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Little George Washington & Great George Washington
by [?]


“The child takes each story as a conquest, grasps each as a treasure, and inserts into his own life, for his own advancement and instruction, what each story teaches and shows.”–Froebel.

Every one of my little children has seen a picture of George Washington, I am sure.

Perhaps you may remember his likeness on a prancing white horse, holding his cocked hat in his hand, and bowing low to the people, or his picture as a general at the head of his armies, with a sword by his side and high boots reaching to the knee; sometimes you have seen him in a boat crossing the Delaware River, wrapped in his heavy soldier’s cloak; and again as a President, with powdered hair, lace ruffles, and velvet coat.

Of course all these are pictures of a strong, handsome, grown-up man, and I suppose you never happened to think that George Washington was once a little boy.

But ever so long ago he was as small as you are now, and I am going to tell you about his father and mother, his home and his little-boy days.

He was born one hundred and sixty years ago in Virginia, near a great river called the Potomac. His father’s name was Augustine, his mother’s Mary, and he had several brothers and a little sister.

They all lived in the country on a farm, or a plantation, as they call it in Virginia. The Washington house stood in the middle of green tobacco fields and flowery meadows, and there were so many barns and storehouses and sheds round about it that they made quite a village of themselves. The nearest neighbors lived miles away; there were no railroads nor stages, and if you wanted to travel, you must ride on horseback through the thick woods, or you might sail in little boats up and down the rivers.

City boys and girls might think, perhaps, that little George Washington was very lonely on the great plantation, with no neighbor- boys to play with; but you must remember that the horses and cattle and sheep and dogs on a farm make the dearest of playmates, and that there are all kinds of pleasant things to do in the country that city boys know nothing about.

Little George played out of doors all the time and grew very strong. He went fishing and swimming in the great river, he ran races and jumped fences with his brothers and the dogs, he threw stones across the brooks, and when he grew a larger boy he even learned to shoot.

He had a pretty pony, too, named “Hero,” that he loved very much, and that he used to ride all about the plantation.

Some of the letters have been kept that he wrote when he was a little boy, and he talks in them about his pony, and his books with pictures of elephants, and the new top he is going to have soon.

Think of that great General Washington on a white horse once playing with a little humming top like yours!

Many things are told about Washington when he was little; but he lived so long ago that we cannot tell very well whether they ever happened or not. One story is that his father took him out into the garden on a spring morning, and drew the letters of his name with a cane in the soft earth. Then he filled the letters with seed, and told little George to wait a week or two and see what would happen. You can all guess what did happen, and can think how pleased the little boy was when he found his name all growing in fresh green leaves.

Then another story, I’m sure you’ve all heard, is about the cherry- tree and the hatchet.

Little George’s father gave him one day, so they say, a nice, bright, sharp little hatchet. Of course he went around the barns and the sheds, trying everything and seeing how well he could cut, and at last he went into the orchard. There he saw a young cherry-tree, as straight as a soldier, with the most beautiful, smooth, shining bark, waving its boughs in a very provoking way, as if to say, “You can’t cut me down, and you needn’t try.”