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nized the great and unselfish leader as they recog-
nized Lincoln a century later, and from the masses
of the people no one ever heard the cry that Wash-
ington was cold or unsympathetic. They loved
him, and believed in him, and such a manifestation
of their devotion touched him deeply. His spirits
rose under the spell of appreciation and affection,
always so strong upon human nature, and he rode
away from Fishkill the next morning at daybreak
with a light heart.

The company was pleasant and lively, the morn-


ing was fair, and as they approached Arnold's head-
quarters at the Robinson house, Washington turned
off to the redoubts by the river, telling the young-
men that they were all in love with Mrs. Arnold
and would do well to go straight on and breakfast
with her. Hamilton and McHenry followed his
advice, and while they were at breakfast a note
was brought to Arnold. It was the letter of warn-
ing from Andre announcing his capture, which
Colonel Jameson, who ought to have been cashiered
for doing it, had forwarded. Arnold at once left
the table, and saying that he was going to West
Point, jumped into his boat and was rowed rapidly
down the river to the British man-of-war. Wash-
ington on his arrival was told that Arnold had
gone to the fort, and so after a hasty breakfast he
went over there himself. On reaching West Point
no salute broke the stillness, and no guard turned
out to receive him. He was astonished to learn
that his arrival was unexpected, and that Arnold
had not been there for two days. Still unsuspect-
ing he inspected the works, and then returned.

Meantime, the messenger sent to Hartford with
the papers taken on Andre reached the Robinson
house and delivered them to Hamilton, together
with a letter of confession from Andre himself.
Hamilton read them, and hurrying out met Wash-
ington just coming up from the river. He took his
chief aside, said a few words to him in a low voice,
and they went into the house together. When
they came out, Washington looked as calm as ever,


and calling to Lafayette and Knox gave them the
papers, saying simply, " Whom can we trust now? "
He despatched Hamilton at once to try to inter-
cept Arnold at Verplanck's Point, but it was too
late ; the boat had passed, and Arnold was safe on
board the Vulture. This done, Washington bade
his staff sit down with him to dinner, as the general
was absent, and Mrs. Arnold was ill in her room.
Dinner over, he immediately set about guarding the
post, which had been so near betrayal. To Colonel
Wade at West Point he wrote : " Arnold has gone
to the enemy ; you are in command, be vigilant,"
To Jameson he sent word to guard Andre closely.
To the colonels and commanders of various outlying
regiments he sent orders to bring up their troops.
Everything was done that should have been done,
quickly, quietly, and without comment. The most
sudden and appalling treachery had failed to shake
his nerve, or confuse his mind.

Yet the strong and silent man was wrung to the
quick, and when everything possible had been done,
and he had retired to his room, the guard outside the
door heard him marching back and forth through all
the weary night. The one thing he least expected,
because he least understood it, had come to pass.
He had been a good and true friend to the villain
who had fled, for Arnold's reckless bravery and
dare-devil fighting had appealed to the strongest
passion of his nature, and he had stood by him
always. He had grieved over the refusal of Con-
gress to promote him in due order and had inter-


ceded with ultimate success in his behalf. He had
sympathized with him in his recent troubles in
Philadelphia, and had administered the reprimand
awarded by the court-martial so that rebuke
seemed turned to praise. He had sought to give
him every opportunity that a soldier could desire,
and had finally conferred upon him the command
of West Point. He had admired his courage and
palliated his misconduct, and now the scoundrel
had turned on him and fled. Mingled with the bit-
terness of these memories of betrayed confidence
was the torturing ignorance of how far this base
treachery had extended. For all he knew there
might be a brood of traitors about him in the very
citadel of America. We can never know Wash-
ington's thoughts at that time, for he was ever
silent, but as we listen in imagination to the sound
of the even footfalls which the guard heard all
through that September night, we can dimly guess
the feelings of the strong and passionate nature,
wounded and distressed almost beyond endurance.
There is but little more to tell. The conspiracy
stopped with Arnold. He had no accomplices,
and meant to deliver the fort and pocket the booty
alone. The British tried to spread the idea that
other officers had been corrupted, but the attempt
failed, and Washington's prompt measures of de-
fence checked any movement against the forts.
Every effort was made by Clinton to save Andre,
but in vain. He was tried by a court composed
of the highest officers in the American service.


