| America First|
|by Lawton B. Evans|
|Collection of one hundred action-packed stories, covering the range of American history, from the first visit of Leif the Lucky to the exploits of Sergeant York in World War I. In relating the long, thrilling story of the trials and triumphs of the pioneers and patriots, the author aims to gratify the love of children for the dramatic and picturesque, to satisfy them with stories that are true, and to make them familiar with the great characters in the history of their own country. Ages 8-12 |
THE FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY
LET us learn something of the kind of man George Washington was—the man whom we have long known as the
"Father of his Country." To look at, he was a fine type of man and soldier,—the type that would attract
attention anywhere. He was tall, and held himself as straight as an arrow. He was six feet, two inches high,
and weighed two hundred and twenty pounds. Wherever he went, in whatever company, he was distinguished for his
splendid height and erect figure. His eyes were light blue, and so deeply sunken that they gave him a serious
expression. His face
 was grave and thoughtful, though his disposition was full of cheer and good-will.
In his young days, he was very athletic, with a strong right arm. It is said that he once threw a stone from
the bottom to the top of the Natural Bridge, in Virginia, a height of over two hundred feet; and that he threw
a piece of slate, rounded to the size of a silver dollar, across the Rappahannock River, at
Fredericksburg,—a feat no other man had ever been able to accomplish.
In fact, during the Revolution, though some of the backwoodsmen in the army were men of great size and
strength, yet it was generally believed that Washington was as strong as the best of them. One day, at Mt.
Vernon, some young men, who boasted of their power, were throwing an iron bar to see who could cover the
greatest distance. Washington, watching them, said, "Let me try my hand at this game." Without taking off his
coat, he seized the bar, and, to the amazement of the party, threw it a considerable distance further than any
of the others had done.
He was a fine wrestler when he was a young man. At one time, he was witnessing a wrestling match, and the
champion challenged him to a trial of strength. Washington turned, and, without a word, seized the strong man,
and, to the great
 amusement of the crowd, threw him flat on the ground. The defeated champion said he felt as though a lion had
grabbed him, and, when he hit the ground, he expected every bone in his body to be broken.
Washington was also very fond of parties and dancing. He often rode, on winter nights, a distance of ten
miles, to attend a dance, and would reach home just in time for breakfast. He kept this up until he was
sixty-four years old, when he had to write to a friend, "Alas! my dancing days are over." He liked to dress
well, and was very fussy about the quality of cloth and the fit of his garments. He wore ruffled shirts,
silver and gold lace on his hat, scarlet waistcoats, blue broadcloth coats, with silver trimmings, and
marble-colored hose. In fact, the "Father of his Country" was something of a dandy, and kept it up to the end
of his life.
Like most soldiers, Washington was fond of horses, and was a splendid and daring rider. As he rode at the head
of his troops, he was a conspicuous figure. Lafayette once said of him, "I never beheld so superb a horseman."
Jefferson wrote, "Washington was the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen
 Washington was very methodical in his habits, and thrifty in business. He kept a diary, putting down daily
happenings of his life, and keeping an accurate account of what money he received and how it was spent. He
became wealthy, and, at the time of his death, was worth a half million dollars. He was then the richest man
in America. His estate at Mt. Vernon covered eight thousand acres, the slaves and laborers numbering five
hundred. His orders were, "Buy nothing, you can make yourself." Hence, he was the greatest farmer of the day.
He made all his own flour and meal, and even the flour barrels. The cloth for the house and for the farm hands
was woven on the premises. Like all rich Virginia planters, he kept open house, and there was rarely a time
when his table was without one or more guests. He said his house was more like a tavern than anything else.
He was very correct in his habits. He ate carefully and slowly, and the simplest of food. He was grave and
dignified, and seldom laughed, though he was not of a gloomy disposition. In almost every relation of public
and private life, his character is worthy of study and of emulation.
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