Hamilton, Morris and a Wager

George Washington, although he could relax with friends, always had a very dignified, almost rigid, public persona.  This is understandable since almost his entire adult life he was looked to for leadership by increasingly larger groups:  Virginia, the Continental Army and then the entire nation.  He wanted to make sure that no casual remark he made would cause complications for him as a leader.  Alexander Hamilton, who had a puckish sense of humor, knew this aspect of Washington well, having served as Washington’s secretary during the war.  Gouverneur Morris did not. (more…)

Published in: on May 12, 2022 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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March 4, 1793: Shortest Inaugural Address

 

The shortest inaugural address was given on March 4, 1793.  Since it was delivered by George Washington it still managed to be meaningful as well as brief.  I wish every one of his successors had to repeat the final paragraph:

 

 

Fellow Citizens:

I AM again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate. When the occasion proper for it shall arrive, I shall endeavor to express the high sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence which has been reposed in me by the people of united America.

Previous to the execution of any official act of the President the Constitution requires an oath of office. This oath I am now about to take, and in your presence: That if it shall be found during my administration of the Government I have in any instance violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.

Published in: on March 4, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on March 4, 1793: Shortest Inaugural Address  
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Washington and the Painters

 

George Washington was one of the first global celebrities who was not a monarch.  How tiresome this was to him he revealed in a letter:

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 20th Ulto was presented to me yesterday by Mr Williams—who as a professional man—may, or may not be for ought I know, a luminary of the first magnitude. But to be frank, and I hope you will not be displeased with me for being so—I am so heartily tired of the attendance which from one cause or another has been given ⟨to⟩ these kind of people, that it is now more than two years since I have resolved to sit no more for any of them and have adhered to it, except in instances where it has been requested by public bodies, or for a particular purpose (not of the Painters) and could not, without offence be refused.

I have been led to make this resolution for another reason besides the irksomeness of sitting, and the time I loose by it—which is, that these productions have in my estimation, been made use of as a sort of tax on individuals by being engraved (and that badly) and hawked about or advertised for Sale. With very great esteem & regard I am Dear Sir Yr most Obt & Affe Servt

G.W——n

Two years later in 1794 Washington did sit for the painter at the request of Masonic Lodge 22.  Washington is wearing Masonic regalia and looks quite unhappy:

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Published in: on January 21, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Washington and the Painters  
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George Washington: First Thanksgiving Proclamation

A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.  

George Washington

 

The father of our nation was a religious man.  He had no doubt of the existence of God, and that He intervened in the affairs of men and nations.  Therefore it is no surprise that he originated the tradition of the last Thursday in November for Americans to thank God.  Lincoln revived the tradition in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War.  When we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we are celebrating a holiday that is at the very core of American history from the Pilgrims forward. (more…)

Published in: on November 25, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on George Washington: First Thanksgiving Proclamation  
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August 29, 1786: Shays’ Rebellion Begins

In the aftermath of American victory in the Revolutionary War, times were tough in the new nation.  In Massachusetts farmers faced financial ruin as merchants, concerned with the inflation, were demanding repayment of debts in hard currency which was in short supply.  Governor John Hancock attempted to set an example by not demanding that his debtors pay him in hard currency, and he refused to authorize prosecution of those who failed to pay their taxes to the State.  This was to no avail as more farmers began to lose their farms through foreclosure.  That most of these farmers had fought in the Revolution made their plight more poignant, and also suggested that they would not stand idle as they were reduced to poverty.

Violence broke out after James Bowdoin, champion of the merchants, was elected Governor of the Bay State.  On August 29, 1786 a rebellion broke out when a well organized force prevented the court from sitting in Northampton.  Daniel Shays who had served in the Continental Army as a Captain, and who had receive a sword of honor from Lafayette that he had to sell to help pay his debts, participated in the Northampton action.  His name became attached to the Rebellion, but he staunchly denied that he was one of the leaders of the movement.

The Massachusetts government now confronted the quandary of attempting to assert its authority when the only armed force at its disposal were militia levies and much of the militia sympathized with the rebels.   The Federal government of the Articles of Confederation was deaf to appeals for aid, having no armed forces in any case to aid Massachusetts in putting down the Rebellion.

The solution was  a 3000 man militia force under former Continental Major General Benjamin Lincoln.  The force was paid for by 125 merchants who contributed 6000 pounds.  With this force, Lincoln crushed the Rebellion in February 1787.  Casualties were minor, five killed, a few dozen wounded, but the impact of the Rebellion was profound in convincing many of the leaders in the United States of the necessity of revising the weak Articles of Confederation and forming a stronger Federal government.  Shays Rebellion had given rise to outbursts throughout New England, and although they had been quickly quashed, the alarm they raised reached Mount Vernon.

On October 31, 1786 in a letter to Henry Lee, George Washington demonstrated how deeply Shays’ Rebellion disturbed him:

 

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Published in: on August 29, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on August 29, 1786: Shays’ Rebellion Begins  
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Yorktown Campaign

 

A good video on the Yorktown Campaign by Mount Vernon.  I don’t think any nation on Earth owes more to one man than the US does to George Washington.  Now we have idiots, in the name of malign identity politics, toppling his statues or seeking to topple his statues.  Of course none of this says anything about Washington, but quite a lot about the insane times in which we find ourselves.  Today is the 289th birthday of Washington.  I daresay that Washington will be remembered, and honored, long after those who seek to destroy his memory are entirely forgotten.