among whom was Lafayette. On his own state-
ment, but one decision was possible. He was con-
demned as a spy, and as a spy he was sentenced
to be hanged. He made a manly appeal against
the manner of his death, and begged to be shot.
Washington declined to interfere, and Andr^ went
to the gallows.

The British, at the time, and some of their writers
afterwards, attacked Washington for insisting on
this mode of execution, but there never was an in-
stance in his career when he was more entirely
right. Andre was a spy and briber, who sought to
ruin the American cause by means of the treachery
of an American general. It was a dark and dan-
gerous game, and he knew that he staked his life
on the result. He failed, and paid the penalty.
Washington could not permit, he would have
been grossly and feebly culpable if he had per-
mitted, such an attempt to pass without extreme
punishment. He was generous and magnanimous,
but he was not a sentimentalist, and he punished
this miserable treason, so far as he could reach it,
as it deserved. It is true that Andre was a man
of talent, well-bred and courageous, and of engag-
ing manners. He deserved all the sympathy and
sorrow which he excited at the time, but nothing
more. He was not only technically a spy, but he
had sought his ends by bribery, he had prostituted
a flag of truce, and he was to be richly paid for
his work. It was all hire and salary. No doubt
Andr^ was patriotic and loyal. Many spies have


been the same, and have engaged in their danger-
ous exploits from the highest motives. Nathan
Hale, whom the British hanged without compunc-
tion, was as well-born and well-bred as Andre, and
as patriotic as man could be, and moreover he was
a spy and nothing more. Andrd was a trafficker in
bribes and treachery, and however we may pity his
fate, his name has no proper place in the great
temple at Westminster, where all English-speaking
people bow with reverence, and only a most per-
verted sentimentality could conceive that it was
fitting to erect a monument to his memory in this

Washington sent Andre to the gallows because
it was his duty to do so, but he pitied him none
the less, and whatever he may have thought of the
means Andrd employed to effect his end, he made
no comment upon him, except to say that " he met
his fate with that fortitude which was to be ex-
pected from an accomplished man and gallant offi-
cer." As to Arnold, he was almost equally silent.
When obliged to refer to him he did so in the plain-
est and simplest way, and only in a familiar letter
to Laurens do we get a glimpse of his feelings. He
wrote : " I am mistaken if at this time Arnold is
undergoing the torment of a mental hell. He
wants feeling. From some traits of his character
which have lately come to my knowledge, he seems
to have been so hackneyed in villainy, and so lost
to all sense of honor and shame, that, while his
faculties will enable him to continue his sordid


pursuits, there will be no time for remorse." With
this single expression of measureless contempt,
Washington let Arnold drop from his life. The
first shock had touched him to the quick, although
it could not shake his steady mind. Reflection
revealed to him the extraordinary baseness of Ar-
nold's real character, and he cast the thought of
him out forever, content to leave the traitor to the
tender mercies of history. The calmness and dig-
nity, the firmness and deep feeling which Wash-
ington exhibited, are of far more interest than the
abortive treason, and have as real a value now as
they had then, when suspicion for a moment ran
riot, and men wondered " whom they could trust."
The treason of Arnold swept like a black cloud
across the sky, broke, and left everything as before.
That such a base peril should have existed was
alarming and hateful. That it should have been
exploded harmlessly made all men give a deep
sigh of relief. But neither the treason nor its dis-
covery altered the current of events one jot. The
summer had come and gone. The French had ar-
rived, and no blow had been struck. There was
nothing to show for the campaign but inaction, dis-
appointment, and the loss of the Carolinas. With
the commander-in-chief, through it all, were ever
present two great questions, getting more porten-
tous and more difficult of solution with each suc-
ceeding day. How he was to kcQp his army in ex-
istence was one, and how he was to hold the gov-
ernment together was the other. He had thirteen


