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southern co.onies. Captain Washington had fallen in love with Anne, eldest daughter of Honorable William Fairfax, of Fairfax County, who reciprocated his affections, and they were betrothed. They were to be married soon after his return; but the wedding was postponed by the sudden death of his father, April 12, 1743. Mr. Washington, at time of his death, was only forty-nine years of age. George had been absent from home on a visit during his father's illness, and just returned in time to receive a parting look of affection from his dying parent. Mr. Augustine Washington left a large estate, which by will he distributed among his children. To Lawrence, he gave the large estate on the banks of the Potomac, with other real property and several shares in iron-works. Augustine, the second son by the first marriage, got the old homestead and estate in Westmoreland. The children by the second marriage were all well provided for, and George, when he became of age, was to receive the house and lands on the Rappahannock. In July following the death of his father, Lawrence Washington married Miss Fairfax and settled himself on his estate on the banks of the Potomac, to which he gave the name of Mount Vernon in honor of his friend Admiral Vernon. Augustine took up his abode at the old homestead at Bridges Creek. At the death of his father, George Washington was only eleven years of age, and the other children of the second marriage had been left under the guardianship of their mother, to whose care all the property was intrusted until they came of age. She was eminently worthy of the trust. She was a plain woman, endowed with good sense, thorough conscientiousness and prompt decision. She governed her family strictly, but kindly, exacting deference while she inspired affection. George has been called her favorite child, and perhaps he was, yet she never gave undue preference, and the implicit deference exacted from him in childhood continued to be habitually observed by him to the day of her death. From his mother he inherited a high temper and spirit of command; but her early training taught him to restrain and govern that temper, and to square his conduct on the exactest principles of justice.
It was the design of George Washington's father to send his son to England, where he might have the advantages of Oxford or some other college; but his father's early death frustrated these plans, besides depriving George of his father's instructions, and the tuition of Hobby being too limited for the boy's growing wants, George was sent to reside with Augustine Washington at Bridge Creek, where he might enjoy the benefit of a superior school kept by Mr. Williams.
His education was plain and practical. He never attempted the learned languages, nor manifested any inclination for rhetoric or belles-lettres. His object in life was to gain what was practical and useful, and he had no time for accomplishments, though his diction, rhetoric and grammar were not bad. While struggling to free a nation, he was called by the gentry and nobility plain Mr. Washington. Now that he has established a fame greater than any man past or present, these same gentry have worn out the records and stretched credulity to prove that he was of noble descent. George Washington needed no noble ancestry to make him famous. Like Cincinnatus, he sprang from the common people and was proud of his birth.
Of his early life, Washington Irving says:
“His manuscript books still exist, and are models of neatness and accuracy. Before he was thirteen years of age, he had copied into a volume forms of all kinds of mercantile and legal papers, bills of exchange, notes of hand, deeds, bonds and the like. This early self-tuition gave him throughout life a lawyer's skill in drafting documents and a merchant's exactness in keeping accounts. He was a self-disciplinarian in physical as well as mental matters, and practised himself in all kinds of athletic exercises, such as running, leaping, wrestling, pitching quoits and tossing bars. His frame, even in infancy, had been large and powerful, and he now excelled most of his playmates in contests of agility and strength. Above all, his inherent probity and the principles of justice on which he regulated all his conduct, even at this early period of life, were soon appreciated by his school-mates. He was referred to as an umpire in their disputes, and his decisions were never reversed.” Who will dare say that the child did not foreshadow the man? As in his school-boy days he mustered his schoolmates as soldiers, so in mature years he led his countrymen to battle and victory. As in school-boy days he was the adjudicator of disputes and legislator of the affairs of his classmates, so the matured man showed forth as the organizer of a mighty republic with himself at the head. George Washington and his brother Lawrence had always entertained a warm feeling for each other. Capt. Lawrence Washington was a member of the house of burgesses and adjutant-general of the district. He was very popular in Virginia. George was a frequent visitor at Mount Vernon and came to love the dear old place as every American loves it still. Being a frequent sojourner with his brother, he was brought into familiar intercourse with the family of his father-in-law, the Honorable William Fairfax, who resided at a beautiful country seat called Belvoir, a few miles below Mount "Vernon and on the same woody ridge. Mr. Fair. fax was a man of liberal education, who had had some military training, and no doubt he contributed much to the early military inspirations of young Washington.