Published in: on February 22, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Yorktown Campaign  
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Washington at Prayer

There is an old tradition that Washington prayed in the snow at Valley Forge on Christmas Day.  Certainly the wretched condition of the Continental Army in December of 1777, with a hungry winter beginning, would have driven commanders less pious than Washington to their knees.  However, Washington was pious and prayed every day. (more…)

Published in: on December 21, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Washington at Prayer  
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December 1776: A Dying Revolution and The Old Fox

 

 

The American Revolution was in the process of dying 244 years ago as General George Washington revealed in letters to his cousin Lund Washington who looked after Mount Vernon for the General during the War.

 

Dear Lund,

* * * * * *

I wish to Heaven it was in my power to give you a more favorable account of our situation than it is. Our numbers, quite inadequate to the task of opposing that part of the army under the command of General Howe, being reduced by sickness, desertion, and political deaths (on or before the first instant, and having no assistance from the militia), were obliged to retire before the enemy, who were perfectly well informed of our situation, till we came to this place, where I have no idea of being able to make a stand, as my numbers, till joined by the [78] Philadelphia militia, did not exceed three thousand men fit for duty. Now we may be about five thousand to oppose Howe’s whole army, that part of it excepted which sailed under the command of Gen. Clinton. I tremble for Philadelphia. Nothing, in my opinion, but Gen. Lee’s speedy arrival, who has been long expected, though still at a distance (with about three thousand men), can save it. We have brought over and destroyed all the boats we could lay our hands on upon the Jersey shore for many miles above and below this place; but it is next to impossible to guard a shore for sixty miles, with less than half the enemy’s numbers; when by force or strategem they may suddenly attempt a passage in many different places. At present they are encamped or quartered along the other shore above and below us (rather this place, for we are obliged to keep a face towards them) for fifteen miles. * * *

December 17, ten miles above the Falls.

* * * I have since moved up to this place, to be more convenient to our great and extensive defences of this river. Hitherto, by our destruction of the boats, and vigilance in watching the fords of the river above the falls (which are now rather high), we have prevented them from crossing; but how long we shall be able to do it God only knows, as they are still hovering about the river. And if every thing else fails, will wait till the 1st of January, when there will be no other men to oppose them but militia, none of which but those from Philadelphai, mentioned [79] in the first part of the letter, are yet come (although I am told some are expected from the back counties). When I say none but militia, I am to except the Virginia regiments and the shattered remains of Smallwood’s, which, by fatigue, want of clothes, &c., are reduced to nothing—Weedon’s, which was the strongest, not having more than between one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty men fit for duty, the rest being in the hospitals. The unhappy policy of short enlistments and a dependence upon militia will, I fear, prove the downfall of our cause, though early pointed out with an almost prophetic spirit! Our cause has also received a severe blow in the captivity of Gen. Lee. Unhappy man! Taken by his own imprudence, going three or four miles from his own camp, and within twenty of the enemy, notice of which by a rascally Tory was given a party of light horse seized him in the morning after travelling all night, and carried him off in high triumph and with every mark of indignity, not even suffering him to get his hat or surtout coat. The troops that were under his command are not yet come up with us, though they, I think, may be expected to-morrow. A large part of the Jerseys have given every proof of disaffection that they can do, and this part of Pennsylvania are equally inimical. In short, your imagination can scarce extend to a situation more distressing than mine. Our only dependence now is upon the speedy enlistment of a new army. If this fails, I think the game will be pretty well up, as, from disaffection and want of spirit and fortitude, the inhabitants, [80] instead of resistance, are offering submission and taking protection from Gen. Howe in Jersey. * * * I am &c. (more…)

Published in: on December 10, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 1776: A Dying Revolution and The Old Fox  
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General Washington and The Lord of Hosts

We live in an age where scoffing at religion and believers in God is all the rage.  In some ways the Eighteenth Century was like this time period.  In the Age of Enlightenment more than a few people scoffed at Christianity and some openly embraced atheism.  It was considered witty and daring and fun by the avant garde, especially in Europe.  It seemed much less humorous at the tail end of the century when the French Revolutionary regime for a time persecuted Christians and slaughtered them for their faith.  This type of hostility was much less in evidence in Eighteenth Century America.  Even those, for example Thomas Jefferson, who had doubts about the divinity of Christ, praised His teachings and had no doubt as to the existence of God.

George Washington, the commanding American figure of his day, was a very conventional Christian.  He attended church regularly, said his prayers and read his Bible.  His faith was as much a part of him as his love of his wife, his love of Mount Vernon and his ability to lead men through sufferings in the War of Independence that most of us today would find simply unimaginable.  Pious without being sanctimonious, Washington had no doubt that the fate of America in the Revolution was firmly in the hands of God.

We see this belief in the General Order he issued to the Continental Army on March 6, 1776:

Thursday the seventh Instant, being set apart by the Honorable the Legislature of this province, as a day of fasting, prayer, and humiliation, “to implore the Lord, and Giver of all victory, to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness’s, and that it would please him to bless the Continental Arms, with his divine favour and protection”—All Officers, and Soldiers, are strictly enjoined to pay all due reverance, and attention on that day, to the sacred duties due to the Lord of hosts, for his mercies already received, and for those blessings, which our Holiness and Uprightness of life can alone encourage us to hope through his mercy to obtain. (more…)

Published in: on November 19, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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November 5, 1775: Washington Ends Guy Fawkes Day

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The idiotic anti-Catholic celebration of Guy Fawkes Day , observed each November fifth, was effectively ended two hundred and forty-tw0 years ago in America during the Revolution, in large part due to George Washington.  Here is his order on November 5, 1775:

As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d 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 solliciting, and have really obtain’d, 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 address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada. (more…)

Published in: on November 5, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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