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A Funeral Oration, ON THE DEATH OF General Washington, DELIVERED IN THE GERMAN LUTHERAN CHURCH, Philadelphia: AT THE REQUEST OF CONGRESS, ON THE TWENTY-SIXTH OF DECEMBER, 1799.

BY MAJOR GENERAL LEE.

Philadelphia; Printed by JOHN ORMROD, No. 41, Chesnut-street. 1800.

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To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting:

I CERTIFY, That the annexed writing, beginning at the word "that," in the fourth line, is a true extract from a Resolution of both Houses of Congress, approved by the President of the United States on the 24th of last month, and deposited among the rolls in my office.

IN FAITH WHEREOF, I Timothy Pickering, Se­cretary for the Department of State of the United States of America, have signed these Presents, and caused the Seal of the said Department of State to be affixed hereto,(L.S.) at Philadelphia, this third day of January, A. D. 1800, and in the twenty-fourth year of the Independence of the said States.

TIMOTHY PICKERING.

Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representa­tives of the United States, that there be a Funeral Procession from Congress Hall to the German Luthe­ran Church, in honor of the Memory of GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON; on Thursday the twenty-sixth instant, and that an Oration be prepared at the request of Congress, to be delivered before both Houses on that day; and that the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, be desired to request one of the Members of Congress to prepare and deliver the same.

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THE Speaker informed the House, that conform­ably to the resolution of Congress, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Represen­tatives had requested MAJOR-GENERAL HENRY LEE, one of the Representatives from the state of Virginia, to prepare and deliver a Funeral Oration before both Houses, on Thursday the twenty sixth instant, in honor of the Memory of GEORGE WASHINGTON, late General of the Armies of the United States; and that Mr. Lee had been pleased to accept of the appointment.

[Extract from the Journal.]

JONATHAN W. CONDY, CLERK.
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FUNERAL ORATION, &c.

IN obedience to your* will, I rise your humble organ, with the hope of executing a part of the system of public mourning which you have been pleased to adopt, commemorative of the death of the most il­lustrious and most beloved personage this country has ever produced; and which, while it transmits to pos­terity your sense of the awful event, faintly represents your knowledge of the consummate excellence you so cordially honor.

Desperate indeed is any attempt on earth to meet correspondently this dispensation of Heaven: for, while with pious resignation we submit to the will of an all-gracious Providence, we can never cease la­menting in our finite view of Omnipotent Wisdom, the heart-rending privation for which our nation weeps. When the civilized world shakes to its cen­tre; when every moment gives birth to strange and momentous changes; when our peaceful quarter of the globe, exempt as it happily has been from any share in the slaughter of the human race, may yet be compelled to abandon her pacific policy, and to risk [Page 6]the doleful casualties of war: What limit is there to the extent of our loss?—None within the reach of my words to express; none which your feelings will not disavow.

The founder of our foederate republic—our bul­wark in war, our guide in peace, is no more. Oh that this was but questionable! Hope, the comforter of the wretched, would pour into our agonized hearts its balmy dew. But, alas! there is no hope for us: our Washington is removed forever. Possessing the stoutest frame, and purest mind, he had passed nearly to his sixty-eighth year, in the enjoyment of high health, when, habituated by his care of us to neglect himself, a slight cold, disregarded, became inconvenient on Friday, oppressive on Saturday, and defying every medical interposition, before the morning of Sunday, put an end to the best of men. An end did I say—his fame survives! bounded only by the limits of the earth, and by the extent of the human mind. He survives in our hearts, in the growing knowledge of our children, in the affection of the good throughout the world; and when our monuments shall be done away; when nations now existing shall be no more; when even our young and far-spreading empire shall have perished, still will our Washington's glory un­faded shine, and die not, until love of virtue cease on earth, or earth itself sinks into chaos.

