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The Life of George Washington, Volume I by Washington Irving

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The Washington family is of an ancient English stock, the genealogy of
which has been traced up to the century immediately succeeding the
Conquest. At that time it was in possession of landed estates and manorial
privileges in the county of Durham, such as were enjoyed only by those, or
their descendants, who had come over from Normandy with the Conqueror, or
fought under his standard. When William the Conqueror laid waste the whole
country north of the Humber, in punishment of the insurrection of the
Northumbrians, he apportioned the estates among his followers, and advanced
Normans and other foreigners to the principal ecclesiastical dignities. One
of the most wealthy and important sees was that of Durham. Hither had been
transported the bones of St. Cuthbert from their original shrine at
Lindisfarne, when it was ravaged by the Danes. That saint, says Camden, was
esteemed by princes and gentry a titular saint against the Scots.
[Footnote: Camden, Brit. iv., 349.] His shrine, therefore, had been held in
peculiar reverence by the Saxons, and the see of Durham endowed with
extraordinary privileges.

William continued and increased those privileges. He needed a powerful
adherent on this frontier to keep the restless Northumbrians in order, and
check Scottish invasion; and no doubt considered an enlightened
ecclesiastic, appointed by the crown, a safer depositary of such power than
an hereditary noble.

Having placed a noble and learned native of Loraine in the diocese,
therefore, he erected it into a palatinate, over which the bishop, as Count
Palatine, had temporal, as well as spiritual jurisdiction. He built a
strong castle for his protection, and to serve as a barrier against the
Northern foe. He made him lord high-admiral of the sea and waters adjoining
his palatinate,--lord warden of the marches, and conservator of the league
between England and Scotland. Thenceforth, we are told, the prelates of
Durham owned no earthly superior within their diocese, but continued for
centuries to exercise every right attached to an independent sovereign.
[Footnote: Annals of Roger de Hovedon. Hutchinson's Durham, vol. ii.
Collectanea Curiosa, vol. ii., p. 83.]

The bishop, as Count Palatine, lived in almost royal state and splendor. He
had his lay chancellor, chamberlains, secretaries, steward, treasurer,
master of the horse, and a host of minor officers. Still he was under
feudal obligations. All landed property in those warlike times, implied
military service. Bishops and abbots, equally with great barons who held
estates immediately of the crown, were obliged, when required, to furnish
the king with armed men in proportion to their domains; but they had their
feudatories under them to aid them in this service.

The princely prelate of Durham had his barons and knights, who held estates
of him on feudal tenure, and were bound to serve him in peace and war. They
sat occasionally in his councils, gave martial splendor to his court, and
were obliged to have horse and weapon ready for service, for they lived in
a belligerent neighborhood, disturbed occasionally by civil war, and often
by Scottish foray. When the banner of St. Cuthbert, the royal standard of
the province, was displayed, no armed feudatory of the bishop could refuse
to take the field. [Footnote: Robert de Graystanes, Ang. Sac., p. 746.]

Some of these prelates, in token of the warlike duties of their diocese,
engraved on their seals a knight on horseback armed at all points,
brandishing in one hand a sword, and holding forth in the other the arms of
the see. [Footnote: Camden, Brit. iv., 349.]

Among the knights who held estates in the palatinate on these warlike
conditions, was WILLIAM DE HERTBURN, the progenitor of the Washingtons.
His Norman name of William would seem to point out his national descent;
and the family long continued to have Norman names of baptism. The surname
of De Hertburn was taken from a village on the palatinate which he held of
the bishop in knight's fee; probably the same now called Hartburn on the
banks of the Tees. It had become a custom among the Norman families of rank
about the time of the Conquest, to take surnames from their castles or
estates; it was not until some time afterwards that surnames became
generally assumed by the people. [Footnote: Lower on Surnames, vol. i., p.
43. Fuller says, that the custom of surnames was brought from France in
Edward the Confessor's time, about fifty years before the Conquest; but did
not become universally settled until some hundred years afterwards. At
first they did not descend hereditarily on the family.--_Fuller, Church
History. Roll Battle Abbey._]

How or when the De Hertburns first acquired possession of their village is
not known. They may have been companions in arms with Robert de Brus (or
Bruce) a noble knight of Normandy, rewarded by William the Conqueror with
great possessions in the North, and among others, with the lordships of
Hert and Hertness in the county of Durham.

The first actual mention we find of the family is in the Bolden Book, a
record of all the lands appertaining to the diocese in 1183. In this it is
stated that William de Hertburn had exchanged his village of Hertburn for
the manor and village of Wessyngton, likewise in the diocese; paying the
bishop a quitrent of four pounds, and engaging to attend him with two
greyhounds in grand hunts, and to furnish a man at arms whenever military
aid should be required of the palatinate. [Footnote: THE BOLDEN BOOK. As
this ancient document gives the first trace of the Washington family, it
merits especial mention. In 1183, a survey was made by order of Bishop de
Pusaz of all the lands of the see held in demesne, or by tenants in
villanage. The record was entered in a book called the Bolden Buke; the
parish of Bolden occurring first in alphabetical arrangement. The document
commences in the following manner: Incipit liber qui vocatur Bolden Book.
Anno Dominice Incarnationis, 1183, &c.

The following is the memorandum in question:--

Willus de Herteburn habet Wessyngton (excepta ecclesia et terra ecclesie
partinen) ad excamb. pro villa de Herteburn quam pro hac quietam clamavit:
Et reddit 4 L. Et vadit in _magna caza_ cum 2 Leporar. Et quando
commune auxilium venerit debet dare 1 Militem ad plus de auxilio,
&c.--_Collectanea Curiosa_, vol. ii., p. 89.

The Bolden Buke is a small folio, deposited in the office of the bishop's
auditor, at Durham.]

The family changed its surname with its estate, and thenceforward assumed
that of DE WESSYNGTON. [Footnote: The name is probably of Saxon origin. It
existed in England prior to the Conquest. The village of Wassengtone is
mentioned in a Saxon charter as granted by king Edgar in 973 to Thorney
Abbey.--_Collectanea Topographica_, iv., 55.] The condition of
military service attached to its manor will be found to have been often
exacted, nor was the service in the grand hunt an idle form. Hunting came
next to war in those days, as the occupation of the nobility and gentry.
The clergy engaged in it equally with the laity. The hunting establishment
of the Bishop of Durham was on a princely scale. He had his forests, chases
and parks, with their train of foresters, rangers, and park keepers. A
grand hunt was a splendid pageant in which all his barons and knights
attended him with horse and hound. The stipulations with the Seignior of
Wessyngton show how strictly the rights of the chase were defined. All the
game taken by him in going to the forest belonged to the bishop; all taken
on returning belonged to himself. [Footnote: Hutchinson's Durham vol. ii.,
p. 489.]

Hugh de Pusaz (or De Pudsay) during whose episcopate we meet with this
first trace of the De Wessyngtons, was a nephew of king Stephen, and a
prelate of great pretensions; fond of appearing with a train of
ecclesiastics and an armed retinue. When Richard Coeur de Lion put every
thing at pawn and sale to raise funds for a crusade to the Holy Land, the
bishop resolved to accompany him. More wealthy than his sovereign, he made
magnificent preparations. Besides ships to convey his troops and retinue,
he had a sumptuous galley for himself, fitted up with a throne or episcopal
chair of silver, and all the household, and even culinary, utensils, were
of the same costly material. In a word, had not the prelate been induced to
stay at home, and aid the king with his treasures, by being made one of the
regents of the kingdom, and Earl of Northumberland for life, the De
Wessyngtons might have followed the banner of St. Cuthbert to the Holy

Nearly seventy years afterwards we find the family still retaining its
manorial estate in the palatinate. The names of Bondo de Wessyngton and
William his son appear on charters of land, granted in 1257 to religious
houses. Soon after occurred the wars of the barons, in which the throne of
Henry III was shaken by the De Mountforts. The chivalry of the palatinate
rallied under the royal standard. On the list of loyal knights who fought
for their sovereign in the disastrous battle of Lewes (1264), in which the
king was taken prisoner, we find the name of William Weshington, of
Weshington. [Footnote: This list of knights was inserted in the Bolden Book
as an additional entry. It is cited at full length by Hutchinson.--_Hist.
Durham_, vol. i., p. 220.]

During the splendid pontificate of Anthony Beke (or Beak), the knights of
the palatinate had continually to be in the saddle, or buckled in armor.
The prelate was so impatient of rest that he never took more than one
sleep, saying it was unbecoming a man to turn from one side to another in
bed. He was perpetually, when within his diocese, either riding from one
manor to another, or hunting and hawking. Twice he assisted Edward I. with
all his force in invading Scotland. In the progress northward with the
king, the bishop led the van, marching a day in advance of the main body,
with a mercenary force, paid by himself, of one thousand foot and five
hundred horse. Besides these he had his feudatories of the palatinate; six
bannerets and one hundred and sixty knights, not one of whom, says an old
poem, but surpassed Arthur himself, though endowed with the charmed gifts
of Merlin. [Footnote:
Onques Artous pour touz ces charmes,
Si beau prisent ne ot de Merlyn.
SIEGE OF KARLAVEROCK; _an old Poem in Norman French._] We presume the
De Wessyngtons were among those preux chevaliers, as the banner of St.
Cuthbert had been taken from its shrine on the occasion, and of course all
the armed force of the diocese was bound to follow. It was borne in front
of the army by a monk of Durham. There were many rich caparisons, says the
old poem, many beautiful pennons, fluttering from lances, and much neighing
of steeds. The hills and valleys were covered with sumpter horses and
waggons laden with tents and provisions. The Bishop of Durham in his
warlike state appeared, we are told, more like a powerful prince, than a
priest or prelate. [Footnote: Robert de Graystanes, Ang. Sac., p. 746,
cited by Hutchinson, vol. i. p. 239.]

At the surrender of the crown of Scotland by John Baliol, which ended this
invasion, the bishop negotiated on the part of England. As a trophy of the
event, the chair of Schone used on the inauguration of the Scottish
monarchs, and containing the stone on which Jacob dreamed, the palladium of
Scotland, was transferred to England and deposited in Westminster Abbey.
[Footnote: An extract from an inedited poem, cited by Nicolas in his
translation of the Siege of Carlavarock, gives a striking picture of the
palatinate in these days of its pride and splendor:--

There valour bowed before the rood and book,
And kneeling knighthood served a prelate lord,
Yet little deigned he on such train to look,
Or glance of ruth or pity to afford.

There time has heard the peal rung out at night,
Has seen from every tower the cressets stream,
When the red bale fire on yon western height
Had roused the warder from his fitful dream.

Has seen old Durham's lion banner float
O'er the proud bulwark, that, with giant pride
And feet deep plunged amidst the circling moat,
The efforts of the roving Scot defied.]

In the reign of Edward III. we find the De Wessyngtons still mingling in
chivalrous scenes. The name of Sir Stephen de Wessyngton appears on a list
of knights (nobles chevaliers) who were to tilt at a tournament at
Dunstable in 1334. He bore for his device a golden rose on an azure field.
[Footnote: Collect. Topog. et Genealog. T. iv., p. 395.]

He was soon called to exercise his arms on a sterner field. In 1346, Edward
and his son, the Black Prince, being absent with the armies in France, king
David of Scotland invaded Northumberland with a powerful army. Queen
Philippa, who had remained in England as regent, immediately took the
field, calling the northern prelates and nobles to join her standard. They
all hastened to obey. Among the prelates was Hatfield, the Bishop of
Durham. The sacred banner of St. Cuthbert was again displayed, and the
chivalry of the palatinate assisted at the famous battle of Nevil's cross,
near Durham, in which the Scottish army was defeated and king David taken

Queen Philippa hastened with a victorious train to cross the sea at Dover,
and join king Edward in his camp before Calais. The prelate of Durham
accompanied her. His military train consisted of three bannerets,
forty-eight knights, one hundred and sixty-four esquires, and eighty
archers, on horseback. [Footnote: Collier's Eccles. Hist., Book VI., Cent.
XIV.] They all arrived to witness the surrender of Calais, (1346) on which
occasion queen Philippa distinguished herself by her noble interference in
saving the lives of its patriot citizens.

