George Washington's Funeral Oration
A Tribute to the Father of our Country
George Washington’s Funeral Oration
Delivered by Major Henry Lee December 26, 1799
By Resolution of the Congress of the United States
In obedience to your will, I rise, your humble organ, with the hope of executing a part of the system of public mourning which you have been pleased to adopt commemorative of the death of the most illustrious and most beloved personage this country has ever produced; and which, while it transmits to posterity your sense of the awful event, faintly represents your knowledge of the consummate excellence you so cordially honor…..
First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and endearing scenes of private life: pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere, uniform, dignified, and commanding, his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting….
Such was the man America had lost. Such was the man for whom our nation mourns! Methinks I see his august image, and hear, falling from his venerable lips, these deep-sinking words:
“Cease, sons of America, lamenting our separation: Go on, and confirm by your wisdom the fruits of our joint councils, joint efforts, and common dangers. Reverence religion: diffuse knowledge throughout your land; patronize the arts and sciences; let liberty and order be inseparable companions; control party-spirit, the bane of free government; observe good faith to, and cultivate peace with all nations; shut up every avenue to foreign influence; rely on yourselves only; be American in thought and deed. Thus will you give immortality to that union which was the constant object of my terrestrial labors. Thus will you preserve undisturbed to the latest posterity the felicity of a people to me most dear, and thus will you supply [if my happiness is now aught to you] the only vacancy in the round of pure bliss high Heaven bestows.”
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