Read CHAPTER IX - FRIENDS of The True George Washington [10th Ed.], free online book, by Paul Leicester Ford, on

The frequently repeated statement that Washington was a man without friends is not the least curious of the myths that have obtained general credence. That it should be asserted only goes to show how absolutely his private life has been neglected in the study of his public career.

In his will Washington left tokens of remembrance “to the acquaintances and friends of my juvenile years, Lawrence Washington and Robert Washington of Chotanck,” the latter presumably the “dear Robin” of his earliest letter, and these two very distant kinsmen, whom he had come to know while staying at Wakefield, are the earliest friends of whom any record exists. Contemporary with them was a “Dear Richard,” whose letters gave Washington “unspeakable pleasure, as I am convinced I am still in the memory of so worthy a friend, a friendship I shall ever be proud of increasing.”

Next in time came his intimacy with the Fairfaxes and Carlyles, which began with Washington’s visits to his brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon. About four miles from that place, at Belvoir, lived the Fairfaxes; and their kinspeople, the Carlyles, lived at Alexandria. Lawrence Washington had married Ann Fairfax, and through his influence his brother George was taken into the employment of Lord Fairfax, half as clerk and half as surveyor of his great tract of land, “the northern neck,” which he had obtained by marriage with a daughter of Lord Culpeper, who in turn had obtained it from the “Merrie Monarch” by means so disreputable that they are best left unstated. From that time till his death Washington corresponded with several of the family and was a constant visitor at Belvoir, as the Fairfaxes were at Mount Vernon.

In 1755 Washington told his brother that “to that family I am under many obligations, particularly the old gentleman,” but as time went on he more than paid the debt. In 1757 he acted as pallbearer to William Fairfax, and twelve years later his diary records, “Set off with Mrs. Washington and Patsey,... in order to stand for Mr. B. Fairfax’s third son, which I did together with my wife, Mr. Warner Washington and his lady.” For one of the family he obtained an army commission, and for another he undertook the care of his property during a visit to England; a care which unexpectedly lengthened, and was resigned only when Washington’s time became public property. Nor did that lessen his services or the Fairfaxes’ need of them, for in the Revolution that family were loyalists. Despite this, “the friendship,” Washington assured them, “which I ever professed and felt for you, met no diminution from the difference in our political sentiments,” and in 1778 he was able to secure the safety of Lord Fairfax from persecution at the hands of the Whigs, a service acknowledged by his lordship in the following words:

“There are times when favors conferred make a greater impression than at others, for, though I have received many, I hope I have not been unmindful of them; yet that, at a time your popularity was at the highest and mine at the lowest, and when it is so common for men’s resentments to run up high against those, who differ from them in opinion, you should act with your wonted kindness towards me, has affected me more than any favor I have received; and could not be believed by some in New York, it being above the run of common minds.”

In behalf of another member of the family, threatened with confiscation, he wrote to a member of the House of Delegates, “I hope, I trust, that no act of Legislation in the State of Virginia has affected, or can affect, the properly of this gentleman, otherwise than in common with that of every good and well disposed citizen of America,” and this was sufficient to put an end to the project At the close of the war he wrote to this absentee, “There was nothing wanting in [your] Letter to give compleat satisfaction to Mrs. Washington and myself but some expression to induce us to believe you would once more become our neighbors. Your house at Belvoir I am sorry to add is no more, but mine (which is enlarged since you saw it), is most sincerely and heartily at your service till you could rebuild it. As the path, after being closed by a long, arduous, and painful contest, is to use an Indian metaphor, now opened and made smooth, I shall please myself with the hope of hearing from you frequently; and till you forbid me to indulge the wish, I shall not despair of seeing you and Mrs. Fairfax once more the inhabitants of Belvoir, and greeting you both there the intimate companions of our old age, as you have been of our younger years.” And to another he left a token of remembrance in his will.

One of the most curious circle of friends was that composed of Indians. After his mission among them in 1753, Washington wrote to a tribe and signed himself “your friend and brother.” In a less general sense he requested an Indian agent to “recommend me kindly to Mononcatoocha and others; tell them how happy it would make Conotocarius to have an opportunity of taking them by the hand.” A little later he had this pleasure, and he wrote the governor, “the Indians are all around teasing and perplexing me for one thing or another, so that I scarce know what I write.” When Washington left the frontier this intercourse ceased, but he was not forgotten, for in descending the Ohio in his Western trip of 1770 a hunting party was met, and “in the person of Kiashuto I found an old acquaintance, he being one of the Indians that went [with me] to the French in 1753. He expressed satisfaction at seeing me, and treated us with great kindness, giving us a quarter of very fine buffalo. He insisted upon our spending that night with him, and, in order to retard us as little as possible moved his camp down the river.”

With his appointment to the Virginia regiment came military friends. From the earliest of these Van Braam, who had served under Lawrence Washington in the Carthagena expedition of 1742, and who had come to live at Mount Vernon Washington had previously taken lessons in fencing, and when appointed the bearer of a letter to the French commander on the Ohio he took Van Braam with him as interpreter. A little later, on receiving his majority, Washington appointed Van Braam his recruiting lieutenant, and recommended him to the governor for a captain’s commission on the grounds that he was “an experienced good officer.” To Van Braam fell the duty of translating the capitulation to the French at Fort Necessity, and to his reading was laid the blunder by which Washington signed a statement acknowledging himself as an “assassin.” Inconsequence he became the scapegoat of the expedition, was charged by the governor with being a “poltroon” and traitor, and was omitted from the Assembly’s vote of thanks and extra pay to the regiment. But Washington stood by him, and when himself burgess succeeded in getting this latter vote rescinded.

Another friend of the same period was the Chevalier Peyroney, whom Washington first made an ensign, and then urged the governor to advance him, promising that if the governor “should be pleased to indulge me in this request, I shall look upon it in a very particular light.” Peyroney was badly wounded at Fort Necessity and was furloughed, during which he wrote his commander, “I have made my particular Business to tray if any had some Bad intention against you here Below; But thank God I meet allowais with a good wish for you from evry Mouth each one entertining such Caracter of you as I have the honour to do myself.” He served again in the Braddock march, and in that fiasco, Washington wrote, “Captain Peyroney and all his officers down to a corporal, was killed.”

With Captain Stewart “a gentleman whose assiduity and military capacity are second to none in our Service” Washington was intimate enough to have Stewart apply in 1763 for four hundred pounds to aid him to purchase a commission, a sum Washington did not have at his disposal. But because of “a regard of that high nature that I could never see you uneasy without feeling a part and wishing to remove the cause,” Washington lent him three hundred pounds towards it, apparently without much return, for some years later he wrote to a friend that he was “very glad to learn that my friend Stewart was well when you left London. I have not had a letter from him these five years.” At the close of the Revolution he received a letter from Stewart containing “affectionate and flattering expressions,” which gave Washington “much pleasure,” as it “removed an apprehension I had long labored under, of your having taken your departure for the land of Spirits. How else could I account for a silence of 15 years. I shall always be happy to see you at Mt. Vernon.”

His friend William Ramsay “well known, well-esteemed, and of unblemished character” he appointed commissary, and long after, in 1769, wrote,

“Having once or twice of late heard you speak highly in praise of the Jersey College, as if you had a desire of sending your son William there ... I should be glad, if you have no other objection to it than what may arise from the expense, if you would send him there as soon as it is convenient, and depend on me for twenty-five pounds this currency a year for his support, so long as it may be necessary for the completion of his education. If I live to see the accomplishment of this term, the sum here stipulated shall he annually paid; and if I die in the mean while, this letter shall be obligatory upon my heirs, or executors, to do it according to the true intent and meaning hereof. No other return is expected, or wished, for this offer, than that you will accept it with the same freedom and good will, with which it is made, and that you may not even consider it in the light of an obligation or mention it as such; for, be assured, that from me it will never be known.”

The dearest friendship formed in these years was with the doctor of the regiment, James Craik, who in the course of his duties attended Washington in two serious illnesses, and when the war was ended settled near Mount Vernon. He was frequently a visitor there, and soon became the family medical attendant. When appointed General, Washington wrote, “tell Doctor Craik that I should be very glad to see him here if there was anything worth his acceptance; but the Massachusetts people suffer nothing to go by them that they lay hands upon.” In 1777 the General secured his appointment as deputy surgeon-general of the Middle Department, and three years later, when the hospital service was being reformed, he used his influence to have him retained. Craik was one of those instrumental in warning the commander-in-chief of the existence of the Conway Cabal, because “my attachment to your person is such, my friendship is so sincere, that every hint which has a tendency to hurt your honor, wounds me most sensibly.” The doctor was Washington’s companion, by invitation, in both his later trips to the Ohio, and his trust in him was so strong that he put under his care the two nephews whose charge he had assumed. In Washington’s ledger an entry tells of another piece of friendliness, to the effect, “Dr. James Craik, paid him, being a donation to his son, Geo. Washington Craik for his education L30,” and after graduating the young man for a time served as one of his private secretaries. After a serious illness in 1789, Washington wrote to the doctor, “persuaded as I am, that the case has been treated with skill, and with as much tenderness as the nature of the complaint would admit, yet I confess I often wished for your inspection of it,” and later he wrote, “if I should ever have occasion for a Physician or Surgeon, I should prefer my old Surgeon, Dr. Craik, who, from 40 years’ experience, is better qualified than a Dozen of them put together.” Craik was the first of the doctors to reach Washington’s bedside in his last illness, and when the dying man predicted his own death, “the Doctor pressed his hand but could not utter a word. He retired from the bedside and sat by the fire absorbed in grief.” In Washington’s will he left “to my compatriot in arms and old and intimate friend, Doctor Craik I give my Bureau (or as the Cabinet makers called it, Tambour Secretary) and the circular chair, an appendage of my study.”

