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George Washington Essay, Research Paper

George Washingtonand theAmerican RevolutionBy: Christopher GonzalezGeorge Washington is unanimously referred to as the “father of America”. The first president of the United States of America, Washington set the manner for what was to become the most powerful position of government in the country and possibly the world. The purpose of this paper is to provide biographical information on Washington and to expand on the thoughts of him as a commander in the army. He was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on February 22, 1732. George Washington was the eldest son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington. His five younger brothers and sisters were Elizabeth, Samuel, John, Augustine, Charles, and Mildred. Washington’s two half brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, were fourteen and twelve years older than he, but the three boys liked and respected one another. When Washington was three the family moved to a larger plantation further up the Potomac River. It was called Epsewasson, or Little Hunting Creek, from the name of the stream it faced. Young Washington grew to love the estate with a passion that lasted all his life. Some years later, Augustine bought a farm on the Rappahannock and moved the family there. The plantation was the place where, some believe, Washington chopped the, now infamous, cherry tree down. When Washington was eleven, his father passed away. The plantation was then granted to Lawrence. Lawrence then added more land to the estate and renamed it Mount Vernon, in honor of Admiral Vernon under whom he had served in the West Indies. George went to live with Augustine at Wakefield because Henry William’s school, one of the best in the colony, was located nearby. Not much is known of George Washington’s schooling, he was probably tutored at home for a while, and may have attended school in Fredericksburg before going to Henry William’s school. In 1748, Washington went to live with his half brother, Lawrence, at Mount Vernon. Lawrence, who was something like a substitute father for Washington, had married into the Fairfax family, prominent and powerful Virginians who helped launch Washington’s career. An early ambition to become a naval officer had been discouraged by Washington’s mother; instead he turned to surveying. Lord Fairfax, a cousin of Lawrence’s wife and master of more than five million Virginia acres, was fond of Washington and hired him. He was there to help survey his holdings beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains. The work was difficult, but Washington did well. In about a year, the surveying was completed, and, partly through Fairfax’s influence, Washington was appointed surveyor of Culpeper County, his first public office. He took the oath of office on July 20, 1749. By 1753, the growing rivalry between the British and the French over the control of the Ohio Valley, soon to erupt into the French and Indian War, created new opportunities for Washington. He was now a grown man at twenty years of age, who already owned his first plot of Virginia land that he bought with money borrowed from Lawrence. In 1753, Governor Dinwiddie made him a major of militia, and sent him, with a message, to the French commander of Fort Le Boeuf. The note protested the construction of a chain of French forts between Lake Ontario and the Ohio River. Near Great Meadows, Washington surrounded and attacked a party of thirty-three Frenchmen. Ten Frenchmen were killed, and twenty-two were captured. Washington, upon hearing of the arriving French threat, erected a fort in little over two months, cleverly named Fort Necessity. It was here that Washington got his first taste of war and retold this to his brother Jack in a letter stating, “I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound.”

A second engagement quickly followed, and a more numerous French force beat Washington. He was forced to retreat to Fort Necessity. The French defeated Washington and his army. In 1755, Washington volunteered to join General Braddock and a large army to attack Fort Duquesne. Despite Washington’s warnings, Braddock’s troops marched in typical European fashion: long rows of men, drums beating and banners flying. For the French and Indians hiding in the woods and behind rocks, it was little more than easy prey. Out of 1,400 officers and men, three-fourths were killed or wounded; even Braddock himself was killed. That same year, Governor Dinwiddie made Washington colonel and commander of all Virginia militia forces. This was a high and well-deserved honor for the 23-year-old officer. The colony then expanded its forces to 1,000 men, who were able to patrol and defend the whole 350-mile frontier. In 1758, Washington and his men took possession of the ruins of Fort Duquesne. Washington’s service in the French and Indian War was finally over. Assured that the Virginia frontier was safe from French attack, Washington left the army in 1758 and returned to Mount Vernon. In January 1759, he married Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy and fair young widow with two small children. It was to be a happy and satisfying marriage. After 1769, Washington became a leader in Virginia’s discord with England’s colonial policies. He served as a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congress. Even though Washington did not actively participate in the deliberations, his presence was undoubtedly a positive influence. In June 1775, he was Congress’s undisputed choice as commander in chief of the Continental forces. In May 1787, Washington headed the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and was elected presiding officer. His existence there added importance to the proceedings, and although he made few direct contributions, he generally supported the advocates for a strong central government. After the new Constitution was submitted to the states for ratification and became legally effective, he was unanimously elected president in 1789. Washington was reelected president in 1792. He could have been elected president a third term, but he refused to run again, in fear of becoming similar to Britain s monarch. In March 1797, when Washington left office, the country’s financial system was well established and the Indian threat east of the Mississippi River had been mostly diminished. His vice-president, John Adams, succeeded him. On December 12, 1799; Washington rode over his farms for about five hours. It was snowing when he started, and later changed to hail and rain. Without changing his wet clothes on his return, he sat down for dinner. Later, he complained of a sore throat and runny nose. During the night of the 13th he became seriously ill, but would not disturb the household or allow Mrs. Washington to get up for fear she would catch a cold. He grew weaker the next day, and died on Saturday, December 14, 1799. Washington was America’s “father” in many ways: he was commander in chief of the American forces in the American Revolution, chairman of the convention that wrote the United States constitution, and our first president. He led the men who turned America from an English colony into a self-governing nation. His ideals of liberty and democracy set a standard for future presidents and for the whole country and for generations to come.


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