Depending on your Point of View…

Christina:

On this Memorial Day, 2013, I had occasion to re-read this post from May, 2009. Though a bit wordy and with a few mistakes, I decided to reblog it today.

May the mighty God continue to bless the United States of America, always imparting His mind and wisdom to our leaders.

Originally posted on Jesus, the Revolution & You:

In my reading and studies of our nation’s beginnings, I am frequently struck by an angle or viewpoint that may not be the one usually pursued.

It is said that there are two sides to every story, right? (Personally, I maintain there are at least three…!) Have you ever considered viewing the American rebellion years leading to the events of 1776 from the perspective of the English monarchy? Not, of course, that England was in the right – it just makes for, may I say, an interesting approach. From our viewpoint, perhaps ‘absurd’ would be a better word, in light of where America stands today… I just find it intriguing how a situation, or an individual, can be perceived so very differently by those involved, or by on-lookers, based on…based on what? Needs? Desires? Duty? How we can be so absolutely certain of a thing, but time may soon…

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The First First Couple

Sometime during 2007, Bruce Chadwick, journalist, author & lecturer, published his book ‘The General & Mrs. Washington.’ Sometime yesterday, I reached page 34, finishing up Chapters One and Two. Usually at about this point, I start wandering off in the direction of another book…(commitment issues, maybe?)…but already I’ve jotted down so many quick notes, and have begun forming so many sentences in my mind/article ideas that I decided to just start writing now and see where it takes me.

What reeled me in enough to do this was, as I read descriptions of many of the same life events of the young Colonel Washington that I researched 2 & 3 years ago, though written from another’s perspective and in another’s style – I was struck yet again with what I see as the hand of God at work – in Washington’s life and in America’s formation. All over again, I am seeing the patterns & principles that birthed ‘Jesus, the Revolution & You’. They could not be any more clear.

I rejoice in this ‘rebirth’!

In addition, my rejoicing is energized & fueled by the recently acquired knowledge that apparently the statistics counter I’ve been using on my site, is inaccurate. This entire past year, and especially lately, while I’ve been struggling (sometimes mightily) to maintain! to keep on keepin’ on! in the face of low traffic & readership, it appears that J,R &Y was drawing much more attention than I’d realized. And while my version of ‘much more attention’ pales in comparison to probably every other blog & website in the world! still, I am completely renewed. Completely. My perseverance has been vindicated. I followed my heart, I followed the Lord, and He has not disappointed.

But back to the General & Mrs. W. -

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Learning about our august Founding Father’s youthful, possibly prideful ambitions and first affairs of the heart sheds a whole other light on him! We see reflected in Washington the young man, our own blind spots, our own tangled relationships. Everything did not always fall into place. Misguided motives caused problems! And yet, ever true, I saw that none of these things proved an obstacle to Washington’s destiny. I saw, repeatedly, ‘failure’ turned around.

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A big part of Washington’s destiny turned out to be Martha.

Personally, I believe in soul mates…you know, ‘the One’!  Yet many of us work our way through a few or more, on our way to that grand love. Perhaps, for some, there is no ‘the One’ – but I must say, as I continue to read about Martha Dandridge Custis (finally Washington), I see those signs pointing in that ‘the One’ direction.

And not only do I see the then future Mrs. Washington being prepared & preserved for that role. I have also come to see her as a contender in her own right.

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So, think about this – if you are going to be the wife of the man who will be vitally, strategically involved in the formation & emergence of a new nation, who will becomes its first Commander-in-Chief and bear unimaginable burdens of responsibility…then its Leader…you would have to be very well & specially prepared yourself. A woman of substance & sobriety, capable, perhaps bold yourself. Yet also gracious, compassionate & I would think empathetic. Toughened just enough, but not hardened…

By the time Washington’s destined wife entered his life, she had already experienced enough difficulties & heartache to have developed just those very qualities.

And, as it also turned out, Martha Dandridge Custis had, by that time, become the richest widow in America – and young George Washington was “sinking deeply into debt.” (Henry Weincek, An Imperfect God)

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The meeting of George & Martha.

