George Washington: America's First President and Founding Father
This above Video is a Documentary of George Washington
George Washington was a man who was at the center of a revolutionary war and led America to gain its freedom. He later contributed significantly in availing a strong foundation to a new nation, a nation we know as, The United States of America. His name and his values are still cherished by a grateful nation.
The capital of the United States, many counties, townships, and numerous educational institutions are named after him. His face is on different currencies like one-dollar bills, and quarters. It is also carved on Mt Rushmore. George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, to Augustine and Mary Ball Washington. He was the first of their six children.
George’s great-grandfather John Washington immigrated in the 1650s from England to Virginia and soon became one of the effluent person in the colony mainly through land speculation and tobacco cultivation. George’s father Augustine Washington was a very energetic, and ambitious man. Who acquired a lot of wealth through land acquisition, mills, and iron mines. Unfortunately, In 1743 when George was only 11 his father died. His later life was handled and mentored by his older stepbrother Lawrence Washington. Lawrence took good care of the young George, he even taught him the elegant art of fencing and military science.
George Washington never completed more than a formal elementary school education. He was educated in basic subjects like, reading, writing, and mathematics. However, he had a very good aptitude for mathematics. He self-learned the concepts of mathematics, trigonometry, and land surveying.
George, from a very young age, was interested in military art and land expansion. In 1748 at the age of 16, he helped in the land survey for Lord Fairfax, in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. Lord Fairfax was highly impressed by Washington’s ability and skills, and in 1749, he aided George to get an appointment as the official surveyor of Culpeper County.
For more than two years, from 1749 to 1751, he was very busy surveying for the government. Surveying, not only offered him decent wages, and travel opportunities, but also with his savings he started acquiring land of his own. Little did he know at that time that his surveying and fencing skills will come in handy later in the revolutionary war, a war that was waiting for him, not far in the future.
In 1751, George traveled to Barbados for his brother Lawrence’s tuberculosis treatment. In Barbados, he contracted smallpox which left some facial scars. In spite of the best efforts, Lawrence couldn’t be saved and died in 1752. Disheartened, George decided to return back to Virginia.
George Washington’s official career in the military began in 1752 when Governor Dinwiddie appointed him as a major in his army. In 1754, he participated in the first skirmishes of his career. But this was only the beginning of his long military adventure.
In the early next year, in 1755, British forces were attacked by a large Native American force along with their French and Canadian allies. As an aide to British Gen. Edward Braddock, he fought bravely in this battle, which was later called the “Battle of Monongahela”. However, the results of this battle were adverse to the British expectations, as they have to suffer huge losses.
In late 1775, Washington was made commander of all Virginia troops, upon General Braddock’s death. Washington fought the French and the Indians for the next three years. After the end of the war in 1758, Washington resigned his commission and returned to his estate of Mount Vernon. Experience gained in these years greatly enhanced Washington’s leadership skills, this was going to come in handy for the rest of his life. After returning to Mt Vernon, and till the start of the American Revolutionary War, Washington led a very prosperous, happy, and busy life. He started expanding and managing his lands, entered politics, and served in the Virginia House of Burgess.
In 1759, he married Martha Dandridge Custis. Though Martha and George never had children of their own. He was a dotting father of his two stepchildren, Jack and Patsy Curtis.
In the mid-1760s, Britain started, imposing undue taxes and other invasive policies, as a result, there was considerable resentment, among the general population of all the colonies. A true patriot, George Washington couldn’t remain indifferent to the situation, in fact, it made him a firm believer in American independence. By the early 1770s, Washington started leading citizens in Virginia to openly support resistance to English tyranny.
In 1774 and 1775, Washington was one of Virginia’s representatives at the First and Second Continental Congresses. The Continental Congress was the group of representatives from the 13 colonies that would eventually become the United States.
In 1775, after local militia units from Massachusetts had engaged British troops near Lexington and Concord the Congress created a continental army to provide for the common defense of the colonies. Search for a competent person to lead this army, soon turned focused on George Washington. He was selected unanimously to lead and embarked upon a war that was to last six grueling years. In accepting command of colonial forces and leading an armed insurrection against King George III, Washington in the eyes of the English became a traitor, and if the rebellion failed, he would soon find a rope around his neck.
