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WASHINGTON, GEORGE
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[ Also see America Democracy Government Patriotism Presidency Revolution Statesmanship War ]

The defender of his country--the founder of liberty,
  The friend of man,
    History and tradition are explored in vain
      For a parallel to his character.
        In the annals of modern greatness
          He stands alone;
            And the noblest names of antiquity
              Lose their lustre in his presence.
                Born the benefactor of mankind,
                  He united all the greatness necessary
                    To an illustrious career.
                      Nature made him great,
                        He made himself virtuous.
      - Unattributed Author,
        part of an epitaph found on the back of a portrait of Washington sent to his family from England, see Werner's "Readings", no. 49, p. 77

Every countenance seeked to say, "Long live George Washington, the Father of the People."
      - Unattributed Author, Pennsylvania Packet,
        Apr. 21, 1789, after the election of Washington

Our common Father and Deliverer, to whose prudence, wisdom and valour we owe our Peace, Liberty and Safety, now leads and directs in the great councils of the nation . . . and now we celebrate an independent Government--an original Constitution! an independent Legislature, at the head of which we this day celebrate, The Father of his Country--We celebrate Washington! We celebrate an independent Empire!
      - Unattributed Author, Pennsylvania Packet,
        July 9, 1789, p. 284

More than all, and above all, Washington was master of himself. If there be one quality more than another in his character which may exercise a useful control over the men of the present hour, it is the total disregard of self when in the most elevated positions for influence and example.
      - Charles Francis Adams

But perhaps he excels all the great men that ever lived in the steadiness of his adherence to his maxims of life, and in the uniformity of his conduct to the same maxims. These maxims, though wise, were yet not so remarkable for their wisdom as for their authority over his life; for if there were any errors in his judgment (and he discovered as few as any man), we know of no blemishes in his virtue. He was the patriot without reproach; he loved his country enough to hold his success in serving it an ample recompense. Thus far self-love and love of country coincided; but when his country needed sacrifices few could, or perhaps would, be willing to make, he did not even hesitate. This was virtue its most exalted character.
      - Fisher Ames

God be thanked that in General Washington we have the picture of one such man, set where it cannot be hid, in the glorious frame of our country's early history, as an example to the Americans of to-day! May it find no small number who, living by the same great principles, may in no long time work in our land a moral revolution--a regeneration into a purer, sweeter, and nobler life.
      - James Thompson Bixby

Simple and brave, his faith awoke
  Ploughmen to struggle with their fate;
    Armies won battles when he spoke,
      And out of Chaos sprang the state.
      - Robert Bridges ("Droch"), Washington

The test of the progress of mankind will be in the appreciation of the character of Washington.
      - Lord Henry Peter Brougham (Brougham and vaux)

While Washington's a watchword, such as ne'er
  Shall sink while there's an echo left to air.
      - Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron),
        Age of Bronze (st. 5)

Where may the wearied eye repose,
  When gazing on the Great;
    Where neither guilty glory glows,
      Nor despicable state?
        Yes--one the first, the last, the best,
          The Cincinnatus of the West
            Whom envy dared not hate,
              Bequeathed the name of Washington
                To make man blush; there was but one.
      - Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron),
        Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte,
        referring to George Washington

There is virtue in the look of a great man [after meeting Washington]. I felt myself warmed and refreshed by it during the rest of my life.
      - Francois August Rene de Chateaubriand, Vicomte de Chateaubriand

There's a star in the West that shall never go down
  Till the records of Valour decay,
    We must worship its light though it is not our own,
      For liberty burst in its ray.
        Shall the name of a Washington ever be heard
          By a freeman, and thrill not his breast?
            Is there one out of bondage that hails not the word,
              As a Bethlehem Star of the West?
      - Eliza Cook, There's a Star in the West

A true son of nature was George Washington--of nature in her brightest intelligence and noblest mold; and the difficulty, if such there be, in comprehending him, is only that of reviewing from a single standpoint the vast procession of those civil and military achievements which filled nearly half a century of his life, and in realizing the magnitude of those qualities which were requisite to their performance--the difficulty of fashioning in our minds a pedestal broad enough to bear the towering figure, whose greatness is diminished by nothing but the perfection of its proportions.
      - John Warwick Daniel

