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While filling a public station, the performance of his duty took the place of pleasure, emolument and every private consideration. During the more critical years of the war, a smile was scarcely seen upon his countenance, he gave himself no moments of relaxation ; but his whole mind was engrossed to execute successfully his trust.
As a military commander, he struggled with innumerable embarrassments, arising from the short inlistment of his men, and from the want of provisions, clothing, arms and ammunition; and an opinion of his achievements should be formed in view of these inadequate means.
The first years of his civil administration were attended with the extraordinary fact, that while a great proportion of his countrymen reprobated his measures, they universally venerated his character, and relied implicitly on his integrity: Although his opponents eventually deemed it expedient to vilify his character, that they might diminish his political influence; yet the moment that he retired from public life, they returned to their expressions of veneration and esteem; and after his death, used every endeavour to secure to their party the influence of his name.
He was as eminent for piety, as for patriotism. His public and private conduct evince, that he impressively felt a sense of the superintendence of God, and of the dependence of man. In his addresses while at the head of the army, and of the national government, he gratefully noticed the signal blessings of Providence, and fervently com
mended his country to divine benediction. In private, he was known to have been habitually devout.
In principle and practice he was a Christian. The support of an Episcopal church, in the vicinity of Mount Vernon, rested principally upon him; and here, when on his estate, he with constancy attended public worship. In his address to the American people, at the close of the war, mentioning the favourable period of the world at which the independence of his country was established, and enumerating the causes which unitedly had ameliorated the condition of human society, he, above science, philosophy, commerce, and all other considerations, ranked " the pure and benign light of Revelation.” Supplicating Heaven that his fellow citizens might cultivate the disposition, and practise the virtues which exalt a community, he presented the following petition to his God, “ That he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion; without an humble imitation of whose example, in these things, we can never hope to be an happy nation.”
During the war, he not unfrequently rode ten or twelve miles from camp to attend public worship; and he never omitted this attendance, when opportunity presented.
In the establishment of his presidential household, he reserved to himself the Sabbath, free from
the interruptions of private visits, or public business; and throughout the eight years of his civil administration, he gave to the institutions of christianity the influence of his example.
He was as fortunate as great and good.
Under bis auspices, a civil war was conducted with mildness, and a revolution with order. Raised himself above the influence of popular passions, he happily directed these passions to the most useful purposes. Uniting the talents of the soldier with the qualifications of the statesman, and pursuing, unmoved by difficulties, the noblest end by the purest means, he had the supreme satisfaction of beholding the complete success of his great military and civil services, in the independence and happiness of his country.
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. I GEORGE WASHINGTON, of Mount Vernon, a citizen of the United States, and lately President of the same, do make, ordain and declare this instrument, which is written with my own hand*, and every page thereof subscribed with my Name, to be my last Will and TESTAMENT, revoking all others. Imprimis. All my debts, of which there are but few, and none of magnitude, are to be punctually and speedily paid, and the legacies herein after bequeathed, are to be discharged as soon as circumstances will permit, and in the manner directed.
Item.-To my dearly beloved wife Martha Washington, I give and bequeath the use, profit and benefit of my whole estate, real and personal, for the term of her natural life, except such parts thereof as are specially disposed of hereafter. My improved lot, in the town of Alexandria, situated on Pitt and Cameron streets, I give to her and her heirs forever ; as I also do my household and kitchen furniture, of every sort and kind, with the liquors and groceries which may be on hand at the time of my decease, to be used and disposed of as she may
Item._Upon the decease of my wife, it is my will and desire that all the Slaves which I hold in my own right shall
* In the original manuscript, George Washington's name was written at the bottom of every page.
receive their freedom. To emancipate them during her life, would, though earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties, on account of their intermixture by marriage with the dower negroes, as to excite the most painful sensations, if not disagreeable consequences from the latter, while both descriptions are in the occupancy of the same proprietor; it not being in my power, under the tenure by which the dower negroes are held, to manumit them. And where.' as, among those who will receive freedom according to this devise, there may be some, who from old age or bodily infira' mities, and others, who on account of their infancy, that will be unable to support themselves, it is my will and desire, that all who come under the first and second description, shall be comfortably clothed and fed by my heirs while they live ; and that such of the latter description as have no parents living, or if living, are unable or unwilling to provide for them, shall be bound by the court until they shall arrive at the age
of twentya five years; and in cases where no record can be produced, whereby their ages can be ascertained, the judgment of the court, upon its own view of the subject, shall be adequate and final. The negroes thus bound, are (by their masters or mistresses) to be taught to read and write, and to be brought up to some useful occupation, agreeably to the laws of the commonwealth of Virginia, providing for the support of orphan and other poor children. And I do hereby expressly forbid the sale or transportation, out of the said commonwealth, of any Slave I may die possessed of, under any pretence whatsoever. And I do moreover, most pointedly and most solemnly enjoin it upon my Executors hereafter named, or the survivor of them, to see that this clause respecting Slaves, and every part thereof, be religiously fulfilled at the epoch at which it is directed to take place, without evasion, neglect, or delay, after the crops which may then be on the ground are harvested, particularly as it respects the aged and infirm; seeing that a regular and permanent fund be established for their support, as long as there are subjects requiring it; not trusting to