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constitution as I propose some title apparently more moderate ; but if all other things were once adjusted, I believe strong arguments might be produced for admitting the title of king, which I conceive would be attended with some material advantages.'
This was an important moment in the history of the United States. It has been remarked, that there are two classes of persons who play an important part in revolutions-lawyers and military men. The lawyers usually make themselves conspicuous during the revolution ; but the military men at last obtain the ascendency, and restore society to order. It was by the power of the army that Cromwell and Napoleon were placed in the supreme civil command, and, in the present case, it was from the army that the proposal originated to make Washington king. Washington, however, declined the proposal, not, probably, from any mere scruple about injuring his fair name with posterity by appearing ambitious, but simply because, in the circumstances of the United States at that time, he may have seen that his accepting the offer would be attended not by good, but by ruinous consequences. The following is the answer which he returned to the letter containing the proposal :
'NEWBURG, 22d May 1782. 'SIR—With a mixture of great surprise and astonishment, I have read with attention the sentiments you have submitted to my perusal. Be assured, sir, no occurrence in the course of the war has given me more painful sensations than your information of there being such ideas existing in the army as you have expressed, and which I must view with abhorrence and reprehend with severity. For the present, the communication of them will rest in my own bosom, unless some further agitation of the matter shall make a disclosure necessary.
'I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my conduct could have given encouragement to such an address, which to me seems big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my country. If I am not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. At the same time, to do justice to my own feelings, I must add, that no man possesses a more sincere wish to see ample justice done to the army than I do ; and as far as my power and influence in a constitutional way extend, they shall be employed to the utmost of my abilities to effect it, should there be occasion. Let me conjure you, then, if you have any regard for your country, concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind, and never communicate, as from yourself or any one else, a sentiment of the like nature. I am, sir, &c.
In May 1782, Sir Guy Carleton arrived at New York, having been appointed to succeed Sir Henry Clinton in the command of the British army. It was apparent, from the tone of his first letters to Washington, that the British government was inclined to make concessions; and in August he gave formal notice that negotiations for a general peace had commenced at Paris, and that the independence of the United States would be conceded as a preliminary step.' By Washington's advice, however, the army was kept entire until the spring of 1783, when the news arrived that the treaty recognising the independence of the states had been actually signed. Nor was this a task of small difficulty ; for so large were the arrears of pay due to the officers and men, that it required all the prudence and authority of Washington to prevent the troops from rising in rebellion against the congress which had employed them.
The proclamation of the final cessation of hostilities was made to the American army on the 19th of April 1783, 'exactly eight years from the day on which the first blood was shed in this memorable contest at Lexington. Eight years' war had converted what had been a few flourishing colonies of Great Britain into a new and independent state, likely to become ere long one of the most powerful nations on the face of the earth. The war had not been one of daring achievements and brilliant exploits. If viewed in this light, the war of American independence would seem but paltry and insignificant compared with other struggles recorded in history. We do not see in it any of those glorious victories of hundreds over thousands, those flashing acts of individual heroism, or those daring stratagems of military genius, which characterise other wars of similar importance. It was a cool, cautious, defensive war, in which patience and perseverance were the qualities most essential. Nor was Washington a Cæsar or a Napoleon. It would be absurd to name him as a military genius along with these two. But he was gifted with those great moral qualities which the circumstances of the American people required; and if he gained no victories of the first class, and astonished the world by no feats of warlike skill, it is still not the less true, that if the British colonies had not possessed such a man, they would in all probability have failed in the struggle, and remained British colonies still. Let the truth, indeed, be spoken. It was not the bulk of the American people, as represented in congress, who achieved the independence of their country. That congress, by its perverse wrangling and incapability ; that people, by their slowness in furnishing supplies, would have ruined all, but for the intrepidity, the patience, and the powers of management of George Washington. Although not what might be called an amiable man, or a man of refined sentiment, few have ever appeared of so well balanced a character, and uniting the same power of command over men's minds with the same self-denial and want of personal ambition ; and probably none but a man of his rigid methodical habits would have been able to preserve order in the American army. Some of Washington's orderly-books during the period of his
holding command, contain striking proofs of his strictness as a disciplinarian, and of his watchfulness of everything going on among the troops likely to injure the cause for which they were contending. To complete our idea of Washington as commander-in-chief, we shall select one or two of these entries in the orderly-book.
November 5, 1775.—As the commander-in-chief has been apprised of a design formed for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the effigy of the pope, he cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be officers and soldiers in this army so void of common sense as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this juncture—at a time when we are soliciting, and have really obtained, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as brethren embarked in the same cause—the defence of the general liberty of America. At such a juncture, and in such circumstances, to be insulting their religion is so monstrous as not to be suffered or excused; indeed, instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to express public thanks to these our brethren, as to them we are indebted for every late happy success over the common enemy in Canada.'
‘August 3, 1776.-That the troops may have an opportunity of attending public worship, as well as to take some rest after the great fatigue they have gone through, the general in future excuses them from fatigue-duty on Sundays, except at the ship-yards, and on special occasions, until further orders. The general is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing--a vice heretofore little known in an American army-is growing into fashion; he hopes the officers will, by example as well as by influence, endeavour to check it; and that both they and the men will reflect that we can have little hope of the blessing of Heaven on our arms, if we insult it by our impiety and folly; added to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation, that every man of sense and character detests and despises it.'
‘September 20.-Any soldier or officer who, upon the approach or attack of the enemy's forces by land or water, shall presume to turn his back and flee, shall be instantly shot down; and all good officers are hereby authorised and required to see this done, that the brave and gallant part of the army may not fall a sacrifice to the base and cowardly part, nor share their disgrace in a cowardly and unmanly retreat.'
· November 22, 1777.—The commander-in-chief offers a reward of ten dollars to any person who shall, by nine o'clock on Monday morning, produce the best substitute for shoes, made of raw hides. The commissary of hides is to furnish the hides, and the majorgeneral of the day is to judge of the essays and assign the reward to the best artist.
What were Washington's thoughts and feelings at the restoration of peace, may be gathered from the following extract from a letter
which he wrote to Lafayette in April 1783 : 'We are now an independent people, and have yet to learn political tactics. We are placed among the nations of the earth, and have a character to establish; but how we shall acquit ourselves, time must discover. The probability is (at least I fear it), that local or state politics will interfere too much with the more liberal and extensive plan of government which wisdom and foresight, freed from the mist of prejudice, would dictate; and that we shall be guilty of many blunders in treading this boundless theatre, before we shall have arrived at any perfection in this art.'
Part of the summer of 1783 was spent by Washington in a tour through the northern states ; and it was during this tour that he struck out a plan of great importance, which has since been carried into effect-a water-communication between the Hudson and the great lakes. Returning from this tour he attended the congress then sitting at Princetown, where he was received with the highest honours. On the 18th of October the army was disbanded by congress ; on the 2d of November Washington issued his farewell address to it; on the 4th of December he dined with his officers at New York, now evacuated by the British troops; and on the 23d of the same month he resigned his commission into the hands of congress. Having now,' he said in the conclusion of his address, 'finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action; and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.' Next day he left Annapolis, and proceeded to Mount Vernon, which he had only visited twice during more than eight years.
RETIREMENT INTO PRIVATE LIFE. Washington was now once more a private citizen, devoting himself to those agricultural pursuits in which he took so much delight. Arrived at the age of fifty-two, he again 'trod the paths of private life with heartfelt satisfaction. 'Envious of none, he wrote to a friend, 'I am determined to be pleased with all ; and this, my dear friend, being the order for my march, I shall move gently down the stream of life until I sleep with my fathers.'
For three years Washington pursued this equable course of life, finding his delight in farming, planting, and gardening. Mount Vernon had been celebrated for its
hospitality even before Washington had risen to the high station which he had recently occupied; and now, when visitors were constantly pouring in upon him, Europeans and Americans, noblemen and commoners, old friends and new acquaintances, authors and ordinary men, authoresses and ordinary women, the hospitality had to be resumed on a more extensive scale
sufficiently tested. During these three years of private life, Mr Sparks informs us, Washington's ‘habits were uniform, and nearly the same as they had been previous to the war. He rose before the sun, and employed himself in his study, writing letters or reading till the hour of breakfast; when breakfast was over, his horse was ready at the door, and he rode to his farms, and gave directions for the day to the managers and labourers. Horses were likewise prepared for his guests whenever they chose to accompany him, or to amuse themselves by excursions into the country. Returning from his fields, and despatching such business as happened to be on hand, he went again to his study, and continued there till three o'clock, when he was summoned to dinner. The remainder of the day and the evening were devoted to company, or to recreation in the family circle. At ten he retired to rest. From these habits he seldom deviated, unless compelled to do so by particular circumstances.'
The even tenor of Washington's life was soon to be interrupted. The war was now over, but much remained to be done. The great difficulty was, to devise a federal form of government, one which would give the states the strength of a united nation, without trenching on the privileges and interests of each particular state. The general feeling was against investing congress with much controlling authority. Washington saw the evil of this; and, in his letters to his friends, he spoke strongly on the necessity of a central and supreme government.
At length, after considerable prevarication and delay, a convention of deputies from all the states was agreed upon, for the purpose of framing a constitution. Washington was unanimously elected one of the deputies to this convention from the state of Virginia ; and although somewhat reluctant, he consented to attend. Immediately on his appointment, he set about preparing himself diligently, by the study of history, for the important duties which, as a member of the convention, he would be called upon to perform. He examined carefully, we are told, all those confederacies of the ancient and modern world which appeared most to resemble that which he was about to assist in erecting. He also read and abridged several standard works on political science, to store his mind with those general ideas for which he supposed he would have occasion in the convention. Thus prepared, he set out for Philadelphia, where the convention met on the 14th of May 1787, consisting of deputies from all the states except Rhode Island. Washington was unanimously called to the chair. After sitting five or six hours daily for nearly four mont the convention announced the results of its deliberations in the form of a new constitution for the United States of America. This constitution was accepted with remarkable unanimity all over the states. Benjamin Franklin, one of the members of the convention, thus expressed his opinion of it: 'I consent to