“Long shall we seek his likeness — long in vain;
And turn to all of him which may remain,
Sighing that nature formed but only one
And broke the die in moulding Washington.”
Washington is the mightiest name on earth. Long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in the moral reformation. On that name a eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is alike impossible. Let none at tempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked, deathless splendor leave it shining on.
The editing and publishing of President Washington’s diaries is here undertaken with the view of presenting all that are extant from the year 1791 to 1799. They are fragmentary but very interesting.
The search for the unpublished parts of the diary was instituted for the purpose of proving the fact of President Washington’s visit to Guilford County, North Carolina, and its famous battlefield, on his Southern Tour. It was traditional knowledge in the family of the writer, and, while the facts concerning the visit had faded from the minds of all others, it remained firmly fixed with him. It was while pondering over Lossing’s Imprint of the Southern Tour that he became convinced that there must be more of the Journal, and that, if found, it would settle the mooted question.
Lossing stopped June 1st, 1791, (Salem, N. C.) My transcription begins where he left off, and takes the President to Guilford Courthouse, on June 2nd, and on through North Carolina and Virginia to Mount Vernon, where he arrived June 12th, and Philadelphia July 6th. At this time Washington was President of the United States.
The trip to Georgetown, to the Federal City and on to Philadelphia began June 27th, 1791. He travelled by way of the upper road through Williamsburgh, Fredericktown, Taneytown, Lyttlestown, Hanover (commonly called Mc Allistertown), Yorktown and Lancaster. He describes the towns and the intervening country. While in the Federal City he conferred with Maj. L’Enfant and Mr. Ellicott, and selected the spots on which the buildings for the Executive Departments and the President’s house were to be located. He directed Maj. L’Enfant to change the location of a certain street, so as to leave out a spring (commonly known as the Cool Spring) belonging to Maj. Stoddart.
In 1794 we find him accompanying the army from Philadelphia to the Rendezvous at Carlisle, passing through Norristown, The Trap, Potts Grove, Reading, Meyerstown, Lebanon, Humelstown, and Harrisburg. This was the Whiskey Rebellion Campaign. At Bedford he delivered a speech to the insurgents. This speech has probably never been published before. He here received Messrs. Riddick and Tindley, representatives of the insurgents, and their speeches are given in his diary. The President and the army marched thence to the Rendezvous at Bed ford, passing Shippensburgh, Green Castle, Williamsport (Maryland,) Cumberland, (Maryland,) Frankfort, and on to Bedford.
In November, 1798, he gives an account of his triumphal progress to Philadelphia, by way of the lower road. On this journey he stopped and was entertained at the Federal City, Bladensburg, Spurriers, Baltimore, Websters, Hartford, Susquehanna, Elkton, Christianna, Wilmington and Chester. At this time he was Commander of the army, with Major Gen’l Alexander Hamilton second in command. This was during the period of the French Imbroglio. General Washington was dined and feted in Philadelphia by President Adams and others. He names his entertainers.
The diary that Washington kept at Mount Vernon is largely interesting because it is an account of the guests who came and went after enjoying his hospitality. The name of each is given, and hundreds are mentioned, — the famous people of the day. From another viewpoint this part of the diary is interesting. It shows the painstaking, methodical Washington, in that hardly a day is passed that accurate and careful mention of the weather is not made, the thermometer and barometer readings recorded and the direction of the wind stated. Many of these weather observations have been omitted from this transcript, only enough of them being retained to show Washington s carefulness and diligence in all things. The last entry in the diary (in his own hand) was made December 13th, 1799. He died the following day.
His entire Southern Tour is here presented, beginning at Phila. — March 21, 1791, giving names of scores of towns visited in the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Many of these are now large towns and cities. This part of the diary is full of local color.
In confirmation of the claims set forth above an editorial from the Greensboro Daily News, under date of February 15th, 1920, and a letter from the Library of Congress are herewith copied and appended.