Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. II., Chapter VIII.







Journey from Annapolis to Washington. – Profusion of Gates. – Queen Anne and its Decline. – First View of the Capitol. – Rainbow at Noon. – The Federal City, Capitol, and Congress Library. – The National Institute. – The Widow of General Alexander Hamilton. – Washington’s Camp Chest. – Washington’s Letter to Dr. Cochran. – Pomp of Ancient Generals. – "The Sword and the Staff." – Revolutionary Relics. – Franklin’s Press. – History of its Importation to America. – Character of the Press. – Franklin’s Remarks in 1768. – Peale’s Picture of Washington. – Its History. – The Senate and House of Representatives. – Greenough’s Statue of Washington. – The Rotunda and its Contents. – Description of Greenough’s Statue. – Tuckerman’s Poem. – A Chippewa’s Speech. – Persico’s Group. – Tripoli Monument. – President Polk. – Arlington House. – Mr. Custis and the "Washington Treasures." – Alexandria. – Its Museum. – The Hessian Flag captured at Trenton. – Anecdote of Washington. – Washington’s Bier, and other Relics. – Departure for Mount Vernon. – The Mansion. – Approach to Mount Vernon. – The Library and its Associations. – Key of the Bastile. – Destruction of that Prison. – Pictures at Mount Vernon. – Chimney-piece. – Monumental Eulogy. – The Old Vault of the Washington Family. – Attempt to steal the Remains of Washington. – The New Tomb. – Sarcophagi of Washington and his Lady. – Tomb of Lady Washington. – Narrative of the Re-entombing of Washington’s Remains. – Their Appearance. – Departure from Mount Vernon. – Pohick Church. – Occoquan and its Reminiscences. – Dunmore’s Repulse at Occoquan. – Visit to Pohick Church. – Its dilapidated Condition. – Worship there. – Rev. Mason L. Weems. – Washington’s Pew. – A Swallow’s Nest. – Location of the Church. – Vestrymen. – A curious Document. – Last of Braddock’s Men. – Return to Washington. – Thunder-shower in December. – Aquia Creek. – Almost a Serious Accident. – Potomac Church. – The Rappahannock. – Fredericksburg. – Washington’s Birth-place. – First Monumental Stone. – Notables of Westmoreland. – Washington’s Birth-place. – His Ancestors. – Arms and Monuments. – First Monumental Stone to the Memory of Washington. – Virginia Residence of the Washington Family. – Early Life of General Washington. – Death of his Brother Laurence. – The Washington Farm. – Residence of the Mother of Washington. – His early Military Career. – Washington’s last Interview with his Mother. – Her Death, and unfinished Monument. – Corner-stone laid by President Jackson. – The unfinished Obelisk for the Tomb of Washington’s Mother. – Departure from Fredericksburg. – General Mercer’s Son. – The Wrong Road. – Pamunkey River. – Hanover Court House. – The old Tavern. – Anecdote. – Early Years of Patrick Henry. – The "Parson’s Cause." – His Début as an Orator, described by Wirt. – New Castle. – Road from Hanover to Richmond. – Birth-place of Henry Clay. – Virginia Market-wagons.


"How lovely all,
How calmly beautiful! Long shadows fall
More darkly o’er the wave as day declines,
Yet from the west a deeper glory shines,
While every crested hill and rocky height
Each moment varies in the kindling light
To some new form of beauty – changing through
All shades and colors of the rainbow’s hue,
‘The last still loveliest,’ till the gorgeous day
Melts in a flood of golden light away,
And all is o’er." – SARAH HELEN WHITMAN.


Toward the decline of a brilliant afternoon, I left Annapolis for Washington City. The air was as balmy as spring; "December as pleasant as May." The west was glowing with radiant beauty at sunsetting when I crossed the long bridge over the South River, and quaffed a cup of cold water from a bubbling spring at the toll-house on the southern side. The low, sandy country was exchanged for a region more rolling and diversified; and my ride during the early evening, with a half moon and brilliant stars casting down their mild effulgence, would have been delightful, but for the provoking obstructions which a lack of public spirit and private enterprise had left in the way. The highway was the "county road," yet it passed, almost the whole distance from Annapolis to Washington, through plantations, like a private wagon-path, without inclosure. Wherever the division fences of fields crossed the road, private interest had erected a barred gate to keep out intrusive cattle, and these the traveler was obliged to open. Being my own footman, I was exercised in limbs and patience to my heart’s content, for, during a drive of thirteen miles that evening, I opened fifteen gates; who closed them I have never ascertained. The miles seemed excessively long; the gates were provokingly frequent. I never paid tribute with greater reluctance, for it was the exaction of laziness and neglect.

I crossed the Patuxent at seven o’clock, and halted at Queen Anne, a small, antiquated-looking village, some of the houses of which, I doubt not, were erected during the reign of its godmother. It is close to the Patuxent, and for many years was the principal depôt in the state for the inspection and sale of tobacco. Flat-bottomed boats bore away from it, in former years, heavy cargoes of the nauseous stuff; now sand-bars fill the river channel, and the freight-boats stop eight miles below. The tobacco business has ceased; the railway from Annapolis to Washington has withdrawn the business incident to a post-route, and every thing indicates decay. There was no tavern in the place, but I procured a supper and comfortable lodgings at the post-office. We breakfasted by candle-light, and, before "sun up," as the Southerners say, I was on my way toward the Federal city, twenty-three miles distant.

I had hardly left the precincts of Queen Anne before a huge red gate confronted me! I thought it might be the ghost of one I had encountered the night before, but its substantiality as a veritable gate was made manifest by the sudden halt of Charley before its bars. I was preparing to alight, when a colored boy came from behind a shock of corn, and kindly opened the way. "How far is it to the next gate?" I inquired. "Don’t know, massa," said the lad; "but I reckons dey is pretty tick, dey is, twixt here and Uncle Josh’s." Where "Uncle Josh" lived I do not know, but I found the gates more than "pretty tick" all the way until within a short distance of Bladensburg. In the journey of thirty-six miles from Annapolis to Washington, I passed through fifty-three gates! Unlike the doors and windows of the people of the South, I found them all shut.

From the brow of a hill, eight miles from Washington, I had the first glimpse of the Capitol dome, and there I opened the last gate; each a pleasing reminiscence now. I passed to the left of Bladensburg, 1 crossed the east branch of the Potomac, and entered Washington City, eastward of the Capitol, at one o’clock. For thirty minutes I had witnessed a rare phenomenon at that hour in the day. Dark clouds, like the gatherings of a summer shower, were floating in the northeastern sky, and upon them refraction painted the segment of quite a brilliant rainbow. I once saw a lunar bow at midnight, in June, but never before observed a solar one at mid-day in December.

Our national metropolis is a city of the present century; for before the year 1800, when the seat of the Federal government was permanently located there, it was a small hamlet, composed of a few houses. The selection of a site for the Federal city was intrusted to the judgment of the first president, who chose the point of land on the eastern bank of the Potomac, at its confluence with the Anacostia, or east branch of that river. A territory around it, ten miles square, was ceded to the United States by Virginia and Maryland in 1788. The owners of the land gave one half of it, after deducting streets and public squares, to the Federal government, to defray the expenses to be incurred in the erection of public buildings. The city was surveyed under the chief direction of Andrew Ellicott, and was laid out in 1791. The Capitol was commenced in 1793, but was not yet completed on the original plan, when, in 1814 [August 24.], the British troops, under General Ross, burned it, together with the library of Congress, the president’s house, and all the public buildings except the Patent Office. The city then contained about nine hundred houses, scattered in groups over an area of three miles. The walls of the Capitol remained firm. though scarred and blackened. The present noble edifice was completed in 1827, 2 more than a quarter of a century after the seat of government was located at Washington.

Washington City has no Revolutionary history of its own; but in the library of Congress; the archives of the State and War Departments; in the rooms of the National Institute, 3 and the private collection of Peter Force, Esq., I found much of value and interest. The city was full of the life and activity incident to the assembling of Congress, and I passed four days there with pleasure and profit. My first evening was spent in the company of the venerable widow of General Alexander Hamilton, a surviving daughter of General Philip Schuyler. Mrs. Hamilton was then [December, 1848.] ninety-two years of age, and yet her mind seemed to have all the elasticity of a woman of sixty. A sunny cheerfulness, which has shed its blessed influence around her during a long life, still makes her society genial and attractive. Her memory, faithful to the impressions of a long and eventful experience, is ever ready, with its varied reminiscences, to give a charm to her conversation upon subjects connected with our history. With an affectionate daughter (Mrs. Holly), she lives in elegant retirement in the metropolis, beloved by her friends, honored by strangers, venerated by all. She is, I believe, the last of the belles of the Revolution – the last of those who graced the social gatherings honored by the presence of Washington and his lady during the struggle for independence – the last of those who gave brilliancy to the levees of the first president, and, with Lucy Knox and others, shared the honors and attentions of the noble and refined of all lands, who crowded to the public audiences of the venerated Pater Patriæ, when chief magistrate of the nation. Two years later [December, 1850.], I was privileged to enjoy her hospitality, and again to draw instruction from the clear well of her experience. She still lives [November, 1854.], at the age of ninety-seven, with the promises of centenary honors impressed upon her whole being. May Time, who has dealt so gently with her, bear her kindly to the goal of a hundred years. 4


In the rooms of the National Institute (a portion of the Patent Office building) are a few of the most interesting relics of the Revolution now in existence, carefully preserved in a glass case. Upon the floor stands Washington’s camp chest, an old fashioned hair trunk, twenty-one inches in length, fifteen in width, and ten in depth, filled with the table furniture used by the chief during the war. The compartments are so ingeniously arranged, that they contain a gridiron; a coffee and tea pot; three tin sauce-pans (one movable handle being used for all); five glass flasks, used for honey, salt, coffee, port wine, and vinegar; three large tin meat dishes; sixteen plates; 5 two knives and five forks; a candlestick and tinder-box; tin boxes for tea and sugar, and five small bottles for pepper and other materials for making soup. Such composed the appointments for the table of the commander-in-chief of the American armies, while battling for independence, and laying the corner stone of our republic. What a contrast with the camp equipage of the heroes of other times and other lands, whom history has apotheosized, and whom the people of the earth call great! 6 With all the glitter and the pomp of wealth and power, which dazzle the superficial eye, the splendor which surrounds them is but dimness compared to the true glory that haloes the name and deeds of Washington, appreciated by the consequences of his career.

Standing near the camp chest is Washington’s war sword, and with it Franklin’s cane, bequeathed to the hero by the sage. 7 Of these relics Morris has sweetly sung, in his ode called


"The sword of the Hero!

The staff of the Sage!
Whose valor and wisdom
Are stamp’d on the age!
Time-hallowed mementoes
Of those who have riven
The scepter from tyrants,
‘The lightning from heaven.’

"This weapon, O Freedom!
Was drawn by thy son,
And it never was sheath’d
Till the battle was won!
No stain of dishonor
Upon it we see!
‘Twas never surrender’d –
Except to the free!

"While Fame claims the hero
And patriot sage,
Their names to emblazon
On History’s page,
No holier relics
Will Liberty hoard,
Than FRANKLIN’S staff, guarded


The war sword of the chief is incased in a black leather sheath, with silver mountings. The handle is ivory, colored a pale green, and wound spirally with silver wire at wide intervals. 8 It was manufactured by J. Bailey, Fishkill, New York, 9 and has the maker’s name engraved upon the hilt. The belt is white leather, with silver mountings, and was evidently made at an earlier period, for upon a silver plate is engraved "1757."


Washington’s commission, signed by John Hancock, and the suit of clothes which he wore when he resigned that instrument into the custody of Congress, at Annapolis, are also there, together with a piece of his tent, and the portable writing-case represented in the engraving, which he used during all of his campaigns. The case is of board, covered with black leather, ornamented with figured borders. But the most precious relic of all was the original Declaration of Independence, written upon parchment, and bearing the autographs of the signers. In the year 1818, this priceless document was allowed to go into the hands of Benjamin Owen Tyler, a teacher of penmanship, for the purpose of making a fac simile of it for publication. By some process which he used for transferring it, it narrowly escaped utter destruction. Many of the names are almost illegible, while others are quite dim. This document (which was since removed to the Congress Library), with other precious things, was saved when the public buildings were burned by the British in 1814.


