George Washington was the first child of Mary Ball Washington and the fifth child of Augustine Washington (who had four children with his first wife, Jane Butler before she died). He was baptized a member of the Church of England and served in his local church as Vestry. He was educated at home by his father and older half-brother, Lawrence. He married the widow Martha Dandridge Custis and helped her raise her two children from her previous marriage, John "Jackie" Parke Custis and Martha "Patsy" Parke Custis. He also raised two of his grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis and his namesake, George Washington Parke Custis.
During his life he held the following occupations: farmer, land surveyor, adjutant of Virginia colony, commander of British Army's Virginia Regiment, elected official of the Virginia Provincial Legislature, commander of the Continental Army (and posthumously, the Commander of the Army of the United States), and the first president of the United States of America.
In his youth, he went to work for his eldest half-brother Lawrence's father-in-law, Lord Thomas Fairfax as a surveyor of his landholdings west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This led to his first elected office of surveyor of Culpepper County, Virginia. After Lawrence died of tuberculosis, George took over his brother's duties as Adjutant of the Colony of Virginia.
Later he received the appointment by the British Governor, Robert Dinwiddie of Assistant Adjutant General in the Virginia Militia and then Lieutenant Colonel when he various campaigns against the French during the French and Indian War. He later became an aide-de-camp to General Edward Braddock during the British attempt to capture the French stronghold of Fort Duquesne. Upon Braddock's death during the battle (known as the Battle of Monongahela near Pittsburg, PA) and what was certain to be a total defeat, Washington rallied the British and Virginian troops to a successful retreat. A few years later as a Brigadier General, Washington helped General John Forbes lead a successful campaign against the French at Fort Duquesne.
Commander George Washington
As tension between the British and American colonists began to mount, Washington was sent by the First Virginia Convention as a delegate to the First Continental Congress. The following year, after the battles of Lexington and Concord, he attended the Second Continental Congress in full military uniform making clear his willingness to stand against British tyranny. At his nomination by Massachusetts delegate, John Adams, the Congress appointed Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. For the next 8 years George Washington led the independent colonial forces to defeat the greatest organized military power on earth.
At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, George Washington became one of the 39 delegates who signed the Constitution of the United States of America, thus uniting the 13 former British colonies into one union.
George Washington was born at Wakefield Farm, Westmoreland County, Colony of Virginia, British America. He died at his estate at Mount Vernon, State of Virginia, United States of America.
Although volumes could be written about this subject (and they have been!), there is one distinct act in the life of George Washington that sums up why he was a great man.
At the end of the revolutionary war Washington found himself with a potentially difficult decision to make. He had just taken a mixture of ill-equipped, underpaid, and poorly trained military regulars and, in many cases, unequipped, unpaid, and untrained militia from 13 independent provinces - provinces that frequently had conflicts of interest and citizens who didn't always get along with each other - and led them to victory over the largest, best-armed, wealthiest, and most disciplined military force on earth. He had fought against all odds and had come out victorious. He was a hero to virtually every inhabitant of a newly-freed nation with little or no established central government.
With the conditions as they were, he could have simply established any system of government that he chose, including one with him as the supreme leader. Instead, he resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and went home. Then, a few years later, he signed his name to the Constitution of the United States, securing the power of governance to the citizens of the new nation. His actions in this respect prove that he was, indeed, a great man and that he is worthy of the songs sung about him:
"O beautiful for heroes proved, In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!"
Death of George Washington
December 14, 1799
December 23, 1775
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