Monday, February 22, 2016

The Birthday Of Our First President, George Washington

On February 22, 1732 - February 11 according to the Old Style calendar - a son, George, was born to Augustine Washington and his wife, Mary Ball Washington, on their plantation on Popes Creek in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He would grow up to become a soldier and statesman as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, a Founding Father of the United States, and the first President of the United States under the United States Constitution.

George Washington                                                            Gilbert Stuart, 1796

On his departure from office in 1796, he issued a letter to the American people which has become known as Washington's Farewell Address. Here is his conclusion:

. . . in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope, that my Country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.
Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views it in the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

If you are interested in reading more about the man, the University of Virginia's Papers of George Washington site is a fascinating source.


Stuart portrait copy, known as the Lansdowne Portrait hanging in the White House. The original is located in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Postcards are from the author's archive.

No comments: