A Little Fourth of July Tale...

I have literally no idea whether this is true.

There are parts of the story that are historically verifiable. Some hinge on personal accounts roughly in the same time period as the subject's life, others came from stories told decades after all the main characters had passed away.

But regardless of whether it is a historical fact, or just a tall-tale, it made me smile this Fourth of July, maybe it will you too.

George Washington began his service to his country (Great Britain) at the age of 16. He worked as a surveyor and scout, dealing with the Native Americans as the colonies stretched into their territory. He gained a reputation as a fair and even-handed man, and was generally well-regarded by them. Even at a young age, he commanded attention and respect with his honorable manor and his imposing size (Washington was significantly taller than most of his countryman).

In 1755, Washington was serving as an aide to British General Edward Braddock. Braddock was leading an expedition known as the "Monongahela Expedition". His goal was to get back most of the Ohio Territory from the French and Indians. The expedition was a complete failure. Braddock (and most of the other officers) were killed, but Washington not only survived but was hailed as a hero for his rallying the remaining British and colonial forces to a surrender. Washington had this to say about the battle:

But by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!

Thus far, the story is completely historically accurate and verifiable. There are documents to support that Washington was responsible for saving many lives in the battle and did indeed have several near-misses from enemy bullets.

According to Washington's grandson, who Washington adopted after his father's death, the Chief in charge of the Native American forces at Monongahela had made a special point to kill Washington, considering him to dangerous a warrior to let live. He had obviously been unsuccessful and (again, according to Washington's grandson) sought out a council with Washington some fifteen years later.

The Chief was dying, and upon reaching Washington's camp wanted to meet the General and share a story with him. Here is what the Chief had to say:

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. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss--twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you.

I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing at Washington], and guides his destinies--he will become the chief of 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.

There is, of course, a good reason that Washington's grandson would have wanted to trump up or even invent such a story. Washington in the early 1800s was revered like a demi-god. His character was Olympian in the minds of the American people. Any glory that was put upon Washington would surely filter down somewhat to his grandson.

But, the historical facts are these: Washington did fight and escape from injury during the entire French and Indian War. He did escape unscathed from the Revolutionary War. He did travel in the early 1770s to the Ohio Territory where he could have (although, we don't know for sure) met with this Indian Chief. Washington never did die in battle, he did become the father of the greatest empire in the history of mankind, and he did seem to have a "charmed life" as if God was "guiding his destinies".

I have absolutely no idea whether this story is true. But today, I don"t care. It's the Fourth of July, the birthday of our country. For all its flaws, the greatest country ever conceived on Earth. I hope you liked the story, true or not, and I hope you and yours have the happiest of Fourths.