Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Washington's Farewell

Washington had already disbanded his army in Newburgh, when, on the eighth anniversary of the battle of Lexington, the war was formally declared to be over. Now, the British having gone, it remained only to bid farewell to his officers. On this occasion he said: "With a heart full of love and gratitude I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous as your former have been glorious and honorable. I cannot come to each of you to take my leave, but I shall be obliged to you if each of you will come and take me by the hand."

General Knox was the first to advance, and Washington drew him toward him and kissed him. He also embraced all the rest—in dead silence, for all hearts were too full for speech. The officers then followed him to the boat and silently watched him out of sight. From New York, where this parting took place, Washington went direct to Annapolis, where, on the 23d of December, 1783, he received the formal message: "The United States, in Congress assembled, is prepared to receive the communications of the commander in chief." Washington then appeared before that body to lay down the heavy charge which he had borne so bravely for nearly eight years. He again refused to accept any reward for his services, but handed over the exact account of his expenses, proving that he had spent more than sixty-three thousand dollars of his own money for the good of his country.

Then he went back to his farm at Mount Vernon, to take up again his usual work. He had been longing to do this for some time, for farming was his chief pleasure. Knowing this, his officers formed a society of which they made him head. They called themselves the Cincinnati, in honor of a Roman patriot, Cincinnatus, who left his plow to save his country from danger, but hurried back to it as soon as the war was over.

Instead of other pay, many of these officers and of the continental soldiers now received grants of land in what was then called the Northwest Territory. There they soon settled, working hard, and serving their country just as nobly by being good farmers, good citizens, good husbands, and good fathers as they had done by being good soldiers in the Revolutionary War. Before long, towns sprang up in the wilderness, and one of them was named Cincinnati, in honor of the society of which Washington was the first president.

The Mount Vernon House, South Front

But there were others besides the soldiers who were anxious to get back to their families. Foremost among these was the worthy Franklin, who had spent nearly nine years in France, looking after the interests of his country. He had seen the Peace of Paris signed; and when he reached Philadelphia, just sixty-two years after his first visit, he was welcomed with loud cheers and great rejoicings. He deserved all the cheering and honors he received, for he had been second only to Washington in the services he had rendered his beloved country.

As it was now decided beyond doubt that the former colonies were to be free states, independent of Great Britain, the Story of the Thirteen Colonies is ended. There is still to be told the Story of the Great Republic which was formed from these colonies, and which has grown to be one of the foremost nations in the world.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell