Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The ancestors of GEORGB WASHINGTON were among the first settlers of the oldest British colony in America. He was the third in descent from John Washington, an English gentleman, who, about the middle of the 17th century, emigrated from the north of England, and settled in Westmoreland county, Virginia. In the place where he had fixed himself, his great grandson, the subject of the following history, was born on the 22d. of February, 1732. His immediate ancestor was Augustine Washington, who died when his son George was only ten years old. The education : of the young orphan, of course, devolved on his mother, who added one to the many examples of virtuous matrons, who, devoting themselves to the

care of their children, have trained them up to be distinguished citizens. In one instance her fears, combining with her affection, prevented a measure, which, if persevered in, would have given a direction to the talents and views of her son, very different from that which laid the foundation of his fame. George Washington, when only fifteen years old, solicited and obtained the place of a midshipman in the British navy ; but his ardent zeal to serve his country, then at war with France and Spain, was, on the interference of his mother, for the present suspended, and for ever diverted from the sea service. She lived to see him acquire higher honours than he ever could have obtained as a naval officer; nor did she depart this life till he was elevated to the first offices, both civil and military, in the gift of his country. She was, nevertheless, from the influence of long es. tablished habits, so far from being partial to the American revolution, that she often regretted the side her son had taken in the controversy between her king and her country.

In the minority of George Washington, the means of education in America were scanty ; his was therefore very little extended beyond what is common, except in mathematics. Knowledge of this kind contributes more perhaps than any other to strengthen the mind. In his case it was doubly useful; for, in the early part of his life, it laid the foundation of his fortune, by qualifying him for the office of a practical surveyor, at a time when good land was of easy attainment; and its intimate connection with the military art, enabled him at a later period to judge more correctly of the, proper means of defending his country, when he was called upon to preside over its armies.

( Of the first nineteen years of George Washington's life, little is known. His talents being more solid than showy, were not sufficiently developed for public notice, by the comparatively unimportant events of that early period. His cotemporaries have generally reported, that in his youth he was grave, silent, and thoughtful ; diligent and methodical in business, dignified in his appearance, and strictly honourable in all his deportment; but they have not been able to gratify the public curiosity with any striking anecdotes. His patrimonial estáte was small, but that little was managed with prudence and increased by industry. In the gayest period of his life, he was a stranger to dissipation and riot. That he had established a solid reputation, even in his juvenile years, may be fairly presumed from the following circumstances. At the age of nineteen he was appointed one of the adjutants general of Virginia, with the rank of major. When he was barely twenty one, he was employed by the government of his native colony, in an enterprise which required the prudence of age as well as the vigour of youth.

The French, as the first European discoverers of the river Mississippi, claimed all that immense region whose waters run into that river. In pursuance of this claim, in the year 1753, they took possession of a tract of country supposed to be within the chartered limits of Virginia, and were proceeding to erect a chain of posts from the lakes of Canada to the river Ohio, in subserviency to

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »