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   Chapter 4 GETTING USED TO ROUGHING IT

The Wonderful Story of Washington By Charles M. Stevens Characters: 3149

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


From the aristocratic tables and home comforts of Mount Vernon and Belvoir, the youthful Washington began roughing it in the forests and along the streams of the Shenandoah. He had begun to adapt himself to the primitive conditions of his country and to share the coarse fare of the commoners that composed the civilization of the new world.

To one of his friends, he wrote: "I have not slept more than three or four nights in a bed, but, after walking a good deal all day, I have lain down before the fire upon a little straw or fodder, or a bearskin, whichever was to be had, with man, wife and children, like dogs and cats; and happy is he who gets the berth nearest the fire."

He wrote in his note-book that he received, when in active service, a doubloon per day, which was $7.20 in gold and worth much more than that correspondingly at that time. These first wages are in sharp contrast to those received by Lincoln, and the preparation for life coming to the two men was as notably different as their mission and as their times.

Soon after this, Washington, though only a boy, was appointed official surveyor for the government, and so accurate were his surveys that they have ever remained the undisputed authority. Meantime, he had an eye to the practical, and, as a result, the choicest parts of the Shenandoah Valley came into possession of the Washingtons and remained with them for many generations.

The able and talented young gentleman was frequently for long periods the guest of Lord Fairfax, after Lord Fairfax had moved from Belvoir to his "qu

arters" beyond the Blue Ridge, which he had made into a spacious new home named Greenway Court. All the culture of England was gathered there and nothing was failing to give the young man a clear idea of the social and political conditions of the world.

World history has much to do in making individual history and so it was with Washington. England and France were rivals and at war. The war came to a close, and, so anxious was each for peace, that they settled their home differences and left to the future their rivalry for territory in North America. It then became a race for them, who could occupy and defend territory the most rapidly. The vast overlapping claims ran down from the Saint Lawrence River to the Ohio River and on to the Mississippi.

French explorers had certainly been the first to pass through that region and map out the territory, but the English had occupied the eastern coast and given land titles that ran west to the setting sun. Evidently, the mother countries had settled their differences in Europe only to turn their energies to securing and fortifying their claims in the new world.

Strange indeed is the course of destiny. The revolutionary grandmothers used to recite a very vague stanza which ran as follows:

"A lion and a unicorn

Were fighting for the crown

Up jumped a little dog

And knocked them both down."

At least, England lost most of its possessions in North America, France lost all, and a little nation appeared that was the cradle of liberty for mankind and the unsurpassable maker of a greater world.

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