On June 19, 1775, he received his commission, and three days later he left for Boston where he finds an army of 14,500 men waiting for their commander. Initially, the colonial force was less of an army, rather a large gang, and lacked a real organization. Its soldiers lacked professional training, equipment, and supplies.
Washington knew that his ill-equipped army did not stand a chance, even remotely, against the highly trained British troops on an open battlefield. So, he turned to the tactic of striking unexpectedly, a guerrilla warfare technique, that he had seen practiced by Native Americans during the French and Indian War. For the next five years, Washington served as the head of the Revolutionary Army.
When on 4th July 1776, Continental Congress met in the Pennsylvania state house in Philadelphia and adopted the “United States Declaration of Independence”, George Washington and his Continental Army, were defending New York. With a confident smile, he read the Declaration to his troops on July 9th. The declaration clearly meant that colonies were now independent, and no longer under British rule.
After routing the British from Boston in the spring of 1776, Washington fought a series of battles to defend New York, but he lost many of them and faced humiliation. However, all efforts were not lost. Over the years Washington had developed a very strong spy network. By the End of 1776, he received intelligence that a garrison of about 1500 Hessian mercenaries was in winter quarter transit in New Jersey.
On Christmas Day of 1776, he led his army through a ferocious blizzard, crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey, and surprised the enemy force at Trenton. On the morning of December 26, 1776, the Continental Army took Germans by surprise and took about 800 of their man prisoners, tones of crucial supplies and weapons to equip his army were now available.
Within the next ten days, Washington’s army again defeated the British army at Asssumpink Greek and Princeton. This stunning victory boosted the morale of Washington’s army and gave his army confidence and sent a clear message to the British, that they were in for a long and bitter struggle.
The victory was not particularly significant from a strategic point of view, but news of Washington’s initiative raised the spirits of the American colonists, who previously feared that the Continental Army was incapable of victory.
George Washington was a brilliant revolutionary. Although, initially he lost many of his battles with the British, year after year he successfully held his ragtag, hungry army together.
In May 1778, the French agreed to an alliance with the Americans, sending troops, munitions, and money. By mid-1779, 6,000 French troops were fighting alongside the Americans. This French alliance later proved to be the turning point of the revolutionary war.
In the summer of 1781, George Washington received the news for which he had been waiting for long. The British southern force, commanded by Lord Cornwallis, was camped near the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Washington secretly hurried his army southward from New York. He deceived British spies with counterintelligence ruses that hid from them the mission’s true objective. A large French fleet, meanwhile, had left the West Indies, setting sail for the Virginia coast.
On October 19, 1781, after two weeks of battle Cornwallis finally, surrendered to the allied forces of American colonies and French. At that moment British Prime Minister Lord Frederick North, along with the rest of Parliament and King George III, realized that victory over the Thirteen Colonies was not inevitable, American resolve cannot be broken.
British delegates were sent to France to begin forging a peace treaty with the United States. Two years later on September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed and the Revolutionary War officially came to an end. The Treaty of Paris recognized the USA as an independent nation.
Against all the odds, George Washington and his continental army had won the war and earned America her independence. By the end of the war, Washington was exhausted and decided to retire from the army, he returned to private life at Mount Vernon. However, fate had different plans for him.
During the years, following the war, America was governed as per the Articles of Confederation, which resulted in a weak and unstable government and it became clear that soon a national constitution was needed to establish a strong and stable govt of the USA.
Washington was called out of his retirement to serve as the first president of the constitutional convention of 1787 in Philadelphia. There he oversaw the creation of a document that still forms the basis of American law more than 200 years later and serves as the basis of the national constitution. After the ratification of the constitution, the first election for president of the United States was held in 1788 and George Washington was elected as the first President of the United States.
The 57-year-old Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789, in New York City, because the Washington, DC., America’s future capital city, wasn’t yet built. As president, he lived in New York and Philadelphia. While in office, he signed a bill establishing a future, permanent US. capital along the Potomac River—the city later named Washington, DC., in his honor.
Washington’s administration in the government for the next eight years was marked by the caution, the methodical precision, and the sober judgment that had always characterized him. He regarded himself as president of the whole country and always stood aloof from any party divisions. He selected—Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state, Alexander Hamilton as secretary of treasury, Henry Knox as secretary of war, and Edmund Randolph as attorney general, as the first four members of his cabinet.
