George Washington was born on January 22, 1732 in Pope’s Creek, Virginia. He attended elementary school and took on many responsibilities as his father and then his older brother died and left him in charge of the family plantation, Mount Vernon. His mother Mary was a strong figure in his life, always encouraging him to give his best.
Washington excelled at mathematics despite not having the opportunity to go to school for very long. He took the responsibility of self-education seriously and became a surveyor for the British government. During his years as a surveyor, he spent much of his time in the wilderness, developing an appreciation for scouting techniques and a great love of nature.
Coming of Age in a Time of Uncertainty
He was a young man at a time when between Great Britain and her colonies were moving further apart politically.
According to some sources, he was 6 foot ½ inches tall, much taller than most men in those days. He was very athletic and was recognized as one of the best horseback riders in the Colonies. A lesser-known detail is he was also an outstanding dancer. His famous white horse was named Nelson.
Due to his work as a surveyor, he was sent into the Ohio Valley. He wound up firing some of the first shots of the French and Indian War, during which he distinguished himself for bravery under fire.
Afterward, Washington returned to Virginia and his life as a farmer. He married Martha Custis and although he had no children of his own, he raised two of her children from a prior marriage.
As a General
Originally, Washington wanted to keep out of politics, but got involved as it became necessary. He was soon appointed as a delegate to the First Continental Congress.
After fighting between the colonies and Great Britian broke out at Lexington and Concord in April of 1775, he attended the Second Continental Congress in his military uniform –sending a clear signal that he was prepared to go to war, and prepared to act as General.
He was appointed General of the Continental Army and became a war hero. As General, he would hold war councils with his Commanders to request the opinions of those he served with and would then use their advice to make his decisions. He asked for no pay beyond reiumbursement of his expenses.
After driving the British out of Boston, Washington and the American forces suffered many setbacks in a row. Though others were disillusioned, Washington succeeded by taking the risk of sailing his troops across the Delaware and taking the British by surprise.
He is perhaps most famous for his encampment at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. Snowed in with no medicine and nothing to eat, Washington and his soldiers persevered despite losing 2,500 men to sickness and hunger over the course of the winter.
As Our First President
After the Revolutionary War was won, he wished to return is his simple life as a farmer, but it did not last long. He was persuaded to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia where he was voted president of the Convention. It is said the Convention created the position of President of the United States with Washington in mind.
He is the only President of the United States to this day elected unanimously by the Electors of the Electoral College, not only once, but twice. The salary of the President back then was $25,000, which Washington declined to accept.
George Washington is nicknamed “the father of our country”. He is also commonly referred to as “first in war, first in peace” since he was appointed the first General of the new Colonies Army and elected the new nation's first President.
A Person of Character
As General and as President, George Washington was well known for his integrity, honesty and dignity. He would routinely surround himself with those of outstanding talent and skill, enabling him to obtain their advice which he used to make better decisions.
As President, he personally selected the land and surveyed the location for our Nation's permanent Capitol, the District of Columbia, today commonly known as Washington D.C.
He was an outstanding caretaker and statesmen for our fledgling Nation. As our Nation's First President, George Washington laid the foundation for how Presidents should govern.