It was an afternoon in early March, 1758, and George Washington was returning from a visit to a doctor in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was probably not the best day to meet one’s future bride. Washington had been ill for months, at times bedridden and unable to walk. Though diagnosed as having dysentery, Washington believed he was dying of tuberculosis; he had travelled to the office of Dr. John Anson, an experienced surgeon, for a final diagnosis and hopefully a cure. Anson reaffirmed the verdict of dysentery, assuring Washington that he would recover. Buoyed with hope & armed with medicines for pain, George Washington was heading home. It could be assumed that he was still feeling weak.   “He appeared pale and gaunt, seemed tired, and found it hard to carry himself as well as he usually did.” (Bruce Chadwick, The General & Mrs. Washington)   Perhaps the lifting of his imagined death sentence energized him enough to make a spur-of-the-moment decision to drop in unannounced at a friend’s home along the way.

That friend, William Chamberlayne, happened to be hosting a gathering of other friends that day, at his plantation on the banks of the Pamunkey River. And among those friends was the recently widowed Martha Dandridge Custis.

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I don’t know that anyone has called this “chance” encounter of the young colonel & the rich widow ‘love at first sight’. Plus, it probably wasn’t ‘first sight’, as George & Martha would’ve travelled in the same social circles.  But records tell us that, as the afternoon wore on into evening, then late night, they were drawn into a very long, one-on-one conversation.  Which resumed the next morning and lasted into early that afternoon (Martha having planned to stay overnight and Washington having been invited at the last minute.) When the two parted that day, Washington left with an invitation from Martha to visit her at her home on her plantation…White House.

Hmmm…..        

…more about George & Martha, coming up…


 

Human Rights Violation? What about National Sovereignty?

“There’s growing concern that under President Obama, the United States of America will turn into the United States of Europe. “- Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel, American Center for Law & Justice, “Is Our Sovereignty at Risk?”

A lot of times, until one is changed, things happening around a person don’t seem ‘real’. Until one is changed, or unless it affects you…it’s easy (and perhaps better!) to be oblivious to certain realities. Though it causes me a certain amount of tension, even suffering, I thank God that He has, in this respect, changed me. I am glad that, sometimes, I am far more aware of national & international events, events that may threaten American life & Liberty.

There is a praise/worship song I used to hear with lyrics that went something like this: “He did not bring us out this far, to take us back again…” Did God really bring America to this point of her existence in time & history, to let her be trampled and destroyed by the very ones who should be upholding her, and her Constitution? Did He really prepare brilliant, patriotic men and their hearts, for such a time as Revolutionary America, and did He really engage those thirteen states in years of battle & bloodshed unto victory, for, ultimately, naught? Will our judiciary and our systems be overruled by others, foreigners with foreign laws? Because isn’t that will happen if American domestic issues are placed under the jurisdiction of United Nations courts & tribunals? Is an act such as President Obama’s filing of a Human Rights complaint with the UN, against the state of Arizona for her amended Immigration Laws (SB 1070), the beginning of what should never begin?

Am I the only one to whom this sounds ludicrous, that a President files charges against a part of his own country? To me, it feels as if ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark’ here…it feels sickening, and it is frightening.


“When the Left cannot win at the ballot box…it overrules the people in the courts”, writes Ben Johnson of ResistNet.com. “Now that Obama is not sure he can prevail in the courts, he has overruled the American people by hauling Arizona and the two-thirds of Americans who support its law before the United Nations.” What is going on here? What is Obama doing?

Perhaps he genuinely believes human rights violations are incurring, or the potential for such exists, in Arizona’s amendments to its immigration laws. In the many articles I’ve been reading/ skimming, I did see something, somewhere, that seemed to indicate that. (I have not yet taken the time to view the situation from that perspective.) I’m in the process of reading these laws, and still have a ways to go…but so far, it seems apparent that the motive behind any amendment is solely & entirely that of protecting the citizens of Arizona (and, btw, the rest of us!) from the dangers that can & do result from illegal immigration. Drug trafficking, human trafficking, and opportunity to aid in the spread of terrorist activity, to name a few, must be stemmed at the source. By ’source’, I mean ’border’. Can protecting one’s borders really be equated with human rights violations? And, even if so be, violations of such severity that the great United States of America needs to be monitored & judged by other nations? Really? Can’t this matter be handled – speaking of borders – within our own?

