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postulate, Mr. King is obliged not only to dispose of Washington, but to introduce Columbus, who never was imagined in the wildest fantasy to be an American, and to omit Franklin. The omission of itself is fatal to Mr. King's case. Franklin has certainly a “preëminent name.” He has, too, “immortal fame,” although of course of a widely different character from that of either Washington or Lincoln, but he was a great man in the broad sense of a world-wide reputation. Yet no one has ever ventured to call Benjamin Franklin an Englishman. He was a colonial American, of course, but he was as intensely an American as any man who has lived on this continent before or since. A man of the people, he was American by the character of his genius, by his versatility, the vivacity of his intellect, and his mental dexterity. In his abilities, his virtues, and his defects he was an American, and so plainly one as to be beyond the reach of doubt or question. There were others of that period, too, who were as genuine Americans as Franklin or Lincoln. Such were Jonathan Edwards, the peculiar product of New England Calvinism; Patrick Henry, who first broke down colonial lines to declare himself an American ; Samuel Adams, the great forerunner of the race of American politicians; Thomas Jefferson, the idol of American democracy. These and many others Mr. King might exclude on the ground that they did not reach the lonely height of immortal fame. But Franklin is enough. Unless one is prepared to set Franklin down as an Englishman, which would be as reasonable as to say that Daniel Webster was a fine example of the Slavic race, it must be admitted that it was possible for the thirteen colonies to produce in the eighteenth century a genuine American who won immortal fame. If they could produce one of one type, they could produce a second of another type, and there was, therefore, nothing inherently impossible in existing conditions to prevent Washington from being an American
Lincoln was undoubtedly the first great American of his type, but that is not the only type of American. It is one which, as bodied forth in Abraham Lincoln, commands the love and veneration of the people of the United States, and the admiration of the world wherever his name is known. To the noble and towering greatness of his mind and character it does not add one hair's breadth to say that he was the first American, or that he was of a common or uncommon type. Greatness like Lincoln's is far beyond such qualifications, and least of all is it necessary to his fame to push Washington from his birthright. To say that George Washington, an English commoner, vanquished George, an English king, is clever and picturesque, but like many other pleasing antitheses it is painfully inaccurate. Allegiance does not make race or nationality. The Hindoos are subjects of Victoria, but they are not Englishmen.
Franklin shows that it was possible to produce a most genuine American of unquestioned greatness announced himself to be thoroughly convinced of their unconstitutionality, Washington, with a little sarcasm, declined to enter into argument with him. “ But,” he continued, “ I will take the liberty of advising such as are not thoroughly convinced,' and whose minds are yet open to conviction, to read the pieces and hear the arguments which have been adduced in favor of, as well as those against the constitutionality and expediency of those laws, before they decide and consider to what lengths a certain description of men in our country have already driven, and seem resolved further to drive matters, and then ask themselves if it is not time and expedient to resort to protecting laws against aliens (for citizens, you certainly know, are not affected by that law), who acknowledge no allegiance to this country, and in many instances are sent among us, as there is the best circumstantial evidence to prove, for the express purpose of poisoning the minds of our people and sowing dissensions among them, in order to alienate their affections from the government of their choice, thereby endeavoring to dissolve the Union, and of course the fair and happy prospects which are unfolding to our view from the Revolution."
With these strong and decided feelings as to the proper policy to be adopted, and with such grave apprehensions as to the outcome of existing difficulties, Washington was deeply distressed by the divisions which he saw springing up among the Federalists. From his point of view it was bad enough to have the people of the country divided into two great parties; but that one of those parties, that which was devoted to the maintenance of order and the preservation of the Union, should be torn by internal dissensions, seemed to him almost inconceivable. He regarded the conduct of the party and of its leaders with quite as much indignation as sorrow, for it seemed to him that they were unpatriotic and false to their trust in permitting for a moment these personal factions which could have but one result. He wrote to Trumbull on August 30, 1799:
“ It is too interesting not to be again repeated, that if principles instead of men are not the steady pursuit of the Federalists, their cause will soon be at an end ; if these are pursued they will not divide at the next election of President; if they do divide on so important a point, it would be dangerous to trust them on any other, — and none except those who might be solicitous to fill the chair of government would do it.” 1
He was a true prophet, but he did not live to see the verification of his predictions, which would have been to him a source of so much grief. In the midst of his anxieties about public affairs, and of the quiet, homely interests which made the days at Mount Vernon so pleasant, the end suddenly came. There was no more forewarning than if he had been struck down by accident or violence. He had
1 Life of Silliman, vol. ii p. 385.
always been a man of great physical vigor, and although he had had one or two acute and dangerous illnesses arising from mental strain and much overwork, there is no indication that he had any organic disease, and since his retirement from the presidency he had been better than for many years. There was not only no sign of breaking up, but he appeared full of health and activity, and led his usual wholesome outdoor life with keen enjoyment.
The morning of December 12th was overcast. He wrote to Hamilton warmly approving the scheme for a military academy; and having finished this, which was probably the last letter he ever wrote, he mounted his horse and rode off for his usual round of duties. He noted in his diary, where he always described the weather with methodical exactness, that it began to snow about one o'clock, soon after to hail, and then turned to a settled cold rain. He stayed out notwithstanding for about two hours, and then came back to the house and franked his letters. Mr. Lear noticed that his hair was damp with snow, and expressed a fear that he had got wet; but the General said no, that his coat had kept him dry, and sat down to dinner without changing his clothes. The next morning snow was still falling so that he did not ride, and he complained of a slight sore throat, but nevertheless went out in the afternoon to mark some trees that were to be cut down. His hoarseness increased toward night, yet still he made light of it, and read the newspapers and chatted with Mrs. Washington during the evening.