tired States, a general government almost impotent,
a bankrupt treasury, and a broken credit. The
American Revolution had come down to the ques-
tion of whether the brain, will, and nerve of one
man could keep the machine going long enough to
find fit opportunity for a final and decisive stroke.
Washington had confidence in the people of the
country and in himself, but the difficulties in the
way were huge, and the means of surmounting
them slight. There is here and there a passionate
undertone in the letters of this period, which shows
us the moments when the waves of trouble and dis-
aster seemed to sweep over him. But the feeling
passed, or was trampled under foot, for there was
no break in the steady fight against untoward
circumstances, or in the grim refusal to accept

It is almost impossible now to conceive the
actual condition at that time of every matter of
detail which makes military and political existence
possible. No general phrases can do justice to the
situation of the army ; and the petty miseries and
privations, which made life unendurable, went on
from day to day in ever varying forms. While
Washington was hearing the first ill news from the
south and struggling with the problem on that side,
and at the same time was planning with Lafayette
how to take advantage of the French succors, the
means of subsisting his army were wholly giving
out. The men actually had no food. For days,
as Washington wrote, there was no meat at all in


cainp. Goaded by hunger, a Connecticut regiment
mutinied. They were brought back to duty, but
held out steadily for their pay, which they had not
received for five months. Indeed, the whole army
was more or less mutinous, and it was only by
the utmost tact that Washington kept them from
wholesale desertion. After the summer had passed
and the chance for a decisive campaign had gone
with it, the excitement of expected action ceased
to sustain the men, and the unclothed, unpaid, unfed
soldiers began again to get restive. We can im-.
agiue what the condition of the rank and file must
have been when we find that Washington himseli
could not procure an express from the quarter-
master-general, and was obliged to send a letter to
the Minister of France by the unsafe and slow
medium of the post. He was expected to carry
on a war against a rich and powerful enemy, and
he could not even pay a courier to carry his dis-

With the commander-in-chief thus straitened,
the sufferings of the men grew to be intoler-
able, and the spirit of revolt which had been
checked through the summer began again to ap-
pear. At last, in January, 1781, it burst all the
bounds. The Pennsylvania line mutinied and
threatened Congress. Attempts on the part of the
English to seduce them failed, but they remained
in a state of open rebellion. The officers were
powerless, and it looked as if the disaffection
would spread, and the whole army go to pieces in


the ver}' face of the enemy. Washington held
firm, and intended in his unshaken way to bring
them back to their duty without yielding in a dan-
gerous fashion. But the government of Pennsyl-
vania, at last thoroughly frightened, rushed into
the field, and patched up a compromise which con-
tained most perilous concessions. The natural con-
sequence was a fresh mutiny in the New Jersey
line, and this time Washington determined that he
would not be forestalled. He sent forward at once
some regiments of loyal troops, suppressed the mu-
tiny suddenly and with a strong hand, and hanged
two of the ringleaders. The difficulty was con-
quered, and discipline restored.

To take this course required great boldness, for
these mutinies were of no ordinary character. In
the first place, it was impossible to tell whether
any troops would do their duty against their fel-
lows, and failure would have been fatal. In the
second place, the grievances of the soldiers were
very great, and their complaints were entirely
righteous. Washington felt the profoundest sym-
pathy with his men, and it was no easy matter
to maintain order with soldiers tried almost be-
yond endurance, against their comrades whose
claims were just. Two things saved the army.
One was Washington's great influence with the
men and their utter belief in him. The other was
the quality of the men themselves. Lafayette said
they were the most patient and patriotic soldiers
the world had seen, and it is easy to believe him.