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“…believe me, fellow-citizens…history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.” – George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

Washington foresaw “unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained.” (Re-visiting Pre-Election Concerns)
Washington saw the betrayal and/or sacrificing of national interests, presenting itself as “gild{ed} with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good…” (ibid)

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” President Obama is embarking on a new and troubling direction for our nation. Many are calling it the “Selling of America” – surrendering our national sovereignty – our constitutional framework – all in the interest of international cooperation.” - Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel, American Center for Law & Justice, “Is Our Sovereignty at Risk?”


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“There’s growing concern that under President Obama, the United States of America will turn into the United States of Europe. “
(ibid.)

George Washington & Political Parties

When I first began this blogging venture, and became exposed to the facts of early American history, certain topics caught my attention. I made mental & written notes. Other issues intervened, and I’ve not even gotten close to pursuing some of those earlier research/study goals. Watching ‘Meet the Press’ this morning, listening closely to Senator Graham’s analyses of the Obama administration’s record so far, and his thoughts & recommendations for going forward, glimpses of those goals re-surfaced.

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One of the first things I remember learning, that gave me pause, was how political parties came into being in the young United States of America. The essentially two-party system that developed during Washington’s first term of Presidential office has remained to this day. Yet it always, eventually, generates combativeness. (Or is the crux of the matter an already-existing inner combativeness in man? A predilection towards taking sides…? and a political party provides convenient outlets? )

Inaugurated in the spring of 1789, Washington’s first order of business involved creating the first Cabinet, ‘setting up house’ (House?), so to speak. Filling those positions with exceptional & talented men. Establishing procedures. Once accomplished, our first President and his Congress tackled the issue of the nation’s finances. (Sound familiar?) A full year had passed before America’s new government reached this point, and about another half-year passed before things heated up concerning fiscal matters.

(Somehow, money is almost always in the mix…any mix…!)

Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of Treasury, placed the idea of a national bank on the table. Jefferson, Madison and Randolph opposed this idea, arguing that the Constitution did not make allowances for Congressional incorporation of institutions. Boiled down, the debate was between ‘strict interpretation’ of the Constitution versus ‘implied powers’, and Hamilton’s ‘implied powers’ stance prevailed. But so did the heart of the conflict, and from it our first political parties were born. Jefferson’s camp called themselves ‘Republicans’ and Hamilton’s followers, ‘Federalists’.

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“One of the expedients of party to acquire influence…is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.” - George Washington, Farewell Address (1796)
 
Has anything been better said than this! Our first President and Commander-in-Chief was very, very concerned with maintaining the unity of the United States. He wrote these words under the heading of causes which could disrupt that union. Washington went on to counsel the citizens of America against buying into party politics: “You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations;” His warning that such ‘misrepresentations’ “…tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection” surely applies to American citizens today.

Washington saw clearly the possible outcome of ’the will of a party’ replacing ‘the delegated will of the Nation’ . He foresaw “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men {being} enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government…” He foresaw such operations as springing from intent to obstruct the execution of our laws, withfatal tendency’. Though declared intentions for these operations may seem plausible, and for occasional seasons may ‘answer popular ends’, ultimately, Washington saw a kind of Machiavellian design at work.

And, with insight as piercing as the quickened & powerful word of God, discerning the thoughts & intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12), Washington lays bare the ‘spirit of party’, which he saw as being deeply rooted in human nature & passion, and aggravated by resentments. He understood “that love of power, and proneness to abuse it” found in human hearts, and believed the pitting of one faction against another could produce over time enough revenge, misery and ‘disorders’, as to impel the populace back towards monarchy. (His thoughts on such a consequence of party activity reflect the similar fears of Benjamin Franklin. Though Franklin’s concern over a regression to monarchy was for a different reason, these two pillars of the American Revolution both saw this horrid outcome as being within the realm of possibility.)

