Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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December 14th
“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen”
On December 14, 1799, George Washington died at Mount Vernon at age sixty-seven, two days after being caught out in sleet and snow while riding over his farms. Congress asked Virginia statesman Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee to eulogize the nation’s hero. Lee’s words about his friend have endured for over two centuries:

First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate and sincere – uniform, dignified and commanding – his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting. . . . Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. . . . Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.

Fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson wrote of George Washington’s character:

His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder. . . . He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known. . . . It may truly be said that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a great man.
American History Parade
1774
Four months before the Battle of Lexington, 400 Patriots attack Fort William and Mary at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to capture powder and small arms

1799
George Washington dies at Mount Vernon, his home in Virginia.

1902
A ship begins laying the first transpacific telegraph cable between San Francisco and Honolulu.

1947
NASCAR is founded in Daytona Beach, Florida.

1972
Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan is the last person to walk on the moon during the twentieth century.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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