The arrival of Braddock and his army at Alexandria brought a new circle of military friends. Washington “was very particularly noticed by that General, was taken into his family as an extra aid, offered a Captain’s commission by brevet (which was the highest grade he had it in his power to bestow) and had the compliment of several blank Ensigncies given him to dispose of to the Young Gentlemen of his acquaintance.” In this position he was treated “with much complaisance ... especially from the General,” which meant much, as Braddock seems to have had nothing but curses for nearly every one else, and the more as Washington and he “had frequent disputes,” which were “maintained with warmth on both sides, especially on his.” But the general, “though his enmities were strong,” in “his attachments” was “warm,” and grew to like and trust the young volunteer, and had he “survived his unfortunate defeat, I should have met with preferment,” having “his promise to that effect.” Washington was by the general when he was wounded in the lungs, lifted him into a covered cart, and “brought him over the first ford of the Monongahela,” into temporary safety. Three days later Braddock died of his wounds, bequeathing to Washington his favorite horse and his body-servant as tokens of his gratitude. Over him Washington read the funeral service, and it was left to him to see that “the poor general” was interred “with the honors of war.”

Even before public service had made him known, Washington was a friend and guest of many of the leading Virginians. Between 1747 and 1754 he visited the Carters of Shirley, Nomony, and Sabine Hall, the Lewises of Warner Hall, the Lees of Stratford, and the Byrds of Westover, and there was acquaintance at least with the Spotswoods, Fauntleroys, Corbins, Randolphs, Harrisons, Robinsons, Nicholases, and other prominent families. In fact, one friend wrote him, “your health and good fortune are the toast of every table,” and another that “the Council and Burgesses are mostly your friends,” and those two bodies included every Virginian of real influence. It was Richard Corbin who enclosed him his first commission, in a brief note, beginning “Dear George” and ending “your friend,” but in time relations became more or less strained, and Washington suspected him “of representing my character ... with ungentlemanly freedom.” With John Robinson, “Speaker” and Treasurer of Virginia, who wrote Washington in 1756, “our hopes, dear George, are all fixed on you,” a close correspondence was maintained, and when Washington complained of the governor’s course towards him Robinson replied, “I beg dear friend, that you will bear, so far as a man of honor ought, the discouragements and slights you have too often met with.” The son, Beverly Robinson, was a fellow-soldier, and, as already mentioned, was Washington’s host on his visit to New York in 1756. The Revolution interrupted the friendship, but it is alleged that Robinson (who was deep in the Arnold plot) made an appeal to the old-time relation in an endeavor to save Andre. The appeal was in vain, but auld lang syne had its influence, for the sons of Beverly, British officers taken prisoners in 1779, were promptly exchanged, so one of them asserted, “in consequence of the embers of friendship that still remained unextinguished in the breasts of my father and General Washington.”

Outside of his own colony, too, Washington made friends of many prominent families, with whom there was more or less interchange of hospitality. Before the Revolution there had been visiting or breaking of bread with the Galloways, Dulaneys, Carrolls, Calverts, Jenifers, Edens, Ringgolds, and Tilghmans of Maryland, the Penns, Cadwaladers, Morrises, Shippens, Aliens, Dickinsons, Chews, and Willings of Pennsylvania, and the De Lanceys and Bayards of New York.

Election to the Continental Congress strengthened some friendships and added new ones. With Benjamin Harrison he was already on terms of intimacy, and as long as the latter was in Congress he was the member most in the confidence of the General. Later they differed in politics, but Washington assured Harrison that “my friendship is not in the least lessened by the difference, which has taken place in our political sentiments, nor is my regard for you diminished by the part you have acted.” Joseph Jones and Patrick Henry both took his part against the Cabal, and the latter did him especial service in forwarding to him the famous anonymous letter, an act for which Washington felt “most grateful obligations.” Henry and Washington differed later in politics, and it was reported that the latter spoke disparagingly of the former, but this Washington denied, and not long after offered Henry the Secretaryship of State. Still later he made a personal appeal to him to come forward and combat the Virginia resolutions of 1798, an appeal to which Henry responded. The intimacy with Robert Morris was close, and, as already noted, Washington and his family were several times inmates of his home. Gouverneur Morris was one of his most trusted advisers, and, it is claimed, gave the casting vote which saved Washington from being arrested in 1778, when the Cabal was fiercest. While President, Washington sent him on a most important mission to Great Britain, and on its completion made him Minister to France. From that post the President was, at the request of France, compelled to recall him; but in doing so Washington wrote him a private letter assuring Morris that he “held the same place in my estimation” as ever, and signed himself “yours affectionately.” Charles Carroll of Carrollton was a partisan of the General, and very much disgusted a member of the Cabal by telling him “almost literally that anybody who displeased or did not admire the Commander-in-chief, ought not to be kept in the army.” And to Edward Rutledge Washington wrote, “I can but love and thank you, and I do it sincerely for your polite and friendly letter.... The sentiments contained in it are such as have uniformly flowed from your pen, and they are not the less flattering than pleasing to me.”

The command of the Continental army brought a new kind of friend, in the young aides of his staff. One of his earliest appointments was Joseph Reed, and, though he remained but five months in the service, a close friendship was formed. Almost weekly Washington wrote him in the most confidential and affectionate manner, and twice he appealed to Reed to take the position once more, in one instance adding that if “you are disposed to continue with me, I shall think myself too fortunate and happy to wish for a change.” Yet Washington none the less sent Reed congratulations on his election to the Pennsylvania Assembly, “although I consider it the coup-de-grace to my ever seeing you” again a “member of my family,” to help him he asked a friend to endeavor to get Reed legal business, and when all law business ceased and the would-be lawyer was without occupation or means of support, he used his influence to secure him the appointment of adjutant.

Reed kept him informed as to the news of Philadelphia, and wrote even such adverse criticism of the General as he heard, which Washington “gratefully” acknowledged. But one criticism Reed did not write was what he himself was saying of his general after the fall of Fort Washington, for which he blamed the commander-in-chief in a letter to Lee, and probably to others, for when later Reed and Arnold quarrelled, the latter boasted that “I can say I never basked in the sunshine of my general’s favor, and courted him to his face, when I was at the same time treating him with the greatest disrespect and villifying his character when absent. This is more than a ruling member of the Council of Pennsylvania can say.” Washington learned of this criticism in a letter from Lee to Reed, which was opened at head-quarters on the supposition that it was on army matters, and “with no idea of its being a private letter, much less the tendency of the correspondence,” as Washington explained in a letter to Reed, which had not a word of reproach for the double-dealing that must have cut the General keenly, coming as it did at a moment of misfortune and discouragement. Reed wrote a lame explanation and apology, and later sought to “regain” the “lost friendship” by an earnest appeal to Washington’s generosity. Nor did he appeal in vain, for the General replied that though “I felt myself hurt by a certain letter ... I was hurt ... because the same sentiments were not communicated immediately to myself.” The old-time intimacy was renewed, and how little his personal feeling had influenced Washington is shown in the fact that even previous to this peace-making he had secured for Reed the appointment to command one of the choicest brigades in the army. Perhaps the friendship was never quite as close, but in writing him Washington still signed himself “yours affectionately.”

John Laurens, appointed an aide in 1777, quickly endeared himself to Washington, and conceived the most ardent affection for his chief. The young officer of twenty-four used all his influence with his father (then President of Congress) against the Cabal, and in 1778, when Charles Lee was abusing the commander-in-chief, Laurens thought himself bound to resent it, “as well on account of the relation he bore to General Washington, as from motives of personal friendship and respect for his character,” and he challenged the defamer and put a bullet into him. To his commander he signed himself “with the greatest veneration and attachment your Excellency’s Faithful Aid,” and Washington in his letters always addressed him as “my dear Laurens.” After his death in battle, Washington wrote, in reply to an inquiry,

“You ask if the character of Colonel John Laurens, as drawn in the Independent Chronicle of 2d of December last, is just. I answer, that such parts of the drawing as have fallen under my observation, is literally so; and that it is my firm belief his merits and worth richly entitle him to the whole picture. No man possessed more of the amor patriae. In a word, he had not a fault, that I could discover, unless intrepidity bordering upon rashness could come under that denomination; and to this he was excited by the purest motives.”

Of another aide, Tench Tilghman, Washington said, “he has been a zealous servant and slave to the public, and a faithful assistant to me for near five years, great part of which time he refused to receive pay. Honor and gratitude interest me in his favor.” As an instance of this, the commander-in-chief gave to him the distinction of bearing to Congress the news of the surrender of Cornwallis, with the request to that body that Tilghman should be honored in some manner. And in acknowledging a letter Washington said, “I receive with great sensibility and pleasure your assurances of affection and regard. It would be but a renewal of what I have often repeated to you, that there are few men in the world to whom I am more attached by inclination than I am to you. With the Cause, I hope most devoutly hope there will be an end to my Military Service, when as our places of residence will not be far apart, I shall never be more happy than in your Company at Mt. Vernon. I shall always be glad to hear from, and keep up a correspondence with you.” When Tilghman died, Washington asserted that

“He had left as fair a reputation as ever belonged to a human character,” and to his father he wrote, “Of all the numerous acquaintances of your lately deceased son, & midst all the sorrowings that are mingled on that melancholy occasion, I may venture to assert that (excepting those of his nearest relatives) none could have felt his death with more regret than I did, because no one entertained a higher opinion of his worth, or had imbibed sentiments of greater friendship for him than I had done.... Midst all your grief, there is this consolation to be drawn; that while living, no man could be more esteemed, and since dead, none more lamented than Colo. Tilghman.”

To David Humphreys, a member of the staff, Washington gave the honor of carrying to Congress the standards captured at Yorktown, recommending him to the notice of that body for his “attention, fidelity, and good services.” This aide escorted Washington to Mount Vernon at the close of the Revolution, and was “the last officer belonging to the army” who parted from “the Commander-in-chief.” Shortly after, Humphreys returned to Mount Vernon, half as secretary and half as visitor and companion, and he alluded to this time in his poem of “Mount Vernon,” when he said,

“Twas mine, return’d from Europe’s courts
To share his thoughts, partake his sports.”

When Washington was accused of cruelty in the Asgill case, Humphreys published an account of the affair, completely vindicating his friend, for which he was warmly thanked. He was frequently urged to come to Mount Vernon, and Washington on one occasion lamented “the cause which has deprived us of your aid in the attack of Christmas pies,” and on another assured Humphreys of his “great pleasure [when] I received the intimation of your spending the winter under this Roof. The invitation was not less sincere, than the reception will be cordial. The only stipulations I shall contend for are, that in all things you shall do as you please I will do the same; and that no ceremony may be used or any restraint be imposed on any one.” Humphreys was visiting him when the notification of his election as President was received, and was the only person, except servants, who accompanied Washington to New York. Here he continued for a time to give his assistance, and was successively appointed Indian commissioner, informal agent to Spain, and finally Minister to Portugal. While holding this latter position Washington wrote to him, “When you shall think with the poet that ’the post of honor is a private station’ & may be inclined to enjoy yourself in my shades ... I can only tell you that you will meet with the same cordial reception at Mount Vernon that you have always experienced at that place,” and when Humphreys answered that his coming marriage made the visit impossible, Washington replied, “The desire of a companion in my latter days, in whom I could confide ... induced me to express too strongly ... the hope of having you as an inmate.” On the death of Washington, Humphreys published a poem expressing the deepest affection and admiration for “my friend.”

The longest and closest connection was that with Hamilton. This very young and obscure officer attracted Washington’s attention in the campaign of 1776, early in the next year was appointed to the staff, and quickly became so much a favorite that Washington spoke of him as “my boy.” Whatever friendliness this implied was not, however, reciprocated by Hamilton. After four years of service, he resigned, under circumstances to which he pledged Washington to secrecy, and then himself, in evident irritation, wrote as follows:

“Two days ago, the General and I passed each other on the stairs. He told me he wanted to speak to me. I answered that I would wait upon him immediately. I went below, and delivered Mr. Tilghman a letter to be sent to the commissary, containing an order of a pressing and interesting nature. Returning to the General, I was stopped on the way by the Marquis de Lafayette, and we conversed together about a minute on a matter of business. He can testify how impatient I was to get back, and that I left him in a manner which, but for our intimacy would have been more than abrupt. Instead of finding the General, as is usual, in his room, I met him at the head of the stairs, where, accosting me in an angry tone, ‘Colonel Hamilton,’ said he ’you have kept me waiting at the head of the stairs these ten minutes. I must tell you, sir, you treat me with disrespect.’ I replied without petulancy, but with decision: ’I am not conscious of it, sir; but since you have thought it necessary to tell me so, we part.’ ‘Very well, sir,’ said he, ‘if it be your choice,’ or something to this effect, and we separated. I sincerely believe my absence, which gave so much umbrage, did not last two minutes. In less than an hour after, Tilghman came to me in the General’s name, assuring me of his great confidence in my abilities, integrity, usefulness, etc, and of his desire, in a candid conversation, to heal a difference which could not have happened but in a moment of passion. I requested Mr Tilghman to tell him 1st. That I had taken my resolution in a manner not to be revoked ... Thus we stand ... Perhaps you may think I was precipitate in rejecting the overture made by the General to an accomodation. I assure you, my dear sir, it was not the effect of resentment; it was the deliberate result of maxims I had long formed for the government of my own conduct.... I believe you know the place I held in the General’s confidence and counsels, which will make more extraordinary to you to learn that for three years past I have felt no friendship for him and have professed none. The truth is, our dispositions are the opposites of each other, and the pride of my temper would not suffer me to profess what I did not feel. Indeed, when advances of this kind have been made to me on his part, they were received in a manner that showed at least that I had no desire to court them, and that I desired to stand rather upon a footing of military confidence than of private attachment.”

Had Washington been the man this letter described he would never have forgiven this treatment. On the contrary, only two months later, when compelled to refuse for military reasons a favor Hamilton asked, he said that “my principal concern arises from an apprehension that you will impute my refusal to your request to other motives.” On this refusal Hamilton enclosed his commission to Washington, but “Tilghman came to me in his name, pressed me to retain my commission, with an assurance that he would endeavor, by all means, to give me a command.” Later Washington did more than Hamilton himself had asked, when he gave him the leading of the storming party at Yorktown, a post envied by every officer in the army.

