Daily Archives: June 28, 2007

Item of the Day: The Life of George Washington (1807)

Full Title: The Life of George Washington, Comminder in Chief of the Armies of the United States in the War which Established their Independence; and First President of the United States. By David Ramsay. London: Printed by Like Hanfard & Sons, For T. Cadell and W. Davies, in the Strand; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, Paternoster-Row, 1807.

 

To EMPERORS,

KINGS,

AND OTHERS,

EXERCISING SOVEREIGN POWER

IN THE  OLD WORLD:

IN HOPES THAT FROM THE EXAMPLE OF

GEORGE WASHINGTON

IN THE NEW,

THEY WILL LEARN TO AVOID

WAR,

TO PROMOTE GOODWILL IN THE

FAMILY OF MANKIND,

AND USE ALL THE POWER THEY POSSESS,

FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD;

THE FOLLOWING PAGES

ARE MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED

BY THE AUTHOR.

 

 

[The following is excerpted from Chapter IX]

 . . . The military services of general Washington, which ended with this interesting day [November 25, 1783], were as great as ever were performed by any man to any nation. They were at the same time disinterested.  How dear would not a mercenary man have sold such toils, such dangers, and, above all, such successes! What schemes of grandeur and of power would not an ambitious man have built upon the affections of the people and of the army! The gratitude of America was so lively, that any thing asked by her resigning chief would have been readily granted. He asked nothing for himself, his family, or relations, but indirectly solicited favours for the confidential officers who were attached to his person. These were young gentlemen without fortune, who had served him in the capacity of aides-de-camp. To omit the opportunity which was offered, of recommending them to the notice of congress, would have argued a degree of insensibility in the breast of their friend. The only privilege, distinguishing him from other private citizens, which the retiring Washington did or would receive from his grateful country, was a right of sending and receiving letters free of postage.

The American chief, having by his own voluntary act become one of the people, hastened with ineffable delight to his seat at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potowmac. There, in a short time, the most successful general in the world became the most diligent farmer in Virginia.

To pass suddenly from the toils of the first public commission in the United States, to the care of a farm; to exchange the instruments of war for the implements of husbandry, and to become at once the patron and example of ingenious and profitable agriculture; would to most men have been a difficult task; but to the elevated mind of the late commander in chief of the armies of the United States, it was natural and delightful: and should these pages descend to posterity, and war continue ages hence to be the means of establishing national justice, let the commanders of armies learn, from the example of general Washington, that the fame which is acquired by the sword, without guilt of ambition, may be preserved without power or spendor in private life.

 

 

 

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Filed under 1800's, Biography, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Washington