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"His occupation was that of a planter, which, from the first settlement of the country, had been the pursuit of nearly all the principal gentlemen of Virginia."
Little can now be definitely ascertained respecting the individual character of the father of the great American Hero. His premature death, and the entire want of any minute family record respecting him, render research in relation to his personal history almost wholly futile. We can only infer his worth from the distinct remembrance in which his paternal tenderness was always held by his most eminent descendant, and from the fact that the valuable estate he possessed at his death, was "chiefly acquired by his own industry and enterprise, which would seem to indicate that in the concerns of business, he was methodical, skilful, honorable, and energetic."*
Mr. Washington was twice married. Two sons survived his first union. He was united to Mary Ball on the 6th of March, 1730.
ington, is so generally interesting, that we append, for the convenience of the curious in such matters, Mr. Sparks' brief but clear exposition of the genealogy of his father's family. See Appendix—Note A. * Sparks' Life Of Washington.
After her marriage, Mrs. Washington's first residence was in Westmoreland County, Virginia, not far from the beautiful river with which so many of the most agreeable reminiscences of her childhood and youth were associated.
In this, the first home of her wedded life, two years subsequent to the union that promised such exalted and continued felicity, George, her eldest son, was born.
Soon after this event, Mr. Washington removed with his family, "to an estate owned by him in Stafford County, Virginia, on the east side of the Rappahannoc River, opposite Fredericksburg."
As years sped on, Mrs. Washington became the mother of two daughters, and three sons. She had thus, six children:—these were successively, George, Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, Charles, and Mildred. The latter died in infancy.
We discover no positive proof that the elder sons of her husband were under the immediate care of Mrs. Washington, but as many incidental indications present themselves of the cordial affection, unity and interest that existed, in later years, among the members of the family, collectively, we may believe, especially in connection with the strong sense of duty which, apparently, characterized every action of this faithful wife and mother, that her native benevolence and justice were not at fault in this instance.
The domestic happiness of this interesting little circle was soon most painfully and unexpectedly interrupted. A short and sudden illness terminated the life of Mr. Washington, on the 12th of April, 1743, at the age of forty-nine years.
In the brief biographical notices of Mrs. Washington which have, hitherto, appeared, she is represented as being left by the death of her husband with very limited pecuniary resources. The testimony of Mr. Sparks,—than which nothing can well be more accurate and incontrovertible,— militates, most emphatically, against the impression thus generally expressed. The following passages contain Mr. Sparks' statement upon this subject:—"It appears by his will that he [Mr. W.] possessed a large and valuable property in lands." *■ * *****
"Each of his sons inherited from him a separate plantation. To the eldest, Lawrence, he bequeathed an estate near Hunting Creek, afterwards Mount Vernon, which then consisted of twenty-five hundred acres; and also other lands, and shares in iron-works situated in Virginia and Maryland, which were productive. The second son had for his part an estate in Westmoreland. To George were left the lands and mansion where his father lived at the time of his decease; and to each of the other sons an estate of six or seven hundred acres. The youngest daughter died when an infant, and for the only remaining one a suitable provision was made in the will. It is thus seen that Augustine Washington, although suddenly cut off in the vigor of manhood, left all his children in a state of comparative independence. Confiding in the prudence of the mother, he directed that the proceeds of all the property of her children should be at her disposal, till they should respectively come of age."
It was now that the extraordinary characteristics of this exemplary matron began most strikingly to exhibit themselves.
Gifted with great firmness and constancy of purpose, as well as with a clear, discriminating judgment, and remarkable mental independence, her self-reliance was rapidly strengthened, and soon rendered habitual, by circumstances so peculiarly demanding its exercise, as those ir which duty imperatively summoned her to act.
Her thorough knowledge of practical life enabled her not only to superintend, in person, the complicated and important pecuniary affairs of her children, and the general interests of her household, but, also, by her indefatigable industry and ingenuity to supply, in a good degree, whatever was necessary to the welfare and comfort of her family.
Mrs. Washington had, henceforth, the exclusive direction of the primary education of her children. At once their companion, mentor, counsellor, and friend, she encouraged them to mental exertion, to moral culture, to athletic exercise. She taught them self-respect, respect for the rights and feelings of others, self-control, and patience under fatigue and suffering; she stimulated in them a fondness for labor and for knowledge; she inspired them with affection for each other, and for their country, and with the fear and love of God. In short, it was her systematic and unceasing endeavor, to illustrate and enforce willing compliance with the all-wise and immutable laws by which the physical, intellectual, and moral'nature of man should be, harmoniously and unitedly, governed. Thus order, regularity, and occupation, sympathy, cheerfulness, and