There can be no doubt that Washington had a high temper. Hamilton's
allusion to his not being remarkable for "good temper" has already been
quoted, as has also Stuart's remark that "all his features were indicative
of the strongest and most ungovernable passions, and had he been born in
the forests, he would have been the fiercest man among the savage tribes."
Again Stuart is quoted by his daughter as follows:
"While talking one day with General Lee, my father happened to remark that
Washington had a tremendous temper, but held it under wonderful control.
General Lee breakfasted with the President and Mrs. Washington a few days
"'I saw your portrait the other day,' said the General, 'but Stuart says
you have a tremendous temper.'
"'Upon my word,' said Mrs. Washington, coloring, 'Mr. Stuart takes a great
deal upon himself to make such a remark.'
"'But stay, my dear lady,' said General Lee, 'he added that the president
had it under wonderful control.'
"With something like a smile, General Washington remarked, 'He is right.'"
Lear, too, mentions an outburst of temper when he heard of the defeat of
St. Clair, and elsewhere records that in reading politics aloud to
Washington "he appeared much affected, and spoke with some degree of
asperity on the subject, which I endeavored to moderate, as I always did
on such occasions." How he swore at Randolph and at Freneau is mentioned
elsewhere. Jefferson is evidence that "his temper was naturally irritable
and high-toned, but reflection and resolution had obtained a firm and
habitual ascendency over it. If however it broke its bonds, he was most
tremendous in his wrath."
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