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TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The author persuades himself that no apology will be required for offering to his fellow-citizens a revised edition of the LIFE OF GENERAL WASHINGTON.
The period during which he lived, and acted a conspicuous part in American affairs, was the most interesting of American history. The war of our revolution, the very instructive interval between its termination and the adoption of our present constitution, the organization of the new government, and the principles which were developed in its first operation, form great epochs, claiming the attention not only of every statesman, but of every American unwilling to remain ignorant of the history of his country, and the character of his countrymen.
The transactions of this period constitute the subject of the following pages. In compiling them, the Author has relied chiefly on the manuscript papers of General Washington. These have supplied the requisite information respecting all facts immediately connected with himself. But as many occurrences are unavoidably introduced in which he acted no direct part, it has been drawn occasionally from other sources.
The history of General Washington, from the time of his appointment to the command of the American armies, is the history of his country. Yet the peculiar character of biography seemed to require that his private opinions, and his various plans, whether carried into execution or neglected, should be given more in detail than might be deemed proper in a general history. Copious extracts have, therefore, been made from his correspondence. Many political events, too, especially during the war, while his particular duties were of a military character, seem less appro
priate to his biography, than to a professed history of the United States. These are alluded to incidentally.
The great questions which were debated in Congress during the first operations of the government, have not yet lost their interest. Deep impressions were then made respecting the subjects themselves, and the persons by whom the various important propositions then discussed were supported or opposed, which are not yet entirely effaced. Justice to the patriot statesmen, who then devoted their time and talents to the public service, requires that the reasons on which they acted should be known. The arguments, therefore, for and against those measures which had most influence over the opinion of the nation, are substantially stated. They are necessarily collected from the papers of the day.
Other transactions of immense importance at the time, conveying lessons as instructive as experience can give, in which almost every individual took some part, passed under the view of the nation, and are detailed, in some degree, from the observation of the author himself. In stating these, which belong equally to history and biography, his endeavour has been to represent sentiments and actions, leaving it to the reader to draw his own conclusions from them.
The work was originally composed under circumstances which might afford some apology for its being finished with less care than its importance demanded. The immense mass of papers which it was necessary to read, many of them interesting when written, but no longer so, occupied great part of that time which the impatience of the public could allow for the appearance of the book itself. It was therefore hurried to the press without that previous careful examination, which would have resulted in the correction of some faults that have been since perceived. In the hope of presenting the work to the public in a form more worthy of its acceptance, and more satisfactory to himself, the author has given it a careful revision. The language has been, in some instances, altered-he trusts improved; and the narrative, especially that part of it which details the distresses of the army during the war, relieved from tedious repetitions of the same suffering. The work is reduced in its volume, without discarding any essential information.
Birth of Mr. Washington.—His mission to the French on the Ohio.- Appointed
Lieutenant Colonel of a regiment of regular troops.-Surprises Monsieur Jumonville.-Capitulation of fort Necessity.—Is appointed aid-de-camp to General Braddock.- Defeat and death of that general.— Is appointed to the command of a regiment.--Extreme distress of the frontiers, and exertions of Colonel Washington to augment the regular forces of the colony.--Expedition against fort Du Quesne.Defeat of Major Grant.--Fort Du Quesne evacuated by the French, and taken possession of by the English.—Resignation of Colonel Washington.-His marriage.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, the third son of Augustine Washington, was born on the 22d of February, 1732, near the banks of the Po
1732. towmac, in the county of Westmoreland, in Virginia. His father first married Miss Butler, who died in 1728; leaving two sons, Lawrence and Augustine. In 1730, he intermarried with Miss Mary Ball, by whom he had four sons, George, John, Samuel and Charles; and one daughter, Betty, who intermarried with Colonel Fielding Lewis, of Frede. ricksburg.
His great grand-father, John Washington, a gentleman of a respecta. ble family, had emigrated from the north of England about the year 1657, and settled on the place where Mr. Washington was born.
At the age of ten years he lost his father. Deprived of one parent, he became an object of more assiduous attention to the other; who
1742. continued to impress those principles of religion and virtue on his tender mind, which constituted the solid basis of a character that was maintained through all the trying vicissitudes of an eventful life. But his education was limited to those subjects, in which alone the sons of gentlemen, of moderate fortune, were, at that time, generally instructed. It was confined to acquisitions strictly useful, not even extending to foreign languages.
