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Washington's account of the arduous mile journey was published by Governor Dinwiddie in both Williamsburg and London, establishing an international reputation for George Washington by the time he was A few months later Dinwiddie dispatched Washington, now a lieutenant colonel, and some men to assert Virginia's claims.

As they advanced, Washington's men skirmished with French soldiers, killing 10 men, including the French commander. Washington then retreated to an ill-placed and makeshift palisade he called Fort Necessity. He was forced to surrender when the French surrounded the fort. The campaign ended in humiliation for Washington and ignited the French and Indian War. Although he resigned his commission after the surrender, Washington returned to the frontier in as a volunteer aide to General Edward Braddock.

During the battle, while attempting to rally the British soldiers, Washington had two horses shot out from under him and four bullet holes shot through his coat. Although he behaved with conspicuous bravery, Washington could do little except lead the broken survivors to safety.

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In recognition of his conduct, Washington was given command of Virginia's entire military force. With a few hundred men he was ordered to protect a frontier some miles long. Although this was a frustrating assignment, it provided him with experience in commanding troops through an arduous campaign.

In the British finally took the forks of the Ohio. Peace returned to Virginia, and Washington resigned his commission to return to Mount Vernon, his duty faithfully performed. On January 6th, , Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, a charming and vivacious young woman from the Tidewater area of Virginia. It was her second marriage, his first. Ironically, the spoiled and indolent young man had not fought in the war but had, at its end, traveled to Yorktown to serve as a civilian aide to his stepfather. Martha Washington joined her husband in his winter quarters every year of the war.

Together they entertained his officers and guests. A patriot in her own right, Mrs. Washington made it her war too, nursing sick and wounded soldiers and raising money for the troops. Needlework helped her to pass the time through the long, cold winters. In all, she would spend about half the war in camp. Washington loved his step-grandchildren as his very own.

Biography of George Washington

The first time George Washington ran for public office, he lost. However, he won his second race and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses from until He worked constantly to improve and expand the mansion house and its surrounding plantation. He established himself as an innovative farmer, who switched from tobacco to wheat as his main cash crop in the 's. In an effort to improve his farming operation , he diligently experimented with new crops, fertilizers, crop rotation, tools, and livestock breeding. Over the years, Washington enlarged his house.

First he raised the roof to create a third floor. Later he would add a wing to both ends, build a piazza overlooking the Potomac River, and crown his vision with a pediment and cupola. By the time of his death in , he had expanded the plantation from 2, to 8, acres consisting of five farms, with more than 3, acres under cultivation. Shortly after taking up wheat as his main cash crop, Washington built a large gristmill outfitted with two pairs of millstones. One pair of stones ground corn into meal for use at Mount Vernon and the other ground wheat into superfine flour for export to foreign ports.

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Washington also began making whiskey on the advice of his farm manager, James Anderson, a trained distiller from Scotland. He soon built one of the largest distilleries in America. As horses circled the second floor, they treaded on the wheat that had been spread there, breaking the grain from the chaff.

The wheat would fall through gaps in the floorboards to the first floor, where it was winnowed. After winnowing, the grain was taken to the gristmill and ground into flour. He even correctly calculated the number of bricks needed for the first floor — which turned out to be exactly 30,! At age 11, George Washington inherited 10 slaves from his father. As a young man, George was no different from other members of the Virginia planter class in his attitude that there was nothing morally wrong with slavery. In , there were about 40 slaves living at Mount Vernon.


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Like his owner, Billy Lee was widely known as a courageous and expert horseman. As Washington prepared his will, he drew up a list of the Mount Vernon slaves who belonged to either the Custis estate or to him. He found that altogether there were enslaved men, women, and children living at Mount Vernon. Some of these individuals worked in the fields, while others were employed as house servants or as craftsmen in more than a dozen specialties ranging from blacksmithing, to spinning, to bricklaying, weaving, and cooking, to name just a few.

Washington made provisions in his will to free all of his own slaves but could not free those or the descendants of those whom Martha had brought to the marriage. By freeing his slaves, George Washington tried to set an example for others to follow. He was the only slaveholder among the founding fathers to free all his slaves. General Washington leads the Continental Army to victory; defeating the British, and ensuring independence. Washington surrendering his military commission to Congress United States Senate.

He wrote home to Martha that he expected to return safely to her in the fall. The command kept him away from Mount Vernon for more than 8 years. It was a command for which his military background, although greater than that of any of the other available candidates, hardly prepared him. His knowledge lay in frontier warfare, involving relatively small numbers of soldiers. He had no practical experience maneuvering large formations, handling cavalry or artillery, or maintaining supply lines adequate to support thousands of men in the field.

