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writing about politicians. The maze of American statecraft is far too distracting to a foreigner to be explained in a few paragraphs; and the political events of each Presidency belong rather to the history of the nation than to the life of the President.
Some knowledge, however, of the general system and working of the Constitution is necessary, in order to follow intelligently the political promotion of the Presidents. A brief sketch of the Constitution is therefore given; and although it is placed at the end of the book, it perhaps would make the best introduction to all or any of the lives it follows.
ON O hereditary dynasty of monarchs ever had a founder SANZ of prouder merit than George Washington, first
A President of the United States of North America. Famous alike as a general, a politician, and a patriot, in each department of life he displayed a rare virtue and magnanimity. Never was there braver general; never was there more disinterested politician ; never purer patriot. In the field, with undisciplined, half-clad troops, he never for a moment lost hope till victory crowned his arms ; in the President's chair he held clear and undistorted views of the right, and strove to maintain a firm and equal balance betwixt contending parties. Invested by his country with overwhelming power, he used it with single-hearted loyalty for his country's good; when he had done all, he felt that he had done but that which it was his duty to do; and, as a humble and unprofitable servant, he was content to return to the private station whence he had come. Many men have been first in war; many have been first in peace; and many have been first in the hearts of their fellow-citizens,—but few have, like George Washington, been first in all. He needs no monument so long as the
great western Republic endures; for, if the Machiavelian maxim be true, as quoted by Bacon, that states are rarely either formed or reformed except by one man, it is George Washington who may best claim to have formed that mighty state, whose zenith is still in the future.
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, in an old-fashioned farm-house in Westmoreland County, Virginia. It was situated on Bridge's Creek, and commanded a fine view; but the scenery could have had but little influence on the child, for soon after his birth the family removed to another property on the banks of the Rappahannock, opposite Fredericksburg in Stafford County. The Washingtons were a good old English stock, with an ancestry that can be traced back to the twelfth century, under the forms De Wessyngton, Wassington, Washington. The branch whence the future President sprang were strong Royalists, and, under Cromwell's rule, two members of the family at least, John and Andrew, migrated to Virginia, where they arrived in 1657. They purchased lands there, and became esteemed members of the aristocratic society in the Cavalier and Anglican colony. John's grandson, Augustine, was born in 1694, and married, in 1715, Miss Jane Butler, by whom he had four children, of whom two died in childhood. In 1730, Augustine married the beautiful and accomplished Mary Ball, and by her he was the father of four sons and two daughters. The eldest son of the second marriage is the subject of this sketch. Washington was thus born in a much higher social sphere than most of those who have succeeded him as President; and, though this fact undoubtedly made it easier for him to obtain a footing on the ladder that leads to success, it enhances our respect for the virtue that led him to choose his independent