In another part of the rooms of the Institute, which is devoted chiefly to the scientific collections made by the exploring expedition a few years ago, is the printing-press with which Franklin labored in London, when a journeyman printer, in 1725-6. 10 It is carefully preserved in a glass case. It is an exceedingly rude apparatus, and presents a wonderful contrast to the printing machines of Hoe, of the present day, from which twenty thousand impressions may be thrown each hour. The platen is of wood, the bed of stone. Its construction is in the primitive style universally used before the improvements made by the Earl of Stanhope; the power being obtained by a single screw, like a common standing-press, instead of a combination of lever and screw, as applied by that nobleman, or the combination of levers alone, as seen in the Columbian press invented by our countryman, George Clymer. Upon a brass plate affixed to the front of the press is the following inscription:


"Dr. Franklin’s remarks in relation to this press, made when he came to England as agent of Massachusetts, in the year 1768. The doctor, at this time, visited the printing-office of Mr. Watts, of Wild Street, Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, and, going up to this particular press (afterward in the possession of Messrs. Cox and Son, of Great Queen Street, of whom it was purchased), thus addressed the men who were working at it: ‘Come, my friends, we will drink together. It is now forty years since I worked, like you, at this press, as a journeyman printer.’ The doctor then sent out for a gallon of porter, and he drank with them,


"From the above it will appear that it is one hundred and eight years since Doctor Franklin worked at this identical press. – June, 1833."


Upon the wall of the room is a full-length portrait of Washington, painted by Charles Wilson Peale, 11 under peculiar circumstances. Peale was a remarkable man. Possessed of great versatility of talent, he brought all his genius into play as circumstances demanded. He was a sturdy patriot, and entered the army at an early period of the contest. He commanded a company at the battle of Trenton, and also at Germantown; and he was with the army at Valley Forge. He employed the leisure hours incident to camp duty in painting, and it was at Valley Forge that he commenced the picture in question. When the army crossed the Delaware into New Jersey in pursuit of Sir Henry Clinton, and fought the battle of Monmouth, Peale went with it, taking his unfinished picture and his materials with him; and at Brunswick, a day or two after the Monmouth conflict, he obtained the last sitting from the commander-in-chief. The picture was finished at Princeton. A distant view of Nassau Hall, at that place, with a body of British prisoners marching, compose a portion of the back-ground. The picture of the sword hanging upon the thigh of Washington {original text has "Washingington".} is an evidence of the truthfulness of the costume, for it is an exact representation of the real weapon just described and depicted, which stands in a case on the opposite side of the room.

Leaving the room of the National Institute, I went up to the Capitol, and peeped in upon the sages of the Senate and House of Representatives, who seemed busily engaged in preparing to do something in the way of legislation. It is a practice quite too common for our writers to speak disparagingly of members of Congress, with the apparent feeling that they being the servants of the people, every scribbler has a right to exercise his freedom of utterance, censuring them to the fullest extent. Doubtless some of our representatives are entitled to much censure, and some to ridicule; but, as a body, they generally appear to the candid visitor as a collection of wise and honorable men. An English gentleman who accompanied me to both chambers, assured me that he had often sat in the gallery of the House of Commons of England, of the Chamber of Deputies of France, and of the Diet of Frankfort and other Germanic Legislatures, and not one of them could rival in apparent talent, wisdom, decorum, and faithfulness to their constituents, the members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, in listening to whose debates he had spent many weeks during three consecutive sessions. Being more interested in the historical pictures in the Rotunda of the Capitol, and in the books in the library of Congress, than in the preliminary business of the Legislature, I repaired thither, and occupied the remainder of the day in making sketches of portraits contained in Trumbull’s celebrated pictures, which adorn four of the panels of that spacious room. 12


Early on the following morning I again went up to the Capitol, and sketched the statue of Washington, by Greenough; the group of Columbus and the Indian Girl, by Persico; and the elegant monument erected to the memory of the naval heroes who fought at Tripoli. The first is a colossal statue of the Father of his Country, sculptured in Parian marble by Greenough, draped in classic style, and seated upon an elaborately-wrought chair, the whole supported by a granite pedestal. In his left hand the chief holds a Roman short sword, in the act of presenting; the right hand, with the index finger extended, is lifted toward heaven. The chair has a filagree scroll-work back. On the left is a small figure of an aged man, with flowing beard, covered by a mantle; on the right stands an Indian of similar size, and both are in a contemplative attitude. On the left side of the seat, in low relief, is an infant Hercules, holding a serpent in one hand. Near him is another infant, prostrate, with its hand over its face. On the other side is Phœbus, with "his coursers of the sun." On the back of the seat, below the filagree work, is a Latin inscription, in raised letters. 13 This statue was originally intended for the center of the Rotunda. Too large for that room, it was placed upon the open grounds facing the east front of the Capitol, where, exposed to the sun and storm, its beauty, except in form, must soon pass away. It is a noble work of art, and, as I gazed upon the features of the great chief in the solemn grandeur of the inert marble, the beautiful lines of the poet came like a gushing stream from the deep well of memory, and the heart chanted,

"O, it was well, in marble firm and white,

To carve our hero’s form,
Whose angel guidance was our strength in fight,
Our star amid the storm!
Whose matchless truth has made his name divine,
And human freedom sure,
His country great, his tomb earth’s dearest shrine,
While man and time endure!
And it is well to place his image there,
Upon the soil he bless’d;
Let meaner spirits, who our councils share
Revere that silent guest!
Let us go up with high and sacred love
To look on his pure brow,
And as, with solemn grace, he points above,
Renew the patriot’s vow!"

Eloquently did one of the chiefs of the Chippewa delegation address this statue, while standing before it a few years ago. "My Great Father," he said, "we all shake hands with you; we have traveled a long way through the great country that you acquired for your people by the aid of the Great Spirit. Your people have become very great; our people have become very small. May the Great Spirit, who gave you success, now protect us, and grant us the favor we ask of our Great Father, who now fills the place first occupied by you." What orator or sage ever expressed more in so few words?

The group of Columbus and the Indian Girl, by Persico, is a good specimen of that sculptor’s skill. It is in white marble, and is intended as a representation of the idea of the discovery of America. This group is on the south side of the steps of the eastern portico of the Capitol. In the Discoverer’s hand is a globe, appearing to the spectator, at first, like a simple ball. The relative position of this figure to the statue of Washington, whose right hand is elevated, impresses the beholder, at first sight, with the ludicrous idea of the Navigator and the Patriot engaged in tossing a ball at each other. The naval monument is upon the highest terrace on the western front of the Capitol. It is of white marble, with a brown stone pedestal, and is about forty feet high. It stands within a large basin of water, eight or ten feet deep, and supplied by a fountain in which gold fishes in abundance are seen sporting. The basin is surrounded by a strong iron fence. Upon one side of the pedestal, in low relief sculpture, is a view of Tripoli and the American fleet, and upon the other the following inscription:


This monument, although too small to appear grand, is a fine embellishment, and commands the attention of every visitor to the Federal Capitol.

I passed the morning of the 8th [December, 1848.] in the library of Mr. Force, preparing from old maps a plan of my Southern route. Toward noon I went up to the presidential mansion, and enjoyed the pleasure of an hour’s interview with the chief magistrate, the late Mr. Polk. It was not a visit prompted by the foolish desire to see the exalted, but for the purpose of seeking information respecting an important movement in North Carolina at the commencement of the war of the Revolution, in which some of the family of Mr. Polk were conspicuous actors. I allude to the celebrated Mecklenburgh Convention, in May, 1775. The president readily communicated all the information in his possession, and kindly gave me a letter of introduction to the grandson of the secretary of that convention, then residing in Charlotte, where the meeting was held. This matter will be considered in detail hereafter.

At meridian I crossed the Potomac upon the mile-long bridge, and rode to Arlington House, the seat of George Washington Parke Custis, Esq. His mansion, wherein true Virginian hospitality prevails, is beautifully situated upon high ground overlooking the Potomac, Washington City, and Georgetown, half surrounded by a fine oak forest, and fronting broad lawns. Mr. Custis received me, though a stranger, with cordiality, and when the object of my visit was made known, the "Washington treasures of Arlington House" were opened for my inspection. As executor of the will, and the adopted son and member of the immediate family of Washington, Mr. Custis possesses many interesting mementoes of that great man. He has several fine paintings. Among them is the original three-quarter length portrait of his grandmother (Lady Washington), by Woolaston, from which the engraving in Sparks’s Life of Washington was made; also the original portrait of the chief by Trumbull; of the two children of Mrs. Washington (the father and aunt of Mr. Custis); of Parke, an ancestor, who was aid to the great Marlborough in the battle of Blenheim, painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller; crayon profile sketches of Washington and his lady, made in 1796; a beautiful painting on copper, in imitation of a medallion, of the heads of Washington and La Fayette, executed by the Marchioness De Brienne, and presented to Washington in 1789; and a number of other fine family portraits, choice engravings, and sculpture.


Mr. Custis is himself an amateur artist, and has painted several historical subjects, among which is a cabinet picture of Washington at Yorktown, wherein the figure of the chief is truthfully delineated. A copy of his battle of Monmouth is printed on page 156. With books and pencil, in the bosom of an affectionate family, Mr. Custis, the last survivor of Washington’s immediate household, is enjoying the blessings of a green old age. He has been present at the inauguration of every president of the United States (now numbering thirteen); and he has grasped the hand in friendly greeting of almost every distinguished personage who has visited our national metropolis during the last half century. For many years he communicated to the National Intelligencer his Recollections of Washington. These are graphic pictures of some of the most eventful scenes in the life of the patriot chief, described by eye-witnesses, and it is hoped that they will yet be arranged and published in a volume by the author.

It was almost sunset when I left Arlington House and returned to the Federal city. Before breakfast the next morning I rode down to Alexandria, an old town on the Virginia side of the Potomac, seven miles below Washington. It is quite a large place, and was once a commercial mart of considerable importance. The town is handsomely laid out in rectangles, and is said to be remarkably healthy. It has but little Revolutionary history, except such as appertains to the personal affairs of Washington, whose residence, at Mount Vernon, was near. 16 In its museum, which is closed to the public, are many relics of the war for independence, of exceeding rarity and value, most of which belongs to Mr. Custis. I procured permission to visit the museum from Mr. Vietch, the mayor of Alexandria, under whose official charge the corporation has placed the collection; and, accompanied by an officer, I passed an hour among its curiosities. Among them is the flag which Washington took from the Hessians at Trenton, mentioned on page 22. It is composed of two pieces of very heavy white damask silk, on which the devices are embroidered with silk and gold thread. The lettering is all done with gold thread. On one side is an eagle, bearing in its talons a scroll and olive branch. Over it, upon a ribbon, are the words Pro principe et patria; "For our prince and country;" a curious motto for the flag of mercenaries. Upon the other side is a monogram, composed of the letters E. C. T. S. A., and supposed to be that of the general commandant of the Anspachers. Under it are the initials M. Z. B., and the date 1775. The whole is surmounted by the British crown. This flag was probably wrought in England, while the German troops were awaiting embarkation for America, toward the close of 1775. It is four feet square. The tassels, made of silver bullion, are suspended to a plait of silver tinsel.


Near the Hessian flag was the royal union standard which Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. The picture of this flag will be given when considering that last great triumph of the Americans. The Hessian and the British flags are labeled, respectively, Alpha and Omega, for they were the "first and the last" captured by Washington.


A flag which belonged to the Commander-in-chief’s Guard, printed on page 688, vol. i., and one that belonged to Morgan’s rifle corps, were also there; and in the midst of common curiosities, covered with dust and cobwebs, stood the bier on which Washington was carried to the tomb at Mount Vernon. It is of oak, painted a lead color, and is six feet in length. The handles, which are hinged to the bier, had leather pads on the under side, fastened with brass nails. Hanging over the bier was the letter of Washington, printed in a note, page 683, vol. i.; and near by laid a napkin said to have been used on the occasion when he was christened. The museum contains many other things of general and special interest; but, being closed to the public, they are quite useless, while neglect is allowing the invisible fingers of decay to destroy them. I was glad to learn that the precious relics above named, which belong to Mr. Custis, are about to be transferred to the rooms of the National Institute, where they may be seen by the thousands who visit the metropolis.


