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THE following work was commenced several years ago, but the prosecution of it has been repeatedly interrupted by other occupations, by a long absence in Europe, and by occasional derangement of health. It is only within the last two or three years that I have been able to apply myself to it steadily. This is stated to account for the delay in its publication.
The first part treats of the earlier period of Washington's life previous to the war of the Revolution, giving his expeditions into the wilderness, his campaigns on the frontier in the old French war; and the other "experiences,” by which his character was formed, and he was gradually trained up and prepared for his great destiny.
Though a biography, and of course admitting of familiar anecdote, excursive digressions, and a flexible texture of narrative, yet, for the most part, it is essentially historic. Washington, in fact, had very little private life, but was eminently a public character. All his actions and concerns almost from boyhood were connected with the history of his country. In writing his biography, therefore, I am obliged to take glances over collateral history, as seen from his point of view and influencing his plans, and to narrate distant transactions apparently disconnected with his concerns, but eventually bearing upon the great drama in which he was the principal
I have endeavored to execute my task with candor and fidelity; stating facts on what appeared to be good authority, and avoiding as much as possible all false coloring and exaggeration. My work is founded on the correspondence of Washington, which, in fact, affords the amplest and surest groundwork for his biography. This I have consulted as it exists in manuscript in the archives of the Department of State, to which I have had full and frequent access. I have also made frequent use of “Washington's Writings," as published by Mr. Sparks; a careful collation of many of them with the originals having convinced me of the general correctness of the collection, and the safety with which it may be relied upon for historical purposes; and I am happy to bear this testimony to the essential accuracy of one whom I consider among the greatest benefactors to our national literature; and to whose writings and researches I acknowledge myself largely indebted throughout my work.
The Home of Washington's Boyhood-His Early Education-Law-
rence Washington and his Campaign in the West Indies-Death
of Washington's Father-The Widowed Mother and her Chil-
Paternal Conduct of an Elder Brother-The Fairfax Family-
Washington's Code of Morals and Manners-Soldiers' Tales-
Their Influence — Washington prepares for the Navy — A
Mother's Objections-Return to School-Studies and Exer-
cises A Schoolboy Passion - The Lowland Beauty - Love
Ditties at Mount Vernon-Visit to Belvoir-Lord Fairfax-His
Character-Fox-hunting a Remedy for Love-Proposition for a
Expedition beyond the Blue Ridge-The Valley of the Shenan-
doah-Lord Halifax-Lodge in the Wilderness-Surveying—
Life in the Backwoods-Indians-War Dance-German Set-
tlers-Return Home-Washington as Public Surveyor-So-
journ at Greenway Court-Horses, Hounds, and Books-
English and French Claims to the Ohio Valley-Wild State of the
Country-Projects of Settlements-The Ohio Company-En-