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Washington's resistance to the colonial deference for foreigners has already been pointed out, but this second burst of opposition, coming at this especial time, deserves renewed attention. The splendid fleet and well-equipped troops of our ally were actually at our gates, and everybody was in a paroxysm of perfectly natural gratitude. To the colonial mind, steeped in colonial habits of thought, the foreigner at this particular juncture appeared more than ever to be a splendid and superior being. But he did not in the least confuse or sway the cool judgment that guided the destinies of the Revolution. Let us consider well the pregnant sentences just quoted, and the letters from which they are taken. They deserve it, for they throw a strong light on a side of Washington's mind and character too little appreciated. One hears it said not infrequently, it has been argued even in print with some solemnity, that Washington was, no doubt, a great man and rightly a national hero, but that he was not an American. It will be necessary to recur to this charge again and consider it at some length. It is sufficient at this point to see how it tallies with his conduct in a single matter, which was a very perfect test of the national and American quality of the man. We can get at the truth by contrasting him with his own contemporaries, the only fair comparison, for he was a man and an American of his own time and not of the present day, which is a point his critics overlook.
Where he differed from the men of his own time
was in the fact that he rose to a breadth and height of Americanism and of national feeling which no other man of that day touched at all. Nothing is more intense than the conservatism of mental habits, and although it requires now an effort to realize it, it should not be forgotten that in every habit of thought the inhabitants of the thirteen colonies were wholly colonial. If this is properly appreciated we can understand the mental breadth and vigor which enabled Washington to shake off at once all past habits and become an independent leader of an independent people. He felt to the very core of his being the need of national selfrespect and national dignity. To him, as the chief of the armies and the head of the Revolution, all men, no matter what tongue they spake or what country they came from, were to be dealt with on a footing of simple equality, and treated according to their merits. There was to him no glamour in the fact that this man was a Frenchman and that an Englishman. His own personal pride extended to his people, and he bowed to no national superiority anywhere. Hamilton was national throughout, but he was born outside the thirteen colonies, and knew his fellow-citizens only as Americans. Franklin was national by the force of his own commanding genius. John Adams grew to the same conception, so far as our relations to other nations were concerned. But beyond these three we may look far and closely before we find another among all the really great men of the time who freed himself wholly from the superstition of the colonist about the nations of Europe. When Washington drew his sword beneath the Cambridge elm he stood forth as the first American, the best type of man that the New World could produce, with no provincial taint upon him, and no shadow of the colonial past clouding his path. It was this great quality that gave the struggle which he led a character it would never have attained without a leader so constituted. Had he been merely a colonial Englishman, had he not risen at once to the conception of an American nation, the world would have looked at us with very different eyes. It was the splendid dignity of the man, quite as much as his fighting capacity, which impressed Europe. Kings and ministers, looking on dispassionately, soon realized that here was a really considerable man, no ordinary agitator or revolutionist, but a great man on a great stage with great conceptions. England, indeed, talked about a militia colonel, but this chatter disappeared in the smoke of Trenton, and even England came to look upon him as the all-powerful spirit of the Revolution. Dull men and colonial squires do not grasp a great idea and carry it into action on the world's stage in a few months. To stand forward at the head of raw armies and of a colonial people as a national leader, calm, dignified, and far-seeing, requires not only character, but intellect of the highest and strongest kind. Now that we have come as a people, after more than a century's struggle, to the national feeling which Washington compassed in a moment, it is well to consider that single achievement and to meditate on its meaning, whether in estimating him, or in gauging what he was to the American people when they came into existence. Let us take another instance of the same quality, shown also in the winter of 1778. Congress had from the beginning a longing to conquer Canada, which was a wholly natural and entirely laudable desire, for conquest is always more interesting than defence. Washington, on the other hand, after the first complete failure, which was so nearly a success in the then undefended and unsuspicious country, gave up pretty thoroughly all ideas of attacking Canada again, and opposed the various plans of Congress in that direction. When he had a life-and-death struggle to get together and subsist enough men to protect their own firesides, he had ample reason to know that invasions of Canada were hopeless. Indeed, not much active opposition from the commander-in-chief was needed to dispose of the Canadian schemes, for facts settled them as fast as they arose. When the cabal got up its Canadian expedition, it consisted of Lafayette, and penetrated no farther than Albany. So Washington merely kept his eye watchfully on Canada, and argued against expeditions thither, until this winter of 1778, when something quite new in that direction came up. Lafayette's imagination had been fired by the notion of conquering Canada. His idea was to get succors from France for this especial purpose, and with them and American aid to achieve the conquest. Congress was impressed and pleased by the scheme, and sent a report upon it to Franklin, to communicate to the French court, but Washington, when he heard of the plan, took a very different view. He sent at once a long despatch to Congress, urging every possible objection to the proposed campaign, on the ground of its utter impracticability, and with this official letter, which was necessarily confined to the military side of the question, went another addressed to President Laurens personally, which contained the deeper reasons of his opposition. He said that there was an objection not touched upon in his public letter, which was absolutely insurmountable. This was the introduction of French troops into Canada to take possession of the capital, in the midst of a people of their own race and religion, and but recently severed from them. He pointed out the enormous advantages which would accrue to France from the possession of Canada, such as independent posts, control of the Indians, and the Newfoundland trade. “France. . . possessed of New Orleans on our right, Canada on our left, and seconded by the numerous tribes of Indians in our rear, . . . would, it is much to be apprehended, have it in her power to give law to these States.” He went on to show that France might easily find an excuse for