Apparently this generosity lessened Hamilton’s resentment, for a correspondence on public affairs was maintained from this time on, though Madison stated long after “that Hamilton often spoke disparagingly of Washington’s talents, particularly after the Revolution and at the first part of the presidentcy,” and Benjamin Rush confirms this by a note to the effect that “Hamilton often spoke with contempt of General Washington. He said that ... his heart was a stone.” The rumor of the ill feeling was turned to advantage by Hamilton’s political opponents in 1787, and compelled the former to appeal to Washington to save him from the injury the story was doing. In response Washington wrote a letter intended for public use, in which he said,

“As you say it is insinuated by some of your political adversaries, and may obtain credit, ’that you palmed yourself upon me, and was dismissed from my family,’ and call upon me to do you justice by a recital of the facts, I do therefore explicitly declare, that both charges are entirely unfounded. With respect to the first, I have no cause to believe, that you took a single step to accomplish, or had the most distant idea of receiving an appointment in my family till you were invited in it; and, with respect to the second, that your quitting it was altogether the effect of your own choice.”

With the appointment as Secretary of the Treasury warmer feelings were developed. Hamilton became the President’s most trusted official, and was tireless in the aid he gave his superior. Even after he left office he performed many services equivalent to official ones, for which Washington did “not know how to thank” him “sufficiently,” and the President leaned on his judgment to an otherwise unexampled extent. This service produced affection and respect, and in 1792 Washington wrote from Mount Vernon, “We have learnt ... that you have some thoughts of taking a trip this way. I felt pleasure at hearing it, and hope it is unnecessary to add, that it would be considerably increased by seeing you under this roof; for you may be assured of the sincere and affectionate regard of yours, &c.” and signed other letters “always and affectionately yours,” or “very affectionately,” while Hamilton reciprocated by sending “affectionate attachment.”

On being appointed lieutenant-general in 1798, Washington at once sought the aid of Hamilton for the highest position under him, assuring the Secretary of War that “of the abilities and fitness of the gentleman you have named for a high command in the provisional army, I think as you do, and that his services ought to be secured at almost any price.” To this the President, who hated Hamilton, objected, but Washington refused to take the command unless this wish was granted, and Adams had to give way. They stood in this relation when Washington died, and almost the last letter he penned was to this friend. On learning of the death, Hamilton wrote of “our beloved Commander-in-chief,”

“The very painful event ... filled my heart with bitterness. Perhaps no man in this community has equal cause with myself to deplore the loss. I have been much indebted to the kindness of the General, and he was an AEgis very essential to me. But regrets are unavailing. For great misfortunes it is the business of reason to seek consolation. The friends of General Washington have very noble ones. If virtue can secure happiness in another world, he is happy.”

Knox was the earliest army friend of those who rose to the rank of general, and was honored by Washington with absolute trust. After the war the two corresponded, and Knox expressed “unalterable affection” for the “thousand evidences of your friendship.” He was appointed Secretary of War in the first administration, and in taking command of the provisional army Washington secured his appointment as a major-general, and at this time asserted that, “with respect to General Knox I can say with truth there is no man in the United States with whom I have been in habits of greater intimacy, no one whom I have loved more sincerely nor any for whom I have had a greater friendship.”

Greene was perhaps the closest to Washington of all the generals, and their relations might be dwelt upon at much length. But the best evidence of friendship is in Washington’s treatment of a story involving his financial honesty, of which he said, “persuaded as I always have been of Genl Greene’s integrity and worth, I spurned those reports which tended to calumniate his conduct ... being perfectly convinced that whenever the matter should be investigated, his motives ... would appear pure and unimpeachable.” When on Greene’s death Washington heard that his family was left in embarrassed circumstances, he offered, if Mrs. Greene would “entrust my namesake G. Washington Greene to my care, I will give him as good an education as this country (I mean the United States) will afford, and will bring him up to either of the genteel professions that his frds. may chuse, or his own inclination shall lead him to pursue, at my own cost & expence.”

For “Light-horse Harry” Lee an affection more like that given to the youngsters of the staff was felt Long after the war was over, Lee began a letter to him “Dear General,” and then continued,

“Although the exalted station, which your love of us and our love of you has placed you in, calls for change in mode of address, yet I cannot so quickly relinquish the old manner. Your military rank holds its place in my mind, notwithstanding your civic glory; and, whenever I do abandon the title which used to distinguish you, I shall do it with awkwardness.... My reluctance to trespass a moment on your time would have operated to a further procrastination of my wishes, had I not been roused above every feeling of ceremony by the heart rending intelligence, received yesterday, that your life was despaired of. Had I had wings in the moment, I should have wafted myself to your bedside, only again to see the first of men; but alas! despairing as I was, from the account received, after the affliction of one day and night, I was made most happy by receiving a letter, now before me from New York, announcing the restoration of your health. May heaven preserve it!”