The wonder is, not that they mutinied when they
did, but that the whole army had not mutinied and
abandoned the struggle years before. The misfor-
tunes and mistakes of the Revolution, to whom-
ever due, were in no respect to be charged to the
army, and the conduct of the troops through all
the dreary months of starvation and cold and pov-
erty is a proof of the intelligent jDatriotism and
patient courage of the American soldier which can
never be gainsaid. To fight successful battles is
the test of a good general, but to hold together
a suffering army through years of unexampled
privations, to meet endless failure of details with
unending expedients, and then to fight battles and
plan campaigns, shows a leader who was far more
than a good general. Such multiplied trials and
difficulties are overcome only by a great soldier
who with small means achieves large results, and
by a great man who by force of will and charac-
ter can establish with all who follow him a power
which no miseries can conquer, and no suffering

The height reached by the troubles in the army *
and their menacing character had, however, a good
as well as a bad side. They penetrated the indif-
ference and carelessness of both Congress and the
States. Gentlemen in the confederate and local
administrations and legislatures woke up to a real-
izing sense that the dissolution ol the army meant
a general wreck, in which their own necks would
be in very considerable danger ; and they also had


an uneasy feeling that starving and mutinous sol-
diers were very uncertain in taking revenge. The
condition of the army gave a sudden and pierc-
ing reality to Washington's indignant words to
Mathews on October 4th : " At a time when public
harmony is so essential, when we should aid and
assist each other with all our abilities, when our
hearts should be open to information and our
hands ready to administer relief, to find distrusts
and jealousies taking possession of the mind and
a party spirit prevailing affords a most melancholy
reflection, and forebodes no good." The hoarse
murmur of impending mutiny emphasized strongly
the words written on the same day to Duane :
" The history of the war is a history of false hopes
and temporary expedients. Would to God they
were to end here."

The events in the south, too, had a sobering
effect. The congressional general Gates had not
proved a success. His defeat at Camden had been
terribly complete, and his flight had been too rapid
to inspire confidence in his capacity for recupera-
tion. The members of Congress were thus led to
believe that as managers of military matters they
left much to be desired ; and when Washington,
on October 11th, addressed to them one of his long
and admirable letters on reorganization, it was re-
ceived in a very chastened spirit. They had lis-
tened to many such letters before, and had benefited
by them always a little, but danger and defeat gave
this one peculiar point. They therefore accepted


the situation, and adopted all the suggestions of
the commander-in-chief. They also in the same
reasonable frame of mind determined that Wash-
ington should select the next general for the south-
ern army. A good deal could have been saved had
this decision been reached before ; but even now
it was not too late. October 14th, Washington
appointed Greene to this post of difficulty and
danger, and Greene's assumption of the command
marks the turning-point in the tide of disaster, and
the beginning of the ultimate expulsion of the
British from the only portion of the colonies where
they had made a tolerable campaign.

The uses of adversity, moreover, did not stop
here. They extended to the States, which began
to grow more vigorous in action, and to show signs
of appreciating the gravity of the situation and the
duties which rested upon them. This change and
improvement both in Congress and the States came
none too soon. Indeed, as it was, the results of
their renewed efforts were too slow to be felt at
once by the army, and mutinies broke out even
after the new spirit had shown itself. Washington
also sent Knox to travel from State to State, to
see the various governors, and lay the situation of
affairs before them; yet even with such a text it
was a difficult struggle to get the States to make
quick and strong exertions sufficient to prevent a
partial mutiny from becomings a general revolt.
The lesson, however, had had its effect. For the
moment, at least, the cause was saved. The worst


defects were temporarily remedied, and something
was done toward supplies and subsistence. The
army would be able to exist through another winter,
and face another summer. Then the next cam-
paign might bring the decisive moment ; but still,
who could tell ? Years, instead of months, might
yet elapse before the end was reached, and then no
man could say what the result would be.

