« ZurückWeiter »
The time for the funeral was fixed at twelve o'clock on Wednesday, the 18th, and the Reverend Mr. Davis, of Alex andria, was invited to perform the burial service, according to the beautiful ritual of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
Having received information from Alexandria that the military and Freemasons were desirous of showing their respect for their chief and brother, by following his body to the grave, Mr. Lear ordered pro- SILVER SHIELD ON WASHINGvisions to be prepared for a large number of people, as some refreshment would be expected by them. And Mr. Robert Hamilton, of Alexandria, wrote to Mr. Lear, that a schooner of his would anchor off Mount Vernon to fire minute guns, while the body was passing from the mansion to the tomb.
The arrangements for the procession at the funeral were made by Colonels Little, Simms, and Deneale, and Dr. Dick. The old family vault was opened and cleaned, and Mr. Lear ordered an entrance door to be made for it, that it might not be again closed with brick. Mr. Stewart, adjutant of the Alexandria regiment, of which Washington had once been colonel, went down to Mount Vernon to view the ground for the procession.
The people began to collect at Mount Vernon on Wednesday, at eleven o'clock, but owing to a delay of the military, the time for the procession was postponed until three o'clock. The coffined body of the illustrious patriot lay, meanwhile, beneath the grand piazza of the mansion, where he had so often walked and mused.
Between three and four o'clock the procession moved, and, at the same time, minute guns were fired from the schooner anchored in the Potomac. The pall-bearers were Colonels Little, Simms, Payne, Gilpin, Ramsay, and Marsteler. Colonel Blackburn preceded the corpse. Colonel Deneale marched with the military. The procession moved out through the gate at the left wing of the house, and proceeded round in front of the lawn, and down to the vault on the right wing of the house. The following was the composition and order of the procession:
The troops, horse and foot, with arms reversed.
The clergy, namely, the Rev. Messrs. Davis,
The general's horse, with his saddle, holsters, and pistols,
Mr. Law and Mr. Peter,
Lord Fairfax and Ferdinando Fairfax.
Lodge No. 23.
Corporation of Alexandria.
All other persons, preceded by Mr. Anderson
and the overseers.
When the body arrived near the vault, at the bottom of the lawn, on the high bank of the Potomac, the cavalry halted; the infantry moved forward and formed the in-lining; the Masonic brethren and citizens descended to the vault, and the funeral services of the church were read by the Reverend Mr. Davis. He also pronounced a short discourse. The Masons then performed their peculiar ceremonies, and the body was deposited in the vault. Three general discharges of arms were then given by the infantry and the cavalry; and eleven pieces of artillery, which were ranged back of the vault and simultaneously discharged, "paid the last tribute to the entombed commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States." The sun was now setting, and mournfully that funeral assembly departed for their respective homes.
The bier upon which Washington was conveyed from the mansion to the tomb, is pre.served in the museum at Alexandria. It is oak, six feet in length, and painted a lead color. The handles, which are hinged to the bier, have leather pads on the under side, fastened with brass nails.
The vault in which the remains of Washington were laid, had already become dilapidated by the action of the growing roots of the trees around it, and, as we have seen, Washington, in contemplation of the immediate construction of a new one, had chosen a place for it. In his will he left the following directions:
"The family vault at Mount Vernon requiring repairs, and being improperly situated besides, I desire that a new one, of
brick, and upon a larger scale, may be built at the foot of what is called the Vineyard Enclosure, on the ground which is marked out, in which my remains, and those of my deceased relatives (now in the old vault), and such others of my family as may choose to be entombed there, may be deposited."
For thirty years the remains of Washington lay undisturbed in the old vault, when the tomb was entered and an attempt was made to carry away the bones of the illustrious dead. Others were taken by mistake, and the robber being detected, they were recovered. A new vault was soon afterward erected
upon the spot designated by Washington, and the old one is now a gaping ruin.
Congress was in session at Philadelphia, when information of the death of Washington reached them on the day of his funeral. On the following day the announcement of it was formally made on the floor of the IIouse of Representatives, by the Honorable John Marshall, of Virginia (afterward chiefjustice of the United States), and after some appropriate action, the House adjourned.
On Monday, the 23d of December, the Congress adopted joint resolutions-first, that a marble monument should be erected at the capitol; second, that there should be "a funeral procession from Congress Hall to the German Lutheran Church, in memory of General George Washington, on Thursday, the 26th instant," and that an oration be prepared at the request of Congress, to be delivered before both Houses that day; and that the president of the Senate, and the speaker of the House of Representatives, be desired to request one of the members of Congress to prepare and deliver the same; third, that the people of the United States should be recommended to wear crape on their left arm as mourning for thirty days: fourth, that the president of the United States should direct a copy of the resolutions to be transmitted to Mrs. Washington, with words of condolence, and a request that her husband's remains might be interred at the capitol of the republic.
On the 30th of December Congress further resolved, that it should be recommended to the people of the Union to asseinble on the succeeding 22d of February, "to testify their grief by suitable eulogies, orations, and discourses, or by public prayers."