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The Birth of George Washington

Washington was born February 22, 1732 on his father's plantation on Pope's Creek in Westmoreland County, Virginia, by Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball. In 1752, when Washington's half-brother, Lawrence Washington, died George Washington inherited his father's plantation, Mount Vernon. And it was only after his marriage to the wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis that he was able to rise to the highest ranks of Virginia's planter society.

Although Washington's childhood is much of a mystery, some events and influences stand out. He spent most of his youth on a plantation, Ferry Farm, on the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, Virginia. At age 11 George Washington's father died. Despite popular lore, he never chopped down a cherry tree, and he never delivered the famous "I cannot tell a lie" line. Washington was not formally educated past the approximate age of 15. At age 17 he became a surveyor on the Virginia frontier.

George Washington's Military Career

In 1753 France and Great Britain were struggling for sovereignty of a vast area known as the Ohio Territory. In the late fall of that year, Washington volunteered, along with his guide, Christopher Gist, to undertake a dangerous mission to deliver an ultimatum from Virginia's Governor Dinwiddie, demanding that the French abandon the region. On Washington's return trip to Virginia, he narrowly escaped death after falling from a raft into the Allegheny River's icy water.

In 1755 Washington along with British Major General Edward Braddock took amission to drive the French from the Ohio Valley once and for all. But in a surprise attack, French and Indian forces killed Braddock and most of his officers. Braving both enemy and friendly fire, Washington rescued the remaining British troops and led them to safety. Word of his heroism and battle spread, and he was promoted to General and given charge of all the Virginia forces. In 1758 he resigned his commission, returned home to Mount Vernon, and married Martha Custis.

After marrying Martha, he became a succesful farmer, and in the 1760s he switched his crop from tobacco to wheat. Washington also experimented with crop rotation and livestock breeding, invented a 16-sided treading barn, and opened a gristmill, distillery and commercial fishery. By the time of his death in 1799, Washington had expanded his farm from 2,000 to 8,000 acres.

George Washington & The Reveloutionary war

By 1758 Washington was engaged in colonial politics and was elected to Virginia's House of Burgesses. All the while, he became increasingly resentful of British economic forces at play in both his personal finances and those of the colonies. In the fall of 1774 he traveled to Philadelphia as one of seven Virginia representatives to the Continental Congress. In 1775 the Revolutionary War broke out between the American colonies and Great Britain, and Washington was unanimously elected commander in chief of the Continental Army. When he arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts to take command of the American forces, battles had already been fought at Lexington and Concord, and the British were occupying Boston. The Americans were outnumbered ten to one and sorely lacking in funding, arms, training and supplies.

The highlights, both good and bad, of Washington's tenure as commander of the Continental Army included the early British takeover of New York, which was counterbalanced by Washington's famous Christmas night crossing of the Delaware in 1776, when his men won the Battle of Trenton, New Jersey. Washington's attempts to defend Philadelphia were crushed at the Battle of Brandywine and an American counterattack at nearby Germantown also failed. The Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey resulted in a standoff. Finally, in 1781, with considerable help from French allies, the Americans victoriously attacked the British at Yorktown, marking the end to the Revolutionary War.

Presidential History | Interesting Facts