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It was the settled opinion of the General, that the great body of the American people were actuated by the love of country, and only needed information respecting the measures of government to induce them to support it. In the patriotick spirit, excited in 1798, he contemplated a resource, which might at all times be relied upon to repel foreign aggressions, and on this occasion he confidently expected that France would recede from her insolent pretensions.
But he did not live to see the fulfilment of his predictions. On Friday, December 13, 1799, while superintending some improvements on his estate, he was out in a light rain, which wet his neck and hair. The occurrence commanded no immediate attention, but in ine course of the ensuing night he was seized with an inflammation of the wind pipe. The complaint was accompanied with difficulty in swallowing, and with a quick and laboriops respiration.
Conceiving that bleeding would be salutary, a vein was opened by one accustomed to the use of the lancet, and fourteen ounces of blood taken from him ; but he could not be persuaded to send for his physician until the morning. About 11 o'ciock, on Saturday, Dr. Craik arrived, and perceiving his extreme danger, desired the advice of two consulting physicians; but their aid, in this case, was unavailing. Speaking soon became painful, and respiration contracted and imperfect, and at half past eleven on Saturday night, December 14, in the full possession of reason, he expired.
From the moment of attack, he believed the disease would prove mortal, and submitted to medical aid rather to gratify the wishes of his anxious friends, than from any expectation of relief. Some hours before death, with extreme difficulty, he intelligibly expressed a desire that he might be permitted to die without further disturbance. When he could no longer swallow, he undressed himself and got into bed, there to await his dissolution Dr Craik took the head of his
beloved and respected friend in his lap, to wnoin the General said, “ Doctor, I am dying, and have been dying for a long time, but I am not afraid to die.” With fortitude he bore the painful conflict, and with perfect serenity resigned himself to his God.
His interment on Wednesday, the 18th of December, was attended by religious services, and military honours; and a great concourse of people followed his hearse, as undissembled mourners.
The report of the death of General WASHINGTON reached the seat of Government before the information of his sickness. It excited the highest sensibility in the members of Congress, and overwhelmed them with affliction. A solemn silence prevailed in the House of Representatives for several minutes. At length Mr. Marshall, the present Chief Justice of the United States, mentioned the melancholy information. “ This information is not certain,” he observed," but there is too much reason to believe it true. After receiving intelligence,” he added, “ of a national calamity so heavy and afflicting, the House of Representatives can be but ill fitted for publick business.” In consequence, both Houses adjourned.
On opening the House the next morning, Mr. Mar shall addressed the Chair in the following manner.
“ The melancholy event which was yesterday an nounced with doubt, has been rendered but too certain Our Washington is no more! The Hero, the Patriot, and the Sage of America—the man on whom, in times of danger, every eye was turned, and all hopes were placed, lives now only in his own great actions, and in the hearts of an affectionate and afflicted people.
“ If, sir, it had even not been usual openly to tostify respect for the memory of those whom Heaven has selected as its instruments for dispensing good to man, yet, such has been the uncommon worth, and such the extraordinary incidents which have marked the life of him whose loss we all deplore, that the whole Amerı
can nation, impelled by the same feelings, would call, with one voice, for a publick manifestation of that sor row which is so deep and so universal.
“ More than any other individual, and as much as to one individual was possible, has he contributed to found this our wide spreading empire, and to give to the Western World, independence and freedom.
“ Having effected the great object for which he was placed at the head of our armies, we have seen him convert the sword into the ploughshare, and sink the soldier into the citizen.
“When the debility of our Federal System had become manifest, and the bonds which connected this vast Continent were dissolving, we have seen him, the Chief of those Patriots who formed for us a Constitution, which, by preserving the Union, will, I trust, substantiate and perpetuate those blessings which our Revolution had promised to bestow.
" In obedience to the general voice of his country, calling him to preside over a great people, we have seen him once more quit the retirement he loved, and in a season more stormy and tempestuous than war itself, with calm and wise determination, pursue tho true interests of the nation, and contribute, more than any other could contribute, to the establishment of that system of policy, which will, I trust, yet preserve our peace, our honour, and independence.
Having twice been unanimously chosen the Chief Magistrate of a free people, we have seen him, at a time when his re-election with universal suffrage could not be doubted, afford to the world a rare instance of moderation, by withdrawing from his high station to the peaceful walks of private life.
“ However the publick confidence may change, and the publick affections fluctuate with respect to others, with respect to him, they have, in war and in peace, in publick and in private life, been as steady as liis own firm mind, and as constant as his own exalted virtues
first in peace,
“Let us then, Mr. Speaker, pay the last trioute of respect and affection to our departed friend. Let the Grand Council of the nation display those sentiments which the nation feels. For this purpose I hold in my hand some resolutions which I take the liberty of offer. ing to the House.”
The resolutions, after stating the death of General Washington, were as follows.
“Resolved, That this House will wait on the Fregident in condolence of this mournful event.
“ Resolved, That the Speaker's chair be shrouded with black, and that the members and officers of the House wear black during the session.
Resolved, That a Committee in conjunction with one from the Senate, be appointed to consider on the most suitable manner of paying honour to the memory of the man, first in war,
and first in the hearts of his fellow citizens."
These resolutions had no sooner passed, than a written message was received from the President, transmitting a letter from Mr. Lear, “which," said the message, “will inform you that it had pleased Divine Providence to remove from this life our excellent fel low citizen, GEORGE WASHINGTON, by the purity of his life, and a long series of services to his country, rendered illustrious througn the world. It remains for an affectionate and grateful people, in whose hearts he can never die, to pay suitable honour to his memory."
On this mournful event, the Senate addressed to the President the following letter.
“The Senate of the United States respectfully take leave, sir, to express to you their deep regret for the loss their country sustains in the death of General GEORGE WASHINGTON.
“ This event, so distressing to all our fellow citizens, must be peculiarly heavy to you, who have long been associated with him in deeds of patriotism. Permit us, sir, to mingle our tears with yours
On this occa
sion it is manly to weep. To lose such a man, at such a crisis, is no common calamity to the world. Our country mourns a Father. The Almighty Disposer of human events has taken from us our greatest benefactor and ornainent. It becomes us to submit with re. verence to HIM who “ maketh darkness his pavilion."
“ With patriotick pride we review the life of our WASHINGTON, and compare him with those of other countries who have been pre-eminent in fame. Ancient and modern names are diminished before him. Greatness and guilt have too often been allied; but his fame is whiter than it is brilliant. The destroyers of nations stood abashed at the majesty of his virtues. It reproved the intemperance of their ambition, and darkcned the splendour of victory. The scene is closed, and we are no longer anxious lest misfortune should sully his glory; he has travelled on to the end of his journey, and carried with him an increasing weight of honour ; he has deposited it safely where misfortune cannot tarnish it ; where malice cannot blast it. Favoured of heaven, he departed without exhibiting the weakness of humanity ; magnanimous in death, the darkness of the grave could not obscure his brightness.
“ Such was the man whom we deplore. Thanks to God, his glory is consummated. WASHINGTON yet lives on Earth in his spotless example—His spirit is in Heaven.
“ Let his countrymen consecrate the memory of the heroick General, the patriotick Statesman, and the virtuous Sage. Let them teach their children never to forget that the fruits of his labours and his example are their inheritance."
To which the President made the following answer.
• I receive, with the most respectful and affectionate sentiments, in this impressive address, the obliging expressions of your regret for the loss our country has sustained, in the death of her most esteemed, beloved, and admired citizen.