George Washington

George Washington

] Washington has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.

Early life

George Washington was born on OldStyleDateDY|February 22|1732|February 11, 1731 the first son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington, on the family's Pope's Creek Estate near present-day Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was educated in the home by his father and older brother.Bell, William Gardner; COMMANDING GENERALS AND CHIEFS OF STAFF: 1775–2005; Portraits & Biographical Sketches of the United States Army's Senior Officer: 1983, CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY; UNITED STATES ARMY; WASHINGTON, D.C.: ISBN 0–16–072376–0 : pp 52 & 66 ]

In his youth, Washington worked as a surveyor, and acquired what would become invaluable knowledge of the terrain around his native Colony of Virginia. [At the time Virginia included West Virginia and the upper Ohio Valley area around present day Pittsburgh.] Washington embarked upon a career as a planter and in 1748 was invited to help survey Baron Fairfax's lands west of the Blue Ridge. In 1749, he was appointed to his first public office, surveyor of newly created Culpeper County, [" [ Washington As Public Land Surveyor: Boyhood and Beginnings] " George Washington: Surveyor and Mapmaker. American Memory. Library of Congress. Retrieved on May 17, 2007.] and through his half-brother, Lawrence Washington, he became interested in the Ohio Company, which aimed to exploit Western lands. In 1751, George and his half-brother travelled to Barbados, staying at Bush Hill House [ [ Bush Hill House] - Colonial Williamsburg Research Division] , hoping for an improvement in Lawrence's tuberculosis. This was the only time George Washington travelled outside what is now the United States. [cite web |url= |title=George Washington House Restoration Project in Barbados |accessdate=2008-01-21 ] After Lawrence's death in 1752, George inherited part of his estate and took over some of Lawrence's duties as adjutant of the colony. [" [ George Washington: Making of a Military Leader] ". American Memory. Library of Congress. Retrieved on May 17, 2007.]

Washington was appointed a district adjutant general in the Virginia militia in 1752, which made him Major Washington at the age of 20. He was charged with training the militia in the quarter assigned him. [Sparks, Jared (1839). [ The Life of George Washington] ". Boston: Ferdinand Andrews. p. 17. Digitized by Google. Retrieved on May 17, 2007.] At age 21, in Fredericksburg, Washington became a Master Mason in the organization of Freemasons, a fraternal organization that was a lifelong influence. [Tabbert, Mark A. (January 29, 2007). " [ A Masonic Memorial to a Virtuous Man] ". Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry. Retrieved on May 17, 2007.] [Washington Daylight Lodge #14 (2006). " [ Commemoration of George Washington’s Birthday] ". Retrieved on August 21, 2007.]

In December 1753, Washington was asked by Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia to carry a British ultimatum to the French on the Ohio frontier. Washington assessed French military strength and intentions, and delivered the message to the French at Fort Le Boeuf in present day Waterford, Pennsylvania. The message, which went unheeded, called for the French to abandon their development of the Ohio country, setting in motion two colonial powers toward worldwide conflict. Washington's report on the affair was widely read on both sides of the Atlantic.

Boyhood home

Archaeologists and an excavation team, led by [ Philip Levy] , associate professor of history at the University of South Florida, and [ David Muraca] , director of archeology for the George Washington Foundation, owner of the National Historic Landmark site Ferry Farm, announced on July 2, 2008, the discovery of remains of George's boyhood home just across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, VA, 50 miles south of Washington. [ [ Washington's boyhood home found, but no hatchet] - USA Today] Built in the 1740s 113-acre Ferry Farm, the county-level gentry house was a 1 1/2-story residence perched on a bluff. George was 6 when the family moved to the farm in 1738. George inherited the farm and lived in the house until his early 20s, though he also stayed with his half-brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon. Washington’s mother lived in the house until 1772, when she moved to Fredericksburg, and the farm was sold in 1777. As goal, they were set to restore the house. [ [ Washington’s Boyhood Home Is Found] - NY Times]