Washington also saw access of foreign “influence and corruption” to our country being gained through the agitations and animosities of party rivalry. (I’m still trying to think this one through…)

Of course, our first Commander-in-Chief was aware of the ’checks and balances’ effect of political parties, as pertains to the administrations of government & preservation of liberty. Washington writes about “the necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power” . But he believed that there would always be more than enough of that ’spirit of party’ to go around, and that vigilant effort to contain it, “by force of public opinion” must constantly be applied. And all this MUST take place within Constitutional bounds. Any other means of effecting change, “change by usurpation” in Washington’s words, “…is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”
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I have taken all the words of George Washington, quoted above, from his Farewell Address of 1796. In the course of reading it, I was struck by similarities between some things Washington had described and descriptions of the Body of Christ, as explained in the twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians. (Though many label George Washington as being a deist, and/or a secular leader only, I beg to differ.) Washington’s consistent and strong concern that the union of our nation be always maintained & protected mirrors the counsel of the apostle Paul: “That there should be no schism in the body {of Christ}; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” (1 Corinthians 12: 25)
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While writing this post, many concepts were glimpsed, along these lines, or at least springing from the realm of the Spirit. I would like to go into a bit more detail on this subject, if I have not lost those glimpses! At this point, I am thinking ’separate post’.
‘til then….
 
 
 
 
 

Christopher Columbus has taken Me by Surprise!

Christopher Columbus was not, as our history lessons taught us, seeking a new trade route to the Indies when he set sail westward in August of 1492.

Christopher Columbus was following what he believed was a call & a mission from Almighty God, a mission to bring the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the vast, pristine land we now know as America.

If I had not ‘happened across’ a mention of ‘The Light and the Glory’ (see previous post) some months ago, I still would not know this. Now that I do, I’m finding more information available on this subject than I would’ve thought. As I’ve begun to delve into the topic, rather than my original sense of elated euphoria, I’m feeling a heaviness. And I feel sick. I’m not sure if I am physically getting sick, or if the weight of what I’m learning is having a psychosomatic effect. Either way, this dye has been cast & I’m in it now…

Following several relevant articles, I’m getting an impression of a passionate but prideful, headstrong man, who, though seemingly following his heart-call from God, succumbed to ambition, greed and cruelty before all was said & done. And while at first, he appears to the novice reader to be, truly, the man of God’s choice for God’s purposes, (and still appears so to me!), upon learning more one finds that some of his beliefs/supposedly divinely-inspired goals never happened…Columbus was off the mark. (Or so it seems…) Moreover, mention is made more than once of Columbus’ eventual ‘madness’.

No matter his flaws & downfalls. We all have them. Even King David, whom Scripture labels ’a man after God’s own heart’, committed adultery and murder, so…a man’s life mission, once accomplished, ought not necessarily be judged according to his mistakes, though grave. In this case, those issues are separate. And when we consider the enormity of Columbus’ victorious discoveries, and the life-threatening risks involved in navigating three thousand miles of essentially uncharted seas…like I said, separate issues. I can’t even fathom the kind of courage it would take to sail into the unknown like that. I wonder, without such pride, or desire for fame, would one ever maintain such focus, keeping their ‘eye on the prize’ throughout? Maybe the less ‘lovely’ aspects of the character of Christopher Columbus in fact provided the staying power needed to accomplish Divine purpose.

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I have written often of America’s first President, George Washington, and written with deep gratitude & profound respect. It has always been clear to me that here was a man chosen, equipped and empowered by God, for His great purposes in raising up this great country. And I have been so impacted by the character of Washington. The esteem in which I hold him will endure forever.

Though a much different personality (or so I find, at this point in my discoveries), Christopher Columbus has reached into my heart and found a forever place as well.

