First in War, First in Peace: A Eulogy For the Man Who Transcends the Ages

General of the Armies Forever

General of the Armies Forever

On this Date in History: General George Washington was eulogized on this date in 1799 with words that have come to describe him in American lore ever since. The ailing former president had died at his home, Mount Vernon, on December 14, 1799 and Congress chose a Virginian to deliver the eulogy. The man had been a close associate of Washington for much of his life and served with distinction under Washington’s command in the Continental Army. The eulogy went as follows….you’ll recognize the beginning:

Different Writing But Words Last Forever

Different Writing But Words Last Forever

“First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate and sincere—uniform, dignified and commanding—his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting. . . . Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. . . . Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.”

Who was the man who delivered those memorable words? “Light Horse” Harry Lee, who served as a general during the American Revolution who had a son named Robert. Robert E. Lee went on to establish quite a legacy himself. The mourning period for Washington went on for a couple of months (click here for details) with “mock” funerals and processions held in cities all across the fledgling nation. The official day of mourning was what would have been Washington’s 68th birthday, February 22, 1800. If you’ve been a consistent reader of this here blog, then you can tell the high regard that I have for General Washington. We often hear of lists of the “greatest presidents” and most often, you find Washington’s name at the top, even above Lincoln. People tend to forget that, without George Washington, we would probably not have a country. Many of the traditions and policies, even today, of the nation can be traced to George Washington, whom in 1976, President Ford posthumously appointed George Washington General of the Armies of the United States (history of title) and specified that George Washington would forever be considered the highest ranking American General Officer, past and present. Nobody does it better…not even Bond.

Try Reading This

Try Reading This

Prior to that, in 1663, the Indians were brought to Christianity. The Massachusetts Bay Colony founded the first college in America in 1636 with a primary purpose being to educate Puritan ministers. Two years later, it was named for John Harvard who had left the college his personal 400 book library and half of his estate. Harvard’s first president had a dream of educating Indians to preach Puritanism to their fellow Indians. Several Indians were chosen to attend Harvard’s “Indian College” but only four attended as the others died of “hecktick fevers.” Joel Iacoomis was returning from a trip to Martha’s Vineyard when he became shipwrecked on Nantuckett, where he was done in by the natives who apparently didn’t appreciate his education. One, named simply Eleazer, died after he wrote a elegy in Greek and Latin. John Wompas didn’t die but instead quit after a year and bought a house on Boston Common. He got thrown in jail for not paying his debts but escaped to be an interesting real estate agent…he sold an entire town he didn’t own! It’s unclear if he brokered the deal for Manhattan. It must be noted that John Harvard’s Journal in 1997 said that Wompas became a “mariner.” I like the real estate story better. Only Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck graduated. He spoke Greek and Latin. But, then he died of tuberculosis when the next spring rolled around. I suppose that the Indians figured that attending Harvard was not a recipe for a long life because no one else signed up.

The Indian College sat vacant for many years, housing just a printing press. It was on that press that John Eliot produced the Algonquian Bible. Eliot’s work was the first bible produced in America.  It was 1200 pages and was called, “probably as good as any version that has been made…in a previously unwritten and so called barbarous language.” It took three years to print and its no wonder considering the english word “begat” translated to “wunnaumonieu” in Algonquian. A rare first edition turned up and was sold at auction on this date in 1986 for $220,000, which seems like a paltry sum to me for something so rare…but then again, there’s probably no one left who can speak Algonquian so it’s really just an expensive conversation piece.

5 Responses

  1. I’m reading: Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. It is a book written from accounts of Washington from his own personal papers plus from letters, diaries, etc. of his contemporaries. It is an honest portrayal of this great man. He was not without faults but was a man of incredible character. This country is truly blessed to have had such a man as our first president.

  2. I’m pretty sure that he wrote Washington’s Crossing,which is a good weather book. So good to hear from you. Thought you had disappeared…or was buried in a snow drift

  3. I’m around still and reading your posts. Hopefully you’re busy with good things. Drop me a line sometime. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Mr. Symon.

  4. good

  5. This is just in, a distant cousin of George Washington, Alan B. Hall gave his life saving a young girl in Florida!

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