Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume III by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume III by  Mara L. Pratt

Washington's Aids

Washington was wise in his choice of men to help him carry on his work as President. He was as wise in his judgment of men, a friend once said of him, as he was in his judgment of horses. As he never trained for the saddle a colt that was fitted to the plow, so he never chose as an aid in government a man who was better fitted for other lines of work.

"In choosing Alexander Hamilton and Col. Meade for his aids," said Col. Meade himself, "Washington displayed his usual good judgment. For Hamilton was a vigorous writer and a strong thinker. I was only a fearless horseman. So you see Hamilton did the headwork and I did the riding."

At the close of the war, when Washington was taking leave of his aids, he said:—

"Hamilton, you ought to go to the bar. You might easily become a leading lawyer. And you, friend, Dick, should go to your plantation. You have it in you to make a noble, honest farmer—just such a one as our country needs. It is indeed such men as you that make a country."

Hamilton did become a leader of the New York Bar, and Meade became the famous plantation holder that Washington had hoped he might become.

Several years after this, Meade visited Washington at his home. Washington, gallant host that he was, rode out to meet him. They met at a pair of draw-bars—one on either side.

"Allow me to let down the bars," said Meade, "for my worthy General."

"Friend Dick," said Washington, "here, as your host, it is my privilege to take down the bars."

For an instant both stood, hats in hand, each courteously waiting to serve the other.

Then with the ready wit and hearty manner which belonged always to Meade, he said, "Very well, General, then allow me to be your aid  still."

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