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sons and a daughter ; Butler, who died in infancy, Law- CHAPTER rence, Augustine, and Jane, the last of whom died likewise when a child. By his second wife, Mary Ball, to whom he was married on the 6th of March, 1730, he had six children, GEORGE, Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, Charles, and Mildred. GEORGE WASHINGTON was born in West- Birth of moreland County, Virginia, on the 22d of February, 1732, Washington. . being the eldest son by the second marriage, great grandson of John Washington, who emigrated to America, and the sixth in descent from the first Lawrence Washington of Sulgrave.*
At the time of George Washington's birth, his father resided near the banks of the Potomac in Westmoreland County ; but he removed not long afterwards to an estate owned by him in Stafford County, on the east side of the Rappahannoc River, opposite Fredericksburg. Here he liv- Death of his ed till his death, which happened, after a sudden and short illness, on the 12th of April, 1743, at the age of fortynine. He was buried at Bridge's Creek, in the tomb of his ancestors. Little is known of his character or his acts. It appears by his will, however, that he possessed a large and valuable property in lands; and, as this had been acquired chiefly by his own industry and enterprise, it may be inferred, that, in the concerns of business, he was methodical, skilful, honorable, and energetic. His occupation was that of a planter, which, from the first settlement of the country, had been the pursuit of nearly all the principal gentlemen of Virginia.
Each of his sons inherited from him a separate plantation. His father's To the eldest, Lawrence, he bequeathed an estate near Hunting Creek, afterwards Mount Vernon, which then consisted of twenty-five hundred acres; and also other lands, and shares in iron-works situated in Virginia and Maryland, which were productive. The second son had for his part an estate in Westmoreland. To George were left the lands and mansion where his father lived at the time of his de
• See an account of the Washington Family in the Appendix, No. I.
CHAPTER cease; and to each of the other sons an estate of six or
seven hundred acres. The youngest daughter died when an infant, and for the only remaining one a suitable provision was made in the will. It is thus seen, that Augustine Washington, although suddenly cut off in the vigor of manhood, left all his children in a state of comparative independence. Confiding in the prudence of the mother, he directed that the proceeds of all the property of her children should be at her disposal, till they should respectively come of age.
This weighty charge of five young children, the eldest of whom was eleven years old, the superintendence of their education, and the management of complicated affairs, demanded no common share of resolution, resource of mind, and strength of character. In these important duties Mrs. Washington acquitted herself with great fidelity to her trust, and with entire success. Her good sense, assiduity, tenderness, and vigilance overcame every obstacle; and, as the richest reward of a mother's solicitude and toil, she had the happiness to see all her children come forward with a fair promise into life, filling the sphere allotted to them in a manner equally honorable to themselves, and to the parent who had been the only guide of their principles, conduct, and habits. She lived to witness the noble career of her eldest son, till by his own rare merits he was raised to the head of a nation, and applauded and revered by the whole world. It has been said, that there never a great man, the elements of whose greatness might not be traced to the original characteristics or early influence of his moth
If this be true, how much do mankind owe to the mother of Washington.
Under the colonial governments, particularly in the southern provinces, the means of education were circumscribed. The thinness of population, and the broad line which separated the rich from the poor, prevented the establishment of schools on such a basis as would open the door of instruction to all classes, and thus prepare the way for higher seminaries of learning. Young men destined for the learned
State of education in the Colonies.
professions, whose parents could assord the expense, were occasionally sent to England. But the planters generally sought no other education for their sons, than such as would fit them to be practical men of business. In a few cases, this was derived from a private tutor ; in others, from a teacher of the common schools, whose qualifications would naturally be limited to the demands of his employers, and who was seldom competent to impart more than the simplest elements of knowledge. When he had inculcated the mysteries of reading, writing, arithmetic, and keeping accounts, his skill was exhausted, and the duties of his vocation were fulfilled. If his pupils aspired to higher attainments, they were compelled to leave their master behind, and find their way without a guide.