Such were the warlike and stately scenes in which the De Wessyngtons were
called to mingle by their feudal duties as knights of the palatinate. A few
years after the last event (1350), William, at that time lord of the manor
of Wessyngton, had license to settle it and the village upon himself, his
wife, and "his own right heirs." He died in 1367, and his son and heir,
William, succeeded to the estate. The latter is mentioned under the name of
Sir William de Weschington, as one of the knights who sat in the privy
council of the county during the episcopate of John Fordham. [Footnote:
Hutchinson, vol. ii.] During this time the whole force of the palatinate
was roused to pursue a foray of Scots, under Sir William Douglas, who,
having ravaged the country, were returning laden with spoil. It was a fruit
of the feud between the Douglases and the Percys. The marauders were
overtaken by Hotspur Percy, and then took place the battle of Otterbourne,
in which Percy was taken prisoner and Douglas slain. [Footnote:
Theare the Dowglas lost his life,
And the Percye was led away.
FORDUN. _Quoted by Surtee's Hist. Durham_, vol i.]

For upwards of two hundred years the De Wessyngtons had now sat in the
councils of the palatinate; had mingled with horse and hound in the stately
hunts of its prelates, and followed the banner of St. Cuthbert to the
field; but Sir William, just mentioned, was the last of the family that
rendered this feudal service. He was the last male of the line to which the
inheritance of the manor, by the license granted to his father, was
confined. It passed away from the De Wessyngtons, after his death, by the
marriage of his only daughter and heir, Dionisia, with Sir William Temple
of Studley. By the year 1400 it had become the property of the Blaykestons.
[Footnote: Hutchinson's Durham, vol. ii., p. 489.]

But though the name of De Wessyngton no longer figured on the chivalrous
roll of the palatinate, it continued for a time to flourish in the
cloisters. In the year 1416, John de Wessyngton was elected prior of the
Benedictine convent, attached to the cathedral. The monks of this convent
had been licensed by Pope Gregory VII. to perform the solemn duties of the
cathedral in place of secular clergy, and William the Conqueror had
ordained that the priors of Durham should enjoy all the liberties,
dignities and honors of abbots; should hold their lands and churches in
their own hands and free disposition, and have the abbot's seat on the left
side of the choir--thus taking rank of every one but the bishop. [Footnote:
Dugdale Monasticon Anglicanum. T. i., p. 231. London ed. 1846.]

In the course of three centuries and upwards, which had since elapsed,
these honors and privileges had been subject to repeated dispute and
encroachment, and the prior had nearly been elbowed out of the abbot's
chair by the archdeacon. John de Wessyngton was not a man to submit tamely
to such infringements of his rights. He forthwith set himself up as the
champion of his priory, and in a learned tract, _de Juribus et
Possessionibus Ecclesiae Dunelm_, established the validity of the long
controverted claims, and fixed himself firmly in the abbot's chair. His
success in this controversy gained him much renown among his brethren of
the cowl, and in 1426 he presided at the general chapter of the order of
St. Benedict, held at Northampton.

The stout prior of Durham had other disputes with the bishop and the
secular clergy touching his ecclesiastical functions, in which he was
equally victorious, and several tracts remain in manuscript in the dean and
chapter's library; weapons hung up in the church armory as memorials of his
polemical battles.

Finally, after fighting divers good fights for the honor of his priory, and
filling the abbot's chair for thirty years, he died, to use an ancient
phrase, "in all the odor of sanctity," in 1446, and was buried like a
soldier on his battle-field, at the door of the north aisle of his church,
near to the altar of St. Benedict. On his tombstone was an inscription in
brass, now unfortunately obliterated, which may have set forth the valiant
deeds of this Washington of the cloisters. [Footnote: Hutchinson's Durham,
vol. ii., passim.]

By this time the primitive stock of the De Wessyngtons had separated into
divers branches, holding estates in various parts of England; some
distinguishing themselves in the learned professions, others receiving
knighthood for public services. Their names are to be found honorably
recorded in county histories, or engraved on monuments in time-worn
churches and cathedrals, those garnering places of English worthies. By
degrees the seignorial sign of _de_ disappeared from before the family
surname, which also varied from Wessyngton to Wassington, Wasshington, and
finally, to Washington. [Footnote: "The de came to be omitted," says an old
treatise, "when Englishmen and English manners began to prevail upon the
recovery of lost credit."--_Restitution of decayed intelligence in
antiquities._ Lond. 1634.

About the time of Henry VI., says another treatise, the de or d' was
generally dropped from surnames, when the title of _armiger_,
_esquier_, amongst the heads of families, and _generosus_, or
_gentylman_, among younger sons was substituted.--_Lower on
Surnames_, vol i.] A parish in the county of Durham bears the name as
last written, and in this probably the ancient manor of Wessyngton was
situated. There is another parish of the name in the county of Sussex.

The branch of the family to which our Washington immediately belongs sprang
from Laurence Washington, Esquire, of Gray's Inn, son of John Washington,
of Warton in Lancashire. This Laurence Washington was for some time mayor
of Northampton, and on the dissolution of the priories by Henry VIII. he
received, in 1538, a grant of the manor of Sulgrave, in Northamptonshire,
with other lands in the vicinity, all confiscated property formerly
belonging to the monastery of St. Andrew's.

Sulgrave remained in the family until 1620, and was commonly called
"Washington's manor." [Footnote: The manor of Garsdon in Wiltshire has been
mentioned as the homestead of the ancestors of our Washington. This is a
mistake. It was the residence of Sir Laurence Washington, second son of the
above-mentioned grantee of Sulgrave. Elizabeth, granddaughter of this Sir
Laurence, married Robert Shirley, Earl Ferrers and Viscount of Tamworth.
Washington became a baptismal name among the Shirleys--several of the Earls
Ferrers have borne it.

The writer of these pages visited Sulgrave a few years since. It was in a
quiet rural neighborhood, where the farm-houses were quaint and antiquated.
A part only of the manor house remained, and was inhabited by a farmer. The
Washington crest, in colored glass, was to be seen in a window of what was
now the buttery. A window on which the whole family arms was emblazoned had
been removed to the residence of the actual proprietor of the manor.
Another relic of the ancient manor of the Washingtons was a rookery in a
venerable grove hard by. The rooks, those stanch adherents to old family
abodes, still hovered and cawed about their hereditary nests. In the
pavement of the parish church we were shown a stone slab bearing effigies
on plates of brass of Laurence Wasshington, gent., and Anne his wife, and
their four sons and eleven daughters. The inscription in black letter was
dated 1564.]

One of the direct descendants of the grantee of Sulgrave was Sir William
Washington, of Packington, in the county of Kent. He married a sister of
George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, the unfortunate favorite of Charles I.
This may have attached the Sulgrave Washingtons to the Stuart dynasty, to
which they adhered loyally and generously throughout all its vicissitudes.
One of the family, Lieutenant Colonel James Washington, took up arms in the
cause of king Charles, and lost his life at the siege of Pontefract castle.
Another of the Sulgrave line, Sir Henry Washington, son and heir of Sir
William, before mentioned, exhibited in the civil wars the old chivalrous
spirit of the knights of the palatinate. He served under prince Rupert at
the storming of Bristol, in 1643, and when the assailants were beaten off
at every point, he broke in with a handful of infantry at a weak part of
the wall, made room for the horse to follow, and opened a path to victory.
[Footnote: Clarendon, Book vii.]

He distinguished himself still more in 1646, when elevated to the command
of Worcester, the governor having been captured by the enemy. It was a time
of confusion and dismay. The king had fled from Oxford in disguise and gone
to the parliamentary camp at Newark. The royal cause was desperate. In this
crisis Sir Henry received a letter from Fairfax, who, with his victorious
army, was at Haddington, demanding the surrender of Worcester. The
following was Colonel Washington's reply:


It is acknowledged by your books and by report of your own quarter, that
the king is in some of your armies. That granted, it may be easy for you to
procure his Majesty's commands for the disposal of this garrison. Till then
I shall make good the trust reposed in me. As for conditions, if I shall be
necessitated, I shall make the best I can. The worst I know and fear not;
if I had, the profession of a soldier had not been begun, nor so long
continued by your Excellency's humble servant,

HENRY WASHINGTON. [Footnote: Greene's Antiquities of Worcester, p. 273.]

In a few days Colonel Whalley invested the city with five thousand troops.
Sir Henry dispatched messenger after messenger in quest of the king to know
his pleasure. None of them returned. A female emissary was equally
unavailing. Week after week elapsed, until nearly three months had expired.
Provisions began to fail. The city was in confusion. The troops grew
insubordinate. Yet Sir Henry persisted in the defence. General Fairfax,
with 1,500 horse and foot, was daily expected. There was not powder enough
for an hour's contest should the city be stormed. Still Sir Henry "awaited
his Majesty's commands."

At length news arrived that the king had issued an order for the surrender
of all towns, castles, and forts. A printed copy of the order was shown to
Sir Henry, and on the faith of that document he capitulated (19th July,
1646) on honorable terms, won by his fortitude and perseverance. Those who
believe in hereditary virtues may see foreshadowed in the conduct of this
Washington of Worcester, the magnanimous constancy of purpose, the
disposition to "hope against hope," which bore our Washington triumphantly
through the darkest days of our revolution.

We have little note of the Sulgrave branch of the family after the death of
Charles I. and the exile of his successor. England, during the
protectorate, became an uncomfortable residence to such as had signalized
themselves as adherents to the house of Stuart. In 1655, an attempt at a
general insurrection drew on them the vengeance of Cromwell. Many of their
party who had no share in the conspiracy, yet sought refuge in other lands,
where they might live free from molestation. This may have been the case
with two brothers, John and Andrew Washington, great-grandsons of the
grantee of Sulgrave, and uncles of Sir Henry, the gallant defender of
Worcester. John had for some time resided at South Cave, in the East Riding
of Yorkshire; [Footnote: South Cave is near the Humber. "In the vicinity is
Cave Castle, an embattled edifice. It has a noble collection of paintings,
including a portrait of General Washington, whose ancestors possessed a
portion of the estate."--_Lewes, Topog. Dict._ vol. i., p. 530.] but
now emigrated with his brother to Virginia; which colony, from its
allegiance to the exiled monarch and the Anglican Church had become a
favorite resort of the Cavaliers. The brothers arrived in Virginia in 1657,
and purchased lands in Westmoreland County, on the northern neck, between
the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. John married a Miss Anne Pope, of the
same county, and took up his residence on Bridges Creek, near where it
falls into the Potomac. He became an extensive planter, and, in process of
time, a magistrate and member of the House of Burgesses. Having a spark of
the old military fire of the family, we find him, as Colonel Washington,
leading the Virginia forces, in co-operation with those of Maryland,
against a band of Seneca Indians, who were ravaging the settlements along
the Potomac. In honor of his public services and private virtues the parish
in which he resided was called after him, and still bears the name of
Washington. He lies buried in a vault on Bridges Creek, which, for
generations, was the family place of sepulture.

The estate continued in the family. His grandson Augustine, the father of
our Washington, was born there in 1694. He was twice married; first (April
20th, 1715), to Jane, daughter of Caleb Butler, Esq., of Westmoreland
County, by whom he had four children, of whom only two, Lawrence and
Augustine, survived the years of childhood; their mother died November
24th, 1728, and was buried in the family vault.

On the 6th of March, 1730, he married in second nuptials, Mary, the
daughter of Colonel Ball, a young and beautiful girl, said to be the belle
of the Northern Neck. By her he had four sons, George, Samuel, John
Augustine, and Charles; and two daughters, Elizabeth, or Betty, as she was
commonly called, and Mildred, who died in infancy.