[Page 7] How, my fellow-citizens, shall I single to your grateful hearts his pre-eminent worth! Where shall I begin in opening to your view a character through­out sublime. Shall I speak of his warlike atchieve­ments, all springing from obedience to his country's will—all directed to his country's good?

Will you go with me to the Banks of the Monon­gahela, to see your youthful Washington, supporting, in the dismal hour of Indian victory, the ill-fated Braddock, and saving, by his judgment and by his valour, the remains of a defeated army, pressed by the conquering savage soe? Or, when oppressed Ame­rica, nobly resolving to risk her all in defence of her violated rights, he was elevated by the unanimous voice of Congress to the command of her armies: Will you follow him to the high-grounds of Boston, where to an undisciplined, courageous and virtuous yeomanry, his presence gave the stability of system, and infused the invincibility of love of country: Or shall I carry you to the painful scenes of Long-Island, York-Island and New-Jersey, when combating superior and gallant armies, aided by powerful fleets, and led by chiefs high in the roll of fame, he stood the bulwark of our safety; undismayed by disaster; un­changed by change of fortune. Or will you view him in the precarious fields of Trenton, where deep gloom unnerving every arm, reigned triumphant through our thinned, worn down unaided ranks: [Page 8]himself unmoved.—Dreadful was the night; it was about this time of winter—The storm raged—the Delaware rolling furiously with floating ice forbad the approach of man. Washington, self collected, viewed the tremendous scene—his country called; unap­pall'd by surrounding dangers, he passed to the hostile shore: he fought; he conquered. The morning sun cheered the American world. Our country rose on the event; and her dauntless Chief pursuing his blow, completed in the lawns of Princeton, what his vast soul had conceived on the shores of Delaware.

Thence to the strong grounds of Morris-Town he led his small but gallant band; and through an eventful winter, by the high efforts of his genius, whose matchless force was measurable only by the growth of difficulties, he held in check formidable hostile legions, conducted by a Chief experienced in the art of war, and famed for his valour on the ever-memorable heighths of Abraham, where fell Wolfe, Montcalm, and since our much lamented Montgo­mery; all covered with glory. In this fortunate in­terval, produced by his masterly conduct, our fathers, ourselves, animated by his resistless example, rallied around our country's standard, and continued to fol­low her beloved Chief, through the various and trying scenes to which the destinies of our union led.

Who is there that has forgotten the vales of Brandywine—the fields of Germantown, or the plains [Page 9]of Monmouth; every where present, wants of every kind obstructing, numerous and valiant armies en­countering, himself a host, he assuaged our sufferings, limited our privations, and upheld our tottering re­public. Shall I display to you the spread of the fire of his soul, by rehearsing the praises of the hero of Sara­toga, and his much lov'd compeer of the Carolina's? No; our Washington wears not borrowed glory: To Gates—to Green, he gave without reserve the ap­plause due to their eminent merit; and long may the Chiefs of Saratoga, and of Eutaws, receive the grateful respect of a grateful people.

Moving in his own orbit, he imparted heat and light to his most distant satellites; and combining the physical and moral force of all within his sphere, with irresistable weight he took his course, commiserating folly, disdaining vice, dismaying treason and invigo­rating despondency, until the auspicious hour arri­ved, when, united with the intrepid forces of a potent and magnanimous ally, he brought to submission the since conqueror of India; thus finishing his long career of military glory with a lustre corresponding to his great name, and in this his last act of war affix­ing the seal of fate to our nation's birth.

To the horrid din of battle sweet peace succeed­ed, and our virtuous chief, mindful only of the com­mon good, in a moment tempting personal aggran­dizement, hushed the discontents of growing sedi­tion [Page 10]and surrendering his power into the hands from which he had received it, converted his sword into a ploughshare, teaching an admiring world that to be truly great, you must be truly good.

