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with the Alexanders, the Cæsars, and the Fredericks of other nations, he is therefore more justly, appropriately, and affectionately designated as "the fam ther of his country.”
Washington, having retired to Mount Vernon, he devoted his attention to the improvement of his plantation, with a resolution never again to appear in public life. "The scene is at length closed,” said he, three days after his arrival there, “I feel myself eased of a load of public care, and hope to spend the remainder of my days in cultivating the affections of good men, and the practice of the domestic virtues." With a mind capable of the most enlarged views, he traced the broad map of his country, and pointed out its capabilities and future greatness. In a letter to the Earl of Buchan, written while engaged in promoting some works of immediate utility, he said," if Jeft undisturbed, we shall open a communication by water with all the lakes northward and westward of us, with which we have territorial connexions; and an inland in a few years more from Rhode Island to Georgia ;" at the same time he regarded with attention every improvement in the economy of the fars
But the country was not at rest, and Washington had been too deeply interested in all that concerned it, to be allowed to withdraw his attention entirely from public affairs; indeed, the embarrassments of the government gave him great anxiety. While the general government was dependent on the separate action of thirteen independent state sovereignties, it struggled with difficulties which could not be reo moved, and it was soon discovered that the whole fabric must fall to ruin, or a new system be adopted. On this subject there existed a diversity of opinions
in the country, which rendered the result for a long time doubtful. Tumults, insurrections, and commotions agitated all reflecting men.
At length a convention was held at Philadelphia by the representatives of twelve states; Washington was unanimously chosen president, and after a session of about four months, the present national constitution was framed, which being afterwards approved by the people of eleven states, became the supreme law.
No sooner were the public in possession of this instrument, than their attention was directed to Washington as the only nian to be placed at the head of the nation. His consent was hard to win; but overcome by the entreaties of personal friends, and in obedience to the voice of the people, he once more gave himself to their service, and was unanimously elected the first president of the United States. “I wish," said he, when his election was announced, " that there may not be reason for regretting the choice, for indeed all I can promise, is to accomplisha that which can be done by an honest zeal.” Two days after, he “bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and domestic felicity,” and proceeded to the seat of government.
His progress from Alexandria to New York was marked by demonstrations of veneration and affeetion : the manner of his reception at Trenton, was so truly appropriate and affecting, that it deserves especial notice. In addition to the usual military compliments, the bridge over the creek running through the town was covered by a triumphal arch supported by thirteen pillars, entwined and ornamented with flowers and laurel, and bearing on the front in large gilt letters,
THE DEFENDER OF THE MOTHERS
WILL BE THE
PROTECTOR OF THE DAUGHTERS.
Here were assembled the mothers and daughters, dressed in white, each bearing a basket of flowers, which were strown before the chief, while they sang in chorus,
Welcome, mighty chief, once more
Virgins fair and matrons grave,
way with flowers. On the 23d of April, 1789, Washington arrived at New York, and on the 30th was inaugurated in the presence of an immense concourse of citizens, who rent the air with joyous acclamations.
His administration of the new government commenced under the pressure of numerous embarrassments; an empty treasury, millions of debt, domestic agitation, and foreign intrigue. The president filled the departments with able men, solely selected with a reference to justice and public good, and gave that cast to the administration of national affairs, which all his successors—however most of them may have differed from him in abstract opinions have found it necessary to adopt and practice on great and im portant occasions.
In the fall of that year Washington visited the New England states, and experienced great satis.
faction in witnessing the prosperous and happy condition of the people ; 'in this tour he omitted Rhode Island, as that state had not then adopted the federal constitution, but he visited it in the following year ; after which he retired to Mount Vernon, as the great change in his habits of life, and his close application to the duties of his station, had so much impared his health, that a respite from official cares was not to be deferred. In 1791, he passed through the southern states, executing on his route the power invested in him of selecting the place for the future capital of the nation.
Although the constitution had been adopted by a majority of the people in all the states, there yet remained a strong party in most of them, jealous of the power of the government of the union, and zealous in their attachments to state sovereignty; men of the highest talents and purest integrity were divided in their opinions on this fundamental principle, which all the improvement in the condition of the country could not reconcile. Domestic prosperity and a few years of tranquillity might have allayed the violence of party exeitement, but the turn of European affairs gave it a new impulse and a wider range.
When the French revolution began, it was hailed in America as the dawn of liberty in Europe ; and as there were parts of the British treaty of peace which had not been promptly executed by that powe er, there existed a strong inclination to favor France. Washington decided on a neutral course, and the friends of the administration on this point, and the opposition, very generally became identified with the federal and anti-federal, parties. The firmness and prudence of the president, aided by his weight of character, preserved the country from being pre
cipitated into a war, but it was for a long time double ful whether he would be able to withstand the tide ol popular inclination.
The time for a new election having arrived, Washington was again unanimously chosen president.
We cannot enter upon the political history of this period, without stepping beyond the limits of our plan, and at last falling short of a satisfactory narrax tive. Of the sincerity of his opinions, the fact is sufficient that at the calling of his country, he surrendered his choice of life, and risking his popularity and influence, as in the revolution he had risked his life and fortune, when all might be lost and, personaly, nothing to be gained; of the wisdom of his measures, every succeeding year has borne ample testimony ; of the deep, unwavering love he bore his country, his whole life gave evidence. He sought to execute the trust reposed in him by the people, honestly; to give a regular operation to the political machine without violence and without intrigue. No machiavelian policy, no state trickery was practised ; his friends and his foes always knew where to find him, and foreign powers learned to rely as much on his integrity as his own constituents. He had no local partialities to gratify, no local interests to subserve ; he thought and acted for the welfare of the whole, as a nation, which was about to take its rank in the scale of empires, and on whose future character and destinies, his administration must have an enduring influence.
When the second term of office was about to ex. pire, Washington declined a re-election; and, with an anxiety worthy of his character, to render a lastiog benefit to his country, he published a valedictory address, in which he warned, admonished, and ad