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All unaccustomed as Washington was to exhibit emotion, he was now quite overcome. Tears blinded his eyes, and he could say no more. One after another, these heroic men silently grasped his hand in this last parting. Not a word was spoken. It was a scene of those invisible strugglings of the spirit which the pencil cannot picture, and which words cannot describe. Washington travelled slowly towards his beloved home at Mount Vernon, from which he had so long been absent. In every city and village through which he passed, he was greeted with love and veneration. At Annapolis he met the Continental Congress, where he was to resign his commission. It was the 23d of December, 1783. All the members of Congress, and a large concourse of spectators, were present. His address was closed with the following words:

"Having now 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."

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The next day, he returned to Mount Vernon. The following extract from a letter which he then wrote to Lafayette reveals those gentle and domestic traits of character which had been somewhat veiled by the stern duties of his military career:

"At length, I am become a private citizen: and under the shadow of my own vine and fig-tree, free from the bustle of a camp and the busy scenes of public life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments, of which the soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame; the statesman, whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if this globe were insufficient for us all; and the courtier, who is always watching the countenance of his prince, in hopes of catching a gracious smile, -can have very little conception. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all. And this, my dear friend, being the order for my march, I will move gently down the stream of life until I sleep with my fathers."

The great problem which now engrossed all minds was the consolidation of the thirteen States of America in some way which should secure to the States certain reserved rights of local administration; while a nation should be formed, with a general government, which could exert the energies of centralized power, and thus take its stand, the equal in efficiency, with the renowned kingdoms and empires of earth. The old confederacy, which was merely a conglomeration of independent States, had developed. such utter weakness, that all thoughts were turned to the organization of a government upon a different principle.

To this subject, Washington, who had suffered so intensely from the inefficiency of the Continental Congress, devoted his most anxious attention. A convention was called to deliberate upon this momentous question. It assembled at Philadelphia in the year 1787. Washington was sent a delegate from Virginia, and, by unanimous vote, was placed in the president's chair. The result was the present Constitution of the United States; which, rejecting a mere confederacy of independent States, created a nation from the people of all the States, with supreme powers for all the purposes of a general government, and leaving with the States, as State governments leave with the towns, those minor questions of local law in which the integrity of the nation was not involved. The Constitution of the United States is, in the judg

ment of the millions of the American people, the most sagacious document which has ever emanated from uninspired minds. It has created the strongest government upon this globe. It has made the United States of America what they now are. world must look at the fruit, and wonder and admire.


It is stated in the Madison Papers, that, in the convention which framed our Constitution, it was proposed that the title of the President of the United States should be His Excellency; but the Committee of Style and Arrangement negatived this, and reported in favor of the simple title of President of the United States. It has been said that this was done at the instance of Dr. Franklin, who, when the question was under discussion, sarcastically proposed to insert immediately after "His Excellency" the words, "And the Vice-President shall be styled, His most superfluous Highness."

There were some provisions in the compromises of the Constitution from which the heart and mind of Washington recoiled. He had fought for human liberty,- to give to the masses of the people those rights of which aristocratic usurpation had so long defrauded them. "All men are born free and equal" was the motto of the banner under which he had rallied his strength. Equal rights, under the law, for all men, was the corner-stone of that American democracy which Washington, Adams, and Jefferson wished to establish; but there was a spirit of aristocracy, of exclusive rights for peculiar classes and races, which infused its poison into the Constitution, and which subsequently worked out its natural fruit of woe and death. Alluding to the unfortunate compromise which this spirit insisted upon, in reference to slavery and the colored people, Washington wrote,

"There are some things in this new form, I will readily acknowledge, which never did, and I am persuaded never will, obtain my cordial approbation. But I did then conceive, and do now most firmly believe, that, in the aggregate, it is the best constitution that can be obtained at the epoch, and that this, or a dissolution, awaits our choice, and is the only alternative."

Upon the adoption of the Constitution, all eyes were turned to Washington as chief magistrate. By the unanimous voice of the electors, he was chosen the first President of the United States. There was probably scarcely a dissentient voice in the nation. New York was then the seat of government. As Washington

left Mount Vernon for the metropolis to assume these new duties of toil and care, we find recorded in his journal, —

"About ten o'clock, I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and, with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York, with the best disposition to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hopes of answering its expectations."

Washington was inaugurated President of the United States. on the 30th of April, 1789. He remained in the presidential chair two terms, of four years each. At the close of his illustrious administration, in the year 1796, he again retired to the peaceful shades of Mount Vernon, bequeathing to his grateful countrymen the rich legacy of his Farewell Address. The admiration with which these parting counsels were received never will wane. Soon after Washington's return to his beloved retreat at Mount Vernon, he wrote a letter to a friend, in which he described the manner in which he passed his time. He rose with the sun, and first made preparations for the business of the day.

"By the time I have accomplished these matters," he adds, "breakfast is ready. This being over, I mount my horse, and ride round my farms, which employs me until it is time to dress for dinner, at which I rarely miss to see strange faces, come, as they say, out of respect to me. And how different is this from having a few friends at the social board! The usual time of sitting at table, a walk, and tea, bring me within the dawn of candlelight; previous to which, if not prevented by company, I resolve, that, as soon as the glimmering taper supplies the place of the great luminary, I will retire to my writing-table, and acknowledge the letters I have received. Having given you this history of a day, it will serve for a year."

The following anecdotes have been related, illustrative of President Washington's habits of punctuality. Whenever he assigned to meet Congress at noon, he seldom failed of passing the door of the hall when the clock struck twelve. His dining-hour was at four o'clock, when he always sat down to his table, whether his guests were assembled or not, merely allowing five minutes for the variation of time-pieces. To those who came late, he remarked, "Gentlemen, we are punctual here: my cook never asks whether the company has arrived, but whether the hour has."

When visiting Boston, in 1789, he appointed eight o'clock in the morning as the hour when he would set out for Salem; and, while the Old-South clock was striking eight, he was mounting his saddle. The company of cavalry which had volunteered to escort him, not anticipating this punctuality, did not overtake him until he had reached Charles-River Bridge. As the troops came hurrying up, the President said to their commander with a good-natured smile, " Major, I thought you had been too long in my family not to know when it was eight o'clock."

Capt. Pease had purchased a beautiful span of horses, which he wished to sell to the President. The President appointed five o'clock in the morning to examine them at his stable. The captain arrived, with his span, at quarter-past five. He was told by the groom that the President was there at five o'clock, but was then gone to attend to other engagements. The President's time was wholly pre-occupied for several days; so that Capt. Pease had to remain a whole week in Philadelphia before he could get another opportunity to exhibit his span.

Washington, having inherited a large landed estate in Virginia, was, as a matter of course, a slaveholder. The whole number which he held at the time of his death was one hundred and twenty-four. The system met his strong disapproval. In 1786, he wrote to Robert Morris, saying, "There is no man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery."

Lafayette, that true friend of popular rights, was extremely anxious to free our country from the reproach which slavery brought upon it. Washington wrote to him in 1788, "The scheme, my dear marquis, which you propose as a precedent to encourage the emancipation of the black people of this country from the state of bondage in which they are held, is a striking evidence of the state of your heart. I shall be happy to join you in so laudable a work."

In his last will and testament, he inscribed these noble words: "Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will and desire that all the slaves which I hold in my own right shall receive their freedom. To emancipate them during her life would, though earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties, on account of their mixture by marriage with the dower negroes, as to excite the most painful sensation, if not disagreeable conse

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