In 1743, his eldest brother intermarried with the daughter of the
Honourable George William Fairfax, then a member of the council; and this connexion introduced Mr. Washington to Lord Fairfax, the propri
etor of the Northern Neck of Virginia, who offered him, when 1749.
in his eighteenth year, an appointment as surveyor, in the western part of that territory. His patrimonial estate being inconsiderable, this appointment was readily accepted; and in the performance of its duties, he acquired that information respecting vacant lands, and formed those opinions concerning their future value, which afterwards contributed greatly to the increase of his private fortune.
Those powerful attractions which the profession of arms presents to young and ardent minds, possessed their full influence over Mr. Washington. Stimulated by the enthusiasm of military genius, to take part in the war in which Great Britain was then engaged, he had
pressed so earnestly to enter into the navy, that, at the age of 1747.
fifteen, a midshipman's warrant was obtained for him. The interference of a timid and affectionate mother deferred the commence
ment, and changed the direction of his military career. Four 1751.
years afterwards, at a time when the militia were to be trained for actual service, he was appointed one of the Adjutants General of Virginia, with the rank of Major. The duties annexed to this office soon yielded to others of a more interesting character.
France was beginning to develop the vast plan of connecting her extensive dominions in America, by uniting Canada with Louisiana. The troops of that nation had taken possession of a tract of country claimed by Virginia, and had commenced a line of posts, to be extended from the Lakes to the Ohio. The attention of Mr. Dinwiddie, Lieutenant Governor of that Province, was attracted to these supposed encroachments; and he deemed it his duty to demand, in the name of the King his master, that they should be suspended.
This mission was toilsome and hazardous. The Envoy would be under the necessity of passing through an extensive and almost unexplored wilderness, intersected with rugged mountains and considerable rivers, and inhabited by fierce savages, who were either hostile to the English, or of doubtful attachment. While the dangers and fatigues of this service deterred others from undertaking it, they seem to have possessed attractions for Mr. Washington, and he engaged in it with alacrity. On receiving his commission, he left Williamsburg and arrived, on
the 14th of November, at Wills' creek, then the extreme fron1753.
tier settlement of the English, where guides were engaged to conduct him over the Alleghany mountains. After surmounting the im. pediments occasioned by the snow and high waters, he reached the mouth
of Turtlecreek, where he was informed that the French General was dead, and that the greater part of the army had retired into winter quarters. Pursuing his route, he examined the country through which he passed with a military eye, and selected the confluence of the Monongahela and Alleghany rivers, the place where fort Du Quesne was afterwards erected by the French, as an advantageous position, which it would be adviseable to seize and to fortify immediately.
After employing a few days among the Indians in that neighbourhood, and procuring some of their chiefs to accompany him, whose fidelity he took the most judicious means to secure, he ascended the Alleghany river. Passing one fort at the mouth of French creek, he proceeded up the stream to a second, where he was received by Monsieur Le Gardeur de St. Pierre, the commanding officer on the Ohio, to whom he delivered the letter of Mr. Dinwiddie, and from whom he received an answer with which he returned to Williamsburg. The exertions made by Mr. Washington on this occasion, the perseverance with which he surmounted the difficulties of the journey, and the judgment displayed in his conduct towards the Indians, raised him in the public
1754. opinion, as well as in that of the Lieutenant Governor. His journal,* drawn up for the inspection of Mr. Dinwiddie, was published, and impressed his countrymen with very favourable sentiments of his understanding and fortitude.
As the answer from the commandant of the French forces on the Ohio indicated no disposition to withdraw from that country, it was deemed necessary to make some preparations to maintain the right asserted over it by the British crown; and the assembly of Virginia authorized the executive to raise a regiment for that purpose, to consist of three hundred men. The command of this regiment was given to Mr. Fry;t and
* See note, No. I, at the end of the volume.
† With an unaffected modesty which the accumulated honours of his after life could never impair, Major Washington, though the most distinguished military man then in Virginia, declined being a candidate for the command of this regiment. The following letter written on the occasion to Colonel Richard Corbin, a member of the council, with whom his family was connected by the ties of friendship and of affinity, was placed in the hands of the author by Mr. Francis Corbin, a son of that gentleman.
“Dear Sir,-In a conversation at Green Spring you gave me some room to hope for a commission above that of a Major, and to be ranked among the chief officers of this expedition. The command of the whole forces is what I neither look for, expect, or desire ; for I must be impartial enough to confess, it is a charge too great for my youth and inexperience to be intrusted with. Knowing this, I have too sincere a love for my country, to undertake that which may tend to the prejudice of it. But if I could entertain hopes that you thought me worthy of the post of Lieutenant-colonel,