George Washington: The Forge of Experience, 1732-1775

By James Thomas Flexner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
14
To Death's Door

WASHINGTON had received from Loudoun the roughest treatment he had known in his public career. Interest, as he had learned it from the Fairfaxes, had become his enemy- and his conviction that he had amply earned the regular commission he had for so long desired made the blow completely shattering. Since patronage had failed him and merit, it seemed, counted for nothing, Washington could no longer hope for anything permanent: no career in a continuing army, no valuable commission, no half pay if he retired. Instead, his plantations were running down in his absence, and, although he was making a good salary, Dinwiddie was feuding with him over whether he should continue to be allowed more than two servants at the King's expense. 1

But money was not the most important thing Washington labored for. Rather than accept a paid commission he considered unworthy of his honor, he had accompanied Braddock as an unpaid volunteer. He had then explained that his motive was "the hope of meriting the love of my country and the friendly regard of my acquaintances." Washington subscribed to the stoic conception which he thus phrased in 1781: "The confidence and affections of his fellow citizens is the most valuable and agreeable reward a citizen can achieve." 2

-176-

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