George, the eldest, the subject of this biography, was born on the 22d of
February (11th, O. S.), 1732, in the homestead on Bridges Creek. This house
commanded a view over many miles of the Potomac, and the opposite shore of
Maryland. It had probably been purchased with the property, and was one of
the primitive farm-houses of Virginia. The roof was steep, and sloped down
into low projecting eaves. It had four rooms on the ground floor, and
others in the attic, and an immense chimney at each end. Not a vestige of
it remains. Two or three decayed fig trees, with shrubs and vines, linger
about the place, and here and there a flower grown wild serves "to mark
where a garden has been." Such at least, was the case a few years since;
but these may have likewise passed away. A stone [Footnote: Placed there by
George W. P. Custis, Esq.] marks the site of the house, and an inscription
denotes its being the birthplace of Washington.

We have entered with some minuteness into this genealogical detail; tracing
the family step by step through the pages of historical documents for
upwards of six centuries; and we have been tempted to do so by the
documentary proofs it gives of the lineal and enduring worth of the race.
We have shown that, for many generations, and through a variety of eventful
scenes, it has maintained an equality of fortune and respectability, and
whenever brought to the test has acquitted itself with honor and loyalty.
Hereditary rank may be an illusion; but hereditary virtue gives a patent of
innate nobleness beyond all the blazonry of the Herald's College.



Not long after the birth of George, his father removed to an estate in
Stafford County, opposite Fredericksburg. The house was similar in style to
the one at Bridges Creek, and stood on a rising ground overlooking a meadow
which bordered the Rappahannock. This was the home of George's boyhood; the
meadow was his play-ground, and the scene of his early athletic sports; but
this home, like that in which he was born, has disappeared; the site is
only to be traced by fragments of bricks, china, and earthenware.

In those days the means of instruction in Virginia were limited, and it was
the custom among the wealthy planters to send their sons to England to
complete their education. This was done by Augustine Washington with his
eldest son Lawrence, then about fifteen years of age, and whom he no doubt
considered the future head of the family. George was yet in early
childhood: as his intellect dawned he received the rudiments of education
in the best establishment for the purpose that the neighborhood afforded.
It was what was called, in popular parlance, an "old field school-house;"
humble enough in its pretensions, and kept by one of his father's tenants
named Hobby, who moreover was sexton of the parish. The instruction doled
out by him must have been of the simplest kind, reading, writing, and
ciphering, perhaps; but George had the benefit of mental and moral culture
at home, from an excellent father.

Several traditional anecdotes have been given to the world, somewhat prolix
and trite, but illustrative of the familiar and practical manner in which
Augustine Washington, in the daily intercourse of domestic life, impressed
the ductile mind of his child with high maxims of religion and virtue, and
imbued him with a spirit of justice and generosity, and above all a
scrupulous love of truth.

When George was about seven or eight years old his brother Lawrence
returned from England, a well-educated and accomplished youth. There was a
difference of fourteen years in their ages, which may have been one cause
of the strong attachment which took place between them. Lawrence looked
down with a protecting eye upon the boy whose dawning intelligence and
perfect rectitude won his regard; while George looked up to his manly and
cultivated brother as a model in mind and manners. We call particular
attention to this brotherly interchange of affection, from the influence it
had on all the future career of the subject of this memoir.

Lawrence Washington had something of the old military spirit of the family,
and circumstances soon called it into action. Spanish depredations on
British commerce had recently provoked reprisals. Admiral Vernon,
commander-in-chief in the West Indies, had accordingly captured Porto
Bello, on the Isthmus of Darien. The Spaniards were preparing to revenge
the blow; the French were fitting out ships to aid them. Troops were
embarked in England for another campaign in the West Indies; a regiment of
four battalions was to be raised in the colonies and sent to join them at
Jamaica. There was a sudden outbreak of military ardor in the province; the
sound of drum and fife was heard in the villages with the parade of
recruiting parties. Lawrence Washington, now twenty-two years of age,
caught the infection. He obtained a captain's commission in the newly
raised regiment, and embarked with it for the West Indies in 1740. He
served in the joint expeditions of Admiral Vernon and General Wentworth, in
the land forces commanded by the latter, and acquired the friendship and
confidence of both of those officers. He was present at the siege of
Carthagena, when it was bombarded by the fleet, and when the troops
attempted to escalade the citadel. It was an ineffectual attack; the ships
could not get near enough to throw their shells into the town, and the
scaling ladders proved too short. That part of the attack, however, with
which Lawrence was concerned, distinguished itself by its bravery. The
troops sustained unflinching a destructive fire for several hours, and at
length retired with honor, their small force having sustained a loss of
about six hundred in killed and wounded.

We have here the secret of that martial spirit so often cited of George in
his boyish days. He had seen his brother fitted out for the wars. He had
heard by letter and otherwise of the warlike scenes in which he was
mingling. All his amusements took a military turn. He made soldiers of his
schoolmates; they had their mimic parades, reviews, and sham fights; a boy
named William Bustle was sometimes his competitor, but George was
commander-in-chief of Hobby's school.

Lawrence Washington returned home in the autumn of 1742, the campaigns in
the West Indies being ended, and Admiral Vernon and General Wentworth being
recalled to England. It was the intention of Lawrence to rejoin his
regiment in that country, and seek promotion in the army, but circumstances
completely altered his plans. He formed an attachment to Anne, the eldest
daughter of the Honorable William Fairfax, of Fairfax County; his addresses
were well received, and they became engaged. Their nuptials were delayed by
the sudden and untimely death of his father, which took place on the 12th
of April, 1743, after a short but severe attack of gout in the stomach, and
when but forty-nine years of age. George had been absent from home on a
visit during his father's illness, and just returned in time to receive a
parting look of affection.

Augustine Washington left large possessions, distributed by will among his
children. To Lawrence, the estate on the banks of the Potomac, with other
real property, and several shares in iron works. To Augustine, the second
son by the first marriage, the old homestead and estate in Westmoreland.
The children by the second marriage were severally well provided for, and
George, when he became of age, was to have the house and lands on the

In the month of July the marriage of Lawrence with Miss Fairfax took place.
He now gave up all thoughts of foreign service, and settled himself on his
estate on the banks of the Potomac, to which he gave the name of MOUNT
VERNON, in honor of the admiral.

Augustine took up his abode at the homestead on Bridges Creek, and married
Anne, daughter and co-heiress of William Aylett, Esquire, of Westmoreland

George, now eleven years of age, and the other children of the second
marriage, had been left under the guardianship of their mother, to whom was
intrusted the proceeds of all their property until they should severally
come of age. She proved herself worthy of the trust. Endowed with plain,
direct good sense, thorough conscientiousness, and prompt decision, she
governed her family strictly, but kindly, exacting deference while she
inspired affection. George, being her eldest son, was thought to be her
favorite, yet she never gave him undue preference, and the implicit
deference exacted from him in childhood continued to be habitually observed
by him to the day of her death. He inherited from her a high temper and a
spirit of command, but her early precepts and example taught him to
restrain and govern that temper, and to square his conduct on the exact
principles of equity and justice.

Tradition gives an interesting picture of the widow, with her little flock
gathered round her, as was her daily wont, reading to them lessons of
religion and morality out of some standard work. Her favorite volume was
Sir Matthew Hale's Contemplations, moral and divine. The admirable maxims
therein contained, for outward action as well as self-government, sank deep
into the mind of George, and, doubtless, had a great influence in forming
his character. They certainly were exemplified in his conduct throughout
life. This mother's manual, bearing his mother's name, Mary Washington,
written with her own hand, was ever preserved by him with filial care, and
may still be seen in the archives of Mount Vernon. A precious document! Let
those who wish to know the moral foundation of his character consult its

Having no longer the benefit of a father's instructions at home, and the
scope of tuition of Hobby, the sexton, being too limited for the growing
wants of his pupil, George was now sent to reside with Augustine
Washington, at Bridges Creek, and enjoy the benefit of a superior school in
that neighborhood, kept by a Mr. Williams. His education, however, was
plain and practical. He never attempted the learned languages, nor
manifested any inclination for rhetoric or belles-lettres. His object, or
the object of his friends, seems to have been confined to fitting him for
ordinary business. His manuscript school books still exist, and are models
of neatness and accuracy. One of them, it is true, a ciphering book,
preserved in the library at Mount Vernon, has some school-boy attempts at
calligraphy; nondescript birds, executed with a flourish of the pen, or
profiles of faces, probably intended for those of his schoolmates; the rest
are all grave and business-like. Before he was thirteen years of age he had
copied into a volume forms for all kinds of mercantile and legal papers;
bills of exchange, notes of hand, deeds, bonds, and the like. This early
self-tuition gave him throughout life a lawyer's skill in drafting
documents, and a merchant's exactness in keeping accounts; so that all the
concerns of his various estates; his dealings with his domestic stewards
and foreign agents; his accounts with government, and all his financial
transactions are to this day to be seen posted up in books, in his own
handwriting, monuments of his method and unwearied accuracy.

He was a self-disciplinarian in physical as well as mental matters, and
practised himself in all kinds of athletic exercises, such as running,
leaping, wrestling, pitching quoits and tossing bars. His frame even in
infancy had been large and powerful, and he now excelled most of his
playmates in contests of agility and strength. As a proof of his muscular
power, a place is still pointed out at Fredericksburg, near the lower
ferry, where, when a boy, he flung a stone across the Rappahannock. In
horsemanship too he already excelled, and was ready to back, and able to
manage the most fiery steed. Traditional anecdotes remain of his
achievements in this respect.

Above all, his inherent probity and the principles of justice on which he
regulated all his conduct, even at this early period of life, were soon
appreciated by his schoolmates; he was referred to as an umpire in their
disputes, and his decisions were never reversed. As he had formerly been
military chieftain, he was now legislator of the school; thus displaying in
boyhood a type of the future man.



The attachment of Lawrence Washington to his brother George seems to have
acquired additional strength and tenderness on their father's death; he now
took a truly paternal interest in his concerns, and had him as frequently
as possible a guest at Mount Vernon. Lawrence had deservedly become a
popular and leading personage in the country. He was a member of the House
of Burgesses, and Adjutant General of the district, with the rank of major,
and a regular salary. A frequent sojourn with him brought George into
familiar intercourse with the family of his father-in-law, the Hon.
William Fairfax, who resided at a beautiful seat called Belvoir, a few
miles below Mount Vernon, and on the same woody ridge bordering the

William Fairfax was a man of liberal education and intrinsic worth; he had
seen much of the world, and his mind had been enriched and ripened by
varied and adventurous experience. Of an ancient English family in
Yorkshire, he had entered the army at the age of twenty-one; had served
with honor both in the East and West Indies, and officiated as governor of
New Providence, after having aided in rescuing it from pirates. For some
years past he had resided in Virginia, to manage the immense landed estates
of his cousin, Lord Fairfax, and lived at Belvoir in the style of an
English country gentleman, surrounded by an intelligent and cultivated
family of sons and daughters.

An intimacy with a family like this, in which the frankness and simplicity
of rural and colonial life were united with European refinement, could not
but have a beneficial effect in moulding the character and manners of a
somewhat homebred schoolboy. It was probably his intercourse with them, and
his ambition to acquit himself well in their society, that set him upon
compiling a code of morals and manners which still exists in a manuscript
in his own handwriting, entitled "rules for behavior in company and
conversation." It is extremely minute and circumstantial. Some of the rules
for personal deportment extend to such trivial matters, and are so quaint
and formal, as almost to provoke a smile; but in the main, a better manual
of conduct could not be put into the hands of a youth. The whole code
evinces that rigid propriety and self control to which he subjected
himself, and by which he brought all the impulses of a somewhat ardent
temper under conscientious government.

