George Washington Biography
George Washington is the first President of the United States of America and one of the seven founding fathers: John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Jay. He is also known as the "Father of the Nation" for his strong leadership during the United States' early formation as a nation.
Who Was George Washington?
Owing to Washington's military experiences and his unrelenting stance against the British, he was elected as the Commander-in-Chief on June 16, 1775.
Washington in British Colonial Colonel uniform (Photo Source: American military history)
As the Commander-in-Chief, Washington led the Continental Army during the America’s Revolutionary War against Britain between 1785 to 1783. The war resulted in the North American English colonies’ independence from Britain and the eventual formation of the modern-day USA.
Early Bio and Childhood
George Washington was born in a wealthy Washington family who were plantation owners., His birthplace lies in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was born as the eldest child of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington, on February 22, 1732.
His family made the majority of their wealth from land speculation. However, his great-grandfather, John Washington, was a military man. He was the lieutenant colonel in the local militia and also served briefly as a Virginia politician.
Washington was raised alongside five siblings. He had to move around a lot during his childhood. He was homeschooled for nearly eight years, from 1739 to 1747.
After his studies, he spent a month surveying Virginia land that belonged to his brother’s father-in-law. After receiving his surveyor license in 1749, he worked extensively as the official surveyor of Culpeper County in Virginia for a few years before eventually retiring and joining the military.
Spurred by his late brother’s military service as adjutant general, he sought a commission with Virginia’s Lieutenant Governer. The governor appointed him Major and gave him command of one of the four militia districts in Virginia.
In 1753, for one of his first war assignments, Washington was appointed as the special envoy to demand the French leave the territory that the British had initially claimed. The French declined the orders, and thus, this event was to be the first among several critical moments in Washington’s war history.
French And Indian War
Post the failed negotiation with the French, Washington - under Lieutenant Governor of Virginia’s orders, Robert Dinwiddie - set up a military camp at Great Meadows (now known as Fort Necessity). The French and Indian War officially commenced after he led an attack against the French troops at Fort Duquesne. The battle ended with nine casualties on the French side, including commander Coulon de Jumonville. The remaining survivors were taken as prisoners.
Following their defeat, the French soon launched a counterattack on the English-controlled troops. After a day, Washington surrendered and was later released and sent back to Williamsburg on conditions that he would not build a second fort anywhere near the Ohio River.
In 1755, Washington was promoted to the honorary title of Colonel. Teaming up with General Edward Braddock, Washington, and the English forces, he attacked the French forces from three fronts: Fort Niagara, Crown Point, and Fort Duquesne.
Braddock lost his life at the battle, while Washington escaped with four bullets narrowly missing him.
Commanding the Virginia Militia
In August 1955, Washington was appointed as the commander of the Virginia militia. He was tasked with patrolling and protecting a border of about 400 miles (643 km).
Washington was frustrated with the assignment as he was to lead a troop of nearly 700 badly-behaved soldiers and had to depend on an unsupportive colonial legislature of Virginia.
Washington didn’t serve as the commander for very long as his health deteriorated at the end of 1757. He contracted dysentery and was sent home back for recovery.
Washington returned to his troops in 1758 and took part in the attack of Fort Duquesne. The English side lost 14 soldiers, and 26 others were injured after a friendly-fire incident. But, despite the casualties, the British colonists succeeded in capturing the Fort.
Washington resigned his position as the Virginia troops commander in December 1758, after which he returned to Mount Vernon. There, he joined politics and was even appointed to the House of Burgesses in Virginia.
American Revolutionary War
George Washington didn’t initially support the idea of America’s independence from Britain. However, he changed his mind after Britain started imposing unreasonable taxes by making amendments in the law, including the Stamp Act 1765 and the Townshend Acts 1767.
By 1767, Washington was a vocal critic of the growing oppression of American colonists by the crown. Later, in 1769, he filed a motion to boycott Britain’s goods until the earlier imposed taxes were removed.
Eventually, the First Continental Congress- consisting of representatives from 13 colonies, including George Washington- was formed. The Congress then decided to grant rights to civilians to take up arms against the encroaching British forces.
Washington was later promoted as the Commander-in-Chief and Major General of the rebel troops on June 15, 1775, nearly two months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
The war officially came to an end on September 3, 1983, after the signing of the 'Treaty of Paris.' Soon, on December 23, 1983, Washington resigned from his rank as the Commander-in-Chief and traveled back to Mount Vernon.
Despite winning independence from Britain, the different states of the current United States were not yet unified under a central government that could impose the authority to raise taxes and develop a national army.
So, a unanimous vote was passed, which elected George Washington to the United States’ first presidency on April 30, 1789. On the said day, Washington stood on Federal Hall’s balcony in Wall Street, New York, and swore in on his position.
During his two terms as the President, Washington worked on reducing the US’s national debt and establishing a friendly relationship with Native Americans.
However, his presidency was also not free of controversies. He signed a bill in 1971 which granted rights to Congress to impose taxes on distilled spirits. The bill angered the people of rural Pennsylvania, who, in turn, started full-fledged defiance of Federal Law. As a solution, Washington passed the Militia Act, 1792, and marched into the rebel areas with armed forces.
Further, he also ignored the United States’ treaty with France and remained neutral during the war between Britain and France in 1793, which enraged Thomas Jefferson.
But, in totality, George Washington was considered to have had two moderately successful Presedential terms.
During his term, he set back a war with Britain, established boundaries with Canada, and created an international trade environment.
Washington eventually resigned from his position as the President on March 4, 1797, and returned to his family home in Mount Vernon.
Death & Legacy
From 1797 to 1799, Washington devoted his retirement life to his lands in Mount Vernon and also to some of his businesses, including his distillery.
On December 12, 1799, on one of his farm inspections, Washington caught a sore throat after getting caught in a snowstorm. He passed on December 14, 1799, after being bedridden for two days. He was 67 years old at the time.
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