In celebration of Presidents Day, two items regarding our two most famous presidents. The first is from the Proceedings of the New Historical Society dated January 1929, and is titled “The Most Eloquent Eulogy of Washington.” Although archaic and verbose, the sentiment expressed at that time represents a primary source of an historical event.

 

SOME LITTLE TIME after the death of Gen. George Washington in 1799, a noted English barrister, Charles Phillips, is said to have made an address upon our illustrious countryman, which ought to be in our school readers. It is as follows:

 

“It matters very little what immediate spot might have been the birthplace of such a man as Washington. No people can claim, no country can appropriate him. The boon of Providence to the human race, his fame is eternity and his residence creation.

 

“Although it was a defeat of our arms, and the disgrace of our policy, I almost bless the convulsions in which he had his origin. If the heavens thundered, and the earth rocked, yet when the storm passed, how pure was the atmosphere that it cleared! How bright in the brow of the firmament was the planet it revealed to us!

 

“In production of Washington it does really appear as if Nature were endeavoring to improve upon herself, and that all virtues of the ancient world were but so many studies, preparatory to the patriot of the new.

 

“Individual instances no doubt there were, splendid examples of some single qualification. Caesar was merciful, Scipio was continent, Hannibal was patient; but it was reserved for Washington to blend them all in one, and, like the lovely masterpiece of the Grecian artist, to exhibit in one glow of associated beauty the pride of every model, and the perfection of every master.

 

“As a General, he marshaled the peasant into veteran, and supplied by discipline the absence of experience. As a statesman, he enlarged the policy of the cabinet into the most comprehensive system of general advantage, and such was the wisdom of his views, and the philosophy of his counsels, that the soldier and the statesman he almost added the character of the sage.

 

“A conqueror, he was untainted with the crime of blood; a revolutionist, he was free from any stain of treason; for aggression commenced the contest, and his country called him to the command. Liberty unsheathed his sword, necessity stained and victory returned it.

 

“If he had paused here, history might have doubted what station to assign him, whether at the head of her citizens or her soldiers, her heroes or her patriots. But the last glorious act crowns his career and banishes all hesitation. Who like Washington, after having emancipated a hemisphere, resigns its crown and prefers the retirement of domestic life to the adoration of a land he might almost be said to have created?

 

‘How shall we rank thee upon glory’s page

Thou more than soldier, and just less than sage;

All thou hast been, reflects less fame on thee,

Far less than all thou hast forborne to be.’

 

“Immortal man! He took from battle its crime, and from the conquest its chains. He left to the victorious the glory of his self-denial and turned upon the vanquished only the retribution of his mercy.

 

“Such, Sir, is the testimony of one, not to be accused of partiality, in his estimate of America. Happy, proud, America! The lightnings of heaven yielded to your philosophy; the temptations of earth could not seduce your patriotism. I have the honor, Sir, of proposing to you as a toast, the immortal memory of George Washington.”

The following is an entry in the soon to be published “Encyclopedia of New Jersey.” It details the life of an early resident of Upper Freehold and ancestor of Abraham Lincoln. The site of the old forge is just past Imlaystown on Rt. 526 and borders on Monmouth County’s Clayton Park.

 

Lincoln, Mordecai (Apr. 24, 1686 – May 12, 1736) born Hingham, MA/died Amity, PA.  Iron master and great great grandfather of Abraham Lincoln. Samuel Lincoln, Mordecai’s grandfather, arrived in 1637. His son, Mordecai (1), established one of the first iron works in the New World at Cohasett. Mordecai (2), and his brother Abraham, were hired by Richard Saltar, a justice of Monmouth County, to manage an iron forge near Imlaystown, NJ. Saltar’s eldest daughter, Hannah, married Mordecai prior to 1714.  They had many children, including the President’s great grandfather, “Virginia John,” born May 3, 1711. Testament to the Lincolns’ presence in New Jersey is a sandstone marker in the old Robbins burial ground, located in the Assunpink Wildlife Area, that bears the inscription: “DEBORAH LINCON, AGED 3Y, 4M, MAY 15, 1720.”