Other influences were brought to bear on George during his visit at Mount
Vernon. His brother Lawrence still retained some of his military
inclinations, fostered no doubt by his post of Adjutant General. William
Fairfax, as we have shown, had been a soldier, and in many trying scenes.
Some of Lawrence's comrades of the provincial regiment, who had served with
him in the West Indies, were occasional visitors at Mount Vernon; or a ship
of war, possibly one of Vernon's old fleet, would anchor in the Potomac,
and its officers be welcome guests at the tables of Lawrence and his
father-in-law. Thus military scenes on sea and shore would become the
topics of conversation. The capture of Porto Bello; the bombardment of
Carthagena; old stories of cruisings in the East and West Indies, and
campaigns against the pirates. We can picture to ourselves George, a grave
and earnest boy, with an expanding intellect, and a deep-seated passion for
enterprise, listening to such conversations with a kindling spirit and a
growing desire for military life. In this way most probably was produced
that desire to enter the navy which he evinced when about fourteen years of
age. The opportunity for gratifying it appeared at hand. Ships of war
frequented the colonies, and at times, as we have hinted, were anchored in
the Potomac. The inclination was encouraged by Lawrence Washington and Mr.
Fairfax. Lawrence retained pleasant recollections of his cruisings in the
fleet of Admiral Vernon, and considered the naval service a popular path to
fame and fortune. George was at a suitable age to enter the navy. The great
difficulty was to procure the assent of his mother. She was brought,
however, to acquiesce; a midshipman's warrant was obtained, and it is even
said that the luggage of the youth was actually on board of a man of war,
anchored in the river just below Mount Vernon.

At the eleventh hour the mother's heart faltered. This was her eldest born.
A son, whose strong and steadfast character promised to be a support to
herself and a protection to her other children. The thought of his being
completely severed from her and exposed to the hardships and perils of a
boisterous profession, overcame even her resolute mind, and at her urgent
remonstrances the nautical scheme was given up.

To school, therefore, George returned, and continued his studies for nearly
two years longer, devoting himself especially to mathematics, and
accomplishing himself in those branches calculated to fit him either for
civil or military service. Among these, one of the most important in the
actual state of the country was land surveying. In this he schooled himself
thoroughly, using the highest processes of the art; making surveys about
the neighborhood, and keeping regular field books, some of which we have
examined, in which the boundaries and measurements of the fields surveyed
were carefully entered, and diagrams made, with a neatness and exactness as
if the whole related to important land transactions instead of being mere
school exercises. Thus, in his earliest days, there was perseverance and
completeness in all his undertakings. Nothing was left half done, or done
in a hurried and slovenly manner. The habit of mind thus cultivated
continued throughout life; so that however complicated his tasks and
overwhelming his cares, in the arduous and hazardous situations in which he
was often placed, he found time to do every thing, and to do it well. He
had acquired the magic of method, which of itself works wonders.

In one of these manuscript memorials of his practical studies and
exercises, we have come upon some documents singularly in contrast with all
that we have just cited, and, with his apparently unromantic character. In
a word, there are evidences in his own handwriting, that, before he was
fifteen years of age, he had conceived a passion for some unknown beauty,
so serious as to disturb his otherwise well-regulated mind, and to make him
really unhappy. Why this juvenile attachment was a source of unhappiness we
have no positive means of ascertaining. Perhaps the object of it may have
considered him a mere school-boy, and treated him as such; or his own
shyness may have been in his way, and his "rules for behavior and
conversation" may as yet have sat awkwardly on him, and rendered him formal
and ungainly when he most sought to please. Even in later years he was apt
to be silent and embarrassed in female society. "He was a very bashful
young man," said an old lady, whom he used to visit when they were both in
their nonage. "I used often to wish that he would talk more."

Whatever may have been the reason, this early attachment seems to have been
a source of poignant discomfort to him. It clung to him after he took a
final leave of school in the autumn of 1747, and went to reside with his
brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon. Here he continued his mathematical
studies and his practice in surveying, disturbed at times by recurrences of
his unlucky passion. Though by no means of a poetical temperament, the
waste pages of his journal betray several attempts to pour forth his
amorous sorrows in verse. They are mere common-place rhymes, such as lovers
at his age are apt to write, in which he bewails his "poor restless heart,
wounded by Cupid's dart," and "bleeding for one who remains pitiless of his
griefs and woes."

The tenor of some of his verses induce us to believe that he never told his
love; but, as we have already surmised, was prevented by his bashfulness.

"Ah, woe is me, that I should love and conceal;
Long have I wished and never dare reveal."

It is difficult to reconcile one's self to the idea of the cool and sedate
Washington, the great champion of American liberty, a woe-worn lover in his
youthful days, "sighing like furnace," and inditing plaintive verses about
the groves of Mount Vernon. We are glad of an opportunity, however, of
penetrating to his native feelings, and finding that under his studied
decorum and reserve he had a heart of flesh throbbing with the warm
impulses of human nature.

Being a favorite of Sir William Fairfax, he was now an occasional inmate of
Belvoir. Among the persons at present residing there was Thomas, Lord
Fairfax, cousin of William Fairfax, and of whose immense landed property
the latter was the agent. As this nobleman was one of Washington's earliest
friends, and, in some degree the founder of his fortunes, his character and
history are worthy of especial note.

Lord Fairfax was now nearly sixty years of age, upwards of six feet high,
gaunt and raw-boned, near-sighted, with light gray eyes, sharp features and
an aquiline nose. However ungainly his present appearance, he had figured
to advantage in London life in his younger days. He had received his
education at the university of Oxford, where he acquitted himself with
credit. He afterwards held a commission, and remained for some time in a
regiment of horse called the Blues. His title and connections, of course,
gave him access to the best society, in which he acquired additional
currency by contributing a paper or two to Addison's Spectator, then in
great vogue.

In the height of his fashionable career, he became strongly attached to a
young lady of rank; paid his addresses, and was accepted. The wedding day
was fixed; the wedding dresses were provided; together with servants and
equipages for the matrimonial establishment. Suddenly the lady broke her
engagement. She had been dazzled by the superior brilliancy of a ducal

It was a cruel blow, alike to the affection and pride of Lord Fairfax, and
wrought a change in both character and conduct. From that time he almost
avoided the sex, and became shy and embarrassed in their society, excepting
among those with whom he was connected or particularly intimate. This may
have been among the reasons which ultimately induced him to abandon the gay
world and bury himself in the wilds of America. He made a voyage to
Virginia about the year 1739, to visit his vast estates there. These he
inherited from his mother, Catharine, daughter of Thomas, Lord Culpepper,
to whom they had been granted by Charles II. The original grant was for all
the lands lying between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers; meaning
thereby, it is said, merely the territory on the northern neck, east of the
Blue Ridge. His lordship, however, discovering that the Potomac headed in
the Allegany Mountains, returned to England and claimed a correspondent
definition of his grant. It was arranged by compromise; extending his
domain into the Allegany Mountains, and comprising, among other lands, a
great portion of the Shenandoah Valley.

Lord Fairfax had been delighted with his visit to Virginia. The amenity of
the climate, the magnificence of the forest scenery, the abundance of
game,--all pointed it out as a favored land. He was pleased, too, with the
frank, cordial character of the Virginians, and their independent mode of
life; and returned to it with the resolution of taking up his abode there
for the remainder of his days. His early disappointment in love was the
cause of some eccentricities in his conduct; yet he was amiable and
courteous in his manners, and of a liberal and generous spirit.

Another inmate of Belvoir at this time was George William Fairfax, about
twenty-two years of age, the eldest son of the proprietor. He had been
educated in England, and since his return had married a daughter of Colonel
Carey, of Hampton, on James River. He had recently brought home his bride
and her sister to his father's house.

The merits of Washington were known and appreciated by the Fairfax family.
Though not quite sixteen years of age, he no longer seemed a boy, nor was
he treated as such. Tall, athletic, and manly for his years, his early
self-training, and the code of conduct he had devised, gave a gravity and
decision to his conduct; his frankness and modesty inspired cordial regard,
and the melancholy, of which he speaks, may have produced a softness in his
manner calculated to win favor in ladies' eyes. According to his own
account, the female society by which he was surrounded had a soothing
effect on that melancholy. The charms of Miss Carey, the sister of the
bride, seem even to have caused a slight fluttering in his bosom; which,
however, was constantly rebuked by the remembrance of his former
passion--so at least we judge from letters to his youthful confidants,
rough drafts of which are still to be seen in his tell-tale journal.

To one whom he addresses as his dear friend Robin, he writes: "My residence
is at present at his lordship's, where I might, was my heart disengaged,
pass my time very pleasantly, as there's a very agreeable young lady lives
in the same house (Col. George Fairfax's wife's sister); but as that's only
adding fuel to fire, it makes me the more uneasy, for by often and
unavoidably being in company with her, revives my former passion for your
Lowland Beauty; whereas was I to live more retired from young women, I
might in some measure alleviate my sorrows, by burying that chaste and
troublesome passion in the grave of oblivion," &c.

Similar avowals he makes to another of his young correspondents, whom he
styles, "Dear friend John;" as also to a female confidant, styled "Dear
Sally," to whom he acknowledges that the company of the "very agreeable
young lady, sister-in-law of Col. George Fairfax," in a great measure
cheers his sorrow and dejectedness.

The object of this early passion is not positively known. Tradition states
that the "lowland beauty" was a Miss Grimes, of Westmoreland, afterwards
Mrs. Lee, and mother of General Henry Lee, who figured in revolutionary
history as Light Horse Harry, and was always a favorite with Washington,
probably from the recollections of his early tenderness for the mother.

Whatever may have been the soothing effect of the female society by which
he was surrounded at Belvoir, the youth found a more effectual remedy for
his love melancholy in the company of Lord Fairfax. His lordship was a
staunch fox-hunter, and kept horses and hounds in the English style. The
hunting season had arrived. The neighborhood abounded with sport; but
fox-hunting in Virginia required bold and skilful horsemanship. He found
Washington as bold as himself in the saddle, and as eager to follow the
hounds. He forthwith took him into peculiar favor; made him his hunting
companion; and it was probably under the tuition of this hard-riding old
nobleman that the youth imbibed that fondness for the chase for which he
was afterwards remarked.

Their fox-hunting intercourse was attended with more important results.
His lordship's possessions beyond the Blue Ridge had never been regularly
settled nor surveyed. Lawless intruders--squatters, as they were
called--were planting themselves along the finest streams and in the
richest valleys, and virtually taking possession of the country. It was the
anxious desire of Lord Fairfax to have these lands examined, surveyed, and
portioned out into lots, preparatory to ejecting these interlopers or
bringing them to reasonable terms. In Washington, notwithstanding his
youth, he beheld one fit for the task--having noticed the exercises in
surveying which he kept up while at Mount Vernon, and the aptness and
exactness with which every process was executed. He was well calculated,
too, by his vigor and activity, his courage and hardihood, to cope with the
wild country to be surveyed, and with its still wilder inhabitants. The
proposition had only to be offered to Washington to be eagerly accepted. It
was the very kind of occupation for which he had been diligently training
himself. All the preparations required by one of his simple habits were
soon made, and in a very few days he was ready for his first expedition
into the wilderness.



It was in the month of March (1748), and just after he had completed his
sixteenth year, that Washington set out on horseback on this surveying
expedition, in company with George William Fairfax. Their route lay by
Ashley's Gap, a pass through the Blue Ridge, that beautiful line of
mountains which, as yet, almost formed the western frontier of inhabited
Virginia. Winter still lingered on the tops of the mountains, whence
melting snows sent down torrents, which swelled the rivers and occasionally
rendered them almost impassable. Spring, however, was softening the lower
parts of the landscape and smiling in the valleys.

They entered the great valley of Virginia, where it is about twenty-five
miles wide; a lovely and temperate region, diversified by gentle swells and
slopes, admirably adapted to cultivation. The Blue Ridge bounds it on one
side, the North Mountain, a ridge of the Alleganies, on the other; while
through it flows that bright and abounding river, which, on account of its
surpassing beauty, was named by the Indians the Shenandoah--that is to say,
"the daughter of the stars."

The first station of the travellers was at a kind of lodge in the
wilderness, where the steward or land-bailiff of Lord Halifax resided, with
such negroes as were required for farming purposes, and which Washington
terms "his lordship's quarter." It was situated not far from the
Shenandoah, and about twelve miles from the site of the present town of

In a diary kept with his usual minuteness, Washington speaks with delight
of the beauty of the trees and the richness of the land in the
neighborhood, and of his riding through a noble grove of sugar maples on
the banks of the Shenandoah; and at the present day, the magnificence of
the forests which still exist in this favored region justifies his

He looked around, however, with an eye to the profitable rather than the
poetical. The gleam of poetry and romance, inspired by his "lowland
beauty," occurs no more. The real business of life has commenced with him.
His diary affords no food for fancy. Every thing is practical. The
qualities of the soil, the relative value of sites and localities, are
faithfully recorded. In these his early habits of observation and his
exercises in surveying had already made him a proficient.

