Today there is a great void of substantive biographies of historical heroes for our young people. Thankfully, Sprinkle Publications has helped to fill that chasm with the reprinting of M. L. Williamson's fine work Life of Washington. Bound with this account is another reprinted volume entitled Entertaining Anecdotes of Washington: Exhibiting His Patriotism and Courage, Benevolence and Piety with other Excellent Traits of Character. The reader should quickly see that these two volumes complement one another.
Our first president was born in 1732. His ancestors had supported Charles I in England and subsequently immigrated to the Virginia colony while Cromwell was in power.
His early years included times of training and trial (his father died when Washington was eleven). In God's providence many statesmen and soldiers visited Mt. Vernon, and the youth was deeply impressed and educated by listening to their conversations.
At sixteen he put his land-surveying studies into practice by surveying land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The quality of his work attracted the attention of Lord Fairfax. George was appointed a public surveyor. This was the beginning of his travels and labors in the service of Virginia and later in service to the newly-born nation. Soon Lord Fairfax needed Washington to deliver important papers commanding the French not to trespass into British territory. Washington's fearlessness and faithfulness, undergirded by God's providence, enabled him to make the round-trip safely.
Subsequently, war with the French erupted. Washington's patience and humility stood out in great contrast to the British bravado and haughtiness.
Washington's early years were a providential preparation for his years of service as military commander and then as the nation's first president. God had allowed him to be born into a heritage of wealth. He sacrificially and willingly led the colonial army without pay, desirous to be reimbursed only for expenses incurred. He was a natural leader, but from his experience in the outdoors in all types of weather, he was mindful of and easily identified with the sufferings of his own soldiers. He could have lived a quiet life as a colonial planter; instead he was willing to put his life and fortune on the line to stand against unlawful English taxation and domination.
Williamson brings many character traits to light as she recounts Washington's life. She includes facts that today's readers most likely will read for the first time. Her writing style and the well-placed illustrations will be very attractive to children.
Included in the volume is a large collection of anecdotes regarding Washington. Among these are accounts that show youthful Washington's regard for the truth, his kindness to the poor, and his respect for the Lord's Day. These anecdotes highlight Mary Williamson's portrayal of Washington's character in her biography. The book concludes with Washington's "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation." Washington penned these 110 rules when he was fourteen. They evidence Washington's wisdom and can be read with much interest and profit. They provide the reader with reminders of the importance of proper manners being developed early in life. This is all the more important in our day of ebbing interest in showing love and respect toward others.
Parents can confidently give this volume to their children to read. Youth and adults alike will see how God blessed the colonial era with many courageous, honest leaders such as Washington. Readers will easily see the importance of character to leadership and the importance of good character being lived out in one's public and private life. The traits exemplified are those that need to be exemplified today by youth and adults. This volume deserves wide reading and will make a good gift to schools and public libraries as well as to our children and grandchildren.
Sprinkle Publications also has reprinted Mary Williamson's biographies of Lee, Jackson, and Stuart in a volume entitled The Confederate Trilogy for Young Readers.