Ohio History Journal

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To us of the central west the memory of Washington and

his dearest ambitions must be precious beyond that of any other

American, whether statesman, general or seer. Under strange

providential guidance the mind and heart of that first American

was turned toward the territories lying between the Alleghenies

and the Mississippi and it is to be doubted if any other portion

of his country received so much of his attention and study as

this. Washington was the original expansionist-not for ex-

pansion's sake, truly, but for the country's sake and duty's. If

Washington was the father of his country he was in a stronger

and more genuine sense the father of the west. It was begot-

ten of him. Others might have led the revolutionary armies

through the valleys as deep and dark as those through which

Washington passed, and have eventually fought England to

a similar standstill as did Washington; at least Gates and Greene

and Putnam would never have surrendered up the cause of the

colonies. But of the west who knew it as Washington did?

Who saw its possibilities, realized the advantages which would

accrue to the colonies from its possession, understood the part

it might play in the commercial development of the seaboard

states? Probably no one to a similar degree.

It is wholly idle to speculate upon what might have been

unless such speculation aids to help us realize the price which

was paid for that which is. If ever a finger was lifted by order

of Providence it was the finger which fired the first gun of the

French and Indian war in that Allegheny vale. And yet today

what would the Washington of 1754 be called-fighting redskins

and foreigners with splendid relish in a far distant portion of

the country to gain possession of a pathless wilderness?

Washington had, first, an extraordinary knowledge of the

west which he championed. Into Lord Fairfax's wild acres

he went in his teens to earn an honest doubloon a day. Each