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20 UNITED STATES.
voice to its distinguished head, and again accepted; but not for a third period, although by
many greatly desired.
It had been bnly by the exercise of qualities precisely adapted to the emergencies whieh
required them, that Washington had been so successful. His personal courage was un-
questionable. His firmness and moderation were even constitutional, habitual, and uniform.
He sincerely loved his country, and devoted himself, to its interests in a manner perhaps un-
precedented. The people at large appreciated his character, and had entire confidence in his
integrity; and it was only prejudice or ignorance, or the reckless violence of party spirit, eagerly
bent on its object, and unscrupulous as to the methods of attaining it, which opposed and thwarted
his well-considered measures, gave trouble to his impartial government, and vilified his person.
In fact, in the great points of view under which we are to consider this so justly celebrated
man, so remarkably prepared in the providence of God for the stations he was called succes-
sively to fill, it will be proper to notice, —
First, the contest for freedom, or the revolution. And in this we see a people widely
scattered, comparatively poor, living under different laws, although dependent on the same
crown, having rivalries, jealousies, antipathies of their own, and yet necessitated, from the
very nature of the case, to act together. He was the instrument of thus connecting them, by
the weight of his own character, and the wisdom and energy of his conduct, and the revolution
Next came the substitution of a more effective central government for that of a Congress
which had no power to enforce its decisions, and for a long period little ability to decide.
And the convention of 1787, four years after the peace, was presided over by him. In that
was formed the constitution, under which, with comparatively few amendments, the United
States have existed in honor and prosperity for more than sixty years.
No one, probably, of its framers better knew than he the difficulties to be met, the powers
necessary to be created and exercised, and the authority requisite to be given, in order to
constitute an efficient yet paternal government; although this knowledge were in him more
the result of experience, aided by sound, practical good sense, than of sedentary study and
learned research. For these the corporal activity of his pursuits and labors had allowed him
little leisure. But there -were in association with him minds of high intelligence. Of this
character were Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. To these, and such as
they, were confided the great concerns of adjusting and balancing the respective depart-
ments, — legislative, judicial, and executive, — and of founding, at length,^undcr his super-
intendence, an empire of laws based on the welfare of the whole community ; laws under which
any aggregate of population, if disposed to be orderly, industrious, and frugal, or any number of
states, if loyally affiliated to the federal government, can enjoy as great prosperity as it falls
to the lot of human institutions to secure.
The third view is that in which, after the perils, sufferings, sacrifices of the revolution, and
the establishment of principles of government, partaking of the nature as well of concession,
agreement, and compromise, in certain cases, as of conservative arrangements in others, we
behold the successful warrior and upright legislator, first in the esteem, veneration, gratitude,
and confidence of his countrymen, becoming their first president. At the head now of a new
nation, his habits of intercourse must form precedents for his successors. The formalities of
his administration will characterize future courses; and, happily, his inclination, judgment, and
resolution established a just medium " between too great stateliness, resembling the courts
of foreign princes, and the too great familiarity which would bring government into contempt.
If I were to exhibit the spirit of the constitution," observed recently the present able
secretary of state, in its living, speaking, animated form, I would refer always, always to the
administration of the first president, George Washington. And if I were now to describe a
patriot president, I would draw his masterstrokes and copy his design. I would present his
picture before me as a constant study for life. I would present his policy, alike liberal, just,
narrowed down to no sectional interests, bound to no personal objects, held to no locality, but