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I am mentally circling the landing field, trying to pinpoint which aspect of Columbus’ life & character I want to tackle first….if I wait ‘til I decide, then finish actually writing it!…could be another couple weeks before I get anything posted! So, for today, the above is all I have ready….


Jefferson…Freedom…They’re in my Blood

In the course of preparations for a future Bill of Rights -related post, I’ve returned to some of my George Washington/ Thomas Jefferson books & notes, and have been re-reading, or reading for the first time, relevant sections. And of course, there is no way that I can be dabbling my ‘toes’ in those waters & not want to dive right back in! Earlier this evening, sitting at the table with pen in hand & markers nearby, I was reading a chapter in ‘Thomas Jefferson: America’s Philosopher-King’, about Jefferson’s years in Europe. I found myself smiling. Not only was I smiling, I realized that I had this smitten, almost falling-in-love kind of feeling! How happy am I! I ask you, how could anyone not become enamoured with this man? Let me borrow a couple of phrases from this chapter, to make my point. According to the author Max Lerner, Jefferson was “…a kind of radar-perceiver of the tremors and rumblings in the world around him…with a pen sharp enough to impale them for the centuries in unforgettable phrases.” Wow. May there never be a time in my life when I am not awed by the greatness of our Founders, and even more so by the richness of the immeasurable treasures imparted to them by the Creator.

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So, I find myself, once again, at Jefferson’s doorstep. May I say, I am very glad to be here.

But it isn’t just about the author of the Declaration of Independence that I write at this time. Sorting through a collage of ideas & impressions, I’m still feeling my way, not sure exactly what I want to say. I become more sure every day that the only way to reclaim the American dream is by a return to Constitutional principles, for those who have left them behind. Our leaders & our educators need to look to our Founding Father, the Founding Father who led our first army into battle, George Washington, and re-learn the beliefs he held forth, about & for America. We need to return to first principles.

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We know it has been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. As vigilance is required at our borders & in our ports, so is it required in our minds & in our thinking as well. We who call on the name of Jesus know that our adversary the devil ‘prowleth about’, seeking whom he may devour, and I have to assume this same devil devours, besides lives & souls, truth in thinking also. Wrong conclusions are drawn, and the course of history changes for the worse.

Yesterday I read this poignant, powerful article – “The American Dream: Why the Tyrants Can Never Win” . It’s power is in it’s truth. The author points out the connection between freedom and laziness. Specifically, freedom is hard-won, and yielding to lazy dependency on a ‘nanny-state’ is ‘the essence of captivity and tyranny’. I extrapolate this formula to include any dependencies, void of one’s own efforts to achieve & survive. Know for a certainty that these supposed solutions to your needs will, one way or another, enslave.

Sometimes, I think my life is hard, and I will confess that I sometimes find myself thinking along the lines of, why, God? You know the drill – you believe in Him, you try to do the right thing, you seek to aid in ushering in His way and His kingdom, etc., etc. – or, maybe you don’t, but still, your life isn’t coming together, it’s too difficult. Why, God? In reading this article today, for myself, I think I’ve found at least part of my answer. I’ve been fighting to hold onto freedom, the right to choose, to follow my heart. No doubt, freedom has her price.
The article is brief, please read it. I hope it touches you the way it has reached into my heart.

Back to my Hero, George Washington!

Quite often of late, I find myself thinking about a particular aspect of George Washington’s life, and that aspect is his death – the manner of it and the timing of it. I can’t help but be impacted by its swiftness. Washington stood strong in time & history, but it seems as though, once his monumental purpose was fulfilled, he was almost immediately removed from the stage. And I have to wonder, why was that?

Previous research has shown me that our first President ofttimes fervently desired a return to the privacy of domestic life. One such example,taken from my post “You’re Only Halfway Home, General” -
“After the {Revolutionary} war’s end, Washington wanted to retire. He very much wanted to retire! In a letter written to a former colleague, in February of 1784, Washington expressed these sentiments: ” I feel now, however, as I conceive a wearied Traveller must do, who, after treading many a painful step, with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached the Goal…and from his House top is looking back…tracing…the Meanders by which he escaped the quicksands and Mires…” (The Writings of George Washington) Little did he know that he wasn’t even close to being done with his travels in public life.”