His surveys commenced in the lower part of the valley, some distance above
the junction of the Shenandoah with the Potomac, and extended for many
miles along the former river. Here and there partial "clearings" had been
made by squatters and hardy pioneers, and their rude husbandry had produced
abundant crops of grain, hemp, and tobacco; civilization, however, had
hardly yet entered the valley, if we may judge from the note of a night's
lodging at the house of one of the settlers--Captain Hite, near the site of
the present town of Winchester. Here, after supper, most of the company
stretched themselves in backwood style, before the fire; but Washington was
shown into a bed-room. Fatigued with a hard day's work at surveying, he
soon undressed; but instead of being nestled between sheets in a
comfortable bed, as at the maternal home, or at Mount Vernon, he found
himself on a couch of matted straw, under a threadbare blanket, swarming
with unwelcome bedfellows. After tossing about for a few moments, he was
glad to put on his clothes again, and rejoin his companions before the

Such was his first experience of life in the wilderness; he soon, however,
accustomed himself to "rough it," and adapt himself to fare of all kinds,
though he generally preferred a bivouac before a fire, in the open air, to
the accommodations of a woodman's cabin. Proceeding down the valley to the
banks of the Potomac, they found that river so much swollen by the rain
which had fallen among the Alleganies, as to be unfordable. To while away
the time until it should subside, they made an excursion to examine certain
warm springs in a valley among the mountains, since called the Berkeley
Springs. There they camped out at night, under the stars; the diary makes
no complaint of their accommodations; and their camping-ground is now known
as Bath, one of the favorite watering-places of Virginia. One of the warm
springs was subsequently appropriated by Lord Fairfax to his own use, and
still bears his name.

After watching in vain for the river to subside, they procured a canoe, on
which they crossed to the Maryland side; swimming their horses. A weary
day's ride of forty miles up the left side of the river, in a continual
rain, and over what Washington pronounces the worst road ever trod by man
or beast, brought them to the house of a Colonel Cresap, opposite the south
branch of the Potomac, where they put up for the night.

Here they were detained three or four days by inclement weather. On the
second day they were surprised by the appearance of a war party of thirty
Indians, bearing a scalp as a trophy. A little liquor procured the
spectacle of a war-dance. A large space was cleared, and a fire made in the
centre, round which the warriors took their seats. The principal orator
made a speech, reciting their recent exploits, and rousing them to triumph.
One of the warriors started up as if from sleep, and began a series of
movements, half-grotesque, half-tragical; the rest followed. For music, one
savage drummed on a deerskin, stretched over a pot half filled with water;
another rattled a gourd, containing a few shot, and decorated with a
horse's tail. Their strange outcries, and uncouth forms and garbs, seen by
the glare of the fire, and their whoops and yells, made them appear more
like demons than human beings. All this savage gambol was no novelty to
Washington's companions, experienced in frontier life; but to the youth,
fresh from school, it was a strange spectacle, which he sat contemplating
with deep interest, and carefully noted down in his journal. It will be
found that he soon made himself acquainted with the savage character, and
became expert at dealing with these inhabitants of the wilderness.

From this encampment the party proceeded to the mouth of Patterson's Creek,
where they recrossed the river in a canoe, swimming their horses as before.
More than two weeks were now passed by them in the wild mountainous regions
of Frederick County, and about the south branch of the Potomac, surveying
lands and laying out lots, camped out the greater part of the time, and
subsisting on wild turkeys and other game. Each one was his own cook;
forked sticks served for spits, and chips of wood for dishes. The weather
was unsettled. At one time their tent was blown down; at another they were
driven out of it by smoke; now they were drenched with rain, and now the
straw on which Washington was sleeping caught fire, and he was awakened by
a companion just in time to escape a scorching.

The only variety to this camp life was a supper at the house of one Solomon
Hedge, Esquire, his majesty's justice of the peace, where there were no
forks at table, nor any knives, but such as the guests brought in their
pockets. During their surveys they were followed by numbers of people, some
of them squatters, anxious, doubtless, to procure a cheap title to the land
they had appropriated; others, German emigrants, with their wives and
children, seeking a new home in the wilderness. Most of the latter could
not speak English; but when spoken to, answered in their native tongue.
They appeared to Washington ignorant as Indians, and uncouth, but "merry,
and full of antic tricks." Such were the progenitors of the sturdy yeomanry
now inhabiting those parts, many of whom still preserve their strong German

"I have not slept above three or four nights in a bed," writes Washington
to one of his young friends at home, "but after walking a good deal all the
day I have lain down before the fire upon a little straw or fodder, or a
bear skin, 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."

Having completed his surveys, he set forth from the south branch of the
Potomac on his return homeward; crossed the mountains to the great
Cacapehon; traversed the Shenandoah valley; passed through the Blue Ridge,
and on the 12th of April found himself once more at Mount Vernon. For his
services he received, according to his note-book, a doubloon per day when
actively employed, and sometimes six pistoles. [Footnote: A pistole is

The manner in which he had acquitted himself in this arduous expedition,
and his accounts of the country surveyed, gave great satisfaction to Lord
Fairfax, who shortly afterwards moved across the Blue Ridge, and took up
his residence at the place heretofore noted as his "quarters." Here he laid
out a manor, containing ten thousand acres of arable grazing lands, vast
meadows, and noble forests, and projected a spacious manor house, giving to
the place the name of Greenway Court.

It was probably through the influence of Lord Fairfax that Washington
received the appointment of public surveyor. This conferred authority on
his surveys, and entitled them to be recorded in the county offices, and so
invariably correct have these surveys been found that, to this day,
wherever any of them stand on record, they receive implicit credit.

For three years he continued in this occupation, which proved extremely
profitable, from the vast extent of country to be surveyed and the very
limited number of public surveyors. It made him acquainted, also, with the
country, the nature of the soil in various parts, and the value of
localities; all which proved advantageous to him in his purchases in after
years. Many of the finest parts of the Shenandoah valley are yet owned by
members of the Washington family.

While thus employed for months at a time surveying the lands beyond the
Blue Ridge, he was often an inmate of Greenway Court. The projected manor
house was never even commenced. On a green knoll overshadowed by trees was
a long stone building one story in height, with dormer windows, two wooden
belfries, chimneys studded with swallow and martin coops, and a roof
sloping down in the old Virginia fashion, into low projecting eaves that
formed a verandah the whole length of the house. It was probably the house
originally occupied by his steward or land agent, but was now devoted to
hospitable purposes, and the reception of guests. As to his lordship, it
was one of his many eccentricities, that he never slept in the main
edifice, but lodged apart in a wooden house not much above twelve feet
square. In a small building was his office, where quitrents were given,
deeds drawn, and business transacted with his tenants.

About the knoll were out-houses for his numerous servants, black and white,
with stables for saddle-horses and hunters, and kennels for his hounds, for
his lordship retained his keen hunting propensities, and the neighborhood
abounded in game. Indians, half-breeds, and leathern-clad woodsmen loitered
about the place, and partook of the abundance of the kitchen. His
lordship's table was plentiful but plain, and served in the English

Here Washington had full opportunity, in the proper seasons, of indulging
his fondness for field sports, and once more accompanying his lordship in
the chase. The conversation of Lord Fairfax, too, was full of interest and
instruction to an inexperienced youth, from his cultivated talents, his
literary taste, and his past intercourse with the best society of Europe,
and its most distinguished authors. He had brought books, too, with him
into the wilderness, and from Washington's diary we find that during his
sojourn here he was diligently reading the history of England, and the
essays of the Spectator.

Such was Greenway Court in these its palmy days. We visited it recently and
found it tottering to its fall, mouldering in the midst of a magnificent
country, where nature still flourishes in full luxuriance and beauty.

Three or four years were thus passed by Washington, the greater part of the
time beyond the Blue Ridge, but occasionally with his brother Lawrence at
Mount Vernon. His rugged and toilsome expeditions in the mountains, among
rude scenes and rough people, inured him to hardships, and made him apt at
expedients; while his intercourse with his cultivated brother, and with the
various members of the Fairfax family, had a happy effect in toning up his
mind and manners, and counteracting the careless and self-indulgent
habitudes of the wilderness.



During the time of Washington's surveying campaigns among the mountains, a
grand colonizing scheme had been set on foot, destined to enlist him in
hardy enterprises, and in some degree to shape the course of his future

The treaty of peace concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle, which had put an end to
the general war of Europe, had left undefined the boundaries between the
British and French possessions in America; a singular remissness,
considering that they had long been a subject in dispute, and a cause of
frequent conflicts in the colonies. Immense regions were still claimed by
both nations, and each was now eager to forestall the other by getting
possession of them, and strengthening its claim by occupancy.

The most desirable of these regions lay west of the Allegany Mountains,
extending from the lakes to the Ohio, and embracing the valley of that
river and its tributary streams. An immense territory, possessing a
salubrious climate, fertile soil, fine hunting and fishing grounds, and
facilities by lakes and rivers for a vast internal commerce.

The French claimed all this country quite to the Allegany mountains by the
right of discovery. In 1673, Padre Marquette, with his companion, Joliet,
of Quebec, both subjects of the crown of France, had passed down the
Mississippi in a canoe quite to the Arkansas, thereby, according to an
alleged maxim in the law of nations, establishing the right of their
sovereign, not merely to the river so discovered and its adjacent lands,
but to all the country drained by its tributary streams, of which the Ohio
was one; a claim, the ramifications of which might be spread, like the
meshes of a web, over half the continent.

To this illimitable claim the English opposed a right derived, at second
hand, from a traditionary Indian conquest. A treaty, they said, had been
made at Lancaster, in 1744, between commissioners from Pennsylvania,
Maryland, and Virginia, and the Iroquois, or Six Nations, whereby the
latter, for four hundred pounds, gave up all right and title to the land
west of the Allegany Mountains, even to the Mississippi, which land,
_according to their traditions_, had been conquered by their

It is undoubtedly true that such a treaty was made, and such a pretended
transfer of title did take place, under the influence of spirituous
liquors; but it is equally true that the Indians in question did not, at
the time, possess an acre of the land conveyed; and that the tribes
actually in possession scoffed at their pretensions, and claimed the
country as their own from time immemorial.

Such were the shadowy foundations of claims which the two nations were
determined to maintain to the uttermost, and which ripened into a series of
wars, ending in a loss to England of a great part of her American
possessions, and to France of the whole.

As yet in the region in question there was not a single white settlement.
Mixed Iroquois tribes of Delawares, Shawnees, and Mingoes, had migrated
into it early in the century from the French settlements in Canada, and
taken up their abodes about the Ohio and its branches. The French pretended
to hold them under their protection; but their allegiance, if ever
acknowledged, had been sapped of late years by the influx of fur traders
from Pennsylvania. These were often rough, lawless men; half Indians in
dress and habits, prone to brawls, and sometimes deadly in their feuds.
They were generally in the employ of some trader, who, at the head of his
retainers and a string of pack-horses, would make his way over mountains
and through forests to the banks of the Ohio, establish his head-quarters
in some Indian town, and disperse his followers to traffic among the
hamlets, hunting-camps and wigwams, exchanging blankets, gaudy colored
cloth, trinketry, powder, shot, and rum, for valuable furs and peltry. In
this way a lucrative trade with these western tribes was springing up and
becoming monopolized by the Pennsylvanians.

To secure a participation in this trade, and to gain a foothold in this
desirable region, became now the wish of some of the most intelligent and
enterprising men of Virginia and Maryland, among whom were Lawrence and
Augustine Washington. With these views they projected a scheme, in
connection with John Hanbury, a wealthy London merchant, to obtain a grant
of land from the British government, for the purpose of forming settlements
or colonies beyond the Alleganies. Government readily countenanced a scheme
by which French encroachments might be forestalled, and prompt and quiet
possession secured of the great Ohio valley. An association was accordingly
chartered in 1749, by the name of "the Ohio Company," and five hundred
thousand acres of land was granted to it west of the Alleganies; between
the Monongahela and Kanawha rivers; though part of the land might be taken
up north of the Ohio, should it be deemed expedient. The company were to
pay no quitrent for ten years; but they were to select two fifths of their
lands immediately; to settle one hundred families upon them within seven
years; to build a fort at their own expense, and maintain a sufficient
garrison in it for defence against the Indians.

