President Bush Quotes George Washington
By Christine S. Patrick«back | home
President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush visited Mount Vernon on Monday, February 19, 2007, in order to pay tribute to George Washington. They laid a red, white, and blue wreath at Washington's tomb to commemorate the 275th anniversary of the first president's birth on February 22, 1732. During his remarks on the occasion, President Bush quoted from an address that Washington gave on January 1, 1796, to Pierre Auguste Adet, the French ambassador to the United States. This address was given in response to Adet's earlier gift that day to Washington of a decorative silk flag that had been sent by the French government for presentation to the United States Congress. The section of Washington's address that Bush quoted is in italics.
"Born, Sir, in a land of liberty; having early learned its value; having engaged in a perilous conflict to defend it; having, in a word, devoted the best years of my life to secure its permanent establishment in my own country; my anxious recollections, my sympathetic feelings, and my best wishes are irresistibly excited, whensoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of Freedom. But above all, the events of the French Revolution have produced the deepest solicitude, as well as the highest admiration. To call your nation brave, were to pronounce but common praise. Wonderful people! Ages to come will read with astonishment the history of your brilliant exploits! I rejoice, that the period of your toils and of your immense sacrifices, is approaching. I rejoice that the interesting revolutionary movements of so many years have issued in the formation of a constitution designed to give permanency to the great object for which you have contended. I rejoice that liberty, which you have so long embraced with enthusiasm, liberty, of which you have been the invincible defenders, now finds an asylum in the bosom of a regularly organized government; a government, which, being formed to secure the happiness of the French people, corresponds with the ardent wishes of my heart, while it gratifies the pride of every citizen of the United States, by its resemblance to their own. On these glorious events, accept, Sir, my sincere congratulations.
In delivering to you these sentiments, I express not my own feelings only, but those of my fellow citizens, in relation to the commencement, the progress, and the issue of the French revolution: and they will cordially join with me in purest wishes to the Supreme Being, that the citizens of our sister republic, our magnanimous allies, may soon enjoy in peace, that liberty which they have purchased at so great a price, and all the happiness which liberty can bestow.
I receive Sir, with lively sensibility, the symbol of the triumphs and of the enfranchisement of your nation, the colours of France, which you have now presented to the United States. The transaction will be announced to Congress; and the colours will be deposited with those archives of the United States, which are at once the evidences and the memorials of their freedom and independence. May these be perpetual! and may the friendship of the two republics be commensurate with their existence." This address is taken from the letter-book copy in the Papers of George Washington at the Library of Congress.
Three days later, on January 4, Washington dutifully delivered the flag to Congress, along with an address to Congress of October 21, 1794, from the French Committee of Public Safety, Adet's presentation speech to the president of January 1, and a copy of Washington's address to Adet. The House of Representatives ordered the proceedings published in the pamphlet In the House of Representatives of the United States, Monday, the 4th of January 1796, of which a thousand copies were printed. view this pamphlet here»
The flag was described in the Philadelphia Gazette & Universal Daily Advertiser on January 5, 1796: "It is tricolour, made of the richest silk, and highly ornamented with allegorical paintings. In the middle, a cock is represented, the emblem of France, standing on a thunder bolt. At two corners diagonally opposite are represented two bombshells bursting, at the other two corners, other military emblems. Round the whole is a rich border of oak leaves, alternately yellow and green, the first shaded with brown and heightened with gold; the latter shaded with black and relieved with silver; in this border are entwined warlike instruments. The edge is ornamented with a rich gold fringe. The staff is covered with black velvet crowned with a golden pike and enriched with the tricolor cravatte and a pair of tassels worked in gold and the three national colours."