreflon which they made is yet fresh in every mind. But it is hoped pofterity will be taught in what manner be transformed an undisciplined body of peasantry into a regular army of soldiers. Commentaries on his campaigns would undoubtedly be highly interesting and instructive to future generations. The conduct of the first campaign, in compelling the British troops to abandon Boston by a bloodless victory, will merit a minute narration. But a volume would scarcely contain the mortifications he experienced, and the hazards to which he was exposed in 1776 and 1777, in contending against the prowess of Britain, with an inadequate force. His good destiny and consummate prudence prevented want of success from producing want of confidence on the part of the public; for want of success is apt to lead to the adoption of pernicious counsels, through the levity of the
people the ambition of their demagogues. Shortly after this period, sprang up the only cabal that ever exiited during his public life, to rob him of his reputation and command. It proved as impotent in effect, as it was audacious in design. In the three fucceeding years the germ of discipline unfolded ; and the resources of America having been called into co-operation with the land and naval armies of France, produced the glorious conclufion of the campaign in 1781. From this time the gloom began to disappear from our political horizon, and the affairs of the union proceeded in a meliorating train, until a peace was most ably negociated by our ambassadors in Europe, in 1783.
No person, who had not the advantage of being present when General Washington received the intelligence of peace, and who did not accompany him to his domestic retirement, can describe the relief which that joyful event brought to his labouring mind, cr the supreme fatisfaction with which he withdrew to private life. From his triumphal entry into New-York, upon the evacuation of that city by the British army, to his arrival at Mount Vernon, after the resignation of his commiffion to.congress, festive crouds, impeded his passage through all the populous towns, the devotion of a whole people pursued him with prayers to heaven, for bleffings on his head, while their gratitude fought the most expressive language of manifeffing itself to him, as their cornmon father and benefackor. When he became a private citizen, he had the unusual felicity to find ihat his native state was, among the most zealous in doing justice to his merits; and that stronger demonstrations of affe&tionate efteem (if possible), were given by the citizens of his neighbourhood, than by any other description of men, on the continent. But he has, constantly de. clined accepting any compensation for his services, or provision for the augmented expences which have been incurred by him in consequence of his public employment, although proposals have been made in the most delicate manner, particularly by the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The virtuous fimplicity which distinguishes the private life of General Washington, though less known than the dazzling splendor of his mili