THE $30,000 BEQUEST and Other Stories by Mark Twain

Valley Forge, the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence,

the speech of Patrick Henry in the Virginia House of Delegates,

and many other old-time reminiscences of stirring interest.

Few white men die lamented as was this aged negro. The funeral

was very largely attended.”

During the next ten or eleven years the subject of this sketch

appeared at intervals at Fourth-of-July celebrations in various

parts of the country, and was exhibited upon the rostrum with

flattering success. But in the fall of 1855 he died again.

The California papers thus speak of the event:


Died, at Dutch Flat, on the 7th of March, George (once the confidential

body-servant of General Washington), at the great age of 95 years.

His memory, which did not fail him till the last, was a wonderful

storehouse of interesting reminiscences. He could distinctly recollect

the first and second installations and death of President Washington,

the surrender of Cornwallis, the battles of Trenton and Monmouth,

and Bunker Hill, the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence,

and Braddock’s defeat. George was greatly respected in Dutch Flat,

and it is estimated that there were 10,000 people present at

his funeral.

The last time the subject of this sketch died was in June, 1864; and until

we learn the contrary, it is just to presume that he died permanently

this time. The Michigan papers thus refer to the sorrowful event:


George, a colored man, and once the favorite body-servant of

George Washington, died in Detroit last week, at the patriarchal age

of 95 years. To the moment of his death his intellect was unclouded,

and he could distinctly remember the first and second installations

and death of Washington, the surrender of Cornwallis, the battles

of Trenton and Monmouth, and Bunker Hill, the proclamation of the

Declaration of Independence, Braddock’s defeat, the throwing over

of the tea in Boston harbor, and the landing of the Pilgrims.

He died greatly respected, and was followed to the grave by a vast

concourse of people.

The faithful old servant is gone! We shall never see him more until

he turns up again. He has closed his long and splendid career

of dissolution, for the present, and sleeps peacefully, as only they sleep

who have earned their rest. He was in all respects a remarkable man.

He held his age better than any celebrity that has figured in history;

and the longer he lived the stronger and longer his memory grew.

If he lives to die again, he will distinctly recollect the discovery

of America.

The above r’esum’e of his biography I believe to be substantially

correct, although it is possible that he may have died once or twice

in obscure places where the event failed of newspaper notoriety.

One fault I find in all the notices of his death I have quoted,

and this ought to be correct. In them he uniformly and impartially

died at the age of 95. This could not have been. He might have

done that once, or maybe twice, but he could not have continued

it indefinitely. Allowing that when he first died, he died at

the age of 95, he was 151 years old when he died last, in 1864.

But his age did not keep pace with his recollections. When he died

the last time, he distinctly remembered the landing of the Pilgrims,

which took place in 1620. He must have been about twenty years

old when he witnessed that event, wherefore it is safe to assert

that the body-servant of General Washington was in the neighborhood

of two hundred and sixty or seventy years old when he departed this

life finally.

Having waited a proper length of time, to see if the subject of his

sketch had gone from us reliably and irrevocably, I now publish his

biography with confidence, and respectfully offer it to a mourning nation.

P.S.–I see by the papers that this imfamous old fraud has just

died again, in Arkansas. This makes six times that he is known

to have died, and always in a new place. The death of Washington’s

body-servant has ceased to be a novelty; it’s charm is gone;

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135

Categories: Twain, Mark