Toward noon I rode to Mount Vernon, nine miles below Alexandria. It was a mild, clear day, almost as balmy as the Indian summer time. After crossing an estuary of the Potomac the road was devious, passing through a rough, half-cultivated region, and almost impassable in places on account of gulleys scooped by recent rains. Leaving the main road when within about three miles of Mount Vernon, I traversed a winding carriage-way through partially-cultivated fields, over which young pines and cedars were growing in profusion; the unerring certifiers of that bad husbandry which many regions of the Southern States exhibit. When within about two miles of the venerated mansion, I passed a large stone upon the left of the road, which denotes a boundary line of the ancient estate. It is in the midst of stately forest trees; and from this land-mark to the residence, the road, unfenced and devious, passed through a greatly diversified region, some of it tilled, some returning to a wilderness state, and some appearing as if never touched by the hand of industry. Suddenly, on ascending a small steep hill from the edge of a wild ravine, the mansion and its surroundings were before me, and through the leafless branches of the trees came the sheen of the meridian sun from a distant bay of the Potomac. I was met at the gate by an intelligent colored lad, who ordered another to take charge of my horse, while he conducted me to the mansion. I bore a letter of introduction to the present proprietor of Mount Vernon, John Washington, a grand-nephew of the patriot chief; but himself and family were absent, and not a white person was upon the premises. I felt a disappointment, for I desired to pass the time there in the company of a relative of the beloved one whose name and deeds hallow the spot.

Silence pervaded the life-dwelling of Washington, and the echoes of every footfall, as I moved at the beck of the servant from room to room, seemed almost like the voices of intruders. I entered the library (which, with the breakfast-room, is in the south wing of the building), and in the deep shadows of that quiet apartment sat down in the very chair often occupied by the patriot, and gazed and mused with feelings not to be uttered. Upon brackets were marble busts of Washington and La Fayette, and a small one of Necker, the French Minister of Finance when the Revolution broke out in France. The first is over the door of entrance into the library. It was executed by Houdon, from life, he having obtained a mask, in plaster, and is doubtless the best likeness extant. Upon the walls hung the portraits of Laurence Washington, brother of the general, and of several female members of the family.


In the great hall, or passage, in a glass case of prismatic form, hung the Key of the Bastile, and near it was an engraved view of the demolition of that renowned prison. The large north room wherein Washington entertained his political friends, with the furniture, is kept in the same condition as when he left it. Upon the walls were pictures of hunting and battle scenes. Among them were prints of the death of Montgomery, and the battle of Bunker Hill, but not one of any engagement in which Washington himself participated. There hung the small portrait of the chief, on the back of which an unknown hand wrote an admirable monumental eulogy. 19 There, too, was a large painting – a family group – representing the mother and children of the present proprietor. The fire-place of the drawing-room is decorated with a superb Italian chimney-piece, made of variegated Sienna marble, in which is sculptured, in bold relief, on the tablets of the frieze, prominent objects of agriculture and husbandry. It was presented to Washington in 1785, by Samuel Vaughn, Esq., of London. One room is closed to the public gaze, and I honor the holy motives which prompt the veiling of that apartment from the eyes of prying curiosity; it is the chamber whence the spirit of the illustrious Washington departed for its home in

"The bosom of his Father and his God."

I passed out upon the eastern piazza (seen in the engraving), which overlooks the Potomac. By the side of the door hung the spyglass often used by Washington; and, prompted by curiosity, I drew its tubes, and through them surveyed the hills of Maryland stretching away eastward on the opposite side of the river.


From the mansion of the living I went to the dwelling of the dead, the old family vault, situated upon the declivity of a dell in full view of the river. It is about three hundred yards south of the mansion. Therein the body of Washington was first laid, and remained undisturbed for thirty years, when it was removed to a new tomb, erected in a more secluded spot, in accordance with directions in his will. 20 The construction of this tomb was delayed until many years ago, when an attempt was made to carry off the remains of the illustrious dead. The old vault was entered, and a skull and some bones were taken away. They formed no part of the remains of Washington. The robber was detected, and the bones were recovered.


The new vault is on the side of a steep hill, on the edge of a deep wooded dell leading toward the river. The interior walls are built of brick, arched over at the height of eight feet from the ground. The front of the tomb is rough, and has a plain iron door inserted in a freestone casement. Upon a stone panel over the door are inscribed the words, "I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE; HE THAT BELIEVETH IN ME, THOUGH HE WERE DEAD, YET SHALL HE LIVE." Inclosing this tomb is a structure of brick twelve feet high. In front is an iron gateway, opening several feet in advance of the vault door, and forming a kind of ante-chamber. This gateway is flanked with pilasters, surmounted by a stone coping, covering a pointed Gothic arch. 21 Over this arch is a tablet, on which is inscribed, "WITHIN THIS INCLOSURE REST THE REMAINS OF GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON." I was much disappointed in the exterior appearance of the tomb, for it seems to me that in material and design it is quite too common-place. It justifies the description of it given recently by Lord Morpeth, who visited it in 1841. "The tomb of that most illustrious of mortals," he said, "is placed under a glaring red building, somewhat between a coach-house and a cage." 22 Art should be allowed to contribute the best offerings of genius in enshrining the mortal remains of GEORGE WASHINGTON.


In the ante-chamber of the tomb are two marble sarcophagi, containing the remains of Washington and his lady. That of the patriot has a sculptured lid, on which is represented the American shield suspended over the flag of the Union; the latter hung in festoons, and the whole surmounted, as a crest, by an eagle with open wings, perched upon the superior bar of the shield. Below the design, and deeply cut in the marble, is the name of WASHINGTON. This sarcophagus was constructed by John Struthers, of Philadelphia, from a design by William Strickland, and was presented by him to the relatives of Washington. It consists of an excavation from a solid block of Pennsylvania marble, eight feet in length and two in height. The marble coffin of Lady Washington, which stands upon the left of the other, is from the same chisel, and plainly wrought. Both may be seen by the visitor, through the iron gate.

The Lid.

Who can stand at the portals of this tomb, where sleeps all that is left of the mortality of the Father of his Country, and not feel the outgoings of a devotional spirit – an involuntary desire to kneel down with reverence, not with the false adulations of mere hero-worship, but with the sincere sympathies of a soul bending before the shrine of superior goodness and greatness?

"There is an awful stillness in the sky,
When, after wondrous deeds and light supreme,
A star goes out in golden prophecy.
There is an awful stillness in the world,
When, after wondrous deeds and light supreme,
A hero dies with all the future clear
Before him, and his voice made jubilant
By coming glories, and his nation hush’d
As though they heard the farewell of a God.
A great man is to earth as God to heaven."



I lingered long at the tomb of Washington, even until the lengthening evening shadows were cast upon the Potomac; and I departed with reluctance from the precincts of Mount Vernon, where the great and good of many lands enjoyed the hospitality of the illustrious owner when living, or have poured forth the silent eulogium of the heart at his grave. The sun was disappearing behind the forest when I passed the gate, at the verge of a spacious lawn on the western front of the mansion, and departed for Occoquan, about twelve miles distant, where I purposed to spend the Sabbath. The road was in a wretched condition. It passes through a series of small swamps and pine barrens, where once fertile plantations smiled under the fostering care of industry.


At sunset I crossed a large stream at the Occatunk saw-mills, where the aspect of nature is grand and romantic, and at early twilight reached the venerated Pohick or Powheek Church where Washington worshiped, and Weems, his first biographer, preached. It is about seven miles southwest of Mount Vernon, upon an elevation on the borders of a forest, and surrounded by ancient oaks, chestnuts, and pines. The twilight lingered long enough with sufficient intensity to allow me to make the annexed sketch from my wagon in the road, when I gave my horse a loose rein, and hastened toward Occoquan as fast as the deep mud in the highway would permit. A thick vapor came up from the southwest and obscured the stars, and when I heard the distant murmurs of the falls of the Occoquan, the heavens were overcast, and the night was intensely dark. As I approached the village, I perceived that I was upon the margin of the waters lying deep below, for there came up the reflected lights from a few dwellings upon the opposite shore. I had more confidence in my horse’s sight than in my own, and allowed him to make his way as he pleased along the invisible road to the bridge; how near to the precipice I knew not, until the next morning, when I traced my wagon tracks, in one place, within a few feet of the brow of a cliff scores of feet above the deep waters.

Occoquan is a small manufacturing village in Prince William county, near the mouth of a creek of that name, and at the head of navigation up from the Potomac. 25 The creek falls seventy-two feet within the distance of a mile and a half. All around the scenery is remarkably picturesque, and to the dweller and traveler, under favorable circumstances, it may be a delightful place. To me, the remembrance of a night at Occoquan is the most unpleasant reminiscence of my journey. There was but one tavern in the place. It was kept by a kind-hearted woman, who seemed desirous of contributing to my comfort, but her bar-room, where strong liquors appeared to be dealt out with unsparing hand, was the source of all my discomfort. There I could hear the ribald voices of loungers growing more vociferous as the evening wore away; and in my chamber I was not relieved. It was midnight before the revelry ceased, and then two or three negroes, with wretched voices, accompanied by a more wretched fiddle, commenced a serenade in the street. It was two hours past midnight before I slept, and when I awoke in the morning the dram-drinkers were again there, guzzling, and talking profanely. Greatly annoyed, I determined to leave the place, and, contrary to my custom, travel on toward Fredericksburg, rather than spend the Sabbath there. Informed that the roads between Occoquan and Fredericksburg were worse than those I had traversed the day before, I concluded to return to Alexandria, and go down the Potomac to Aquia Creek on Monday.


I left Occoquan after a late breakfast, and rode as far as Pohick Church, on the road to Alexandria, where I understood a Methodist meeting was to be held that day. No person had yet arrived, but the broad doors of the church stood wide open, inviting ingress. Within that venerated fane I awaited the slow-gathering auditory for more than an hour. When they were all assembled, men and women, white and black, the whole congregation, including the writer, amounted to only twenty-one persons. What a contrast with former days, when some of the noblest of the Virginia aristocracy filled those now deserted and dilapidated pews, while Massey or Weems performed the solemn and impressive ritual of the Church of England! No choir, with the majestic organ, chanted the Te Deum or the Gloria in Excelsis; the Decalogue was not read, nor did solemn, audible responses, as in other days, go up from the lips of the people.


Yet the glorious hymn, beginning "Come, holy Spirit, heavenly Dove!" was sung with fervor; and, standing behind the ancient communion-table, a young preacher in homely garb, with the eloquence of true piety, proclaimed the pure Gospel of love, and warmed the hearts of all present with emotions of Christian charity, the burden of his discourse. I sat in the pew, near the pulpit, wherein Washington and his family were seated, Sabbath after Sabbath, for many years, 27 and I looked with peculiar interest upon the LAW, the PRAYER, and the CREED, inscribed upon the walls back of the chancel, on which, a thousand times, the eyes of the Washingtons, the Masons, the Fairfaxes, the Coffers, and the Hendersons had rested. It was a melancholy sight to behold the dilapidation of that edifice, around which cluster so many associations of interest. 28 A large portion of the panes of glass were broken out, admitting freely the wind and rain, the bats and the birds.


The elaborately-wrought pulpit, placed by itself on one side of the church, away from the chancel, was marred by desecrating hands. Under its sounding-board a swallow had built its nest, and upon the book-ledge of the sacred desk the fowls of the air had evidently perched. I thought of the words of the "sweet singer of Israel," "Yea, the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altar, O Lord of hosts!" 29 The Chancel, too, is disfigured; but the LAW, the PRAYER, and the CREED, painted on a blue ground above it, are quite perfect. The pews are square, with seats upon three sides, and painted lead color.


