« ZurückWeiter »
sity they rose like a phoenix from ashes, and hurled, with the fury of Mars, the thunderbolts of vengeance amongst their enemies.
The battle of the Cowpens, on the 17th of January, 1781, shed new lustre on the American arms. General Morgan there met the hightoned Colonel Tarleton, killed rising of one hundred men, wounded two hundred, took five hundred prisoners, two pieces of cannon, twelve standards, eight hundred muskets, thirty-five baggage wagons, one hundred dragoon horses, with a loss of only twelve killed and sixty wounded. His force amounted to only five hundred militia and a few regulars—that of Tarleton to over one thousand regulars, the flower of the British army:
Morgan now effected a junction with General Green, who had succeeded General Gates, and on the 8th of March they met the forces of Lord Cornwallis at Guilford court-house, where an obstinate battle was fought and the Americans compelled to leave the field. On the 9th of April General Green again put his troops in motion-on the 25th the two armies once more measured arms,-Green was compelled to retreat-not before a pursuing foe, but towards the British garrison Ninety-Six, which he reached and besieged on the 22nd of May, and gave it a hearty salute; but on the approach of Lord Rawdon with a large force, he modestly retired to the Santee hills to spend the hot and sickly season. In the meantime the English army encamped at Eutaw Springs, where Green renewed the attack on the 8th of September, and after a hard fought action, in which neither gained a decided victory, the enemy retired to Charleston, with a loss in killed, wounded and prisoners, of eleven hundred men. The Americans lost five hundred and fifty-five.
Although General Green had not gained any decided victory, he had gained many advantages and greatly weakened the enemy. Generals Lee and Wayne had been more successful, and the British were annoyed and harassed in every quarter-volunteers flocked around their beloved Washington, and the tide of war turned in his favour.
The patriotic Lafayette was now in the field. Morgan, Wayne, Greene and Lee were at their posts. Count de Grasse was co-operating with his fleet; and, in their turn, the English lords, admirals and generals, found themselves surrounded with impending danger. An awful crisis awaited them-retribution stared them in the face their deeds of blood haunted their guilty souls, and consternation seized their troubled minds. Lord Cornwallis hastened to concentrate his forces at Yorktown, which he fortified in the best possible manner.
On the 6th of October the combined forces of Washington and Rochambeau commenced a siege upon this place, which surrendered on the 19th of the same month. The grand Rubicon was now passed, the colonies were free-the work was finished. This was the dying struggle of British monarchy in America. The last expiring hope of conquering the colonies now fled for ever. Heaven had decreed they should be free—that decree was now consummated. The eagle of liberty, like Jordan's dove, descended-pronounced a benediction upon the conquering heroes-snatched the laurels from Britain's brow and placed them triumphantly upon the CHAMPIONS OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE. To the friends of FREEDOM the scene was grand and joyful—to the enemies of LIBERTY, it was painful and humiliating.
The result of this victory was hailed with joy, and placed Washington on the lofty summit of immortal fame-gave freedom to his bleed ing country-sealed the foundations of our republic, now towering to the skies--prepared an asylum for the oppressed, and planted deep in Columbia's soil the long nursed tree of LIBERTY. On the 30th of September, 1783,
a definitive treaty was signed at Paris by Mr. Fitzherbert and Mr. Oswald, on the part of Great Britain, and by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and Henry Laurens, on the part of the United States.
On the second of November, Washington issued his farewell orders to his army, in terms of affectionate eloquence and parental solicitude. On the 3d, the troops were disbanded by Congress, and, with mingling tears of joy and gratitude, they once more repaired to their homes to meet the warm embrace of friends, and reap the fruit of their toils and fatigues-no longer embittered by the iron scourge of despotism. On the 23d of December, Washington appeared in the hall of Congress and resigned his commission. This last act was one of grandeur and thrilling interest. The past, the present and the future, were all in the mind of this great and good man, as he invoked the blessings of Heaven to descend and guide the destinies of his beloved, his emancipated country. Every heart beat quicker and higher_his commission was laid upon the table—a burst of applause rent the air, a flood of tears closed the scene.
The people of the United States, no longer under the paternal care of their old mother, were now left to try the experiment of self-government. Difficulties arose from local jealousies and interests—a debt of forty millions of dollars had been contracted-government paper became greatly depreciated—the public credit could not be sustained, and the liberty that the patriots had fought and bled to obtain, seemed doomed to a premature dissolution and to be lost in the whirlpool of anarchy and confusion. In view of these accumulating difficulties, commissioners from every state, except Rhode Island, convened at Philadelphia, for the purpose of devising means to preserve and perfect that freedom which had cost millions of treasure and fountains of noble blood. Washington was unanimously elected president of this august body. After long deliberation, the labours of the delegates resulted in the production of the federal constitution, one of the brightest specimens of legislation on record. It is the polar star of freedom, the great palladium of our liberty, the golden chain that connects our union, the grand rallying point of republicans, a shield against innovation and corruption, a terror to tyrants, a shining light to patriots, and stamps with immortal and lasting fame the names of its illustrious authors.
This was reported to Congress on the 17th of September, received their warm approbation, and was immediately sent to the several states for their consideration, all of which gave it their sanction, except North Carolina and Rhode Island—the former of which acceded to it in 1789, the latter in 1790. A degree of confidence was then restored, and from that time down to the present our nation has rolled on in the full tide of successful experiment, and enjoyed an increasing and towering prosperity without a parallel in the annals of history. The star-spangled banner waves on every sea, and is respected by every nation in the civilized world: our improvements at home have marched in advance of the boldest views of the most visionary projector, the fondest anticipations of their most ardent friends.
By the unanimous voice of a free and grateful people, Washington was elected the first president of the new republic, and, with the same modest diffidence that had marked his whole career, he took the oath of office on the 30th of April, 1789, in the city of New York, in the presence of the first Congress under the new constitution, and in the presence of a crowded assembly, who deeply felt and strongly expressed their love and gratitude to him. He then entered upon the important duties that devolved upon him.
A revenue was to be raised, the judiciary system to be organized, its officers to be appointed, a cabinet to be formed and every department of government to be established on a basis at once firm, impartial, just and humane. In performing these various and arduous duties he exhibited great wisdom, a sound discretion, a clear head and good heart. In the cabinet, as in the field, prudence and deliberation guided his every action. He was found equal to every emergency and duty that his country demanded at his hands—he acted up to, but never exceeded the bounds of delegated authority-an angel could do no more-Washington did no less. During his administration of eight years he put forth the noblest energies of his lucid mind to advance the prosperity of his country-meliorate the condition of those who were suffering from the effects of a protracted war-improve the state of society, arts, science, agriculture and commerce-disseminate general intelligence--allay local difficulties—and render the infant republic as happy and glorious as it was free and independent.
His exertions were crowned with success; his fondest anticipations were realized; he finished the work his country had called him to perform; the government stood on a basis firm as the rock of ages, and, on the 4th of March, 1797, he resigned his power to the sovereign people, retired from public life, honoured and loved by his fellow-citizens, respected and admired by a gazing world, and crowned with an unsullied fame that will endure unimpaired the revolutions of time.
He then retired to Mount Vernon to enjoy once more the felicity of domestic retirement and the sweets of his own fireside. He had served his country long and ably; he could look back upon a life well and nobly spent in the cause of human rights, liberal principles and universal philanthropy.
For bis arduous services during the revolution Washington took no compensation, and virtually paid about three-fourths of his own expenses. He only charged his actual disbursements, for each item of which he produced a written voucher. He made a book entry of every business transaction with as much system as if he had enjoyed the quiet of a counting-room. A fac simile of his journal is now before me, which has been politely furnished by Timothy Caldwell, Esq. of the city of Philadelphia, one of the few survivors of the times that tried men's souls."
The first entry is dated the 22nd of June, 1775, and marked No. 1. £239. It commences with the outfit of the commander-in-chief and his staff at Philadelphia, and the expenses of the journey to Cambridge, immediately after his appointment by Congress, amounting to £466 2s. 10d. lawful money. But £3 of this amount was drawn from government at that time. The balance was furnished from his own pocket and credit, having received from Thomas Miffin, Esq., £129 88. 2d. The account current which is before me runs through a period of eight years, at the end of which time a balance was due to him of £1972 98. 4d. His expenses for the eight years amounted to £16311 178. 1d. He received $104,364 paper money, after March 1780, and passed it to the credit of the United States at forty for one, agreeably to the scale of depreciation, for which he did not obtain one for a hundred, by reason of which a large proportion of his expenses were actually paid with his own private money, for which he refused any remuneration. His expenses during his presidential terms exceeded his salary over five thousand dollars a year, which he paid from his private funds.
