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Encounters 14, The Family vs. The Call

March 1, 2017

Throughout the weary years, Washington had not won many battles, only the ones that were important to the outcome of the war. He represented to the new country the sacrifices, ideals, and the success of independence. For over eight years he inspired the army and kept it together, and Martha was by his side all the way. Because of her presence, he could bear the terrible conditions of camps, supplies, and desertions. Her stays ranged from three to ten months, and her expenses amounted to a little over 1,000 pounds. Congress paid the expenses, a bargain at twice the price. Washington cheerfully gave up his power to become a civilian. No military government here. He arrived home on Christmas Eve, 1784, to the delight of his family.

Spending her time on housekeeping, decorating, sewing, and looking after her niece Fanny and her grandchildren Nelly and Wash seemed right to Martha. She enjoyed the scores of visitors to Mount Vernon and the popularity of her husband. Mount Vernon was becoming an inn with its great number of visitors. The wealth of the Washingtons has been exaggerated. He owned acres of rich farmland, but could find no tenants, and many ignored the rent. Many of their relatives had “borrowed” large sums of money, and family could not be expected to pay off their debts.

Political discussions boiled about them. The government was weak under the Articles of Confederation, and George was frequently mentioned as a leader in the new nation. But George and Martha were happy in retirement. Against his wife’s will, George was drafted to attend a convention in Philadelphia, ostensibly to revise the Articles. It was his duty, he explained to Martha when he left home in May, 1787. George was elected president of the convention and soon the Articles were deemed hopeless, and a new constitution begun.

After much dissention and many compromises, in September the new constitution was  adopted. It had to be ratified by nine states, and South Carolina and Rhode Island held out. Believing in a strong central government, Washington sent letters in its support, but Martha could see her husband’s involvement would not end. Beloved by most of the country, he was the natural choice for the first presidency.

On April 14, 1789, George Washington was officially notified of his election, and he set off for New York City, the temporary capitol. ALAS! Martha had dreamed they would grow old in solitude and tranquility together.

to be contd.


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