Mr. Thomas Lee, president of the council of Virginia, took the lead in the
concerns of the company at the outset, and by many has been considered its
founder. On his death, which soon took place, Lawrence Washington had the
chief management. His enlightened mind and liberal spirit shone forth in
his earliest arrangements. He wished to form the settlements with Germans
from Pennsylvania. Being dissenters, however, they would be obliged, on
becoming residents within the jurisdiction of Virginia, to pay parish
rates, and maintain a clergyman of the Church of England, though they might
not understand his language nor relish his doctrines. Lawrence sought to
have them exempted from this double tax on purse and conscience.

"It has ever been my opinion," said he, "and I hope it ever will be, that
restraints on conscience are cruel in regard to those on whom they are
imposed, and injurious to the country imposing them. England, Holland, and
Prussia I may quote as examples, and much more Pennsylvania, which has
nourished under that delightful liberty, so as to become the admiration of
every man who considers the short time it has been settled. ... This colony
(Virginia) was greatly settled in the latter part of Charles the First's
time, and during the usurpation by the zealous churchmen; and that spirit,
which was then brought in, has ever since continued; so that, except a few
Quakers, we have no dissenters. But what has been the consequence? We have
increased by slow degrees, whilst our neighboring colonies, whose natural
advantages are greatly inferior to ours, have become populous."

Such were the enlightened views of this brother of our Washington, to whom
the latter owed much of his moral and mental training. The company
proceeded to make preparations for their colonizing scheme. Goods were
imported from England suited to the Indian trade, or for presents to the
chiefs. Rewards were promised to veteran warriors and hunters among the
natives acquainted with the woods and mountains, for the best route to the
Ohio. Before the company had received its charter, however, the French were
in the field. Early in 1749, the Marquis de la Galisonniere, Governor of
Canada, despatched Celeron de Bienville, an intelligent officer, at the
head of three hundred men, to the banks of the Ohio, to make peace, as he
said, between the tribes that had become embroiled with each other during
the late war, and to renew the French possession of the country. Celeron de
Bienville distributed presents among the Indians, made speeches reminding
them of former friendship, and warned them not to trade with the English.

He furthermore nailed leaden plates to trees, and buried others in the
earth, at the confluence of the Ohio and its tributaries, bearing
inscriptions purporting that all the lands on both sides of the rivers to
their sources appertained, as in foregone times, to the crown of France.
[Footnote: One of these plates, bearing date August 16, 1749, was found in
recent years at the confluence of the Muskingum with the Ohio.] The Indians
gazed at these mysterious plates with wondering eyes, but surmised their
purport. "They mean to steal our country from us," murmured they; and they
determined to seek protection from the English.

Celeron finding some traders from Pennsylvania trafficking among the
Indians, he summoned them to depart, and wrote by them to James Hamilton,
Governor of Pennsylvania, telling him the object of his errand to those
parts, and his surprise at meeting with English traders in a country to
which England had no pretensions; intimating that, in future, any intruders
of the kind would be rigorously dealt with.

His letter, and a report of his proceedings on the Ohio, roused the
solicitude of the governor and council of Pennsylvania, for the protection
of their Indian trade. Shortly afterwards, one Hugh Crawford, who had been
trading with the Miami tribes on the Wabash, brought a message from them,
speaking of the promises and threats with which the French were endeavoring
to shake their faith, but assuring the governor that their friendship for
the English "would last while the sun and moon ran round the world." This
message was accompanied by three strings of wampum.

Governor Hamilton knew the value of Indian friendship, and suggested to the
assembly that it would be better to clinch it with presents, and that as
soon as possible. An envoy accordingly was sent off early in October, who
was supposed to have great influence among the western tribes. This was one
George Croghan, a veteran trader, shrewd and sagacious, who had been
frequently to the Ohio country with pack-horses and followers, and made
himself popular among the Indians by dispensing presents with a lavish
hand. He was accompanied by Andrew Montour, a Canadian of half Indian
descent, who was to act as interpreter. They were provided with a small
present for the emergency; but were to convoke a meeting of all the tribes
at Logstown, on the Ohio, early in the ensuing spring, to receive an ample
present which would be provided by the assembly.

It was some time later in the same autumn that the Ohio company brought
their plans into operation, and despatched an agent to explore the lands
upon the Ohio and its branches as low as the Great Falls, take note of
their fitness for cultivation, of the passes of the mountains, the courses
and bearings of the rivers, and the strength and disposition of the native
tribes. The man chosen for the purpose was Christopher Gist, a hardy
pioneer, experienced in woodcraft and Indian life, who had his home on the
banks of the Yadkin, near the boundary line of Virginia and North Carolina.
He was allowed a woodsman or two for the service of the expedition. He set
out on the 31st of October, from the banks of the Potomac, by an Indian
path which the hunters had pointed out, leading from Wills' Creek, since
called Fort Cumberland, to the Ohio. Indian paths and buffalo tracks are
the primitive highways of the wilderness. Passing the Juniata, he crossed
the ridges of the Allegany, arrived at Shannopin, a Delaware village on the
south-east side of the Ohio, or rather of that upper branch of it, now
called the Allegany, swam his horses across that river, and descending
along its valley arrived at Logstown, an important Indian village a little
below the site of the present city of Pittsburg. Here usually resided
Tanacharisson, a Seneca chief of great note, being head sachem of the mixed
tribes who had migrated to the Ohio and its branches. He was generally
surnamed the half-king, being subordinate to the Iroquois confederacy. The
chief was absent at this time, as were most of his people, it being the
hunting season. George Croghan, the envoy from Pennsylvania, with Montour
his interpreter, had passed through Logstown a week previously, on his way
to the Twightwees and other tribes, on the Miami branch of the Ohio. Scarce
any one was to be seen about the village but some of Croghan's rough
people, whom he had left behind--"reprobate Indian traders," as Gist terms
them. They regarded the latter with a jealous eye, suspecting him of some
rivalship in trade, or designs on the Indian lands; and intimated
significantly that "he would never go home safe."

Gist knew the meaning of such hints from men of this stamp in the lawless
depths of the wilderness; but quieted their suspicions by letting them know
that he was on public business, and on good terms with their great man,
George Croghan, to whom he despatched a letter. He took his departure from
Logstown, however, as soon as possible, preferring, as he said, the
solitude of the wilderness to such company.

At Beaver Creek, a few miles below the village, he left the river and
struck into the interior of the present State of Ohio. Here he overtook
George Croghan at Muskingum, a town of Wyandots and Mingoes. He had ordered
all the traders in his employ who were scattered among the Indian villages,
to rally at this town, where he had hoisted the English flag over his
residence, and over that of the sachem. This was in consequence of the
hostility of the French who had recently captured, in the neighborhood,
three white men in the employ of Frazier, an Indian trader, and had carried
them away prisoners to Canada.

Gist was well received by the people of Muskingum. They were indignant at
the French violation of their territories, and the capture of their
"English brothers." They had not forgotten the conduct of Celeron de
Bienville in the previous year, and the mysterious plates which he had
nailed against trees and sunk in the ground. "If the French claim the
rivers which run into the lakes," said they, "those which run into the Ohio
belong to us and to our brothers the English." And they were anxious that
Gist should settle among them, and build a fort for their mutual defence.

A council of the nation was now held, in which Gist invited them, in the
name of the Governor of Virginia, to visit that province, where a large
present of goods awaited them, sent by their father, the great king, over
the water to his Ohio children. The invitation was graciously received, but
no answer could be given until a grand council of the western tribes had
been held, which was to take place at Logstown in the ensuing spring.

Similar results attended visits made by Gist and Croghan to the Delawares
and the Shawnees at their villages about the Scioto River; all promised to
be at the gathering at Logstown. From the Shawnee village, near the mouth
of the Scioto, the two emissaries shaped their course north two hundred
miles, crossed the Great Moneami, or Miami River, on a raft, swimming their
horses; and on the 17th of February arrived at the Indian town of Piqua.

These journeyings had carried Gist about a wide extent of country beyond
the Ohio. It was rich and level, watered with streams and rivulets, and
clad with noble forests of hickory, walnut, ash, poplar, sugar-maple, and
wild cherry trees. Occasionally there were spacious plains covered with
wild rye; natural meadows, with blue grass and clover; and buffaloes,
thirty and forty at a time, grazing on them, as in a cultivated pasture.
Deer, elk, and wild turkeys abounded. "Nothing is wanted but cultivation,"
said Gist, "to make this a most delightful country." Cultivation has since
proved the truth of his words. The country thus described is the present
State of Ohio.

Piqua, where Gist and Croghan had arrived, was the principal town of the
Twightwees or Miamis; the most powerful confederacy of the West, combining
four tribes, and extending its influence even beyond the Mississippi. A
king or sachem of one or other of the different tribes presided over the
whole. The head chief at present was the king of the Piankeshas.

At this town Croghan formed a treaty of alliance in the name of the
Governor of Pennsylvania with two of the Miami tribes. And Gist was
promised by the king of the Piankeshas that the chiefs of the various
tribes would attend the meeting at Logstown to make a treaty with Virginia.

In the height of these demonstrations of friendship, two Ottawas entered
the council-house, announcing themselves as envoys from the French Governor
of Canada to seek a renewal of ancient alliance. They were received with
all due ceremonial; for none are more ceremonious than the Indians. The
French colors were set up beside the English, and the ambassadors opened
their mission. "Your father, the French king," said they, "remembering his
children on the Ohio, has sent them these two kegs of milk," here, with
great solemnity, they deposited two kegs of brandy,--"and this
tobacco;":--here they deposited a roll ten pounds in weight. "He has made a
clean road for you to come and see him and his officers; and urges you to
come, assuring you that all past differences will be forgotten."

The Piankesha chief replied in the same figurative style. "It is true our
father has sent for us several times, and has said the road was clear; but
I understand it is not clear--it is foul and bloody, and the French have
made it so. We have cleared a road for our brothers, the English; the
French have made it bad, and have taken some of our brothers prisoners.
This we consider as done to ourselves." So saying, he turned his back upon
the ambassadors, and stalked out of the council-house.

In the end the ambassadors were assured that the tribes of the Ohio and the
Six Nations were hand in hand with their brothers, the English; and should
war ensue with the French, they were ready to meet it.

So the French colors were taken down; the "kegs of milk" and roll of
tobacco were rejected; the grand council broke up with a war-dance, and the
ambassadors departed, weeping and howling, and predicting ruin to the

When Gist returned to the Shawnee town, near the mouth of the Scioto, and
reported to his Indian friends there the alliance he had formed with the
Miami confederacy, there was great feasting and speech-making, and firing
of guns. He had now happily accomplished the chief object of his
mission--nothing remained but to descend the Ohio to the Great Falls. This,
however, he was cautioned not to do. A large party of Indians, allies of
the French, were hunting in that neighborhood, who might kill or capture
him. He crossed the river, attended only by a lad as a travelling companion
and aid, and proceeded cautiously down the east side until within fifteen
miles of the Falls. Here he came upon traps newly set, and Indian
footprints not a day old; and heard the distant report of guns. The story
of Indian hunters then was true. He was in a dangerous neighborhood. The
savages might come upon the tracks of his horses, or hear the bells put
about their necks, when turned loose in the wilderness to graze.

Abandoning all idea, therefore, of visiting the Falls, and contenting
himself with the information concerning them which he had received from
others, he shaped his course on the 18th of March for the Cuttawa, or
Kentucky River. From the top of a mountain in the vicinity he had a view to
the southwest as far as the eye could reach, over a vast woodland country
in the fresh garniture of spring, and watered by abundant streams; but as
yet only the hunting-ground of savage tribes, and the scene of their
sanguinary combats. In a word, Kentucky lay spread out before him in all
its wild magnificence; long before it was beheld by Daniel Boone.

