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The Wonderful Story of Washington By Charles M. Stevens Characters: 3274

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04

In all this storm, Washington remained engrossed in his extensive business affairs. It can not be inferred that this meant any indifference on his part. It must be remembered that by nature he was of a retiring disposition and never put himself forward as a leader in any agitation. He was one who believed in regularity and discipline. He could not destroy except as a process of building. His fighting spirit was always in accomplishing a definite design for foreseen ends. It is thus always seen that the man who is an agitator and a leader of agitation, however heroic and noble he may be in the cause of right, is never the calm, judicial mind necessary to construct material and form forces into a constitutional government. The mind of man seems first to require a forerunner. There was the determined, uncompromising John the Baptist for the gentle and peace-loving Christ, and there were numerous colonial Patrick Henrys for Washington, even as there were Lovejoys, Garrisons and John Browns for Lincoln. Thus it appears, without irreverence, that agitation is as essential to education as legislation is to government.

Washington's large interests in trade with England, and his many Old-England friends and connections, would have turned any man, who would serve his own personal profit, into partisanship for Great Britain. There is no doubt that the inducements to favor the mother country were large, and the promise of loss for doing otherwise was very heavy and convincing. But he had seen much of English arrogance and tyranny. He had also seen much of American freedom and human rights. There was probably never any

debate in his mind as to which meant the most to him in personal duty or as an American. He had a deeper view of humanity than business interests. But his hour had not yet struck. The time had not yet come when the colonies needed Washington.

Something of great significance took place in 1766. Benjamin Franklin was called before the House of Commons and questioned concerning the Stamp Act.

"What," they asked him, according to the Parliamentary Register of that year, "was the temper of America towards Great Britain, before the year 1763?"

"The best in the world," was his reply. "They submitted willingly to the government of the crown, and paid, in their courts, obedience to the acts of Parliament. They were governed at the expense of only a little pen, ink and paper. They were led by a thread. They had not only respect, but an affection for Great Britain, for its laws, its customs, and manners, and even a fondness for its fashions, that greatly increased the commerce. Natives of Great Britain were always treated with particular regard; to be an Old-England man was, of itself, a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among us."

"And what is that temper now?"

"Oh! it is very much altered."

"If the act is not repealed, what do you think will be the consequences?"

"A total loss of the respect and affection the people of America bear to this country, and of all the commerce that depends upon that respect and affection."

"Do you think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp duty if it was moderated?"

"No, never," Franklin replied, "unless compelled by force of arms."

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