Conquerors who have stretched your scepters over boundless territories; founders of empires who have held your dominions in the reign of law; reformers who have cried aloud in the wilderness of oppression; teachers who have striven to cast down false doctrine, heresy, and schism; statesmen whose brains have throbbed with mighty plans for the amelioration of human society; scar-crowned vikings of the sea, illustrious heroes of the land, who have borne the standards of siege and battle, come forth in bright array from your glorious fanes, and would ye be measured by the measure of his stature? Behold you not in him a more illustrious and more venerable presence? Statesman, soldier, patriot, sage, reformer of creeds, teacher of truth and justice, achiever and preserver of liberty, the first of men, founder and savior of his country, father of his people--this is he, solitary and unapproachable in his grandeur! Oh, felicious Providence that gave to America our Washington!
      - John Warwick Daniel

Encompassed by the inviolate seas, stands to-day the American Republic which he founded--a freer, Greater Britain--uplifted above the powers and principalities of the earth, even as his monument is uplifted over roof and dome and spire of the multitudinous city. Long live the Republic of Washington! Respected by mankind, beloved by all its sons, long may it be the asylum of the poor and oppressed of all lands and religions--long may it be the citadel of that Liberty which writes beneath the eagle's folded wings, "We will sell to no man, we will deny to no man, right and justice." Long live the United States of America! Filled with the free, magnanimous spirit, crowned by the wisdom, blessed by the moderation, hovered over by the guardian angel of Washington's example.
      - John Warwick Daniel

Grand and manifold as were its phases, there is yet no difficulty in understanding the character of Washington. He was no Veiled Prophet. He never acted a part. Simple, natural, and unaffected, his life lies before us--a fair and open manuscript. He disdained the arts which wrap power in mystery in order to magnify it. He practised the profound diplomacy of truthful speech the consummate tact of direct attention. Looking ever to the All-Wise Disposer of events, he relied on that Providence which helps men by giving them high hearts and hopes to help themselves with the means which their Creator has put at their service. There was no infirmity in his conduct over which charity must fling its veil; no taint of selfishness from which purity averts her gaze; no dark recess of intrigue that must be lit up with colored panegyric; no subterranean passage to be trod in trembling, lest there be stirred the ghost of a buried crime.
      - John Warwick Daniel

He stands the noblest leader who ever was entrusted with his country's life. His patience under provocation, his calmness in danger, and lofty courage when all others despaired, his prudent delays when delay was best, and his quick and resistless blows when action was possible, his magnanimity to defamers and generosity to his foes, his ambition for his country and unselfishness for himself, his sole desire of freedom and independence for America, and his only wish to return after victory to private life, have all combined to make him, by the unanimous judgment of the world, the foremost figure of history.
      - Chauncey M. Depew

When Washington declined a military escort on the occasion of his inauguration [1789], he said, "I require no guard but the affections of the people."
      - Edward Everett

The character, the counsels, and example of our Washington . . . they will guide us through the doubts and difficulties that beset us; they will guide our children and our children's children in the paths of prosperity and peace, while America shall hold her place in the family of nations.
      - Edward Everett,
        Speech--Washington Abroad and at Home

Illustrious man! deriving honor less from the splendor of his situation than from the dignity of his mind.
      - Charles James Fox

It must, indeed, create astonishment that, placed in circumstances so critical, and filling a station so conspicuous, the character of Washington should not once have been called in question; that he should, in no instance, have been accused either of improper indolence or of mean submission, in his transactions with foreign nations. It has been reserved for him to run the race of glory without experiencing the smallest interruption to the brilliancy of his career. The breath of censure has not dared to impeach the purity of his conduct, nor the eye of envy to raise its malignant glance to the elevation of his virtues. Such has been the transcendent merit and the unparalleled fate of this illustrious man!
      - Charles James Fox,
        in the British Parliament, 1794

Here you would know, and enjoy, what prosperity will way of Washington. For a thousand leagues have nearly the same effect with a thousand years.
      - Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Washington

O Washington! thrice glorious name,
  What due rewards can man decree--
    Empires are far below thy aim,
      And scepters have no charms for thee;
        Virtue alone has your regards,
          And she must be your great reward.
      - Philip Morin Freneau,
        Washington's Arrival in Philadelphia

Since ancient Time began,
  Ever on some great soul God laid an infinite burden--
    The weight of all this world, the hopes of man,
      Conflict and pain, and fame immortal are his guerdon.
      - Richard Watson Gilder, Washington,
        speech at Trenton

The two greatest men of modern times are William III. and Washington.
      - Henry Grattan


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