Had I time and power to trace the fair lines of Washington's private worth and routine of life, I would present the picture of a man graced with native dignity, reducing all things around him to as perfect a system of order, economy, harmony and peace, as was ever devised by man. It should be chastened with sterling merit and magnanimity, and mellowed with benevolence and charity. It should be enlivened by the richest colours of virtue and consistency, and finished with the finest touches of a master's hand. I would crown it with an amaranthine bouquet, richer and sweeter than the epic or civic wreath that decked his brow in the public view of an admiring world. He was a pattern of all that was great and good—the widow's solace, the orphan's father, the bountiful benefactor, the faithful friend, the kind husband, the true patriot, the humble christian, the worthy citizen and the honest man.
With the exception of his appointment to preside over the American army in 1798, when France threatened an invasion, Washington was relieved from any further participation in public affairs. He continued to live at Vernon's sacred mount until the 14th of December, 1799, when his immortal spirit left its tenement of clay, soared aloft on angel's wings to realms of ceaseless bliss, there to receive a crown of unfading glory, as the reward of a spotless life spent in the service of his country and his God.
His body was deposited in the family tomb, where its ashes slumber in peace, amidst the groves of his loved retreat. * This hallowed spot is visited yearly by large numbers, who approach it with veneration, gratitude and awe. Foreigners are proud to say they have visited the tomb of Washington-all nations revere his memory, unborn millions will perpetuate his praise.
His history, like that of our nation, is without a parallel. Unblemished * Since writing this sketch I have been informed, that when the remains of Washington were placed in the sarcophagus prepared for their reception, in the autumn of 1837, his face retained its fleshy appearance and was but slightly changed-a fact as remarkable as the history of his life.
virtue marked his whole career, philanthropy his whole course, justice and integrity his every action. A calm resignation to the will of God, under the most trying circumstances and under every dispensation, added a brilliant lustre to all his amiable qualities. His course was not tarnished with bold strides of misguided ambition, or base attempts at self-aggrandizement. He was consistent to the last. His character, like a blazing luminary, outdazzles the surrounding stars, and illuminates, with
meridian splendour, the horizon of biography. His brilliant achievements were not stained with that unnecessary effusion of human blood which characterized the ambitious Cæsar, the conquering Alexander and the disappointed Bonaparte. His fame is beyond the reach of slander or the attacks of malice. He has left an example of human conduct worthy the contemplation and imitation of all who move in the private walks of life or figure on the stage of public action. His sacred memory will live through the rolling ages of time, until the wreck of worlds and the dissolution of nature shall close the drama of human action, Gabriel's dread clarion rend the vaulted tomb, awake the sleeping dead, and proclaim to astonished millions-TIME SHALL BE NO LONGER.
This distinguished name stands conspicuous upon the pages of the history of our country, and shines with peculiar brilliancy amidst the constellations of the revolution. Time and the critic's pen have not detracted from the lustre of its fame—the patriot delights to dwell upon the bright and bold career of PATRICK HENRY.
He was a native of Studley, Hanover county, Virginia, born on the 29th of May, 1736. His father was a highly respectable man, of Scotch descent; his mother was the sister of Judge Winston, who was justly celebrated as an eloquent and forcible orator.
During his childhood and youth Patrick Henry was remarkable for indolence and a love of recreation--consequently, he arrived at manhood with a limited education and unaccustomed to industry. His native talents were not developed, his mind was not cultivated, nor his genius expanded, until after he was a husband and a father. His friends endeavoured in vain to direct his course to a close application to business by setting him up in the mercantile line. In this he soon failed, preferring his fishing rod and gun to the business of his store, After finding himself a bankrupt, he concluded that the toils of life and the troubles of his pilgrimage were too much to bear alone, and accordingly married a wife, the daughter of a respectable planter, and became a tiller of the ground. Unacquainted with this new vocation. he soon found himself in the quagmire of adversity, and again tacked about and entered into the mercantile business. Still he was unfortunate, and poverty claimed him as one of her favourite children. An increasing family needed increased means of support, creditors be