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In great crises, Heaven raises up men for
its appointed work. As soldier, statesman, and patriot, he combined in
his own personality the full requirements of the prodigious task than
which no greater was ever laid upon the shoulders of man. Through
trials, sufferings, discouragements, disappointments, abuse, ill
treatment, opposition, and misunderstandings, he never lost heart; his
lofty patriotism was never quenched; his sublime faith in God and the
destiny of his country never wavered, and, seeing with the eye of
undimmed faith the end from the beginning, he advanced with serene
majesty and unconquerable resolve to the conclusion and perfection of
his mighty work.

It has been said of Washington that he embodied within himself the
genius of sanity and the sanity of genius. We can conceive of Lincoln,
Grant, or any other great man losing his mind, but like the snowy crest
of a mountain, rising far above the plain, he stood by himself, and it
is impossible to think of him as losing even in the slightest degree the
magnificent attributes of his personality. As has been stated, his was
the single example in our history in which the fate of our country
rested with one man. Had he fallen in battle at any time between
Lexington and Yorktown, the Revolution would have stopped and
independence been postponed indefinitely. But when Heaven selects its
agent, it shields him in impenetrable armor, and, though Washington was
exposed to innumerable personal perils in the wilderness and in battle,
when his comrades were smitten with death around him, he never received
the slightest wound, and lived to see his work finished, when, in the
quiet of his own home at Mount Vernon, he lay down, folded his arms, and
passed to his reward.

[Illustration: GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799.) Two terms, 1789-1797.]

George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, February
22, 1732. There is a general misunderstanding as to his family. He had
three half-brothers, one half-sister, and three brothers and two
sisters. His half-brothers and sister, children of Augustine Washington
and Jane Butler, were: Butler (died in infancy), Lawrence, Augustine,
and Jane. His brothers and sisters, children of Augustine Washington and
Mary Ball, were: Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, Charles, and Mildred
(died in infancy).

Washington's father died when the son was eleven years old, and his
training devolved upon his mother, a woman of rare force of character.
He received a common school education, but never became learned in
books. He early showed a liking for military matters, was fond of the
sports of boyhood, and was manly, truthful, and so eminently fair in
everything, that his playmates generally selected him as umpire and
cheerfully accepted his decisions. He became an expert surveyor, and, at
the age of sixteen, was employed by Lord Fairfax to survey his immense
estate. The work, which continued for three years and was of the most
difficult nature, attended by much hardship and danger, was performed to
the full satisfaction of his employer.

[Illustration: INAUGURATION OF WASHINGTON.]

Washington grew to be a magnificent specimen of physical manhood. He was
six feet two inches tall, with a large frame and a strength surpassing
that of two ordinary men. No one in the neighborhood was his equal in
horsemanship, running, leaping, throwing, swimming, and all manner of
athletic sports. He was of the highest social rank, wealthy, and a
vestryman and member of the Episcopal Church. He was rather fond of pomp
and ceremony, somewhat reserved in manner, and at times seemed cold and
distant, but with a character that was without flaw or stain. It has
already been said that he served throughout the Revolution without
accepting a penny for his services. He kept an account of all he
received from the government, but sometimes forgot to note what he paid
out. In such cases he balanced his books by paying the deficit from his
own pocket, so that it may be truthfully said he not only won
independence for his country, but paid for the privilege of doing so.

Washington from his first services in the French and Indian War was so
identified with the history of his country that the account of one
includes that of the other. Having told of his election to the
presidency, it, therefore, remains to give the principal incidents of
his administration.


WASHINGTON'S INAUGURATION.

A special messenger reached Mount Vernon with news of Washington's
election on the 14th of April, and two days later he set out for New
York. The journey was one continual ovation, special honors being shown
him at Baltimore, Philadelphia, Trenton, and New York, where they
attained their culmination. He arrived on the 23d of April, and the
inauguration took place a week later. Amid impressive ceremonies, the
oath was administered by Robert R. Livingston, the chancellor of the
State of New York, in Federal Hall, on the present site of the
sub-treasury building. Washington stood in a balcony of the senate
chamber, in full view of the great multitude on the outside. He showed
considerable embarrassment, but was cheered to the echo and was greatly
touched by the manifestations of the love of his fellow-countrymen.