For six weeks was this hardy pioneer making his toilful way up the valley
of the Cuttawa, or Kentucky River, to the banks of the Blue Stone; often
checked by precipices, and obliged to seek fords at the heads of tributary
streams; and happy when he could find a buffalo path broken through the
tangled forests, or worn into the everlasting rocks.

On the 1st of May he climbed a rock sixty feet high, crowning a lofty
mountain, and had a distant view of the great Kanawha, breaking its way
through a vast sierra; crossing that river on a raft of his own
construction, he had many more weary days before him, before he reached his
frontier abode on the banks of the Yadkin. He arrived there in the latter
part of May, but there was no one to welcome the wanderer home. There had
been an Indian massacre in the neighborhood, and he found his house silent
and deserted. His heart sank within him, until an old man whom he met near
the place assured him his family were safe, having fled for refuge to a
settlement thirty-five miles off, on the banks of the Roanoke. There he
rejoined them on the following day.

While Gist had been making his painful way homeward, the two Ottawa
ambassadors had returned to Fort Sandusky, bringing word to the French that
their flag had been struck in the council-house at Piqua, and their
friendship rejected and their hostility defied by the Miamis. They informed
them also of the gathering of the western tribes that was to take place at
Logstown, to conclude a treaty with the Virginians.

It was a great object with the French to prevent this treaty, and to spirit
up the Ohio Indians against the English. This they hoped to effect through
the agency of one Captain Joncaire, a veteran diplomatist of the
wilderness, whose character and story deserve a passing notice.

He had been taken prisoner when quite young by the Iroquois, and adopted
into one of their tribes. This was the making of his fortune. He had grown
up among them, acquired their language, adapted himself to their habits,
and was considered by them as one of themselves. On returning to civilized
life he became a prime instrument in the hands of the Canadian government,
for managing and cajoling the Indians. Sometimes he was an ambassador to
the Iroquois; sometimes a mediator between the jarring tribes; sometimes a
leader of their warriors when employed by the French. When in 1728 the
Delawares and Shawnees migrated to the banks of the Ohio, Joncaire was the
agent who followed them, and prevailed on them to consider themselves under
French protection. When the French wanted to get a commanding site for a
post on the Iroquois lands, near Niagara, Joncaire was the man to manage
it. He craved a situation where he might put up a wigwam, and dwell among
his Iroquois brethren. It was granted of course, "for was he not a son of
the tribe--was he not one of themselves?" By degrees his wigwam grew into
an important trading post; ultimately it became Fort Niagara. Years and
years had elapsed; he had grown gray in Indian diplomacy, and was now sent
once more to maintain French sovereignty over the valley of the Ohio.

He appeared at Logstown accompanied by another Frenchman, and forty
Iroquois warriors. He found an assemblage of the western tribes, feasting
and rejoicing, and firing of guns, for George Croghan and Montour the
interpreter were there, and had been distributing presents on behalf of the
Governor of Pennsylvania.

Joncaire was said to have the wit of a Frenchman, and the eloquence of an
Iroquois. He made an animated speech to the chiefs in their own tongue, the
gist of which was that their father Onontio (that is to say, the Governor
of Canada) desired his children of the Ohio to turn away the Indian
traders, and never to deal with them again on pain of his displeasure; so
saying, he laid down a wampum belt of uncommon size, by way of emphasis to
his message.

For once his eloquence was of no avail; a chief rose indignantly, shook his
finger in his face, and stamping on the ground, "This is our land," said
he. "What right has Onontio here? The English are our brothers. They shall
live among us as long as one of us is alive. We will trade with them, and
not with you;" and so saying he rejected the belt of wampum.

Joncaire returned to an advanced post recently established on the upper
part of the river, whence he wrote to the Governor of Pennsylvania: "The
Marquis de la Jonquiere, Governor of New France, having ordered me to watch
that the English make no treaty in the Ohio country, I have signified to
the traders of your government to retire. You are not ignorant that all
these lands belong to the King of France, and that the English have no
right to trade in them." He concluded by reiterating the threat made two
years previously by Celeron de Bienville against all intruding fur traders.

In the mean time, in the face of all these protests and menaces, Mr. Gist,
under sanction of the Virginia Legislature, proceeded in the same year to
survey the lands within the grant of the Ohio company, lying on the south
side of the Ohio river, as far down as the great Kanawha. An old Delaware
sachem, meeting him while thus employed, propounded a somewhat puzzling
question. "The French," said he, "claim all the land on one side of the
Ohio, the English claim all the land on the other side--now where does the
Indians' land lie?"

Poor savages! Between their "fathers," the French, and their "brothers,"
the English, they were in a fair way of being most lovingly shared out of
the whole country.



The French now prepared for hostile contingencies. They launched an armed
vessel of unusual size on Lake Ontario; fortified their trading house at
Niagara; strengthened their outposts, and advanced others on the upper
waters of the Ohio. A stir of warlike preparation was likewise to be
observed among the British colonies. It was evident that the adverse claims
to the disputed territories, if pushed home, could only be settled by the
stern arbitrament of the sword.

In Virginia, especially, the war spirit was manifest. The province was
divided into military districts, each having an adjutant-general, with the
rank of major, and the pay of one hundred and fifty pounds a year, whose
duty was to attend to the organization and equipment of the militia.

Such an appointment was sought by Lawrence Washington for his brother
George. It shows what must have been the maturity of mind of the latter,
and the confidence inspired by his judicious conduct and aptness for
business, that the post should not only be sought for him, but readily
obtained; though he was yet but nineteen years of age. He proved himself
worthy of the appointment.

He now set about preparing himself, with his usual method and assiduity,
for his new duties. Virginia had among its floating population some
military relics of the late Spanish war. Among these was a certain Adjutant
Muse, a Westmoreland volunteer, who had served with Lawrence Washington in
the campaigns in the West Indies, and had been with him in the attack on
Carthagena. He now undertook to instruct his brother George in the art of
war; lent him treatises on military tactics; put him through the manual
exercise, and gave him some idea of evolutions in the field. Another of
Lawrence's campaigning comrades was Jacob Van Braam, a Dutchman by birth; a
soldier of fortune of the Dalgetty order; who had been in the British army,
but was now out of service, and, professing to be a complete master of
fence, recruited his slender purse in this time of military excitement, by
giving the Virginian youth lessons in the sword exercise.

Under the instructions of these veterans Mount Vernon, from being a quiet
rural retreat, where Washington, three years previously, had indited love
ditties to his "lowland beauty," was suddenly transformed into a school of
arms, as he practised the manual exercise with Adjutant Muse, or took
lessons on the broadsword from Van Braam.

His martial studies, however, were interrupted for a time by the critical
state of his brother's health. The constitution of Lawrence had always been
delicate, and he had been obliged repeatedly to travel for a change of air.
There were now pulmonary symptoms of a threatening nature, and by advice of
his physicians he determined to pass a winter in the West Indies, taking
with him his favorite brother George as a companion.

They accordingly sailed for Barbadoes on the 28th of September, 1751.
George kept a journal of the voyage with logbook brevity; recording the
wind and weather, but no events worth citation. They landed at Barbadoes on
the 3d of November. The resident physician of the place gave a favorable
report of Lawrence's case, and held out hopes of a cure. The brothers were
delighted with the aspect of the country, as they drove out in the cool of
the evening, and beheld on all sides fields of sugar cane, and Indian corn,
and groves of tropical trees, in full fruit and foliage.

They took up their abode at a house pleasantly situated about a mile from
town, commanding an extensive prospect of sea and land, including Carlyle
bay and its shipping, and belonging to Captain Crofton, commander of James

Barbadoes had its theatre, at which Washington witnessed for the first time
a dramatic representation, a species of amusement of which he afterwards
became fond. It was in the present instance the doleful tragedy of George
Barnwell. "The character of Barnwell, and several others," notes he in his
journal, "were said to be well performed. There was music adapted and
regularly conducted." A safe but abstemious criticism.

Among the hospitalities of the place the brothers were invited to the house
of a Judge Maynards, to dine with an association of the first people of the
place, who met at each other's house alternately every Saturday, under the
incontestably English title of "The Beefsteak and Tripe Club." Washington
notes with admiration the profusion of tropical fruits with which the table
was loaded, "the granadilla, sapadella, pomegranate, sweet orange,
water-lemon, forbidden fruit, and guava." The homely prosaic beefsteak and
tripe must have contrasted strangely, though sturdily, with these
magnificent poetical fruits of the tropics. But John Bull is faithful to
his native habits and native dishes, whatever may be the country or clime,
and would set up a chop-house at the very gates of paradise.

The brothers had scarcely been a fortnight at the island when George was
taken down by a severe attack of small-pox. Skilful medical treatment, with
the kind attentions of friends, and especially of his brother, restored him
to health in about three weeks; but his face always remained slightly

After his recovery he made excursions about the island, noticing its soil,
productions, fortifications, public works, and the manners of its
inhabitants. While admiring the productiveness of the sugar plantations, he
was shocked at the spendthrift habits of the planters, and their utter want
of management.

"How wonderful," writes he, "that such people should be in debt, and not be
able to indulge themselves in all the luxuries, as well as the necessaries
of life. Yet so it happens. Estates are often alienated for debts. How
persons coming to estates of two, three, and four hundred acres can want,
is to me most wonderful." How much does this wonder speak for his own
scrupulous principle of always living within compass.

The residence at Barbadoes failed to have the anticipated effect on the
health of Lawrence, and he determined to seek the sweet climate of Bermuda
in the spring. He felt the absence from his wife, and it was arranged that
George should return to Virginia, and bring her out to meet him at that
island. Accordingly, on the 22d of December, George set sail in the
Industry, bound to Virginia, where he arrived on the 1st February, 1752,
after five weeks of stormy winter seafaring.

Lawrence remained through the winter at Barbadoes; but the very mildness of
the climate relaxed and enervated him. He felt the want of the bracing
winter weather to which he had been accustomed. Even the invariable beauty
of the climate; the perpetual summer, wearied the restless invalid. "This
is the finest island of the West Indies," said he; "but I own no place can
please me without a change of seasons. We soon tire of the same prospect."
A consolatory truth for the inhabitants of more capricious climes.

Still some of the worst symptoms of his disorder had disappeared, and he
seemed to be slowly recovering; but the nervous restlessness and desire of
change, often incidental to his malady, had taken hold of him, and early in
March he hastened to Bermuda. He had come too soon. The keen air of early
spring brought on an aggravated return of his worst symptoms. "I have now
got to my last refuge," writes he to a friend, "where I must receive my
final sentence, which at present Dr. Forbes will not pronounce. He leaves
me, however, I think, like a criminal condemned, though not without hopes
of reprieve. But this I am to obtain by meritoriously abstaining from flesh
of every sort, all strong liquors, and by riding as much as I can bear.
These are the only terms on which I am to hope for life."

He was now afflicted with painful indecision, and his letters perplexed his
family, leaving them uncertain as to his movements, and at a loss how to
act. At one time he talked of remaining a year at Bermuda, and wrote to his
wife to come out with George and rejoin him there; but the very same letter
shows his irresolution and uncertainty, for he leaves her coming to the
decision of herself and friends. As to his own movements, he says, "Six
weeks will determine me what to resolve on. Forbes advises the south of
France, or else Barbadoes." The very next letter, written shortly
afterwards in a moment of despondency, talks of the possibility of
"hurrying home to his grave!"

The last was no empty foreboding. He did indeed hasten back, and just
reached Mount Vernon in time to die under his own roof, surrounded by his
family and friends, and attended in his last moments by that brother on
whose manly affection his heart seemed to repose. His death took place on
the 26th July, 1752, when but thirty-four years of age. He was a
noble-spirited, pure-minded, accomplished gentleman; honored by the public,
and beloved by his friends. The paternal care ever manifested by him for
his youthful brother, George, and the influence his own character and
conduct must have had upon him in his ductile years, should link their
memories together in history, and endear the name of Lawrence Washington to
every American.

