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   Chapter 2 EARLY CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE FIRST AMERICAN HERO 1732

The Wonderful Story of Washington By Charles M. Stevens Characters: 4043

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


George Washington has his place in American history, not only as being the great commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary army, but as being no less influential and powerful as a political leader and constructive American statesman. He was born February 22, 1732, in one of the wealthiest and most cultured homes in America. From the front door of his father's house, on the estate that was a few years later named Mount Vernon, could be seen many miles of the Potomac River, and a wide sweep of the shores of Maryland. All that can enter into making life delightful flourished abundantly about the cradle of this child, and contributed toward his preparation and development for leadership, that was to produce a new power in the cause of human freedom for the world. There are easily seen many contributing interests that seemed to be carefully engaged in fitting him for the consequential task of taking the divine right from kings and giving it back to the people who alone have the right to the freedom of the earth.

Very soon after the birth of this child, the family moved to an estate owned by the father on the shores of the Rappahannock, across from Fredericksburg.

All traditions agree that the boy's father was exceedingly careful that his son should have his mind built up in the most gentlemanly honesty.

Somehow, as we trace the early lives of great men, that word honesty is always intruding as of first importance. In an age when so many men seem to arrive at riches and power through intrigue and the unscrupulous manipulation of means, the word honesty loses significance and is looked upon either as hypocrisy or a joke. And yet, such conditions fail and the success does not succeed.

George Washington was fortunate in his childhood protectors. Besides having his father and mother to take watchful care of his right views of life, there was Lawrence, fourteen years older than George. Lawrence Washington was a son of their father's earlier marriage. He had been sent away to Engl

and to be educated and he returned when George was eight years old. He has been described as a handsome, splendid, gentlemanly young man. He dearly loved George and did all he could to give the boy his honorable ideas of social and political life.

In the midst of this fraternal interest, at the most impressionable age of a child, came a great military excitement. War for the possession of the West Indies was on between Great Britain and Spain. Admiral Vernon had captured Porto Bello on the Isthmus of Darien, and the Spaniards, aided by the French, were preparing to drive the English out. A regiment was to be raised in the Colonies and Lawrence Washington was eager to become a soldier. Such was his father's position in Colonial affairs that Lawrence was given a Captain's commission and he sailed away in 1740.

The sound of fife and drum, with Lawrence's enlistment, doubtless excited the martial spirit in George, as is confirmed by many an anecdote, and started him on the way to that knowledge and training which fitted him to become the head of the revolutionary army.

Augustus Washington, George's father, died suddenly in 1743, at the age of forty-nine. He was estimated to have been at his death the wealthiest man in Virginia. At least he was able to leave an inheritance to each of his seven children, so that they were each regarded as among the most extensive property owners of that prosperous colony.

Lawrence inherited the estate on the Potomac, which he named Mount Vernon, in honor of his commander in the war with the Spaniards.

George was eleven years old when his father died, and he, with the other four minor children, were left with their property to the guardianship of their mother.

She was indeed the great mother of a great man. Her management morally and financially was conscientious, exact and admirable. George, being her eldest child, was always her favorite, but, with scrupulous care she served each as needed and with the unstinted affection of a noble mother.

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