To a school of this description was George Washington Ilis early indebted for all the aids his mind received in its early dis- habits. cipline and culture. How far he profited by these slender advantages, or was distinguished for his application and love of study, can only be conjectured from the results. Tradition reports, that he was inquisitive, docile, and diligent; but it adds, that his military propensities and passion for active sports displayed themselves in his boyhood ; that he formed his schoolmates into companies, who paraded, marched, and fought mimic battles, in which he was always the commander of one of the parties. He had a fondness for the athletic amusements of running, jumping, wrestling, tossing bars, and other feats of agility and bodily exercise. Indeed it is well known, that these practices were continued by him after he had arrived at the age of mature life. It has also been said, that while at school his probity and demeanor were such, as to win the deference of the other boys, who were accustomed to make him the arbiter of their disputes, and never failed to be satisfied with his judgment. Such are some of the incidents of his juvenile years, remembered and related by his contemporaries after he had risen to greatness. There are not wanting evidences of his early proficiency His early
proficiency. in some branches of study. His manuscript schoolbooks,
CHAPTER from the time he was thirteen years old, have been pre
served. He had already mastered the difficult parts of arithmetic, and these books begin with geometry.
But there is one, of a previous date, which deserves notice, as giving an insight into the original cast of his mind, and the subjects to which his education was directed. It is singular, that a boy of thirteen should occupy himself in studying the dry and intricate forms of business, which are rarely attended to till the affairs of life call them into use, and even then rather as an act of necessity than of pleasure. But many pages of the manuscript in question are taken up with copies of what he calls Forms of Writing, such as notes of hand, bills of exchange, receipts, bonds, indentures, bills of sale, land warrants, leases, deeds, and wills, written out with care, the prominent words in large and varied characters in imitation of a clerk's hand. Then follow selections in rhyme, more distinguished for the sentiments they contain, and the religious tone that pervades them, than for their poetical beauties.
But the most remarkable part of the book is that, in which is compiled a system of maxims, and regulations of conduct, drawn from miscellaneous sources, and arranged under the head of Rules of Behavior in Company and Conversation. Some of these are unimportant, and suited only to form the habits of a child; others are of a higher import, fitted to soften and polish the manners, to keep alive the best affections of the heart, to impress the obligation of the moral virtues, to teach what is due to others in the social relations, and above all to inculcate the practice of a perfect self-control. *
In studying the character of Washington it is obvious, that this code of rules had an influence upon his whole life. His temperament was ardent, his passions strong, and, amidst the multiplied scenes of temptation and excitement through which he passed, it was his constant
Rules of Behavior.
Effects of these Rules.
* A selection from these Rules of Behavior may be found in the Appendix, No. II.
effort and ultimate triumph to check the one and subdue CHAPTER the other. His intercourse with men, private and public, in every walk and station, was marked with a consistency, a fitness to occasions, a dignity, decorum, condescension, and mildness, a respect for the claims of others, and a delicate perception of the nicer shades of civility, which were not more the dictates of his native good sense and incomparable judgment, than the fruits of a long and unwearied discipline.
He left school in the autumn preceding his sixteenth Leaves birthday. The last two years had been devoted to the study of geometry, trigonometry, and surveying, for which he had a decided partiality. It is probable, also, that his friends, discovering this inclination, encouraged him in yielding to it, with the view of qualifying him for the profession of a surveyor, which was then a lucrative employment, and led to opportunities of selecting valuable new lands. During the last summer he was at school, we find him surveying the fields around the schoolhouse and in the adjoining plantations, of which the boundaries, angles, and measurements, the plots and calculations, are entered with formality and precision in his books.
Nor was his skill confined to the more simple processes His skill in of the art. He used logarithms, and proved the accuracy ics. of his work by different methods. The manuscripts fill several quires of paper, and are remarkable for the care with which they were kept, the neatness and uniformity of the handwriting, the beauty of the diagrams, and a precise method and arrangement in copying out tables and columns of figures.
These particulars will not be thought too trivial to Habits of be mentioned, when it is known, that he retained similar habits through life. His business papers, daybooks, legers, and letter books, in which before the revolution no one wrote but himself, exhibit specimens of the same studious care and exactness. Every fact occupies a clear and distinct place, the handwriting is round and regular, without interlineations, blots, or blemishes; and, if mis