The True George Washington: Enemies

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff


George Muse

Any man of force is to be known quite as much by the character of his enemies as by that of his friends, and this is true of Washington. The subject offers some difficulties, for most of his enemies later in life went out of their way to deny all antagonism, and took pains to destroy such proof as they could come at of ill-feeling towards him. Yet enough remains to show who were in opposition to him, and on what grounds.

The first of those now known to be opposed to him was George Muse, lieutenant-colonel in 1754 under Washington. At Fort Necessity he was guilty of cowardice, he was discharged in disgrace, and his name was omitted from the Assembly's vote of thanks to the regiment. Stung by this action, he took his revenge in a manner related by Peyroney, who wrote Washington,?

"Many enquired to me about Muse's Braveries, poor Body I had pity him ha'nt he had the weakness to Confes his Coardise himself, & the impudence to taxe all the reste of the oficers without exception of the same imperfection for he said to many of the Consulars and Burgeses that he was Bad But th' the reste was as Bad as he?To speak francly, had I been in town at that time I cou'nt help'd to make use of my horses [whip] whereas for to vindicate the injury of that vilain. He Contrived his Business so that several ask me if it was true that he had Challeng'd you to fight: My Answer was no other But that he should rather chuse to go to hell than doing of it?for he had Such thing declar'd: that was his Sure Road."

Washington seems to have cherished no personal ill-will for Muse's conduct, and when the division of the "bounty lands" was being pushed, he used his influence that the broken officer should receive a quotum. Not knowing this, or else being ungrateful, Muse seems to have written a letter to Washington which angered him, for he replied,?

"Sir, Your impertinent letter was delivered to me yesterday. As I am not accustomed to receive such from any man, nor would have taken the same language from you personally, without letting you feel some marks of my resentment, I would advise you to be cautious in writing me a second of the same tenor. But for your stupidity and sottishness you might have known, by attending to the public gazette, that you had your full quantity of ten thousand acres of land allowed you, that is, nine thousand and seventy-three acres in the great tract, and the remainder in the small tract. But suppose you had really fallen short, do you think your superlative merit entitles you to greater indulgence than others? Or, if it did, that I was to make it good to you, when it was at the option of the Governor and Council to allow but five hundred acres in the whole, if they had been so inclined? If either of these should happen to be your opinion, I am very well convinced that you will be singular in it; and all my concern is, that I ever engaged in behalf of so ungrateful a fellow as you are. But you may still be in need of my assistance, as I can inform you, that your affairs, in respect to these lands, do not stand upon so solid a basis as you imagine, and this you may take by way of hint. I wrote to you a few days ago concerning the other distribution, proposing an easy method of dividing our lands; but since I find in what temper you are, I am sorry I took the trouble of mentioning the land or your name in a letter, as I do not think you merit the least assistance from me."

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