By Pam Dudding Contributing writer
George Washington Carver served as a General and Commander-in-Chief of the colonial armies during the American Revolution, and later became the first President of the United States of America, serving from 1789 until 1797.
He is noted for many famous quotes which regularly get repeated. One such example: “Be Americans. Let there be no sectionalism, no North, South, East, or West. You are all dependent on one another and should be one in union. In one word, be a nation.”
The owner of the Emporium General Store located on Main Street in New Castle has a tremendous love for books and especially our American history.
Phil Spence is celebrating Washington’s birthday the week of February 20 – 26 and has an open-door invitation to all, giving away free copies of Rules of Civility – a book of good manners that Washington practiced all his life as well as Washington’s Farewell Address.
Spence shared that he feels his insight into the potential problems of the developing new nation are remarkable. “We have many of the problems he warned about confronting our government in this day,” he said.
As you look around the Emporium you will see many books and pictures of the First President and others.
“From the age of 16, when he first started surveying the frontier lands, his life became entwined with the emerging Virginia colony and the struggle for independence,” Spence shared. “The founding of the United States was unlike any seen before in history and Washington would become its first President.”
Noting that today, the most powerful city in this country, Washington D.C., is named after him, George Washington. Also, the National Cemetery is linked to him, which was a gift from George Washington to Robert E. Lee’s wife.
Spence added that he believes the country needs more people like Washington, explaining, “His values and self-sacrifice for what he believed should be a model for all Americans. At one time in our history, he was the role model that all aspired to.”
Washington himself said, “Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”
“When we think that one person does not matter and one person’s contribution is insignificant, just ask – what if there had been no George Washington?” Spence asked. “His accomplishments and failures are too many to recount in a small article.”
You will find a treasure chest of books to read and learn about this President in the Emporium’s book room, from Farmer and Soldier to Virginian and American. “All these things encompass the George Washington that we remember,” Spence added.
“They are still relevant today and we would do well to teach them to the next generation,” Spence said.
In fact, Washington said, “The future of this nation depends on the Christian training of our youth.”
Here’s another powerful George Washington quote: “It is impossible to govern the world without God. It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits and humbly implore his protection and favor.”
Washington was known for his faith. He shared, “Let me live according to those holy rules which Thou hast this day prescribed in Thy Holy Word…direct me to the true object, Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life. Bless, O Lord, all the people of this land.”
Washington was homeschooled as his father died when he was just 11-years-old.
“His mother was very possessive of him,” Spence continued. “He was a head taller than most people he was around and was obvious in a crowd so they say for him to overcome that, he became extremely mannerly, quiet and reserved as that was a way, he could deal with it. He portrayed this image of being a gentle giant, but he was really a tough guy that lived outdoors, having some fantastic adventures in his life, including close escapes.”
Thus, Washington got the name “bullet-proof.”
“He was one of the few people in American history that was never touched by a bullet,” Spence shared. “In one battle with General Braddock the British General where he led an expedition against the Indians, Washington had six bullet holes through his clothing and two horses shot from underneath him, but he was not touched by the bullets. So, the Indians started this legend about him that he was ‘bullet-proof’ and he had big power and they would not attempt to kill him after that because they called him ‘big medicine.’”
Continuing, Spence added, “Everything he did, he addressed God. He lived it, but did not preach it. He wasn’t a good public speaker as he did not like to do that, though he was in the House of Burgesses. People of high society back then were expected to serve without pay. They were trained to do that. Most plantation owners were highly intelligent, running a small community of their own, making all the decisions for them there.”
“Also, he was a big military guy. When it came to the Revolutionary War, he was asked to command the Continental Army and he stated that he was not sure he was up to this, but agreed to do his best and he served the entire war,” Spence explained. “All the other founders went home to their families and businesses, but he stayed with the Army for eight years and never went home. His wife came to visit him a few times. He was always in the field. He did all of that at no pay. He said he would keep a track of his expenses and ‘when you can at some point in the future, you can reimburse me,’ even when he was President (though he did not want to be).”
When the war was over, he went back to Congress and presented his sword as, “the war was over, the country was safe, and his job was done and he’s going home.”
Spence shared, “When King George of England heard of this, he said, ‘This one act will make George Washington the greatest man who ever lived.’ Washington was offered to be King twice and turned it down, stating, ‘that is not why we fought the revolution.’ This is a person who had become world famous at 22 years of age. If he associated with something, it was a good thing. The guys who were trying to make things better, that if you couldn’t get Washington to be a part of it, no one else would go along with it. So, they had to get him to the Constitutional Convention and elected him President of the Convention. Again, he went home.”
The electoral college was set up and he still stands as the only President in American history where 100 percent of the votes went to him – twice.
Spence also added that when Washington was President, there was no White House or “place” set up for the President and all expenditures came out of his pocket to host anything at this home.
“Washington had been an outdoorsman all his life and it was said he was the most accomplished horseman of his generation and extremely athletic, having great physical strength of what he could do and stand,” Spence added. “When Washington was in the Virginia Militia, there was a string of forts approximately every 20 miles, that went all the way up what we know as Route 460, including one in Salem, where Andrew Lewis built a fort, Ft. Lewis. Everything west of 460 was Indian territory. He spent time in this area and riding those forts to keep them ready in Indian attack. Washington did that for over three years.”
The Washington Headquarter flag would be posted at the place he was at the time, with its deep blue background and 13 brilliant white stars.
Neither he nor Martha were poor from the beginning. He also inherited Mt. Vernon from his half-brother and that is where he made his home.
Spence added, “One story was when he had over 2,900 men at Valley Forge Camp at Christmas. Washington sent a letter to Congress saying they were ‘unfit for service as they had no shoes or otherwise naked.’ Congress gave him nothing, but Washington refused to pillage from the surrounding peoples, instead he gave them letters of credit. That is why people loved him so as he had the right to just take from them, but he would not.”
Another very interesting fact was about Chinese Chairman Mao.
“When he took over Chinese Communist, he had a library full of books on Washington and his tactics and studied every battle and emulated Washington dealing with the peasants. He would not take their stuff as he saw that actually worked and wanted to turn public opinion to him,” Spence shared.
While you are in the Emporium, you may wish to check out some of their items including, high-quality supplements to fight off the viruses that has plagued our nation, Big Spring Mill products, Watkins, cheeses of champagne, smoked gouda with bacon or bacon ranch, Maple-flavored bacon, Amish butter and even Lebanon bologna. He also has a huge variety of unique beers and wines and other food items. They carry many cooking utensils, lanterns, knives and axes. And when you leave you can grab an original glass bottle of Dr. Pepper, Ginger beer, or a variety of other drinks and an old-fashioned Moon-pie or Zero bar!
Their mission statement mirrors their heart to serve: “We endeavor to honor our customers with the highest quality products, excellent customer service along with a fun and delightful experience. We are honored that you have chosen us, the Emporium General Store, for your quality purchases. We welcome you not only as a customer, but also as a new member of the ever-growing Emporium Family.”
Phil and Debbie welcome all to the Emporium General Store where you will find almost anything you need and much of what you want. Join them for a free cup of coffee, hot chocolate or tea and meander throughout the store or sit for a spell in the book room. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.