Copyright © 2012 by Michael A. Shea - All Rights Reserved

CHAPTER: POLITICS AND PROPHECY

“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules.”

    Washington decided to run for a seat in the Virginia House of Burgesses and was elected in 1759. His divinely inspired sudden career change could not have come at a better time for events that shortly unfolded. He was able to establish solid legislative and procedural experience before the British Tax Acts hit the colonies. The first tax was the Sugar Act in 1764, followed by the Quartering Acts in 1765, and the Stamp Act in 1765. The view that Washington expressed in the Virginia House was that, “Our rights and liberties should be maintained at all hazards. And I am heartily in favor of the New England plan to cease using importations on which taxes are imposed.”

 

     Soon to follow were the Townshend Act in 1767. Washington was reserved on many matters of policy, but on these Tax Acts, he was an outspoken critic. By the year 1769, anger and patriotic passions were growing in rebellion against the British Tax Acts. So too was righteous anger growing among Virginia House members such as Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and Thomas Jefferson. In response to formal resolutions against the British taxes by the House of Burgesses, Governor Lord Botetourt dissolved the House. Not to be deterred from their work, the suspended House members reconvened at the Raleigh Tavern. The next day, George Washington presented resolutions for non-importation of British goods. Governor Lord Botetourt held new elections for the dissolved House seats. Angered voters returned every House member to their former seat.

While many in the colonies were concerned about effects from the Boston Massacre, Washington was concerned about land owed to the men and families of those soldiers who served in the Virginia Regiment. It had been fifteen years since the battle [massacre] of Monongahela. The Virginia Regiment had lost a lot of good men during that battle, as well as other battles in the French and Indian War. He wanted the British Crown to make good their promised land grants in Ohio for veterans and their heirs. By the year 1766, Pontiac’s uprising and war was now over and the Six Nations had agreed to a deal to sell land south of the Ohio. …


     While at camp in the woods off the Kanawha river, Washington and his group were approached by a small party of non-threatening Indians who were on a mission. The old Indian chief had traveled a long and weary journey to meet George Washington before his death. How the chief knew where to find Washington in the deep woods of Ohio, hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement during the limited period of time he was there, we can only speculate. Washington received the Indian chief with his usual courteous style. It was an uncomfortable and awkward meeting when they sat around the council fire. The reason for the stress soon became apparent. It was the Indian chief and his braves who had years earlier lay in wait to ambush the Braddock’s army and soldiers from the Virginia Company at the battle of the Monongahela. The Grand Sachem spoke through Joseph Nicholson, the group’s interpreter:


I am a Chief and ruler of many tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the Great Lakes, and to the far Blue Mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief [Washington]. I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe—he hath an Indian’s wisdom and his warriors fight as we do—himself alone exposed.


Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how not to miss–‘twas all in vain; a power mightier far than we, shielded him from harm. He did not die in battle. I am old, and soon shall be gathering to the great council fire of my fathers, in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is a something, bids me speak, in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies—he will become the chief of many nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.


      The chief soon fell silent, staring into the flames of the campfire. He had accomplished what he had set out to do. He had spoken his peace, nothing more needed to be said. The Grand Sachem had been given the gift of prophecy by the Great Spirit (God). While the chief knew he would not live to witness the prophecy he had spoken, he had an inner knowledge of its truth. He had the wisdom of a leader who had lived many years and had experienced many things. He knew better than to question the will and works of the Great Spirit.


     During his Ohio trip, George Washington made only brief diary entries. As with most private matters involving Providence, or in this case prophecy, he most likely filed away a mental note of the event. Others like Dr. James Craik were more publicly vocal about their camp encounter or the “Indian Prophecy.”


Washington successfully accomplished the object of his mission and, in the end, his old companions in arms received their just dues. ... How perilous his journey was, at the time, may be inferred from the fact that soon after his return there was another Indian outbreak on the banks of the Great Kanawha, whither Washington went; and, in the engagement, Colonel Lewis and other Virginians lost their lives.


     Washington and fellow legislators in the Virginia House of Burgesses were now more closely monitoring events in Boston and the northern Colonies. By divine hand or health problems, Virginia Governor Lord Botetourt died suddenly in 1770. He was replaced by the younger and more militant Earl of Dunmore, who had previously served as Governor of New York. Virginia House of Burgesses member Thomas Jefferson,


later observed that, had Botetourt lived, there might have been no revolution in Virginia. …


website monitoring