Wednesday, September 11, 2013

George Washington's Eulogy

Washington’s Eulogy
George Washington was America’s greatest man. After hs death on December 14, 1799, he was eulogized across the nation. The greatest of these eulogies was offered Feb. 8, 1800, by Fisher Ames of Massachusetts, who had been instrumental in gaining his state’s ratification of the Constitution. As a Federalist, Ames defeated Samuel Adams to serve the first four terms for Massachusetts in the House of Representatives.

Commemorating Washington’s life, Ames said, Countless witnesses attest that, however astonishing Washington’s many… qualities of mind and character might be, the sum was even greater than the parts.

Ames described his courage, energy, high principles, and steadfastness; his impartial justice and utter trustworthiness; [his]calm in the face of danger. He proclaimed him dauntless in adversity; one of that small number…who acted through life as if they were born, not for themselves, but for their country and the whole human race.
Echoing the young officers who served with Washington in his youth, Ames said that, even as a young man, Washington had "acquired a maturity of judgment, rare in age, unparalleled in youth. Washington served for five years, ages 21 to 26, as commander of the army of Virginia. “At a time when youth is almost privileged to be rash, Virginia committed the safety of her frontier, and ultimately the safety of America, not merely to his valor…but to his prudence. . . ."

From his earliest days, "The soul of Washington... appeared firm in adversity, cool in action. . .fearless of dangers that were personal to him, [yet]hesitating and cautious when they affected his country; preferring …duty before fame"

In the great crises of the American founding, "some man was wanting who possessed a commanding power over the popular passions, but over whom those passions had no power. That man was Washington. [The] office took honor from his acceptance… never was confidence in a man and a chief magistrate more widely diffused, or more solidly established. . . .

"The best evidence of reputation is a man’s whole life. [Washington] was the patriot without reproach; he loved his county well enough to hol
d his success in serving it an ample recompense…when his country needed sacrifices that no other man could or perhaps would be willing to make, he did not…hesitate. This was virtue in its most exalted character. . . .

"His preeminence is not so much to be seen in the display of any one virtue as in the possession of them all, and in the practice of the most difficult.

"His prudence was consummate…as a soldier, he was more solicitous to avoid mistakes that might be fatal than to perform exploits that are brilliant; and as a statesman, to adhere to just principles, however old, than to pursue novelties…his qualities were singularly adapted to the interest…of the country.

If he had strong passions, he had learned to subdue them, and to be moderate and mild. If he had weaknesses, he…excluded them from…his temper and conduct…the fame he enjoyed is of the kind that will last forever.

"Such a citizen would do honor to any country. The constant veneration and affection of his county will show, that it was worthy of such a citizen. . .
As a nation, we are grateful for George Washington.

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