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   Chapter 27 FREEDOM AND THE WRANGLE FOR PERSONAL GAIN

The Wonderful Story of Washington By Charles M. Stevens Characters: 3356

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


Knowing that Washington would be at continual expense to entertain distinguished guests who would come to see him, Congress tried to grant him a reward for his distinguished services, but he had served his country without pay and he refused. In the meanwhile, the hospitality of Washington was taxed to the utmost, and his time was much taken up in important conferences over political affairs. The country was being governed by Congress under the Articles of Confederation which then bound the states, but probably with less efficiency than thirteen horses in a single rein and rope harness to draw a rattling, curtain-flapping carriage. The old state patriotisms were revived and with them the rivalries and jealousies of political sections. Whatever one state wanted seemed to be the signal for its neighbor to want something else. The United States were indeed plural with a vengeance! "E Pluribus Unum" that had so laboriously and valiantly come true, as meaning one out of many, in war, had changed about to its first condition and was again many out of one.

In 1786, in a letter to General Knox, Washington wrote, "I feel, my dear General Knox, infinitely more than I can express to you for the disorders which have arisen in these states. Good God! who, besides a Tory, could have foreseen, or a Briton predicted them? I do assure you that, even at this moment, when I reflect upon the present prospect of affairs, it seems to me to be like the vision of a dream. After what I have seen, or rather what I have heard, I shall be surprised at nothing; for, if three years since, any person had told me that there would have been such a formidable rebellion as exists at

this day against the laws and constitution of our own making, I should have thought him a bedlamite, a fit subject for a mad-house."

He wrote to James Madison, saying, "How melancholy is the reflection that in so short a time we should have made such large strides toward fulfilling the predictions of our transatlantic foes, who said, 'Leave them to themselves and their government will soon dissolve'? Will not the wise and good strive hard to avert this evil?"

The only remedy which "the wise and good" could use to avert the calamity of having thirteen feeble little nations at war with one another was to supplant the "Articles of Confederation" with a Federal Constitution, and, at last, this was accomplished, with so many compromises and concessions to so-called "state rights" that it required a frightful four years' civil war to establish the meaning of the Federal Constitution, so that the United States grammarians and politicians could agree to say the United States "is" instead of saying that the United States "are."

With the adoption of the Federal Constitution, it was provided that electors should be chosen whose duty it was to select a president for the United States.

There could be but one man seriously considered. The landed gentleman who had become a soldier and won liberty for the Western world was soon seen to be destined, by the nation he had made, to be its first president, and henceforth by nature, if not by the providence of God, to be statesman, and the "First Citizen of America." Accordingly, George Washington was chosen first president of the Western republic, to begin a term of four years from the fourth of March, 1789.

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