Was I to stop here, the picture would be incom­plete, and the task imposed unfinished—Great as was our Washington in war, and much as did that great­ness contribute to produce the American Republic, it is not in war alone his pre-eminence stands conspicu­ous; his various talents combining all the capacities of a statesman with those of the soldier, fitted him alike to guide the councils and the armies of our nation. Scarcely had he rested from his martial toils, while his invaluable parental advice was still sounding in our ears. when he who had been our shield and our sword, was called forth to act a less splendid but a more important part.

Possessing a clear and a penetrating mind, a strong and a sound judgment, calmness and temper for delibe­ration, with invincible firmness and perseverance in re­solutions maturely formed, drawing information from all, acting from himself, with incorruptible integrity and unvarying patriotism: his own superiority and the public confidence alike marked him as the man design­ed by heaven to lead in the great political as well as military events which have distinguished the aera of his life.

[Page 11] The finger of an overruling Providence, pointing at Washington, was neither mistaken nor unobserved; when to realize the vast hopes to which our revolution had given birth, a change of political system became in­dispensible.

How novel, how grand the spectacle, independent states stretched over an immense territory, and known only by common difficulty, clinging to their union as the rock of their safety, deciding by frank comparison of their relative condition, to rear on that rock, under the guidance of reason, a common government thro' whose commanding protection, liberty and order, with their long train of blessings should be safe to themselves, and the sure inheritance of their posterity.

This arduous task devolved on citizens selected by the people, from knowledge of their wisdom and confi­fidence in their virtue. In this august assembly of sa­ges and of patriots, Washington of course was found—and, as if acknowledged to be most wife, where all were wise, with one voice he was declared their chief. How well he merited this rare distinction, how faithful were the labours of himself and his compatriots, the work of their hands and our union, strength and prosperity, the fruits of that work, best attest.

But to have essentially aided in presenting to his country this consummation of her hopes, neither satis­fied the claims of his fellow-citizens on his talents, nor [Page 12]those duties which the possession of those talents impos­ed. Heaven had not infused into his mind such an un­common share of its aetherial spirit to remain unem­ployed, nor bestowed on him his genius unaccompanied with the corresponding duty of devoting it to the com­mon good. To have framed a constitution, was shew­ing only, without realizing the general happiness. This great work remained to be done, and America, stedfast in her preference, with one voice summoned her beloved Washington, unpractised as he was in the duties of civil administration, to execute his last act in the completion of the national felicity. Obedient to her call, he assumed the high office with that self-distrust peculiar to his innate modesty, the constant at­tendant of pre-eminent virtue. What was the burst of joy thro's our anxious land on this exhilerating event is known to us all. The aged, the young, the brave, the fair, rivalled each other in demonstrations of their gra­titude; and this high wrought delightful scene was heightened in its effect, by the singular contest between the zeal of the bestowers and the avoidance of the re­ceiver of the honors bestowed. Commencing his ad­ministration, what heart is not charmed with the re­collection of the pure and wise principles announced by himself, as the basis of his political life. He best under­stood the indissoluble union between virtue and happi­ness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and individual felicity: [Page 13]watching with an equal and comprehensive eye over this great assemblage of communities and interests, he laid the foundations of our national policy in the unerring immutable principles of morality, based on religion, ex­emplifying the pre-eminence of free government, by all the attributes which win the affections of its citi­zens or command the respect of the world.

"O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint!"

Leading thro' the complicated difficulties produc­ed by previous obligations and conflicting interests, se­conded by succeeding houses of Congress, enlightened and patriotic, he surmounted all original obstructions, and brightened the path of our national felicity.

The Presidential term expiring, his solicitude to exchange exaltation for humility returned, with a force encreased with increase of age, and he had prepared his farewell address to his countrymen, proclaiming his intention, when the united interposition of all around him, enforced by the eventful prospects of the epoch, produced a further sacrifice of inclination to duty. The election of President followed, and Washington, by the unanimous vote of the nation, was called to resume the chief magistracy: what a wonderful fixure of confi­dence! Which attracts most our admiration, a people so correct, or a citizen combining an assemblage of ta­lents forbidding rivalry, and stifling even envy itself? Such a nation aught to be happy, such a chief must be forever revered.

