Washington The Athlete





BY ALBERT F. BLAISDELL AND FRANCIS E. BALL



Many stories are told of the mighty power of Washington's right arm. It

is said that he once threw a stone from the bed of the stream to the top

of the Natural Bridge, in Virginia.



Again, we are told that once upon a time he rounded a piece of slate

to the size of a silver dollar, and threw it across the Rappahannock

at Fredericksburg, the slate falling at least thirty feet on the other

side. Many strong men have since tried the same feat, but have never

cleared the water.



Peale, who was called the soldier-artist, was once visiting Washington

at Mount Vernon. One day, he tells us, some athletic young men were

pitching the iron bar in the presence of their host. Suddenly, without

taking off his coat, Washington grasped the bar and hurled it, with

little effort, much farther than any of them had done.



"We were, indeed, amazed," said one of the young men, "as we stood

round, all stripped to the buff, and having thought ourselves very

clever fellows, while the Colonel, on retiring, pleasantly said:--



"'When you beat my pitch, young gentlemen, I'll try again.'"



At another time, Washington witnessed a wrestling-match. The champion of

the day challenged him, in sport, to wrestle. Washington did not stop to

take off his coat, but grasped the "strong man of Virginia." It was

all over in a moment, for, said the wrestler, "In Washington's lionlike

grasp I became powerless, and was hurled to the ground with a force that

seemed to jar the very marrow in my bones."



In the days of the Revolution, some of the riflemen and the backwoodsmen

were men of gigantic strength, but it was generally believed by good

judges that their commander-in-chief was the strongest man in the army.





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