Lawrence left a wife and an infant daughter to inherit his ample estates.
In case his daughter should die without issue, the estate of Mount Vernon,
and other lands specified in his will, were to be enjoyed by her mother
during her lifetime, and at her death to be inherited by his brother
George. The latter was appointed one of the executors of the will; but such
was the implicit confidence reposed in his judgment and integrity, that,
although he was but twenty years of age, the management of the affairs of
the deceased were soon devolved upon him almost entirely. It is needless to
say that they were managed with consummate skill and scrupulous fidelity.



The meeting of the Ohio tribes, Delawares, Shawnees, and Mingoes, to form a
treaty of alliance with Virginia, took place at Logstown, at the appointed
time. The chiefs of the Six Nations declined to attend. "It is not our
custom," said they proudly, "to meet to treat of affairs in the woods and
weeds. If the Governor of Virginia wants to speak with us, and deliver us a
present from our father (the King), we will meet him at Albany, where we
expect the Governor of New York will be present." [Footnote: Letter of Col.
Johnson to Gov. Clinton.--Doc. Hist. N. Y. ii., 624.]

At Logstown, Colonel Fry and two other commissioners from Virginia,
concluded a treaty with the tribes above named; by which the latter engaged
not to molest any English settlers south of the Ohio. Tanacharisson, the
half-king, now advised that his brothers of Virginia should build a strong
house at the fork of the Monongahela, to resist the designs of the French.
Mr. Gist was accordingly instructed to lay out a town and build a fort at
Chartier's Creek, on the east side of the Ohio, a little below the site of
the present city of Pittsburg. He commenced a settlement, also, in a valley
just beyond Laurel Hill, not far from the Youghiogeny, and prevailed on
eleven families to join him. The Ohio Company, about the same time,
established a trading post, well stocked with English goods, at Wills'
Creek (now the town of Cumberland).

The Ohio tribes were greatly incensed at the aggressions of the French, who
were erecting posts within their territories, and sent deputations to
remonstrate, but without effect. The half-king, as chief of the western
tribes, repaired to the French post on Lake Erie, where he made his
complaint in person.

"Fathers," said he, "you are the disturbers of this land by building towns,
and taking the country from us by fraud and force. We kindled a fire a long
time since at Montreal, where we desired you to stay and not to come and
intrude upon our land. I now advise you to return to that place, for this
land is ours.

"If you had come in a peaceable manner, like our brothers the English, we
should have traded with you as we do with them; but that you should come
and build houses on our land, and take it by force, is what we cannot
submit to. Both you and the English are white. We live in a country between
you both; the land belongs to neither of you. The Great Being allotted it
to us as a residence. So, fathers, I desire you, as I have desired our
brothers the English, to withdraw, for I will keep you both at arm's
length. Whichever most regards this request, that side will we stand by and
consider friends. Our brothers the English have heard this, and I now come
to tell it to you, for I am not afraid to order you off this land."

"Child," replied the French commandant, "you talk foolishly. You say this
land belongs to you; there is not the black of my nail yours. It is my
land, and I will have it, let who will stand up against me. I am not afraid
of flies and mosquitoes, for as such I consider the Indians. I tell you
that down the river I will go, and build upon it. If it were blocked up I
have forces sufficient to burst it open and trample down all who oppose me.
My force is as the sand upon the sea-shore. Therefore here is your wampum;
I fling it at you."

Tanacharisson returned, wounded at heart, both by the language and the
haughty manner of the French commandant. He saw the ruin impending over his
race, but looked with hope and trust to the English as the power least
disposed to wrong the red man.

French influence was successful in other quarters. Some of the Indians who
had been friendly to the English showed signs of alienation. Others menaced
hostilities. There were reports that the French were ascending the
Mississippi from Louisiana. France, it was said, intended to connect
Louisiana and Canada by a chain of military posts, and hem the English
within the Allegany Mountains.

The Ohio Company complained loudly to the Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia,
the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, of the hostile conduct of the French and their
Indian allies. They found in Dinwiddie a ready listener; he was a
stockholder in the company.

A commissioner, Captain William Trent, was sent to expostulate with the
French commander on the Ohio for his aggressions on the territory of his
Britannic majesty; he bore presents also of guns, powder, shot, and
clothing for the friendly Indians.

Trent was not a man of the true spirit for a mission to the frontier. He
stopped a short time at Logstown, though the French were one hundred and
fifty miles further up the river, and directed his course to Piqua, the
great town of the Twightwees, where Gist and Croghan had been so well
received by the Miamis, and the French flag struck in the council house.
All now was reversed. The place had been attacked by the French and
Indians; the Miamis defeated with great loss; the English traders taken
prisoners; the Piankesha chief, who had so proudly turned his back upon the
Ottawa ambassadors, had been sacrificed by the hostile savages, and the
French flag hoisted in triumph on the ruins of the town. The whole aspect
of affairs was so threatening on the frontier, that Trent lost heart, and
returned home without accomplishing his errand.

Governor Dinwiddie now looked round for a person more fitted to fulfil a
mission which required physical strength and moral energy; a courage to
cope with savages, and a sagacity to negotiate with white men. Washington
was pointed out as possessed of those requisites. It is true he was not yet
twenty-two years of age, but public confidence in his judgment and
abilities had been manifested a second time, by renewing his appointment of
adjutant-general, and assigning him the northern division. He was
acquainted too with the matters in litigation, having been in the bosom
councils of his deceased brother. His woodland experience fitted him for an
expedition through the wilderness; and his great discretion and
self-command for a negotiation with wily commanders and fickle savages. He
was accordingly chosen for the expedition.

By his letter of instructions he was directed to repair to Logstown, and
hold a communication with Tanacharisson, Monacatoocha, alias Scarooyadi,
the next in command, and the other sachems of the mixed tribes friendly to
the English; inform them of the purport of his errand, and request an
escort to the head-quarters of the French commander. To that commander he
was to deliver his credentials, and the letter of Governor Dinwiddie, and
demand an answer in the name of his Britannic majesty; but not to wait for
it beyond a week. On receiving it, he was to request a sufficient escort to
protect him on his return.

He was, moreover, to acquaint himself with the numbers and force of the
French stationed on the Ohio and in its vicinity; their capability of being
reinforced from Canada; the forts they had erected; where situated, how
garrisoned; the object of their advancing into those parts, and how they
were likely to be supported.

Washington set off from Williamsburg on the 30th of October (1753), the
very day on which he received his credentials. At Fredericksburg he engaged
his old "master of fence," Jacob Van Braam, to accompany him as
interpreter; though it would appear from subsequent circumstances, that the
veteran swordsman was but indifferently versed either in French or English.

Having provided himself at Alexandria with necessaries for the journey, he
proceeded to Winchester, then on the frontier, where he procured horses,
tents, and other travelling equipments, and then pushed on by a road newly
opened to Wills' Creek (town of Cumberland), where he arrived on the 14th
of November.

Here he met with Mr. Gist, the intrepid pioneer, who had explored the Ohio
in the employ of the company, and whom he engaged to accompany and pilot
him in the present expedition. He secured the services also of one John
Davidson as Indian interpreter, and of four frontiersmen, two of whom were
Indian traders. With this little band, and his swordsman and interpreter,
Jacob Van Braam, he set forth on the 15th of November, through a wild
country, rendered almost impassable by recent storms of rain and snow.

At the mouth of Turtle Creek, on the Monongahela, he found John Frazier the
Indian trader, some of whose people, as heretofore stated, had been sent
off prisoners to Canada. Frazier himself had recently been ejected by the
French from the Indian village of Venango, where he had a gunsmith's
establishment. According to his account the French general who had
commanded on this frontier was dead, and the greater part of the forces
were retired into winter quarters.

As the rivers were all swollen so that the horses had to swim them,
Washington sent all the baggage down the Monongahela in a canoe under care
of two of the men, who had orders to meet him at the confluence of that
river with the Allegany, where their united waters form the Ohio.

"As I got down before the canoe," writes he in his journal, "I spent some
time in viewing the rivers, and the land at the Fork, which I think
extremely well situated for a fort, as it has the absolute command of both
rivers. The land at the point is twenty or twenty-five feet above the
common surface of the water, and a considerable bottom of flat, well
timbered land all around it, very convenient for building. The rivers are
each a quarter of a mile or more across, and run here very nearly at right
angles; Allegany bearing north-east, and Monongahela south-east. The former
of these two is a very rapid and swift-running water, the other deep and
still, without any perceptible fall." The Ohio company had intended to
build a fort about two miles from this place, on the south-east side of the
river; but Washington gave the fork the decided preference. French
engineers of experience proved the accuracy of his military eye, by
subsequently choosing it for the site of Fort Duquesne, noted in frontier

In this neighborhood lived Shingiss, the king or chief sachem of the
Delawares. Washington visited him at his village, to invite him to the
council at Logstown. He was one of the greatest warriors of his tribe, and
subsequently took up the hatchet at various times against the English,
though now he seemed favorably disposed, and readily accepted the

They arrived at Logstown after sunset on the 24th of November. The
half-king was absent at his hunting lodge on Beaver Creek, about fifteen
miles distant; but Washington had runners sent out to invite him and all
the other chiefs to a grand talk on the following day.

In the morning four French deserters came into the village. They had
deserted from a company of one hundred men, sent up from New Orleans with
eight canoes laden with provisions. Washington drew from them an account of
the French force at New Orleans, and of the forts along the Mississippi,
and at the mouth of the Wabash, by which they kept up a communication with
the lakes; all which he carefully noted down. The deserters were on their
way to Philadelphia, conducted by a Pennsylvania trader.

About three o'clock the half-king arrived. Washington had a private
conversation with him in his tent, through Davidson, the interpreter. He
found him intelligent, patriotic, and proudly tenacious of his territorial
rights. We have already cited from Washington's papers, the account given
by this chief in this conversation, of his interview with the late French
commander. He stated, moreover, that the French had built two forts,
differing in size, but on the same model, a plan of which he gave, of his
own drawing. The largest was on Lake Erie, the other on French Creek,
fifteen miles apart, with a waggon road between them. The nearest and
levellest way to them was now impassable, lying through large and miry
savannas; they would have, therefore, to go by Venango, and it would take
five or six sleeps (or days) of good travelling to reach the nearest fort.

On the following morning at nine o'clock, the chiefs assembled at the
council house; where Washington, according to his instructions, informed
them that he was sent by their brother, the Governor of Virginia, to
deliver to the French commandant a letter of great importance, both to
their brothers the English and to themselves; and that he was to ask their
advice and assistance, and some of their young men to accompany and provide
for him on the way, and be his safeguard against the "French Indians" who
had taken up the hatchet. He concluded by presenting the indispensable
document in Indian diplomacy a string of wampum.

The chiefs, according to etiquette, sat for some moments silent after he
had concluded, as if ruminating on what had been said, or to give him time
for further remark.

The half-king then rose and spoke in behalf of the tribes, assuring him
that they considered the English and themselves brothers, and one people;
and that they intended to return the French the "speech-belts," or wampums,
which the latter had sent them. This, in Indian diplomacy, is a
renunciation of all friendly relations. An escort would be furnished to
Washington composed of Mingoes, Shannoahs, and Delawares, in token of the
love and loyalty of those several tribes; but three days would be required
to prepare for the journey.

Washington remonstrated against such delay; but was informed, that an
affair of such moment, where three speech-belts were to be given up, was
not to be entered into without due consideration. Besides, the young men
who were to form the escort were absent hunting, and the half-king could
not suffer the party to go without sufficient protection. His own French
speech-belt, also, was at his hunting lodge, where he must go in quest of
it. Moreover, the Shannoah chiefs were yet absent and must be waited for.
In short, Washington had his first lesson in Indian diplomacy, which for
punctilio, ceremonial, and secret manoeuvring, is equal at least to that of
civilized life. He soon found that to urge a more speedy departure would be
offensive to Indian dignity and decorum, so he was fain to await the
gathering together of the different chiefs with their speech-belts.

In fact there was some reason for all this caution. Tidings had reached the

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