Chapter XV. First in the Hearts of His Countrymen
In the enjoyment of his
home life, Washington did not forget his
country. It would, indeed, have been hard for him not to
about public affairs - for men were all the time coming
to him to ask for
help and advice regarding this measure or that.
The greatest men of the nation felt that he must know what
and best for the country's welfare.
Soon after his retirement an unexpected trouble arose. There
war between England and France. The French were very anxious
United States should join in the quarrel.
When they could not bring this about by persuasion, they tried
They insulted the officers of our government - they threatened
The whole country was aroused. Congress began to take steps
raising of an Army and the building of a Navy. But who should
All eyes were again turned toward Washington. He had saved
once - he could save it again. The President asked him if he
be the commander-in-chief.
He answered that he would do so, on condition that he might
assistants. But unless the French should actually invade this
he must not be expected to go into the field.
And so, at the last, General Washington is again the commander-in-chief
of the American Army . But there is to be no fighting this time.
French see that the people of the United States cannot be frightened -
they see that the government cannot be driven - they leave off
abuse, and are ready to make friends.
Washington's work is done now. On the 12th of December, 1799,
his horse and rides out over his farms. The weather is cold -
the snow is
falling - but he stays out for two or three hours.
The next morning he has a sore throat - he has taken cold.
The snow is
still falling, but he will go out again. At night he is very
hoarse - he
is advised to take medicine.
"Oh, no," he answers, "you
know I never take anything for a cold."
But in the night he grows much worse - early the next morning
is brought. It is too late. He grows rapidly worse. He knows
end is near.
"It is well," he says -
and these are his last words.
Washington died on the 14th of December, 1799. He had lived
His sudden death was a shock to the entire country. Every
one felt as
though he had lost a personal friend. The mourning for him
In the Congress of the United States his funeral oration was
by his friend, Henry Lee, who said:
"First in war, first in peace,
and first in the hearts of his
countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing
private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, uniform, dignified,
commanding, his example was edifying to all around him, as
effects of that example lasting.
"Such was the man America has
lost! Such was the man for whom our