Upon the doors of several of them yet remain the initials of the former occupants, among which I noticed those of George Mason and George William Fairfax, who, with Washington, were the leading men in the parish. 30

The whole country around Pohick seems to be degenerating in soil and population, and the old church edifice is left without a guardian, to molder into oblivion. The preacher told me that I might travel ten miles in any direction from Pohick (except to Alexandria) and not find a school-house! A few northern farmers are now redeeming some of the upper portions of Fairfax county; and it is to be hoped that the circles of their influence may enlarge until Pohick Church is included, and its walls saved from destruction.

When I left the church, a slight drizzle omened an approaching storm, and I hastened to Alexandria, where I ascertained that I could not get upon the Potomac steamer with my horse without going to Washington City. Damp, weary, and vexed, I gave Charley a loose rein, for the day was fast waning. When within half a mile of the Long Bridge, a vivid flash of lightning, followed by a loud thunder-peal, burst from the clouds, and seemed to open "the windows of heaven," and set free all the "treasures of the cherubim." Another flash and thunder-peal, with the accompanying deluge, came while I was crossing the drawbridge, and I reined up at the "Indian Queen," on Pennsylvania Avenue, at twilight, with all the concomitants of a disappointed disciple of Isaack Walton. A thunder-shower in December is a phenomenon so rare that I almost enjoyed the misery.

The steam-boat for Aquia Creek left Washington the following morning at two o’clock. I was upon her deck in time, but a careless servant having left a part of my baggage behind, I was obliged to return and remain in Washington another day. It proved a fine one for traveling, and the very reverse of the next day, when I was upon the road. The dawn opened with sleet and rain, and a raw east wind. This was sufficiently unpleasant for a traveler; yet a more vexatious circumstance awaited my debarkation at Aquia Creek. From the landing to a plantation road leading to the Fredericksburg pike, almost two miles, there was no wagon-track, the rail-road being the only highway. I mounted my wagon upon a hand-car, employed two stout negroes as locomotives, and, leading my horse along the rough-ribbed iron way, finally reached a plantation lane on the edge of a swamp. Where the rail-way traverses a broad marsh, deep ditches cross it transversely. My horse, in attempting to leap one of these, fell between the iron bars, with a hinder leg over one of them, which prevented the use of his limbs in efforts to leap from the ditch. I momentarily expected to hear the thigh-bone snap, for almost the entire weight of his body rested upon it. The salvation of the animal depended upon getting that leg free. I had no aid, for the negroes had neither will nor judgment to assist. At the risk of being made a foot-ball, I placed my shoulder in the hollow of the hoof, and with strength increased by solicitude, I succeeded in pushing the limb over the rail, and the docile animal, who seemed to feel the necessity of being passive, stood erect in his prison of iron and soft earth. Within a rectangle of a few feet, and a bank, shoulder high, he was still confined. He made several efforts to spring out, but his knees would strike the margin. At length, summoning all his energies, and appearing to shrink into smaller compass, he raised his fore-feet upon the bank, gave a spring, and, to my great joy, he stood safe and unhurt (though trembling in every limb) upon the road. With a light and thankful heart I traveled the sinuous pathway, through gates and bars, for five or six miles, to the high road, the storm increasing.


The distance from Aquia Creek to Fredericksburg is fifteen miles. When about half-way, I passed the ruins of old Potomac Church, once one of the finest sacred edifices in Virginia. The plan of the interior was similar to that of Pohick. The roof is supported by square columns, stuccoed and painted in imitation of variegated marble The windows are in Gothic style. The LAW, the PRAYER, and the CREED were quite well preserved upon the walls, notwithstanding the roof is partly fallen in, and the storms have free passage through the ruined arches. It is surrounded by a thick hedge of thorn, dwarf cedars, and other shrubs, festooned and garlanded with ivy and the wild grape, which almost effectually guard the venerable relic from the intrusion of strangers. With proper care, this church might have been a place of worship a century longer, but like many other old churches, consecrated in the appreciating mind of the patriotic American, this edifice is moldering through neglect.

"They are all passing from the land;

Those churches old and gray,
In which our fathers used to stand,
In years gone by, to pray.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ay, pull them down, as well you may,
Those altars stern and old;
They speak of those long pass’d away,
Whose ashes now are cold.
Few, few, are now the strong-arm’d men
Who worshiped at our altars then.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Then pull them down, and rear on high
New-fangled, painted things,
For these but mock the modern eye,
The past around them brings.
Then pull them down, and upward rear
A pile which suits who worships here."

I crossed the Rappahannock 31 upon a long toll-bridge, and entered Fredericksburg at noon. The city is old in fact, and antique in appearance. A century and a quarter ago the settlers who had begun to cultivate extensively the rich lands upon the Rappahannock, applied for a town charter. It was granted [1727.]; and in honor of Prince Frederick, the father of George III., and then heir-apparent to the British throne, it was called Fredericksburg. At that time there was only a tobacco warehouse on the site of the present city with its four thousand five hundred inhabitants. The town is regularly laid out. Many of the houses are of brick, but few are in modern style, or of apparently recent construction.

Fredericksburg is interesting, as connected with our subject, chiefly from the fact that Washington passed his youthful days in its vicinity, and that near the city, beneath an unfinished monument, repose the remains of his beloved mother. The place of Washington’s birth was about half a mile from the junction of Pope’s Creek with the Potomac, in Westmoreland county, the "Athens of Virginia." 32 It is upon the "Wakefield estate," now owned by John E. Wilson, Esq. The house in which he was born was destroyed before the Revolution. Upon its site, George W. P. Custis, Esq., placed a slab of free-stone [June, 1815.], represented in the engraving on the following page, on which is the simple inscription, "HERE, THE 11TH OF FEBRUARY [O. S.], 1732, GEORGE WASHINGTON WAS BORN." 33


The house in which his nativity took place was precisely the same in appearance as the family residence on the Rappahannock, delineated opposite, being of the better class of plain Virginian farm-houses. It had four rooms, with an enormous chimney at each end, on the outside.


The estate on the Rappahannock was owned by his father, Augustine Washington, several years before his marriage with Mary Ball (daughter of Colonel Ball, of Lancaster), the mother of the illustrious patriot. It is nearly opposite Fredericksburg, in Stafford county, and when I visited that city [1848.], it was the property of the Reverend Thomas Teasdale. The mansion-house, which stood near the present residence of Mr. King, a short distance below the rail-road bridge, has long since gone to decay and disappeared, and to the skillful pencil of J. G. Chapman, Esq., I am indebted for the accompanying picture.

The storm continuing, and nothing of interest being left upon the soil known as "The Washington Farm," I did not visit it, but contented myself with a distant view of its rolling acres as I rode out of Fredericksburg to pursue my journey southward.

On the northwest corner of Charles and Lewis streets, in Fredericksburg, is the house (the residence of Richard Stirling, Esq.) where the mother of Washington resided during the latter years of her life, and where she died. There that honored matron, and more honored son, had their last earthly interview in the spring of 1789, after he was elected President of the United States. Just before his departure for New York to take the oath of office, and to enter upon his new duties, Washington, actuated by that filial reverence and regard which always distinguished him, 35 hastened to Fredericksburg to visit his mother. She was then fourscore and five years old, bowed with age and the ravages of that terrible disease, a deep-rooted cancer in the breast. Their interview was deeply affecting. After the first emotions incident to the meeting had subsided, Washington said, "The people, madam, have been pleased, with the most flattering unanimity, to elect me to the chief magistracy of the United States; but before I can assume the functions of that office, I have come to bid you an affectionate farewell. So soon as the public business which must necessarily be encountered in arranging a new government can be disposed of, I shall hasten to Virginia, and –" Here the matron interrupted him with, "You will see me no more. My great age, and the disease which is fast approaching my vitals, warns me that I shall not be long in this world. I trust to God I am somewhat prepared for a better. But go, George, fulfill the destiny which Heaven appears to assign you; go, my son, and may heaven’s and your mother’s blessing be with you always." Washington wept; the great man was again a little child, and he kissed the furrowed cheek of his parent with all the tender affection and simplicity of a loving boy. With a full heart he went forth to "fulfill the destiny" which Heaven assigned him, and he saw his mother no more. She died in the autumn of 1789, and was buried on a beautiful knoll upon the estate of her son-in-law, Colonel Fielding Lewis, 36 within sound of the busy hum of the city.


In the midst of the thickly-falling sleet, I made a pilgrimage to the grave of the mother of Washington, and sketched the half-finished and neglected monument which was erected over it a few years ago. It stands near a ledge of rocks, where she often resorted in fine weather for private meditation and devotion. Years before her death she selected that spot for her grave. The monument is of white marble, and, even in its unfinished state, has an imposing appearance. The corner-stone was laid by Andrew Jackson, then President of the United States, on the 7th of May, 1833, in the presence of a great concourse of people. He went down the Potomac from Washington City on the 6th, 37 and was met at Potomac Creek, nine miles from Fredericksburg, by the Monument Committee of that city. He was also met by a military escort, and conducted to the residence of Doctor Wallace, where he was entertained. A large military and civic procession was formed the following day, and proceeded to the grave, where the imposing ceremonies were to be performed. Mr. Basset, in behalf of the citizens of Fredericksburg, first addressed the president on the character of her whom they sought to honor. The president made an eloquent reply; and, as he deposited an inscribed plate in the hollow corner-stone, he said, "Fellow-citizens, at your request, and in your name, I now deposit this plate in the spot destined for it; and when the American pilgrim shall, in after ages, come up to this high and holy place, and lay his hand upon this sacred column, may he recall the virtues of her who sleeps beneath, and depart with his affections purified, and his piety strengthened, while he invokes blessings upon the memory of the mother of Washington."

Referring to this event, Mrs. Sigourney thus beautifully wrote for the Fredonia Arena:

"Long hast thou slept unnoticed. Nature stole
In her soft minstrelsy around thy bed,
Spreading her vernal tissue, violet-gemm’d,
And pearl’d with dews.

She bade bright Summer bring
Gifts of frankincense, with sweet song of birds,
And Autumn cast his reaper’s coronet
Down at thy feet, and stormy Winter speak
Sternly of man’s neglect. But now we come
To do thee homage – Mother of our chief! –
Fit homage, such as honoreth him who pays.
Methinks we see thee, as in olden time –
Simple in garb, majestic, and serene;
Unmoved by pomp or circumstances; in truth
Inflexible; and, with a Spartan zeal,
Repressing vice and making folly grave.
Thou didst not deem it woman’s part to waste
Life in inglorious sloth – to sport a while
Amid the flowers, or on the summer wave,
Then, fleet like the Ephemeron, away,
Building no temple in her children’s hearts,
Save to the vanity and pride of life
Which she had worship’d.
For the might that clothed
The "Pater Patria" – for the glorious deeds
That make Mount Vernon’s tomb a Mecca shrine
For all the earth, what thanks to thee are due,
Who, mid his elements of being wrought,
We know not – Heaven can tell."

Almost twenty years have passed away since the imposing pageant at the laying of the corner-stone was displayed, and yet the monument is unfinished. Still may Spring, and Summer, and

"Stormy Winter speak
Sternly of man’s neglect;"

for the huge marble obelisk, as it came from the quarry, lies there yet, defaced and mutilated by rude hands, and silently appealing to local pride and general patriotism to sculpture its ornaments, and place it where it was designed to be. Year after year the dust of the plain has lodged upon the top of the half-finished pile, and the seeds of wild flowers have been borne thither upon the wings of the zephyrs; and where the base of the noble obelisk should rest, Nature, as if rebuking insensate man, hath woven green garlands, and hung flowery festoons. Upon the broad tablet whereon was to be inscribed the beautiful memorial, "MARY, THE MOTHER OF WASHINGTON," dark green fungi have made their humiliating record instead.