Washington saw plainly enough that the relief
and improvement were only temporary, and that
carelessness and indifference were likely to return,
and be more case-hardened than ever. He was too
strong and sane a man to waste time in fighting
shadows or in nourishing himself with hopes. He
dealt with the present as he found it, and fought
down difficulties as they sprang up in his path.
But he was also a man of extraordinary prescience,
with a foresight as penetrating as it was judicious.
It was, perhaps, his most remarkable gift, and while
he controlled the present he studied the future.
Outside of the operations of armies, and the plans
of campaign, he saw, as the war progressed, that
the really fatal perils were involved in the political
system. At the beginning of the Revolution there
was no organization outside the local state govern-
ments. Congress voted and resolved in favor of
anything that seemed proper, and the States re-
sponded to their appeal. In the first flush of revo-
lution, and the first excitement of freedom, this was
all very well. But as the early passion cooled, and
a long and stubborn struggle, replete with suffer-


ings and defeat, developed itself, the want of sys-
tem began to appear.

One of the earliest tasks of Congress was the
formation of articles for a general government, but
state jealousies, and the delays incident to the move-
ments of thirteen sovereignties, prevented their
adoption until the war was nearly over. Washing-
ton, suffering from all the complicated troubles of
jarring States and general incoherence, longed for
and urged the adoption of the act of confederation.
He saw sooner than any one else, and with more
painful intensity, the need of better union and more
energetic government. As the days and months of
difficulties and trials went by, the suggestions on
this question in his letters grew more frequent and
more urgent, and they showed the insight of the
statesman and practical man of affairs. How much
he hoped from the final acceptance of the act of
confederation it is not easy to say, but he hoped for
some improvement certainly. When at last it went
into force, he saw almost at once that it would not
do, and in the spring of 1780 he knew it to be
a miserable failure. The system which had been
established was really no better than that which
had preceded it. With alarm and disgust Wash-
ington found himself flung back on what he called
" the pernicious state system," and with worse
prospects than ever.

Up to the time of the Revolution he had never
giv^en attention to the philosophy or science of
government, but when it fell to his lot to fight


the war for independence he perceived almost im-
mediately the need of a strong central government,
and his suggestions, scattered broadcast among
his correspondents, manifested a knowledge of the
conditions of the political problem possessed by no
one else at that period. When he was satisfied
of the failure of the confederation, his efforts to
improve the existing administration multiplied,
and he soon had the assistance of his aide-de-camp,
Alexander Hamilton, who then wrote, although
little more than a boy, his remarkable letters
on government and finance, which were the first
full exj^ositions of the political necessities from
which sprang the Constitution of the United States.
Washington was vigorous in action and methodi-
cal in business, while the system of thirteen sov-
ereignties was discordant, disorderly, and feeble in
execution. He knew that the vices inherent in the
confederation were ineradicable and fatal, and he
also knew that it was useless to expect any compre-
hensive reforms until the war was over. The prob-
lem before him was whether tlie existing machine
could be made to work until the British were finally
driven from the country. The winter of 1780-81
was marked, therefore, on his part, by an urgent
striving for union, and by unceasing efforts to mend
and improve the rickety system of the confedera-
tion. It was with this view that he secured the
despatch of Laurens, whom he carefully instructed,
to get money in Paris ; for he was satisfied that it
was only possible to tide over the financial difficul-


ties by foreign loans from those interested in our
success. In the same spirit he worked to bring
about the establishment of executive departments,
which was finally accomplished, after delays that
sorely tried his patience. These two cases were but
the most important among many of similar charac-
ter, for he was always at work on these perplexing

It is an astonishing proof of the strength and
power of his mind that he was able to solve the
daily questions of army existence, to deal with
the allies, to plan attacks on New York, to watch
and scheme for the southern department, to cope
with Arnold's treason, with mutiny, and with ad-
ministrative imbecility, and at the very same time
consider the gravest governmental problems, and
send forth wise suggestions, which met the exigen-
cies of the moment, and laid the foundation of
much that afterwards appeared in the Constitution
of the United States. He was not a speculator on
government, and after his fashion he was engaged
in dealing with the questions of the day arid hour.

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