It was Lee who first warned Washington that Jefferson was slandering him in secret, and who kept him closely informed as to the political manuvres in Virginia. Washington intrusted to him the command of the army in the Whiskey Insurrection, and gave him an appointment in the provisional army. Lee was in Congress when the death of the great American was announced to that body, and it was he who coined the famous “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

As need hardly be said, however, the strongest affection among the general officers was that between Washington and Lafayette. In the advent of this young Frenchman the commander saw only “embarassment,” but he received “the young volunteer,” so Lafayette said, “in the most friendly manner,” invited him to reside in his house as a member of his military family, and as soon as he came to know him he recommended Congress to give him a command. As Lafayette became popular with the army, an endeavor was made by the Cabal to win him to their faction by bribing him with an appointment to lead an expedition against Canada, independent of control by Washington. Lafayette promptly declined the command, unless subject to the General, and furthermore he “braved the whole party (Cabal) and threw them into confusion by making them drink the health of their general.” At the battle of Monmouth Washington gave the command of the attacking party to Lafayette, and after the conflict the two, according to the latter, “passed the night lying on the same mantle, talking.” In the same way Washington distinguished him by giving him the command of the expedition to rescue Virginia from Cornwallis, and to his division was given the most honorable position at Yorktown. When the siege of that place was completed, Lafayette applied for leave of absence to spend the winter in France, and as he was on the point of sailing he received a personal letter from Washington, for “I owe it to friendship and to my affectionate regard for you my dear Marquis, not to let you leave this country without carrying fresh marks of my attachment to you,” and in his absence Washington wrote that a mutual friend who bore a letter “can tell you more forcibly, than I can express how much we all love and wish to embrace you.”

A reunion came in 1784, looked forward to by Lafayette with an eagerness of which he wrote, “by Sunday or Monday, I hope at last to be blessed with a sight of my dear General. There is no rest for me till I go to Mount Vernon. I long for the pleasure to embrace you, my dear General; and the happiness of being once more with you will be so great, that no words can ever express it. Adieu, my dear General; in a few days I shall be at Mount Vernon, and I do already feel delighted with so charming a prospect.” After this visit was over Washington wrote, “In the moment of our separation, upon the road as I travelled, and every hour since, I have felt all that love, respect and attachment for you, with which length of years, close connexion, and your merits have inspired me. I often asked myself, as our carriages separated, whether that was the last sight I ever should have of you?” And to this letter Lafayette replied,

“No my beloved General, our late parting was not by any means a last interview. My whole soul revolts at the idea; and could I harbour it an instant, indeed, my dear General, it would make me miserable. I well see you will never go to France. The inexpressible pleasure of embracing you in my own house, of welcoming you in a family where your name is adored, I do not much expect to experience; but to you I shall return, and, within the walls of Mount Vernon, we shall yet speak of olden times. My firm plan is to visit now and then my friend on this side of the Atlantic; and the most beloved of all friends I ever had, or ever shall have anywhere, is too strong an inducement for me to return to him, not to think that whenever it is possible I shall renew my so pleasing visits to Mount Vernon.... Adieu, adieu, my dear General. It is with inexpressible pain that I feel I am going to be severed from you by the Atlantic. Everything, that admiration, respect, gratitude, friendship, and fillial love, can inspire, is combined in my affectionate heart to devote me most tenderly to you. In your friendship I find a delight which words cannot express. Adieu, my dear General. It is not without emotion that I write this word, although I know I shall soon visit you again. Be attentive to your health. Let me hear from you every month. Adieu, adieu.”

The correspondence begged was maintained, but Lafayette complained that “To one who so tenderly loves you, who so happily enjoyed the times we have passed together, and who never, on any part of the globe, even in his own house, could feel himself so perfectly at home as in your family, it must be confessed that an irregular, lengthy correspondence is quite insufficient I beseech you, in the name of our friendship, of that paternal concern of yours for my happiness, not to miss any opportunity to let me hear from my dear General.”

One letter from Washington told Lafayette of his recovery from a serious illness, and Lafayette responded, “What could have been my feelings, had the news of your illness reached me before I knew my beloved General, my adopted father, was out of danger? I was struck at the idea of the situation you have been in, while I, uninformed and so distant from you, was anticipating the long-waited-for pleasure to hear from you, and the still more endearing prospect of visiting you and presenting you the tribute of a revolution, one of your first offsprings. For God’s sake, my dear General, take care of your health!”

Presently, as the French Revolution gathered force, the anxiety was reversed, Washington writing that “The lively interest which I take in your welfare, my dear Sir, keeps my mind in constant anxiety for your personal safety.” This fear was only too well founded, for shortly after Lafayette was a captive in an Austrian prison and his wife was appealing to her husband’s friend for help. Our ministers were told to do all they could to secure his liberty, and Washington wrote a personal letter to the Emperor of Austria. Before receiving her letter, on the first news of the “truly affecting” condition of “poor Madame Lafayette,” he had written to her his sympathy, and, supposing that money was needed, had deposited at Amsterdam two hundred guineas “subject to your orders.”

When she and her daughters joined her husband in prison, Lafayette’s son, and Washington’s godson, came to America; an arrival of which the godfather wrote that, “to express all the sensibility, which has been excited in my breast by the receipt of young Lafayette’s letter, from the recollection of his father’s merits, services, and sufferings, from my friendship for him, and from my wishes to become a friend and father to his son is unnecessary.” The lad became a member of the family, and a visitor at this time records that “I was particularly struck with the marks of affection which the General showed his pupil, his adopted son of Marquis de Lafayette. Seated opposite to him, he looked at him with pleasure, and listened to him with manifest interest.” With Washington he continued till the final release of his father, and a simple business note in Washington’s ledger serves to show both his delicacy and his generosity to the boy: “By Geo. W. Fayette, gave for the purpose of his getting himself such small articles of Clothing as he might not choose to ask for $100.” Another item in the accounts was three hundred dollars “to defray his exps. to France,” and by him Washington sent a line to his old friend, saying, “this letter I hope and expect will be presented to you by your son, who is highly deserving of such parents as you and your amiable lady.”

Long previous to this, too, a letter had been sent to Virginia Lafayette, couched in the following terms:

“Permit me to thank my dear little correspondent for the favor of her letter of the 18 of June last, and to impress her with the idea of the pleasure I shall derive from a continuance of them. Her papa is restored to her with all the good health, paternal affection, and honors, which her tender heart could wish. He will carry a kiss to her from me (which might be more agreeable from a pretty boy), and give her assurances of the affectionate regard with which I have the pleasure of being her well-wisher,

George Washington.”

In this connection it is worth glancing at Washington’s relations with children, the more that it has been frequently asserted that he had no liking for them. As already shown, at different times he adopted or assumed the expenses and charge of not less than nine of the children of his kith and kin, and to his relations with children he seldom wrote a letter without a line about the “little ones.” His kindnesses to the sons of Ramsay, Craik, Greene, and Lafayette have already been noticed. Furthermore, whenever death or illness came among the children of his friends there was sympathy expressed. Dumas relates of his visit to Providence with Washington, that “we arrived there at night; the whole of the population had assembled from the suburbs; we were surrounded by a crowd of children carrying torches, reiterating the acclamations of the citizens; all were eager to approach the person of him whom they called their father, and pressed so closely around us that they hindered us from proceeding. General Washington was much affected, stopped a few moments, and, pressing my hand, said, ’We may be beaten by the English; it is the chance of war; but behold an army which they can never conquer,’”

In his journey through New England, not being able to get lodgings at an inn, Washington spent a night in a private house, and when all payment was refused, he wrote his host from his next stopping-place,

“Being informed that you have given my name to one of your sons, and called another after Mrs. Washington’s family, and being moreover very much pleased with the modest and innocent looks of your two daughters, Patty and Polly, I do for these reasons send each of these girls a piece of chintz; and to Patty, who bears the name of Mrs. Washington, and who waited upon us more than Polly did, I send five guineas, with which she may buy herself any little ornaments she may want, or she may dispose of them in any other manner more agreeable to herself. As I do not give these things with a view to have it talked of, or even of its being known, the less there is said about the matter the better you will please me; but, that I may be sure the chintz and money have got safe to hand, let Patty, who I dare say is equal to it, write me a line informing me thereof, directed to ‘The President of the United States at New York.’”

Miss Stuart relates that “One morning while Mr. Washington was sitting for his picture, a little brother of mine ran into the room, when my father thinking it would annoy the General, told him he must leave; but the General took him upon his knee, held him for some time, and had quite a little chat with him, and, in fact, they seemed to be pleased with each other. My brother remembered with pride, as long as he lived, that Washington had talked with him.”

For the son of his secretary, Lear, there seems to have been great fondness, and in one instance the father was told that “It gave Mrs. Washington, myself and all who know him, sincere pleasure to hear that our little favorite had arrived safe, and was in good health at Portsmouth. We sincerely wish him a long continuance of the latter that he may always be as charming and promising as he now is and that he may live to be a comfort and blessing to you, and an ornament to his country. As a testimony of my affection for him I send him a ticket in the lottery which is now drawing in the Federal City; and if it should be his fortune to draw the hotel it will add to the pleasure I have in giving it.” A second letter condoled with “little Lincoln,” because owing to the collapse of the lottery the “poor little fellow” will not even get enough to “build him a baby house.”

For the father, Tobias Lear, who came into his employment in 1786 and remained with him till his death, Washington felt the greatest affection and trust. It was he who sent for the doctor in the beginning of the last illness, and he was in the sickroom most of the time. Holding Washington’s hand, he received from him his last orders, and later when Washington “appeared to be in great pain and distress from the difficulty of breathing ... I lay upon the bed and endeavored to raise him, and turn him with as much ease as possible. He appeared penetrated with gratitude for my attentions, and often said ‘I am afraid I shall fatigue you too much.’” Still later Lear “aided him all in my power, and was gratified in believing he felt it; for he would look upon me with eyes speaking gratitude, but unable to utter a word without great distress.” At the final moment Lear took his hand “and laid it upon his breast.” When all was over, “I kissed the cold hand, laid it down, and was ... lost in profound grief.”