[Page 14] War, long menaced by the Indian tribes, now broke out; and the terrible conflict deluging Europe with blood, began to shed its baneful influence over our happy land. To the first, outstretching his invincible arm, under the orders of the gallant Wayne, the Ame­rican Eagle soared triumphant thro' distant forests. Peace followed victory, and the melioration of the con­dition of the enemy followed peace. Godlike virtue which uplifts even the subdued savage.

To the second he opposed himself. New and deli­cate was the conjuncture, and great was the stake.—Soon did his penetrating mind discern and seize the only course, continuing to us all, the felicity enjoyed. He issued his proclamation of neutrality. This index to his whole subsequent conduct, was sanctioned by the approbation of both houses of Congress, and by the ap­proving voice of the people.

To this sublime policy he inviolably adhered, un­moved by foreign intrusion, unshaken by domestic turbulence.

"Justum et tenacem propofiti virum
"Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
"Non vultus instantis tyranni
"Mente quatit solida."

Maintaining his pacific system at the expence of no duty, America faithful to herself and unstained in her honour, continued to enjoy the delights of peace, [Page 15]while afflicted Europe mourns in every quarter, under the accumulated miseries of an unexampled war; mi­series in which our happy country must have shared, had not our pre-eminent Washington been as firm in council as he was brave in the field.

Pursuing stedfastly his course, he held safe the public happiness, preventing foreign war, and quelling internal discord, till the revolving period of a third election approached, when he executed his inter­rupted but inextinguishable desire of returning to the humble walks of private life.

The promulgation of his fixed resolution, stopped the anxious wishes of an affectionate people, from ad­ding a third unanimous testimonial of their unabated confidence in the man so long enthroned in their hearts. When, before, was affection like this exhibited on earth?—Turn over the records of antient Greece—Review the annals of mighty Rome,—examine the volumes of modern Europe; you search in vain. America and her Washington only afford the dignified exemplification.

The illustrious personage called by the national voice in succession to the arduous office of guiding a free people, had new difficulties to encounter: the amicable effort of settling our difficulties with France, begun by Washington, and pursued by his successor in virtue as in station, proving abortive, America took [Page 16]measures of self-defence. No sooner was the public mind roused by prospect of danger, than every eye was turned to the friend of all, though secluded from public view, and grey in public service: the virtuous veteran, following his plough*, received the unex­pected summons with mingled emotions of indignation at the unmerited ill-treatment of his country, and of a determination once more to risk his all in her defence.

The annunciation of these feelings, in his affect­ing letter to the President accepting the command of the army, concludes his official conduct.

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.

To his equals he was condescending, to his infe­riors kind, and to the dear object of his affections exemplarily tender: 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.

His last scene comported with the whole tenor of his life.—Although in extreme pain, not a sigh, [Page 17]not a groan escaped him; and with undisturbed sere­nity he closed his well spent life.—Such was the man America has ost—Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.

Methinks I see his august image, and hear fall­ing from his venerable lips these deep sinking words:

"CEASE, Sons of America, lamenting our se­paration: go on, and confirm by your wisdom the fruits of our joint councils, joint efforts, and common dan­gers: Reverence religion, diffuse knowledge through­out your land, patronize the arts and sciences; let Liberty and Order be inseparable companions, con­troul party spirit, the bane of free governments; observe good faith to, and cultivate peace with all nations, shut up every avenue to foreign influence, contract rather than extend national connexion, rely on yourselves only: Be American in thought, word, and deed—Thus will you give immortality to that union, which was the constant object of my terrestrial labours; thus will you preserve undisturbed to the latest posterity, the felicity of a people to me most dear, and thus will you supply (if my happiness is now aught to you) the only vacancy in the round of pure bliss high Heaven bestows."

FINIS.

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