I left Fredericksburg 39 at two o’clock, with the intention of lodging at Bowling Green, in Caroline county, twenty-two miles distant. The post-road is one of the finest I ever traveled; broad, and in good condition. It passes through a gently rolling, fertile country, and apparently well cultivated. When within about twelve miles of my destination I passed a farm-house, from which two men, with a span of horses and a rickety market wagon, were just departing for Richmond, whither I was making my way. They, too, intended to lodge at Bowling Green, and offered to pilot me. Their fresh horses tried Charley’s speed and bottom to the utmost. We crossed the Mattapony River, a tributary of the Pamunkey, at twilight, over two high bridges. Night came on with sudden and intense darkness; so dark that I could not see my pilots. At a fork I "lost my reckoning;" they taking one branch and I the other. Charley neighed, and tried to follow them. "I was wise in my own conceit," and reined him into the other fork. I rode on for nearly an hour without passing a habitation, and entirely unconscious of the nature or direction of the road I was traveling. A heavy mist shrouded the country. At length the rays of a candle came feebly from a window at the road-side. I hailed, and asked for and obtained lodgings for the night. It was the hospitable mansion of Mr. Burke, a planter, some seven miles from Bowling Green. I had wandered four miles from the direct road to that village, but was not far from the nearest highway to Hanover Court House, my next point of destination.


I resumed my journey at daybreak, leaving Bowling Green on the left; breakfasted at a small tavern, after a ride of six miles, and soon overtook my pilots, who, in attempting to reach a point beyond Bowling Green the night before, had broken an axle while crossing a swamp. We journeyed on together to Hanover Court House, within nineteen miles of Richmond. The appearance of the country changed materially after crossing the Mattapony. It became more hilly, sandy, and sterile, producing dwarf pines in abundance. We crossed the Pamunkey a little below the confluence of its branches (the North and South Anna), and, at a mile distant, reached Hanover Court House in time for a late dinner. The village now [1851.] consists of the ancient court-house and tavern, one brick house, several negro huts, and a jail. The latter was in process of reconstruction when I was there, having been burned a few months previously. Here was a flourishing town before Richmond, now containing thirty thousand inhabitants, was an incorporated village. The Pamunkey was then navigable for sloops and schooners; now the channel is filled with sand. Hanover was a place of considerable business. Sixteen hundred hogsheads of tobacco were annually exported from it, and it was regarded as an eligible site for the state capital. When the House of Burgesses were deliberating upon the subject of removing the Capitol from Williamsburg, they came within a few votes of deciding upon Hanover instead of Richmond. Where the populous village once stood I saw traces of a recent corn crop, but not a vestige of former habitation.

The old tavern where I lodged, and the court-house, are objects of much interest, from the circumstance that in the former Patrick Henry was a temporary bar-tender, 41 and in the latter he made those first efforts at oratory which burst forth like meteors from the gloom of his obscurity. He had passed his youthful days in apparent idleness, and, lacking business tact and energy, he failed to succeed in mercantile pursuits, in which he was engaged. He became bankrupt, and no one was willing to aid him. He had married at eighteen, and yet, in the twenty-fourth year of his age, he had done little toward supporting a wife. They lived most of the time with his father-in-law (Mr. Shelton), who kept the tavern at Hanover, and when the proprietor was absent, young Henry took his place behind the bar. As a last resort, he studied law. He applied himself diligently for six weeks, when he obtained a license, but for nearly three years he was "briefless;" indeed, he hardly knew how to draw a brief correctly. At the age of twenty-seven, he was employed in the celebrated Parsons’s Cause; and in Hanover court-house, on that occasion, his genius was first developed. The case was a controversy between the clergy and the Legislature of the state, relating to the stipend claimed by the former. A decision of the court in favor of the clergy had left nothing undetermined but the amount of damages in the cause which was pending. Young Henry took part against the clergy, and in his plea his wonderful oratory beamed out, for the first time, in great splendor. Wirt has vividly described the scene in his life of the "American Demosthenes." 42

We shall meet Patrick Henry again presently in more important scenes.

Upon the Pamunkey, a few miles below Hanover Court House, is New Castle, once a flourishing village, but now a desolation, only one house remaining upon its site. That is the place where Patrick Henry assembled the volunteers and marched to Williamsburg, for the purpose of demanding a restoration of the powder which Lord Dunmore had removed from the public magazine, or its equivalent in money. Of this I shall hereafter write.


I lodged at Hanover, and, after an early breakfast, departed for Richmond, the rain yet falling. Between three and four miles from Hanover Court House, I passed the birth-place of Henry Clay. It stands upon the right of the turnpike to Richmond, in the midst of the flat piny region called the slashes of Hanover. 43 It is a frame building, one story high, with dormer windows, and two large chimneys on the outside of each gable. Here the great statesman was born in 1777. The roads through this desolate region are wretched, abounding in those causeways of logs known as corduroy roads. Within ten miles of Richmond the scenery becomes diversified, and the vicinage of a large town is denoted by the numerous vehicles upon the broad road, consisting chiefly of uncouth market-wagons, drawn by mules, frequently six or eight in a team, as pictured in the sketch below. The negro driver is usually seated upon one of the wheel mules, and, without guiding lines, conducts them by the vocal direction of haw and gee. To the eyes of a Northern man looking upon these caravans for the first time, they appear quite picturesque.


I reached Richmond at meridian [Dec. 14, 1848.], where I tarried with esteemed friends for several days.



1 Bladensburg is in Prince George county, Maryland, six miles northeast of Washington. It is made memorable in the history of the war of 1812 from the circumstance of a severe battle having taken place there on the 24th of August, 1814, between a small body of Americans and a portion of the British army, then on its way to destroy the Federal city. Bladensburg had, for a long time, the unenviable notoriety of being the cock-pit for duelists who congregated at Washington City. There, on the 22d of March, 1820, Commodores Decatur and Barron fought with pistols. The former was mortally wounded, and died in the arms of his distracted wife that night, at the early age of forty years. She yet (1855) survives.

2 The Capitol is of the Corinthian order, built of white freestone. It is upon an eminence almost eighty feet above tide-water, in the center of a large square. It is composed of a central edifice, with two wings. The north wing was commenced in 1793, and finished in 1800, at a cost of $480,202. The corner stone was laid by President Washington. The apron and trowel which he used on that occasion, as Grand Master of the Masonic Order, are preserved, and were used by Grand Master B. B. French, at the recent (1851) ceremonies of laying the corner stone of another enlargement of the Capitol. The south wing was commenced in 1803, and finished in 1808, at an expense of $308,808. The central building was commenced in 1818, and completed in 1827, at a cost of $957,647. The whole edifice covers an area of one and a half acres, exclusive of the circular inclosure for fuel, which forms an elegant area and glacis on the west front. The length of the front, including the two wings, is 352 feet; the depth of the wings is 121 feet. A projection on the east, or main front, including the steps, is 65 feet wide, and another, on the west front, 83 feet wide. There is a portico of 22 columns, 38 feet high, on the east front, and on the west front is another portico of 10 columns. The whole height of the building to the top of the dome is 120 feet. Notwithstanding the spaciousness of the Capitol, it is found to be insufficient for the use of our growing republic, and another addition is now (1855) in process of erection.

The British set fire to both wings of the Capitol, and the president’s house, a mile distant, at the same time. The government officers and the people fled on the approach of the strong force of the enemy. The library of Congress, the furniture of the president’s house, with other articles of taste and value, were destroyed. The bridge across the Potomac, the public stores, and vessels and buildings at the navy-yard, were consumed; and, not content with this destruction, they mutilated the beautiful monument erected in front of the Capitol in honor of the naval heroes who fought at Tripoli. The library of Congress was replaced by the purchase of that of Mr. Jefferson, in 1815, for the sum of $23,000. It contained 7000 volumes, many of them exceedingly rare and valuable. A large portion of this library, which had been increased to 55,000 volumes, was destroyed by fire on the morning of the 24th of December, 1851. It was the result of accident. About 20,000 volumes were saved. The original portrait of Peyton Randolph, from which the copy printed on page 61 of this work was made, and also that of the Baron Steuben, by Pine, on page 135, were burned, together with a large collection of ancient and modern medals, presented by Alexander Vattemare, and other precious things, which can not be replaced. The original Declaration of Independence was again saved from the flames.

3 The National Institution for the Promotion of Science was organized at Washington City in 1840. The President of the United States is patron; the heads of the Departments constitute the directors on the part of the government, and an equal number of literary and scientific citizens are directors on the part of the institution. Its collections (to which have been added those of the United States Exploring Expedition, and the Historical Society and Columbia Institute of the District) are in the great hall of the Patent Office building, a room 275 feet long and 65 feet wide.

4 She died November 9, 1854, aged 97 years and three months.

5 These are the dishes alluded to in the following letter, written by Washington, at West Point, to Dr. John Cochran, surgeon general of the northern department of the Continental army. It is dated "August 16, 1779." The original is in the present possession of the New York Historical Society, where it was deposited by Dr. Cochran’s son, the late Major Cochran, of Oswego. See page 221, vol. i.


DEAR DOCTOR, – I have asked Mrs. Cochran and Mrs. Livingston to dine with me to-morrow; but am I not in honor bound to apprise them of their fare? As I hate deception, even where the imagination only is concerned, I will. It is needless to premise that my table is large enough to hold the ladies. Of this they had ocular proof yesterday. To say how it is usually covered is rather more essential; and this shall be the purport of my letter.

"Since our arrival at this happy spot, we have had a ham, sometimes a shoulder of bacon, to grace the head of the table; a piece of roast beef adorns the foot; and a dish of beans, or greens, almost imperceptible, decorates the center. When the cook has a mind to cut a figure, which I presume will be the case to-morrow, we have two beef-steak pies, or dishes of crabs, in addition, one on each side of the center dish, dividing the space and reducing the distance between dish and dish to about six feet, which without them would be nearly twelve feet apart. Of late he has had the surprising sagacity to discover that apples will make pies; and it is a question if, in the violence of his efforts, we do not get one of apples, instead of having both of beef-steaks. If the ladies can put up with such entertainment, and will submit to partake of it on plates, once tin but now iron (not become so by the labor of scouring), I shall be happy to see them; and am, dear doctor, yours," &c.


6 Montfauçon, in his Antiquity Explained, gives an account of the splendid processions of the conquerors of Persia, and the gold and silver vessels used in the tents of the generals. After mentioning the vast number of gold and silver vessels, chairs, tables, couches, &c., in the magnificent tent of Ptolemy Philadelphus, he thus describes the triumphal procession of Antiochus Epiphanes:

"First came twenty thousand Macedonians, the greatest Part of which had brass Shields, and others silver Shields. Then three thousand Horsemen of Antioch, most of whom had gold Collars and gold Crowns. Two thousand Horsemen more, all with gold Collars. Eight hundred young Men, each wearing a gold Crown. A thousand young Men, each carrying a silver Vase, the least of which weighed a thousand Drachms. Six hundred young Men more, each carrying a Vase of Gold; and two hundred Women, each with a Gold Vase to scatter Perfumes. Eighty Women carried on Chairs, the feet of which were Gold; and five hundred other Women, carried on Chairs with silver feet. This pompous Procession would appear very magnificent, were it not put after the former [Ptolemy Philadelphus], which surpasses every thing that can be imagined" – Supplement, tome iii., book v., p. 323.

I refer to this parade as an example of the contrast alluded to.

7 Doctor Franklin, in the codicil to his Will, wrote as follows: "My fine crab-tree walking-stick, with a gold head curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend of mankind, General Washington. If it were a scepter, he has merited it, and would become it. It was a present to me from that excellent woman, Madame De Forbach, the dowager duchess of Deux-Ponts, connected with some verses which should go with it."

8 Upon the thigh of the chief, in Leutze’s picture of Washington Crossing the Delaware, is a perfect representation of this sword.

9 See note on page 690, vol. i.

10 In 1841, John B. Murray, Esq., of New York, being in Liverpool, was informed that this press was in the possession of Messrs. Harrild and Sons, of London. Mr. Murray visited their establishment, and proposed to purchase the press for the purpose of sending it to America. The owners informed him that they had thought of presenting it to the government of the United States, and assured him that they would not part with it for any other purpose. After some negotiation, the Messrs. Harrild agreed to let Mr. Murray have it, on condition that he should procure a donation to the Printers’ Pension Society of London. The press was forwarded to Liverpool, and there exhibited. It attracted great attention; and finally the Reverend Hugh M‘Neile, of Liverpool, was induced to deliver a public lecture on the Life of Franklin, the proceeds from admission tickets to be given to the society above named. In November, Mr. Murray had the pleasure of remitting to the treasurer of the Printers’ Pension Society $752, to be appropriated to the relief of one pensioner, a disabled printer of any country, to be called the Franklin pension. Mr. Murray brought the press to the United States, and it now occupies an appropriate place among the historical relics of our country at the Federal metropolis.