At the opening of his administration, Washington became ill and no
important business was done until September. On the 10th of that month,
Congress created a department of foreign affairs, a treasury department,
and a department of war. Thomas Jefferson was nominated to the first,
Alexander Hamilton to the second, and General Henry Knox to the third.
All were admirable appointments.


ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

Hamilton, the secretary of the treasury, was one of the most remarkable
men identified with the history of our country. He was born in the West
Indies in 1757, and, while a child, displayed extraordinary ability.
When fifteen years old, he was sent to New York City and entered King's
(now Columbia) College. A patriotic speech made when he was only
seventeen years old held his hearers spellbound by its eloquence. At
twenty, he organized a company of cavalry and performed excellent
service on Long Island and at White Plains. Washington was so impressed
by his brilliancy that he placed him on his staff and made him his
military secretary. Many of the best papers of the commander-in-chief
received their finishing touches from the master hand of Hamilton. He
was in Congress in 1782-1783, and helped to frame the Constitution.
When the New York Convention assembled to ratify the new Constitution,
three-fourths of its members were strongly opposed to it, but Hamilton
by the sheer force of his eloquent logic won them over and secured the
assent of the State to the adoption of the Constitution. He was one of
our most brilliant statesmen and the foremost Federalist of his time.


HAMILTON'S WISE MANAGEMENT OF THE FINANCES.

The greatest problem which confronted the country was that of finance,
and Hamilton grasped it with the skill of a master. Hardly had he
received his commission, when Congress called upon him for a plan to
provide for the public debt and to revive the dead national credit.
Hamilton's first answer was that the country would begin by being
honest, and that every dollar of the confederation, then amounting
almost to $80,000,000, should be paid, the United States assuming all
debts due to American citizens, as well as the war debt of each State.
This bold and creditable ground greatly improved public credit, before
any provision was made for the payment of the vast debt.

[Illustration: ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

(1757-1804).]

Hamilton's plan was to fund the entire debt and issue new certificates.
It was vehemently opposed, especially the provision that the State debts
should be assumed by the general government; but solely by his wonderful
ability he carried the measure through Congress. The debate sharpened
the lines between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists or Republicans.

It will be remembered that at that time neither North Carolina nor Rhode
Island had adopted the Constitution. The former called a convention,
and, on the 13th of November, 1789, ratified it, but Rhode Island
continued to sulk until Providence and Newport withdrew from the State,
and Massachusetts and Connecticut made ready to parcel the State between
them. This frightened her, and, on May 29, 1790, she joined her
sisters.

The following year Hamilton gave another proof of his power by carrying
through Congress, in the face of the strongest opposition, a measure for
the relief of the financial straits of the government. The only banks in
the country were one each in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, all of
which were State institutions. He advocated the establishment of a bank
in which the government should be one-fifth owner of the capital stock
of $10,000,000 and a preferred borrower to the same amount. It was to be
under private management. In the face of the strong opposition, the act
creating it was passed, and it was chartered for twenty years. The
subscriptions required that one-fourth should be paid in specie and the
rest in six per cent. certificates of the bank. Within two hours after
the subscription books were opened the entire amount of stock was
subscribed. The United States Bank was destined to play an important
part in national affairs in after years.


PASSAGE OF A TARIFF BILL.

Having provided the means for funding the debt and for borrowing money,
it yet remained to find some way of earning the money. The method was so
apparent that Congress lost no time in passing a tariff bill. A law
placed a duty on imported and domestic spirits, and, in February, 1792,
a protective tariff bill was enacted. This provided that the materials
from which goods are manufactured should not be taxed, while articles
competing with those made in this country were prohibited. A mint was
also established in Philadelphia for coining money.


THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY ORGANIZED.

The plan for the Federal judiciary was perfected on the lines proposed
by Ellsworth, of Connecticut.



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