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the drum-beat of the great democratic march had not then sounded. In the northern colonies it was never strong, and in New England it was especially weak, for the governments and people there were essentially democratic, although they hardly recognized it themselves. In Virginia and the southern colonies, on the other hand, there was a vigorous aristocracy resting on the permanent foundation of slavery. Where slaves are there must be masters, and where there are masters there are aristocrats; but it was an American and not an English aristocracy. "Lineage and family had weight in the south as in the north, but that which put a man undeniably in the ruling class was the ownership of black slaves and the possession of a white skin. This aristocracy lasted with its faults and its virtues until it perished in the shock of civil war, when its foundation of human slavery was torn from under it. From the slave-holding aristocracy of Virginia came, with the exception of Patrick Henry, all the great men of that State who did so much for American freedom, and who rendered such imperishable service to the republic in law, in politics, and in war. From this aristocracy came Marshall, and Mason, and Madison, the Lees, the Randolphs, the Harrisons, and the rest. From it came also Thomas Jefferson, the hero of American democracy; and to it was added Patrick Henry, not by lineage or slave-holding, but by virtue of his brilliant abilities, and because he, too, was an aristocrat by the immutable division of race. It
was 'this aristocracy into which Washington was born, and amid which he was brought up. To say that it colored his feelings and habits is simply to say that he was human, but to urge that it made him un-American is to exclude at once from the ranks of Americans all the great men given to the country by the SouthWashington, in fact, was less affected by his surroundings, and rose above them more quickly, than any other man of his day, because he was the greatest man of his time, with a splendid breadth of vision.
When he first went among the New England troops at the siege of Boston, the rough, democratic ways of the people jarred upon him, and offended especially his military instincts, for he was not only a Virginian but he was a great soldier, and military discipline is essentially aristocratic. These volunteer soldiers, called together from the plough and the fishing-smack, were free and independent men, unaccustomed to any rule but their own, and they had still to learn the first rudiments of military service. To Washington, soldiers who elected and deposed their officers, and who went home when they felt that they had a right to do so, seemed well-nigh useless and quite incomprehensible. They angered him and tried his patience almost beyond endurance, and he spoke of them at the outset in harsh terms by no means wholly unwarranted. But they were part of his problem, and he studied them. He was a soldier, but not an aristocrat wrapped up in immutable prejudices,
and he learned to know these men, and they came to love, obey, and follow him with an intelligent devotion far better than anything born of mere discipline. Before the year was out, he wrote to Lund Washington praising the New England troops in the highest terms, and at the close of the war he said that practically the whole army then was composed of New England soldiers. They stayed by him to the end, and as they were steadfast in war so they remained in peace. He trusted and confided in New England, and her sturdy demo cracy gave him a loyal and unflinching support to the day of his death.
This openness of mind and superiority to prejudice were American in the truest and best: sense; but Washington showed the same qualities in private life and toward individuals which he displayed in regard to communities. He was free, of course, from the cheap claptrap which abuses the name of democracy by saying that birth, breeding, and education are undemocratic, and therefore to be reckoned against a man. He valued these qualities rightly, but he looked to see what a man was and not who he was, which is true democracy. The two men who were perhaps nearest to his affections were Knox and Hamilton. One was a Bostor bookseller, who rose to distinction by bravery aná good service, and the other was a young adventurer from the West Indies, without either family or money at his back. It was the same with much humbler persons. He never failed, on his way to
Philadelphia, to stop at Wilmington and have a chat with one Captain O'Flinn, who kept a tavern and had been a Revolutionary soldier; and this was but a single instance among many of like character. Any soldier of the Revolution was always sure of a welcome at the hands of his old commander. Eminent statesmen, especially of the opposition, often found his manner cold, but no old soldier ever complained of it, no servant ever left him, and the country people about Mount Vernon loved him as a neighbor and friend, and not as the distant great man of the army and the presidency.
He believed thoroughly in popular government. One does not find in his letters the bitter references to democracy and to the populace which can be discovered in the writings of so many of his party friends, legacies of pre-revolutionary ideas inflamed by hatred of Parisian mobs. He always spoke of the people at large with a simple respect, because he knew that the future of the United States was in their hands and not in that of any class, and because he believed that they would fulfill their mission. The French Revolution never carried him away, and when it bred anarchy and bloodshed he became hostile to French influence, because license and disorder were above all things hateful to him. Yet he did not lose his balance in the other direction, as was the case with so many of his friends. He resisted and opposed French ideas and French democracy, so admired and so loudly preached by Jefferson and his followers,
because he esteemed them perilous to the country. But there is not a word to indicate that he did not think that such dangers would be finally overcome, even if at the cost of much suffering, by the sane sense and ingrained conservatism of the American people. Other men talked more noisily about the people, but no one trusted them in the best sense. more than Washington, and his only fear was that evils might come from their being misled by false lights.
Once more, what is it to be an American? Put.. ting aside all the outer shows of dress and manners, social customs and physical peculiarities, is it not to believe in America and in the American people? Is it not to have an abiding and moving faith in the future and in the destiny of America ? thing above and beyond the patriotism and love which every man whose soul is not dead within him feels for the land of his birth? Is it not to be national and not sectional, independent and not colonial? Is it not to have a high conception of what this great new country should be, and to follow out that ideal with loyalty and truth?
Has any man in our history fulfilled these conditions more perfectly and completely than George Washington? Has any man ever lived who served the American people more faithfully, or with a higher and truer conception of the destiny and possibilities of the country? Born of an old and distinguished family, he found himself, when a boy just out of school, dependent on his mother, and