The lecture of Mr. M‘Neil was published, with a fac simile of a letter written by Franklin in 1756, to the Reverend George Whitefield, and also a page containing an engraving of the press, which was printed upon the identical machine thus honored.

11 Charles Wilson Peale was born at Charlestown, in Maryland, in 1741, and was apprenticed to a saddler in Annapolis. He became also a silver-smith, watch-maker, and carver. Carrying a handsome saddle to Hesselius, a portrait-painter in his neighborhood, he begged him to explain the mystery of putting colors upon canvas. From that day his artist life began. He went to England, where he studied under Benjamin West in 1770 and 1771. He returned to America, and for fifteen years was the only portrait painter of excellence in this country. By close application he became a good naturalist and preserver of animals. He practiced dentistry, and invented several machines. During the war he conceived the grand design of forming a portrait gallery, and for that purpose he painted a great number of likenesses of the leading men of the Revolution, American and foreign. Many were of life size, and others in miniature. A large number of the former are now in the possession of P. T. Barnum, proprietor of the American Museum in New York, and grace the gallery of that establishment.

Mr. Peale opened a picture gallery in Philadelphia, and also commenced a museum, which, in time, became extensive. He delivered a course of lectures on natural history, and was very efficient in the establishment and support of the Academy of Fine Arts. He lived temperately, worked assiduously, and was greatly esteemed by all who knew him. He died in February, 1827, aged eighty-five years. I once saw a full-length portrait of himself which he painted at the age of eighty – a fine specimen of art.

12 The Rotunda is under the dome, in the middle of the center building. It is 95 feet in diameter, and of the same height. Just below the cornice, at the base of the dome, are four basso relievos, representing Smith delivered from Death by Pocahontas; The Landing of the Pilgrims; The Conflict of Daniel Boone with the Indians; and Penn’s Treaty. The Rotunda has eight panels, in four of which are pictures by Colonel John Trumbull, representing The Presentation of the Declaration of Independence to Congress; * The Surrender of Burgoyne; the Surrender of Cornwallis; and Washington resigning his Commission to Congress at Annapolis. Besides these is a representation of the Baptism of Pocahontas, by John G. Chapman; The Embarkation of the Pilgrims, by Robert W. Weir; and The Landing of Columbus, by John Vanderlyn. One panel remains to be filled.

* According to Colonel Trumbull’s circular, now before me, the picture of the Presentation of the Declaration of Independence, so familiar to every American, was begun in Europe in 1787. It contains faithful portraits of thirty-six members, who were then living, and of all others of whom any correct representation could, at that early period, be obtained. These, with others which have since been obtained, to the number of forty-nine, are faithfully given in the frontispiece to this volume. There are two heads among them who were not signers of the Declaration: John Dickenson and Thomas Willing, of Pennsylvania. Trumbull’s picture was engraved by A. B. Durand, the now eminent painter, in 1820-1. The paper on which it was printed was made by Messrs. Gilpin, at Brandywine, and the printing was executed in New York. It was first published in 1822, and is the original of the millions of copies of all sizes which are in circulation.

The portraits of the officers of the French army in America, delineated in the picture of the Surrender of Cornwallis, were painted from life, by Colonel Trumbull, at the house of Mr. Jefferson, at Paris. Copies of these portraits, fourteen in number may be found on pages 305 to 321 inclusive.

13 The following is a copy of the inscription: "SIMULACRUM ISTUD AD MAGNUM LIBERTATIS EXEMPLUM, NEC SINE IPSA DURATURUM, HORATIUS GREENOUGH FACIEBAT." – "Horatio Greenough made this effigy, for a great exemplar of freedom, and one destined only to endure with freedom itself."

Upon the granite pedestal are the following words, in large cameo letters: South side. – "FIRST IN PEACE." North side. – "FIRST IN WAR." West side. – "FIRST IN THE HEARTS OF HIS COUNTRYMEN."

14 This monument was wrought in Italy, by Capelano, in 1804, by order of the surviving officers of the siege of Tripoli, and paid for by them. It was erected in the navy-yard at Washington City in 1806, where it was damaged by the British in 1814. This fact was kept in perpetual remembrance by the inscription cut upon it, "Mutilated by Britons, August, 1814." When the monument was placed in its present position, that record was generously erased.

15 The head of Washington is from a bust by Houdon, in possession of Mr. Custis.

16 The following anecdote is illustrative of the generous and noble character of Washington in his early manhood: When colonel of the Virginia troops in 1754, he was stationed at Alexandria. At an election for members of Assembly, Colonel Washington, in the heat of party excitement, used offensive language toward a Mr. Payne. That gentleman struck the colonel a blow which prostrated him. Intelligence went to the barracks that Colonel Washington had been murdered by a mob. His soldiers rushed to the city to avenge his death. Joyfully they met him, and, being quieted by an address, they returned peaceably to their barracks. Next day, Mr. Payne received a note from Washington, requesting his attendance at the tavern in Alexandria. Mr. Payne anticipated a duel, but, instead of pistols in the hands of an irritated man, he saw wine and glasses, and was met with a friendly smile by his antagonist. Colonel Washington felt that himself was the aggressor, and determined to make reparation. He offered Mr. Payne his hand, and said. "To err is nature; to rectify error is glory. I believe I was wrong yesterday; you have already had some satisfaction, and, if you deem that sufficient, here is my hand – let us be friends." And they were so.

17 This view is from the lawn in front, looking down the Potomac. The mansion is built of wood, cut so as to resemble stone, like Johnson Hall, at Johnstown, in New York, and is two stories in height. The central part was built by Laurence Washington, a brother of the chief. The wings were added by the general. Through the centre of the building is a spacious passage, level with the portico, and paved with tesselated Italian marble. This hall communicates with three large rooms, and with the main stair-way leading to the second story. The piazza on the eastern or river front is of square paneled pilasters, extending the whole length of the edifice. There is an observatory and cupola in the center of the roof, from whence may be obtained an extensive view of the surrounding country.

The Mount Vernon estate was inherited by Laurence Washington, who named it in honor of Admiral Vernon. He bequeathed it to George, and it passed into his possession on the death of Laurence, which occurred in the mansion we are now noticing, on the 26th of July, 1752.

18 This key of the old Paris prison known as the Bastile, was sent by La Fayette to Washington after the destruction of that edifice by the infuriated populace on the 14th of July, 1789. This was the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastile was originally a royal palace, built by Charles the Fifth of France in 1369. It was afterward used as a state prison, like the Tower of London, and became the scene of dreadful sufferings and frightful crimes. When the mob gained possession of it in 1789, they took the governor and other officers to the Place de Grave, where they first cut off their hands and then their heads. With the key, La Fayette sent a plaster model of the old building. The model, somewhat defaced from long exposure in the Alexandria museum, is among the collections of the National Institute, while the key retains its ancient position at Mount Vernon. It is of wrought iron, seven inches long. La Fayette, in his letter to Washington which accompanied the key and picture, dated "Paris, March 17th, 1789," said, "Give me leave, my dear general, to present you with a picture of the Bastile, just as it appeared a few days after I had ordered its demolition, with the main key of this fortress of despotism. It is a tribute which I owe as a son to my adopted father; as an aid-de-camp to my general; as a missionary of liberty to its patriarch."

Thomas Paine, then in London, employed in constructing an iron bridge which he had invented, was chosen by La Fayette as the medium through which to forward the key to Washington. Paine, in his letter to the general accompanying the key, dated "London, May 1, 1789," wrote, "Our very good friend, the Marquis De La Fayette, has intrusted to my care the key of the Bastile, and a drawing, handsomely framed, representing the demolition of that detestable prison, as a present to your excellency, of which his letter will more particularly inform you. I feel myself happy in being the person through whom the marquis has conveyed this early trophy of the spoils of despotism, and the first ripe fruits of American principles transplanted into Europe, to his great master and patron. When he mentioned to me the present he intended you, my heart leaped with joy. It is something so truly in character, that no remarks can illustrate it, and is more happily expressive of his remembrance of his American friends than any letters can convey. That the principles of America opened the Bastile is not to be doubted, and therefore the key comes to the right place.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"I have permitted no drawing to be taken here, though it has been often requested, as I think there is a propriety that it should first be presented. But Mr. West wished Mr. Trumbull to make a painting of the presentation of the key to you."

19 It is supposed to have been written by an English gentleman. The following is a copy:


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 Luster in his Presence. Born the Benefactor of Mankind, He united all the qualities necessary to an illustrious career. Nature made him great; He made himself virtuous. Called by his country to the defense of her Liberties, He triumphantly vindicated the rights or humanity, And on the Pillars of National Independence Laid the foundations of a great Republic. Twice invested with supreme magistracy, By the unanimous voice of a free people, He surpassed in the Cabinet The Glories of the Field, And voluntarily resigning the Scepter and the Sword, Retired to the shades of Private Life. A spectacle so new and so sublime Was contemplated with the profoundest admiration, And the name of WASHINGTON, Adding new luster to humanity, Resounded to the remotest regions of the earth. Magnanimous in youth, Glorious through life, Great in Death; His highest ambition, the Happiness of Mankind; His noblest Victory, the conquest of himself. Bequeathing to posterity the inheritance of his fame, And building his monument in the hearts of his countrymen, HE LIVED The Ornament of the 18th Century; HE DIED regretted by a Mourning World."

20 The following is the clause referred to: "The family vault at Mount Vernon requiring repairs, and being improperly situated besides, I desire that a new one of brick, and upon a larger scale, may be built at the foot of what is called the Vineyard Inclosure, on the ground which is marked out, in which my remains, and those of my deceased relatives (now in the old vault), and such others of my family as may choose to be entombed there, may be deposited."

21 This exterior structure was made for the special accommodation and preservation of the sarcophagi inclosed within it, the vault being too small and damp for the purpose.

22 Lecture on America, before the Mechanic’s Institute at Leeds, November, 1850.

23 This was placed in the family vault in the autumn of 1837. Mr. Strickland wrote an interesting account of the transaction. While the sarcophagus was on its way by water, he and Mr. Struthers repaired to Mount Vernon to make arrangements for the reception. On entering, they found every thing in confusion. Decayed fragments of coffins were scattered about, and bones of various parts of the human body were seen promiscuously thrown together. The decayed wood was dripping with moisture. "The slimy snail glistened in the light of the door-opening. The brown centipede was disturbed by the admission of fresh air, and the moldy cases of the dead gave out a pungent and unwholesome odor." The coffins of Washington and his lady were in the deepest recess of the vault. They were of lead, inclosed in wooden cases. When the sarcophagus arrived, the coffin of the chief was brought forth. The vault was first entered by Mr. Strickland, accompanied by Major Lewis (the last survivor of the first executors of the will of Washington) and his son. When the decayed wooden case was removed, the leaden lid was perceived to be sunken and fractured.

In the bottom of the wooden case was found the silver coffin plate, in the form of a shield, which was placed upon the leaden coffin when Washington was first entombed. "At the request of Major Lewis," says Mr. S., "the fractured part of the lid was turned over on the lower part exposing to view a head and breast of large dimensions which appeared by the dim light of the candles to have suffered but little from the effects of time The eye sockets were large and deep, and the breadth across the temples, together with the forehead, appeared of unusual size. There was no appearance of grave-clothes; the chest was broad; the color was dark, and had the appearance of dried flesh and skin adhering closely to the bones. We saw no hair, nor was there any offensive odor from the body; but we observed, when the coffin had been removed to the outside of the vault, the dripping down of a yellow liquid, which stained the marble of the sarcophagus. A hand was laid upon the head and instantly removed; the leaden lid was restored to its place; the body, raised by six men, was carried and laid in the marble coffin, and the ponderous cover being put on and set in cement, it was sealed from our sight on Saturday, the 7th day of October, 1837. . . . . . The relatives who were present, consisting of Major Lewis, Lorenzo Lewis, John Augustine Washington, George Washington, the Rev. Mr. Johnson and lady, and Miss Jane Washington, then retired to the mansion."