Prior to this Revolutionary War time incident, following Washington’s earlier service as a young major in the Virginia militia, he had resigned from the army, returned to establish his Mt. Vernon home, and then been invited to rejoin the British army, with the title of colonel, as an aide-de-camp to General Braddock. His acceptance of that invitation led to continued military involvement & achievement, thus furthering Washington’s public life and moving him away from his domestic aspirations. This pattern repeated itself throughout his life. Though he was granted about seventeen years as a businessman/landowner/farmer, (married to Martha by then) immediately preceding the years of outright colonial revolution, once those fires got started, George Washington was, though unbeknownst to him, in it for the long haul with precious little reprieve.

Between the end of the war & the eventual signing of an ‘interim’ peace treaty between the Americans and Britain, Washington was required to refuse kingship and quell a coup by members of the Continental Army, seeking justice & satisfaction for their service and suffering, before he was finally able to retire (or so he thought!). Returning to Mt. Vernon with his beloved wife, Washington enjoyed about five years of domestic tranquillity, “perhaps the happiest of their lives”, according to Michael Novak in his book ‘Washington’s God’, before duty called again in the form of the Constitutional Convention. Held in Philadelphia in the spring of 1787, the Convention afforded George Washington his first presidential podium. Novak asserts that “the compromises necessary to crafting the Constitution most likely would never have occurred apart from his influence…” (Washington’s God). Washington was, indeed, the indispensable man. (See: Flexner, James T., Washington: The Indispensable Man)!

Ten years and two Presidential terms later, in March of 1797, George Washington returned home to Mount Vernon, to an estate in physical & financial disaster. Cash-poor but rich in land, our first President began going about the business of living – finally! – his personal life. A brief skirmish involving then-President John Adams & suspicions of a French invasion led to the unexpected appointment of Washington as lieutenant general & commander in chief once again! Washington, of course, accepted. When all came to naught & his service was not needed, I think it not at all unlikely that Washington breathed a deep, deep sigh of relief…

George Washington only lived about three years after leaving office. He never got to really imbibe the fullness of retirement, it seems to me. It seems to me that if anyone should have been able to so imbibe, it would’ve been Washington. But such was not the case.

Two days before his death on December 14, 1799, Washington was fine. The weather wasn’t, though, and Washington was out in snow & sleet all day, performing the daily inspections of his property. Forbidding weather continued, so he spent most of the next day indoors. By dinner-time, Washington’s voice was becoming hoarse. Bedtime saw a worsening hoarseness, but Washington refused any medication, according to his personal secretary Tobias Lear, who was present at the end, and recorded these events. (Tobias Lear, “The Last Illness and Death of George Washington” in Raymond Brighton, “The Checkered Career of Tobias Lear”)

During the night, Washington’s throat began closing, and breathing was at times barely possible. (Even today, medical experts are not sure exactly what illness beset our Founding Father so suddenly when his time was come.) The following day brought with it continuing respiratory difficulty and a physical weakening. Washington realized his death was imminent, but even in such straits, his concern for & appreciation of others was apparent. His wife Martha, several doctors & a few close servants attended to our first President during his final hours, quietly & with great sadness, seeking to ease his suffering. “…I am not afraid to go,” he told one of the doctors present, earlier in the evening, as his demise approached. About ten o’clock that night, struggling, Washington attempted speech, but at first could not. His final words, spoken to Tobias Lear, after managing brief burial instruction, were “‘Tis well!”

Martha, after awhile, repeated into the silence, “‘Tis well! All is now over…”

And so the great Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America passed from this world into the next.

I have no doubt that it was the hand of God that removed our first President from his bed in Mt. Vernon when He did, taking the Father of our country unto Himself, the Father of Lights. But I have often wondered, why then? Why wasn’t one of the most worthy men who ever lived given the reward of time to savor & enjoy many long years with his beloved wife, in his beloved home?

Martha died less than two years later, following her beloved.

ooo