Washington Frees Some of His Slaves

The news of Washington’s death struck every heart with dismay. Congress broke up in silence, but, on assembling again the next day; it decided that the nation should wear mourning for thirty days to honor the great man who was, as Chief Justice Marshall said, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

The United States was not alone, however, in showing Washington due respect. Times had so changed that the British admiral made the sixty men–of–war off the English coast fly their flags at half–mast, for the very man whom his country had once wished to hang. In France, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered public mourning for ten days; for Washington’s name was known and honored everywhere.

America’s greatest man was, as he had wished, laid to rest at Mount Vernon, and since then countless thousands of his fellow–citizens and many strangers have visited his tomb. Very near it, in the beautiful grounds which surround the house, there are many trees he planted with his own hands. Inside of his home, the room where he died was left just as he left it.

In his will, Washington remembered his slaves. Some of them were set free then, while the rest were to cease being slaves only at the death of Mrs. Washington. His estate was left to some of his relatives, who in 1859 sold it to the ladies of the Mount Vernon Association. These women decided that the home of Washington ought to remain as nearly as possible as he left it, and raised the money to buy it. Since then, it has been kept up for the benefit of all who care to visit it.