24 This view is from the lawn, looking east; the buildings seen upon each side, and connected with the mansion by arcades, are the servants’ houses.

25 After Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia, with his motley force of whites and negroes, was driven from Gwyn’s Island in July, 1776, he sailed up the Potomac, and, with petty spite, laid waste several fine plantations upon its banks. He proceeded as far as the mills at Occoquan falls (where the village now is), and destroyed them. He was repulsed and driven on board his ships by a few of the Prince William militia, and then descended the river. This circumstance will be noticed more in detail hereafter. It is supposed that Dunmore intended to capture Lady Washington, and destroy the estate at Mount Vernon. A heavy storm and the Prince William militia frustrated his design.

26 Reverend Mason L. Weems was rector of Pohick Church for a while, when Washington was a parishioner. He was possessed of considerable talent, but was better adapted for "a man of the world" than a clergyman. Wit and humor he used freely, and no man could easier be "all things to all men" than Mr. Weems. His eccentricities and singular conduct finally lowered his dignity as a clergyman, and gave rise to many false rumors respecting his character. He was a man of great benevolence, a trait which he exercised to the extent of his means. A large and increasing family compelled him to abandon preaching for a livelihood, and he became a book agent for Mathew Carey. In that business he was very successful, selling in one year over three thousand copies of a high-priced Bible. He always preached when invited, during his travels; and in his vocation he was instrumental in doing much good, for he circulated books of the highest moral character. He died at Beaufort, South Carolina, May 23, 1825.

Mr. Weems wrote an attractive Life of Washington, which became so popular that it passed through some forty editions. He also wrote a Life of Marion, which the cotemporaries and fellow-soldiers of that leader disliked. They charged the author with filling his narrative with fiction, when facts were wanting to give it interest. He left a large and well-educated family.

27 A grand-daughter of Mrs. Washington, and sister of Mr. Custis of Arlington House, writing to Mr. Sparks, in 1833, respecting the religious character of Washington, said, "His pew was near the pulpit. I have a perfect recollection of being there before his election to the presidency, with him and my grandmother. It was a beautiful church, and had a large, respectable, and wealthy congregation, who were regular attendants."

28 Pohick Church derived its name from a small river near it, called by the Indians Powheek or Pohick. It is within old Truro parish, and its particular location is ascribed to Washington. Mount Vernon was within Truro parish, and in the affairs of the church Washington took a lively interest. About 1764, the old church, which stood in a different part of the parish, had fallen into decay, and it was resolved to build a new one. Its location became a matter of considerable excitement in the parish, some contending for the site on which the old edifice stood, and others for one near the center of the parish, and more conveniently situated. Among the latter was Washington. A meeting for settling the question was finally held. George Mason, who led the party favorable to the old site, made an eloquent harangue, conjuring the people not to desert the sacred spot, consecrated by the bones of their ancestors. It had a powerful effect, and it was thought that there would not be a dissenting voice. Washington then arose, and drew from his pocket an accurate survey which he had made of the whole parish, in which was marked the site of the old church, and the proposed location of the new one, together with the place of residence of each parishioner. He spread this map before the audience, briefly explained it, expressed his hope that they would not allow their judgments to be guided by their feelings, and sat down. The silent argument of the map was potent; a large majority voted in favor of the new site, and in 1765 Pohick Church was built.

29 Psalm lxxxiv., 3.

30 Washington was a vestryman, in 1765, of both Truro and Fairfax parishes. The place of worship of the former was at Pohick, and of the latter at Alexandria. Among the manuscripts in the library of the New York Historical Society, is a leaf from the church record of Pohick. It contains the names of the first vestry, and a few others. By whose desecrating hand it was torn from the records, or how it found its way to its present resting-place, I know not. The following is a copy from the original, from which I also obtained the signatures of Mason and Fairfax, given above. The names were signed at different times, during the summer and autumn of 1765.

"I, A B, do declare that I will be conformable to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England, as by law established.

"1765. May 20th. – Thomas Withers Coffer, Thomas Ford, John Ford.

"19th August. – Geo. Washington, Daniel M‘Carty, Edward Payne, Thomas Withers Coffer, Thomas Ford, Edw. Dulin, John Dalton, Danl. French, Richard Sanford, Thos. Shaw, Thos. Wren, Townsend Dade, Charles Broadwater, * J. W. Payne, William Adams.

"20th August. – G. W. Fairfax, John West, William Lynton, Wm. Gardner.

"16th September. – Edward Blackburn.

"17th September. – George Mason, Charles Henderson.

"October 21st. – John Possey.

"21st April, 1766. – T. ElIzy."

* Captain Broadwater was the owner of a slave who drove a team with a provision-wagon, belonging to his master, over the Alleghany Mountains in the memorable campaign in which Braddock was killed. The slave’s name was Samuel Jenkins. He was in the battle at the Great Meadows, but escaped unhurt. On the death of his master, when he was about forty years of age, he was purchased by a gentleman, who took him to Ohio and manumitted him. He settled in Lancaster, Ohio, where he resided until his death, which occurred in 1849, when he was 115 years old. He was probably the last survivor of Braddock’s men.

31 The Rappahannock is one of the largest streams in Virginia. It rises in the Blue Ridge, 130 miles northwest of its entrance into the Chesapeake Bay, 25 miles south of the Potomac. It is navigable for vessels requiring ten feet of water, to the Falls of the Rappahannock, a little above Fredericksburg.

32 This name has been given to Westmoreland on account of the great number of men, distinguished in our annals, who were born there. Washington; the two Lees, who signed the Declaration of Independence; the brothers of Richard Henry Lee (Thomas, Francis, and Arthur); General Henry Lee; Judge Bushrod Washington, and President Monroe, were all born in that county. Richard Henry Lee’s residence was Chantilly, on the Potomac. Monroe was born at the head of Monroe’s Creek. In Stratford, upon the Potomac, a few miles above the residence of Richard Henry Lee, is still standing one of the most remarkable buildings in this country. I greatly desired to visit it, and portray it for this work, but circumstances prevented. It was built by Mr. Thomas Lee, father of Richard Henry Lee, who was president of the King’s Council, and acting governor of Virginia. While governor, his dwelling was burned, and this edifice was erected for him, either by the government or by the voluntary contributions of London merchants, by whom he was greatly esteemed. There is no structure in our country to compare with it. The walls of the first story are two and a half feet thick, and of the second story, two feet, composed of brick imported from England. It originally contained about one hundred rooms. Besides the main building, there are four offices, one at each corner, containing fifteen rooms. The stables are capable of accommodating one hundred horses. Its cost was about $80,000.

33 The public career of Washington is illustrated in every part of these volumes, for he was identified with all the important events of the Revolution. His life is too well known to need an extended memoir. I will here briefly chronicle a notice of his family, and the events of his early life. He was descended from an old family of the English aristocracy. The name of Washington, as a family, was first known about the middle of the thirteenth century. Previously there was a manor of that name, in the county of Durham, owned by William de Hertburne, who, as was the custom in those days, took the name of his estate. From that gentleman have descended the branches of the Washington family in England and America.


The name is frequently mentioned in the local histories of England as belonging to persons of wealth and distinction. Sir Henry Washington was renowned for his bravery at the siege of Worcester against the parliamentary troops, and at the taking of Bristol. Monuments erected in churches with the name of Washington upon them, are proofs of their opulence. The ancient seat of the Washington family is said to be yet well preserved. It is built of stone of great solidity. The timber is chiefly of oak and in several of the rooms, particularly in the large hall or banqueting-room, are remains of rich carving and gilding in the cornices and wainscoting. Over the mantel-pieces, elaborately carved, are the family arms, richly emblazoned upon escutcheons. The walls of the house are five feet thick. The entire residence is surrounded by a beautiful garden and orchards. The old family monument, erected to the memory of "SIR LAURENCE WASHINGTON, Nite," grandson of the first proprietor of the name, of Sulgrave, and the ancestor of General Washington, is in the cemetery of Gardson Church, two miles from Malmsbury. It is of the mural style, and bears the family arms. Sir Laurence Washington died in May, 1643. Two of his sons, John and Laurence Washington, emigrated to Virginia about the year 1657, and settled at Bridge’s Creek, on the Potomac, in Westmoreland county. The eldest brother of the emigrants, Sir William Washington, married a half sister of George Villiers, duke of Buckingham.

John Washington, soon after settling in Virginia, engaged in military expeditions against the Indians, and rose to the rank of colonel. He married Ann Pope, by whom he had two sons, Laurence and John, and a daughter. Laurence married Mildred Warner, of Gloucester county, and had three children, John, Augustine, and Mildred. Augustine first married Jane Butler, by whom he had three sons and a daughter. His second wife was Mary Ball, to whom he was married on the 6th of March, 1730. By her he had six children; the first-born was GEORGE, the subject of our memoir. He was the great-grandson of the first emigrant to America, and sixth in descent from the first Laurence of Sulgrave. He was born on the 22d (11th O. S.) of February, 1732. His parents soon afterward removed to an estate in Stafford county, near Fredericksburg, where his father died on the 12th of April, 1743, and was buried at Bridge’s Creek. To each of his sons he left a plantation. To his oldest survivor he bequeathed an estate on Hunting Creek (afterward Mount Vernon), and to George he left the lands and mansion (pictured above) where his father lived. His mother had five young children to nurture and prepare for active life. It was a great responsibility, yet she performed her duty with entire success. To her guidance the world probably owes much of the good which has emanated from the career of her illustrious son.

Washington received few advantages from early school education. There were then few good schools in the colonies. The wealthy planters sent their children to England to be educated. The mother of George did not feel able to incur the expense, and he was obliged to rely upon her, a neighboring school, and occasionally a private tutor in mathematics, for his elementary knowledge. His practical mind developed nobly under even this deficient culture. He left school when almost sixteen years of age, pretty thoroughly versed in mathematics, and fully competent for the profession of a practical surveyor. When he was fourteen years old, his half-brother, Laurence Washington, having observed in him a fondness for military matters, obtained for him a midshipman’s warrant, in 1746. That gentleman had served under Admiral Vernon at the siege of Carthagena, and in the West Indies, and kept up a friendly correspondence with his commander. He regarded the British navy as an attractive field, where his young brother might become distinguished. The mother of young Washington partly consented; but when the time approached, and the boy with buoyant spirits prepared for departure, her maternal feelings were too strong to allow a separation, and the project was abandoned.

Laurence Washington married a daughter of the wealthy William Fairfax, who was for some time president of his majesty’s council in the colony. When young Washington left school, he went to live with his brother Laurence at Mount Vernon, and his intimacy with the Fairfax family led to those initial steps in his public life which resulted so gloriously. He was employed to survey the immense tracts of land in the rich valleys of the Alleghany Mountains, belonging to Lord Fairfax, a relative of William. When only sixteen years and one month old, he set out with George W. Fairfax (whose signature, with that of George Mason, is on page 215) to survey these immense tracts. They suffered great privations, and encountered many dangers; but this expedition proved a school of immense advantage to the future hero. He executed his task very satisfactorily, and soon afterward received an appointment as public surveyor. He devoted three years to this lucrative pursuit. His talents, probity, and general intelligence attracted the attention of the authorities of Virginia. The encroachments of the French on the western frontiers of the state, caused the governor to divide the province into militia districts, over which was placed an officer with the rank of major, whose duty it was to drill the people in military tactics. Over one of these districts young Washington was placed at the age of nineteen, with the pay of $750 a year. He had just entered upon this duty, when his brother Laurence, on account of failing health, was advised by his physicians to make a voyage to the West Indies. He desired the company of George, and they sailed for Barbadoes in September, 1751. They remained there a few weeks; but hope for the invalid faded away, and he resolved to go to Bermuda, and send George home for his wife. While in Barbadoes, young Washington was sick three weeks with the small-pox. As soon as he recovered, he sailed for home. At first, an encouraging letter came from Laurence; the second was desponding, and, giving up all hope of life, he returned home. He lingered a short time, and died at the age of thirty-four years. His estate of Mount Vernon, as I have elsewhere noticed, he bequeathed to George, in the event of his surviving daughter dying without issue. George was one of his brother’s executors, and the duties incumbent thereon occupied the principal part of his time.

When Governor Dinwiddie came to Virginia, he apportioned the colony into four grand military divisions, over one of which he placed Major Washington. He exercised the functions of his office with great skill and fidelity, and when the continued encroachments of the French and Indians called for a military expedition, Major Washington was sent to reconnoiter, and collect all possible information. In this perilous business he was successful, and so pleased was the governor and council, that they appointed him a commissioner to visit the French posts on the Ohio, and, in the name of the King of England, to demand an explicit answer to the inquiry, "By what right do you invade British territory?" The particulars of this expedition will be noticed hereafter. Washington was then only twenty-one years old. He not only faithfully executed the instructions of the governor, expressed on the face of his commission, but obtained a great amount of information respecting the numbers and resources of the enemy. For eleven weeks he suffered great hardships with his few companions, when he appeared at Williamsburg, and laid his report before the governor and his council. War was deemed necessary, and arrangements were made accordingly. The other colonies were called upon for aid. Washington was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the Virginia forces destined for Ohio, and in April he marched toward the Alleghanies. Some severe conflicts ensued, and finally, the expedition was defeated. The conduct of Washington was highly approved. When Braddock undertook an expedition against the enemy in the spring of 1755, Washington, at his request, accompanied him as one of his military family. In the battle at the Great Meadows which ensued, Braddock was killed. Colonel Washington behaved with the greatest bravery, and by his skill the army was saved from entire destruction. He returned to Mount Vernon, and continued in the military service until 1759, when he was elected a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses for Frederick county. He was married the same year to Mrs. Martha Custis, widow of Daniel Parke Custis. This event is noticed elsewhere. The estate of Mount Vernon having come into his possession, he established himself there three months after his marriage. From that period until his election as a delegate to the first Congress in 1774, his time was devoted to agriculture, and to the duties of a state legislator. He early espoused the cause of the colonists in their disputes with Great Britain, and when the crisis arrived, he was appointed, as we have noticed on page 563, volume i., commander-in-chief of the Continental army. From that time his life forms an important portion of the history of our Republic. His final retirement to Mount Vernon after the war, and his death, will be noticed hereafter.

* The shield with the stars and stripes, in the right part of the picture, forms the seal of General Washington. I have a copy of it, taken from the death warrant of a soldier.

34 This, and the picture of the residence of the Washington family on the Rappahannock, are from drawings by John G. Chapman, Esq. Under date of August 21, 1851, Mr. Custis kindly furnished me with an interesting account of the dedication of this first monumental stone to the memory of Washington. In June, 1815 (a few days before the corner stone of the Washington monument at Baltimore was laid), accompanied by two gentlemen (Messrs. Lewis and Grymes), he sailed from Alexandria in his own vessel, the Lady of the Lake, for Pope’s Creek. Arrived at the hallowed spot with the inscribed tablet, they proceeded to deposit it in a proper place. Desirous of making the ceremonial of depositing the stone as imposing as circumstances would permit," says Mr. Custis, "we enveloped it in the ‘STAR-SPANGLED BANNER’ of our country, and it was borne to its resting-place in the arms of the descendants of four Revolutionary patriots and Soldiers – SAMUEL LEWIS, son of George Lewis, a captain in Baylor’s regiment of horse, and nephew of Washington; WILLIAM GRYMES, the son of Benjamin Grymes, a gallant and distinguished officer of the Life Guards; the CAPTAIN of the vessel, the son of a brave soldier wounded in the battle of Guilford; and GEORGE W. P. CUSTIS, the son of John Parke Custis, aid-de-camp to the commander-in-chief before Cambridge and Yorktown. We gathered together the bricks of the ancient chimney that once formed the hearth around which Washington in his infancy had played, and constructed a rude kind of pedestal, on which we reverently placed the FIRST STONE, commending it to the respect and protection of the American people in general, and the citizens of Westmoreland in particular."

35 It is related that on one occasion, during the Revolution, his mother was with him at a large social gathering. At nine o’clock in the evening the aged matron approached her son, placed her arm in his, and said, "Come, George, it is time for us to be at home; late hours are injurious." With the docility of a child the general left the company with his mother; "but," as Mrs. Hamilton said to me, when speaking of the circumstance, "he came back again."

36 Colonel Fielding Lewis married Elizabeth, the sister of Washington. He was proprietor of half the town of Fredericksburg, and of an extensive territory adjoining. During the war, in which his feelings were warmly enlisted, he superintended the great manufactory of arms in his neighborhood. He was a local magistrate for many years, and often represented his county in the Legislature. He died in December, 1781, at the age of fifty-five years. His son George was at one time a captain in the Commander-in-chief’s Guard, and his other three sons were active public men. His daughter Elizabeth married {original text has "marrried".} Charles Carter, Esq.

37 While the boat was lying at the wharf at Alexandria on this occasion, Lieutenant Randolph, who had lately been dismissed from the navy, went on board, and proceeding into the cabin, where the venerable president sat at table reading and smoking, made a brutal and cowardly attack upon him. Randolph was instantly seized by the captain, when a number of his friends, who accompanied him, rescued him, and bore him to the wharf. A citizen of Alexandria hearing of the outrage, was so greatly incensed that he said to the president, "Sir, if you will pardon me in case I am tried and convicted, I will kill Randolph, for this insult to you, in fifteen minutes." "No, sir," responded the president, "I can not do that. I want no man to stand between me and my assailants, nor none to take revenge on my account. Had I been prepared for this cowardly villain’s approach, I can assure you all that he never would have the temerity to undertake such a thing again"

38 This is a sketch, from the original design of the monument, of the obelisk and its surmountings, intended to be placed upon the present structure. Why half-hewn marble has been allowed to remain so long unfinished that Vandal relic-seekers have ruined it, I can not comprehend. Is there not public spirit enough in Virginia to complete this memorial of her most honored daughter? Independent of the reflected glory of her son, she was a noble woman, because truly excellent in all her relations in life; a sincere Christian; kind and benevolent; and a mother who, like Cornelia, regarded her children as her jewels, and cherished them accordingly.

39 It is to me a matter of sincere regret, that when I was at Fredericksburg, I was not aware that Colonel Hugh Mercer, the son of the lamented General Mercer, who was killed at Princeton, was a resident of that city. Educated at the public expense, by order of Congress, his name and character belong to history. A portrait of this "foster-child of the Republic" will be found on page 668.

40 This view is from the front, looking east-northeast. The building is of imported brick, with an arcade in front. It was erected in 1740. An addition has been made to the rear, wherein is the judge’s bench.

41 The Marquis de Chastellux, who visited Hanover in 1781, mentions this tavern as "a tolerably handsome inn, with a very large saloon, and a covered portico, and destined to receive the company who assemble every three months at the court-house, either on private or public affairs."

I slept in the "large saloon;" and under shelter of the "covered portico" mentioned by the marquis, I sketched the court-house. The general external appearance of the house, I was informed, has been changed. The marquis relates the following anecdote respecting the passage of the English through that county "Mr. Tilghman, our landlord, though he lamented his misfortune in having lodged and boarded Cornwallis and his retinue, without his lordship having made the least recompense, could not help laughing at the fright which the unexpected arrival of Tarleton spread among a considerable number of gentlemen who came to hear the news, and were assembled in the court-house. A negro, on horseback, came full gallop to let them know that Tarleton was not above three miles off. The resolution of retreating was soon taken; but the alarm was so sudden, and the confusion so great, that every one mounted the first horse he could find, so that few of those curious gentlemen returned upon their own horses." – Travels, ii., 13, 14.

42 "The array before Mr. Henry’s eyes was now most fearful. On the bench sat more than twenty clergymen, the most learned men in the colony, and the most capable, as well as the severest critics before whom it was possible for him to have made his début. The court-house was crowded with an overwhelming multitude, and surrounded with an immense and anxious throng, who, not finding room to enter, were endeavoring to listen without in the deepest attention. But there was something still more awfully disconcerting than all this; for in the chair of the presiding magistrate sat no other person than his own father. Mr. Lyons opened the cause very briefly; in the way of argument he did nothing more than explain to the jury that the decision on the demurrer had put the act of 1758 entirely out of the way, and left the law of 1748 as the only standard of their damages. He then concluded with a highly-wrought eulogium on the benevolence of the clergy. And now came on the first trial of Patrick Henry’s strength. No one had ever heard him speak, and curiosity was on tiptoe. He rose very awkwardly, and faltered much in his exordium. The people hung their heads at so unpromising a commencement; the clergy were observed to exchange sly looks with each other; and his father is described as having almost sunk with confusion from his seat. But these feelings were of short duration, and soon gave place to others of a very different character; for now were those wonderful faculties which he possessed for the first time developed, and now was first witnessed that mysterious and almost supernatural transformation of appearance, which the fire of his own eloquence never failed to work in him; for, as his mind rolled along, and began to glow from its own action, all the exuviæ of the clown seemed to shed themselves spontaneously. His attitude, by degrees, became erect and lofty. The spirit of his genius awakened all his features. His countenance shone with a nobleness and grandeur which it had never before exhibited. There was a lightning in his eye which seemed to rivet the spectator. His action became graceful, bold, and commanding; and in the tones of his voice, but more especially in his emphasis, there was a peculiar charm, a magic, of which any one who ever heard him will speak as soon as ever he is named, but of which no one can give any adequate description. They can only say that it struck upon the ear and upon the heart in a manner which language can not tell. Add to all these his wonder-working fancy, and the peculiar phraseology in which he clothed its images, for he painted to the heart with a force that almost petrified it. In the language of those who heard him on this occasion, ‘he made their blood run cold, and their hair to rise on end.’

"It will not be difficult for any one who ever heard this most extraordinary man to believe the whole account of this transaction, which is given by his surviving hearers; and from their account, the court-house of Hanover county must have exhibited, on this occasion, a scene as picturesque as has been ever witnessed in real life. They say that the people, whose countenances had fallen as he arose, had heard but a very few sentences before they began to look up, then to look at each other with surprise, as if doubting the evidence of their own senses; then, attracted by some strong gesture, struck by some majestic attitude, fascinated by the spell of his eye, the charm of his emphasis, and the varied and commanding expression of his countenance, they could look away no more. In less than twenty minutes they might be seen, in every part of the house, on every bench, in every window, stooping forward from their stands, in death-like silence, their features fixed in amazement and awe, all their senses listening and riveted upon the speaker, as if to catch the last strain of some heavenly visitant. The mockery of the clergy was soon turned into alarm, their triumph into confusion and despair; and at one burst of his rapid and overwhelming invective, they fled from the bench in precipitation and terror. As for the father, such was his surprise, such his amazement, such his rapture, that, forgetting where he was, and the character which he was filling, tears of ecstasy streamed down his cheeks, without the power or inclination to repress them.

"The jury seem to have been so completely bewildered that they lost sight not only of the act of 1748, but that of 1758 also; for, thoughtless even of the admitted right of the plaintiff, they had scarcely left the bar when they returned with a verdict of one penny damages. A motion was made for a new trial; but the court, too, had now lost the equipoise of their judgment, and overruled the motion by a unanimous vote. The verdict, and judgment overruling the motion, were followed by redoubled acclamation from within and without the house. The people, who had with difficulty kept their hands off their champion from the moment of closing his harangue, no sooner saw the fate of the cause finally sealed, than they seized him at the bar, and, in spite of his own exertions and the continued cry of ‘order’ from the sheriffs and the court, they bore him out of the court-house, and, raising him on their shoulders, carried him about the yard in a kind of electioneering triumph."

43 The word slashes is applied to tracts of flat clay soil, covered with pine woods, and always wet. The clay is almost impervious to water, and as evaporation goes on slowly in the shadow of the pines, the ground is seldom dry. "The mill-boy of the slashes" was an electioneering phrase applied to Henry Clay some years ago, when he was a candidate for the presidency of the United States. Mr. Clay died at Washington City on the 29th of June, 1852, at the age of about seventy-five years. He was United States Senator at the time of his death, and represented his adopted state, Kentucky. He was the last survivor of the Commissioners who negotiated the treaty at Ghent, in 1815, with the representatives of the British government. His associates were John Quincy Adams, James A. Bayard, Jonathan Russell, and Albert Gallatin.



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