Washington’s first term was mostly focused on economic reforms he was exhausted by 1792 and showed no interest in the second term, but seeing his popularity, he was pressured to do so from all sides. He was unanimously elected again for the second term.
The United States was a small nation when Washington took office, consisting of 11 states and approximately 4 million people, and there was no precedent for how the new president should conduct domestic or foreign business. Mindful that his actions would likely determine how future presidents are expected to govern, Washington worked hard to set an example of fairness, prudence, and integrity. In foreign matters, he supported cordial relations with other countries but also favored a position of neutrality in foreign conflicts.
George Washington’s presidency was marked by a series of firsts. Being the first President, he was left to define many precedents, that still serve the executive branch today. Some examples are that he preferred to be addressed as Mr. President rather than his majesty or his excellency, he gave the first inaugural address and first presidential address to the assembled House of Congress, he formed the executive branch into the cabinet of department secretaries which still persists till today and he signed the first United States copyright law, protecting the intellectual rights of the authors.
During Washington’s presidency, Congress passed the first federal revenue law, a tax on distilled spirits. Under Washington’s leadership, the states ratified the Bill of Rights, and five new states North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee entered the union. He also signed the first Thanksgiving proclamation, making November 26 a national day of Thanksgiving, marking the end of the war for American independence, and the successful ratification of the Constitution.
In 1796, after the end of his second term, he out rightly refused to run for a third term and took retirement from politics. This sets another precedent, that no President would serve more than 2 terms, After Franklin Roosevelt’s 4th term, congress passed an amendment in the constitution to set two-term limits into federal law.
In Washington’s farewell address, he urged the new nation to maintain the highest standards domestically and to keep involvement with foreign powers to a minimum. The address is still read, each February in the US. Senate to commemorate Washington’s birthday.
After his retirement, George Washington returned to Mount Vernon and devoted his attention to the plantation. More than four decades of public service had aged him, but he was still a commanding figure. In December 1799, he caught a cold after inspecting his properties in the rain. The cold developed into a throat infection and Washington died on the night of December 14, 1799, at the age of 67.
News of his death brought a wave of national mourning. He was entombed at Mount Vernon, which is now a national historic landmark. At his funeral on December 18, General Henry Lee gave the eulogy. Lee described him as first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countryman.
George Washington was one of few men in all of history who was not carried away by power. He was a true army officer, a true politician, and above all a true American.
Time Period : April 1789- March 1797
Vice President : John Adams
Political Affiliation : Independent
Successor : John Adams
Time Period : June 1775- December 1783
Appointed By : Continental Congress
Successor : Henry Knox
Time Period : April 1788- December 1799
Served Under : James Madison
Predecessor : Richard Terrick
Successor : John Tyler
Time Period : July 1758- June 1775
Predecessor : Hugh West
Successor : Discontinued
|Academic references on George Washington|
|1. “George Washington: A Life”, by Ron Chernow: This Pulitzer Prize-winning biography offers a comprehensive and well-researched study of George Washington’s life and his role in the founding of America.|
|2. “The Papers of George Washington”: This project, based at the University of Virginia, publishes George Washington’s papers and correspondence, providing valuable insights into his thoughts and actions.|
|3. “His Excellency: George Washington” by Joseph J. Ellis: In this book, Joseph J. Ellis explores George Washington’s character and leadership during critical moments in American history.|
|4. “Washington: A Life” by Ron Chernow: Another acclaimed biography by Ron Chernow, providing a deep dive into the life and legacy of George Washington.|
|5. “George Washington: The Crossing” by Jack E. Levin: This book focuses on George Washington’s pivotal role during the American Revolution and his leadership at the Battle of Trenton.|
|6. “George Washington: A Biography”, by John R. Alden: This scholarly work provides an in-depth analysis of George Washington’s military and political career.|
|7. “George Washington’s Leadership Lessons” by James C. Rees: This book explores George Washington’s leadership style and principles, offering valuable insights for contemporary leadership.|
|Quotes By George Washington|
|“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.”|
|“Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”|
|“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”|
|“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”|
|“99% of failures come from people who make excuses.”|
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