Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Joshua Brookes' Report on Jefferson on Washington

Numerous times I've reproduced the quotation from Thomas Jefferson where he notes that both George Washington and G. Morris were not believers in presumably some orthodox version of the Christian faith.

I've never (from what I remember) reproduced this from one Joshua Brookes. It's not from Jefferson's hand, but rather an eyewitness account from a personal meeting between Jefferson and Brookes. Below are the remarks that Brookes recorded Jefferson saying:
George Washington is a hard master, very severe, a hard husband, a hard father, a hard governor. From his childhood he always ruled and ruled severely. He was first brought up to govern slaves, he then governed an army, then a nation. He thinks hard of all, is despotic in every respect, he mistrusts every man, thinks every man a rogue and nothing but severity will do. He has no idea of people being left to themselves to act; he thinks that they cannot think and that they ought only to obey. As I lived near him and saw him every day, I thought I knew what was in his mind at that time, but afterwards I found that ideas were there that I had no conception of. If he had died when Congress met in New York, he would have been the greatest man that ever lived, but he is now losing his reputation daily. He is not the man he was, else he would not allow himself to be led as he does, or give his sanction to things he does sanction. He has divines constantly about him because he thinks it right to keep up appearances but is an unbeliever.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

I trust little Jefferson has to say, especially that Washington would confide in him.

Toward the end of his life, George Washington would have nothing to do with Thomas Jefferson, who had repeatedly lied about his efforts to undermine Washington’s presidency. Having put his life on the line during the American Revolution, Washington had little patience for armchair revolutionaries who questioned his patriotism. When Washington died, Vice President Jefferson did not attend the memorial service held in December 1799. Jefferson welcomed Washington’s death, for this allowed for a reemergence of the “republican spirit” now that the Federalists could no longer rely on Washington’s protection. Martha Washington would later observe that the two worst days of her life were the day her husband died, and the day in 1801 when President-elect Jefferson paid her a courtesy call at Mount Vernon.