He learned on the job; and although his army reeled from one misfortune to another, he had the courage, determination, and mental agility to keep the American cause one step ahead of complete disintegration until he figured out how to win the unprecedented revolutionary struggle he was leading. His task was not overwhelming at first. The British position in Boston was untenable, and in March they withdrew from the city. But it was only a temporary respite. Howe commanded the largest expeditionary force Britain had ever sent overseas.

Defending New York was almost impossible. An island city, New York is surrounded by a maze of waterways that gave a substantial advantage to an attacker with naval superiority.

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Howe's army was larger, better equipped, and far better trained than Washington's. Forced to retreat northward, Washington was defeated again at White Plains. The American defense of New York City came to a humiliating conclusion on November 16, , with the surrender of Fort Washington and some 2, men. Washington ordered his army to retreat across New Jersey. The remains of his forces, mud-soaked and exhausted, crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania on December 7. The British had good reason to believe that the American rebellion would be over in a few months and that Congress would seek peace rather than face complete subjugation of the colonies.

The enlistments of most of Washington's army were due to expire at the end of December. A few days later Washington again crossed the Delaware, outmaneuvered the force sent to crush him, and fell on the enemy at Princeton, inflicting a humiliating loss on the British. For much of the remainder of the war, Washington's most important strategic task was to keep the British bottled up in New York. Although he never gave up hope of retaking the city, he was unwilling to risk his army without a fair prospect of success.

In the end, therefore, the allied generals concluded, that an attack on New York could not succeed. Depending on Clinton's inactivity, Washington marched south to lay siege on Cornwallis. On October 19, , he accepted the surrender of Cornwallis's army. To the world's amazement, Washington had prevailed over the more numerous, better supplied, and fully trained British army, mainly because he was more flexible than his opponents.

He learned that it was more important to keep his army intact and to win an occasional victory to rally public support than it was to hold American cities or defeat the British army in an open field. Over the last years revolutionary leaders in every part of the world have employed this insight, but never with a result as startling as Washington's victory over the British.

On December 23, , Washington presented himself before Congress in Annapolis, Maryland, and resigned his commission. He left Annapolis and went home to Mount Vernon with the fixed intention of never again serving in public life. This one act, without precedent in modern history, made him an international hero.

Although Washington longed for a peaceful life at Mount Vernon, the affairs of the nation continued to command his attention.

He watched with mounting dismay as the weak union created by the Articles of Confederation gradually disintegrated, unable to collect revenue or pay its debts. He was appalled by the excesses of the state legislatures and frustrated by the diplomatic, financial, and military impotence of the Confederation Congress. By Washington had concluded that reform was essential. In , Washington ended his self-imposed retirement and traveled to Philadelphia to attend a convention assembled to recommend changes to the Articles of Confederation. He spoke very little in the convention, but few delegates were more determined to devise a government endowed with real energy and authority.

My wish, he wrote, is that the convention may adopt no temporizing expedients but probe the defects of the Constitution to the bottom and provide a radical cure. After the convention adjourned, Washington's reputation and support were essential to overcome opposition to the ratification of the proposed Constitution. He worked for months to rally support for the new instrument of government. It was a difficult struggle. Even in Washington's native Virginia, the Constitution was ratified by a majority of only one vote. Once the Constitution was approved, Washington hoped to retire again to private life.

But when the first presidential election was held, he received a vote from every elector. He remains the only President in American history to be elected by the unanimous voice of the people. Most popular revolutions throughout history have descended into bloody chaos or fallen under the sway of dictators. So how did the United States, born of its own 8-year revolution, ultimately avoid these common pitfalls? Washington served two terms as President. His first term was occupied primarily with organizing the executive branch of the new government and establishing administrative procedures that would make it possible for the government to operate with the energy and efficiency he believed were essential to the republic's future.

An astute judge of talent, he surrounded himself with the most able men in the new nation.

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James Madison was one of his principal advisors. He administered the government with fairness and integrity, assuring Americans that the President could exercise extensive executive authority without corruption. Further, he executed the laws with restraint, establishing precedents for broad-ranging presidential authority. His integrity was most pure, Thomas Jefferson wrote, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motive of interest or consanguinity, friendship, or hatred, being able to bias his decision.

Washington set a standard for presidential integrity rarely met by his successors, although he established an ideal by which they all are judged.

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During Washington's first term the Federal Government adopted a series of measures proposed by Alexander Hamilton to resolve the escalating debt crisis and established the nation's finances on a sound basis, concluded peace treaties with the southeastern Indian tribes, and designated a site on the Potomac River for the permanent capital of the United States.

But as Washington's first term ended, a bloody Indian war continued on the northwestern frontier.


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