French and Indian War (Seven Years War)

name=George Washington and The French and Indian War

raw_name=Campaignbox French and Indian War
battles=Jumonville GlenGreat Meadows - Monongahela - Fort Duquesne
In 1754, Dinwiddie commissioned Washington a lieutenant colonel and ordered him to lead an expedition to Fort Duquesne to drive out the French. With his American Indian allies led by Tanacharison, Washington and his troops ambushed a French scouting party of some 30 men, led by Joseph Coulon de Jumonville. [Fred Anderson, "Crucible of War" (Vintage Books, 2001), p. 6.] Washington and his troops were overwhelmed at Fort Necessity by a larger and better positioned French and Indian force. The terms of surrender included a statement that Washington had assassinated Jumonville after the ambush. Washington could not read French, and, unaware of what it said, signed his name. [Lengel p.48] Released by the French, Washington returned to Virginia, where he was cleared of blame for the defeat, but resigned because he did not like the new arrangement of the Virginia Militia. [Lengel p.48]

In 1755, Washington was an aide to British General Edward Braddock on the ill-fated Monongahela expedition. This was a major effort to retake the Ohio Country. While Braddock was killed and the expedition ended in disaster, Washington distinguished himself as the Hero of the Monongahela. [On British attitudes see John Shy, "Numerous and Armed: Reflections on the Military Struggle for American Independence" (1990) p. 39; Douglas Edward Leach. "Roots of Conflict: British Armed Forces and Colonial Americans, 1677–1763" (1986) p. 106; and John Ferling. "Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and the American Revolution" (2002) p. 65] While Washington's role during the battle has been debated, biographer Joseph Ellis asserts that Washington rode back and forth across the battlefield, rallying the remnant of the British and Virginian forces to a retreat. [Ellis, Joseph J. "". (2004) ISBN 1-4000-4031-0.] Subsequent to this action, Washington was given a difficult frontier command in the Virginia mountains, and was rewarded by being promoted to colonel and named commander of all Virginia forces.

In 1758, Washington participated as a brigadier general in the Forbes expedition that prompted French evacuation of Fort Duquesne, and British establishment of Pittsburgh. Later that year, Washington resigned from active military service and spent the next sixteen years as a Virginia planter and politician. [For negative treatments of Washington's excessive ambition and military blunders, see Bernhard Knollenberg, "George Washington: The Virginia Period, 1732–1775" (1964) and Thomas A. Lewis, "For King and Country: The Maturing of George Washington, 1748–1760" (1992).]

Between the wars

George Washington was introduced to Martha Dandridge Custis, a widow who was living at the White House Plantation on the south shore of the Pamunkey River in New Kent County, Virginia, by friends of Martha when George was on leave from the French and Indian War. George only visited her home twice before proposing marriage to her 3 weeks after they met. George and Martha were each 27 years old when they married on January 6, 1759 at her home, known as The White House, which shares its name with the future presidential mansion. The newlywed couple moved to Mount Vernon, where he took up the tuckahoe life of a genteel planter and political figure. They had a good marriage, and together they raised her two children by her previous marriage to Daniel Parke Custis, John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis, affectionately called "Jackie" and "Patsy." [Martha married Daniel Parke Custis on May 15, 1750 when she was 18. Daniel died on July 26, 1757. Martha had four children with Custis:
*Daniel Parke Custis: Daniel was born in 1751. He died when he was 3 in 1754.
*Frances Parke Custis: Frances was born in 1753. She died when she was 4 in 1757.
*Martha Parke Custis ("Patsy"): Patsy was born in 1756 and died when she was 17 of an epileptic seizure on June 19, 1773. She is buried at Mount Vernon.
*John Parke Custis ("Jacky"): Jacky was born on November 27, 1754. He died at Yorktown at 26 years of age on November 5, 1781 of "camp fever" (typhoid fever) while he was serving as an aide to George.
] George and Martha never had any children togetherndash an earlier bout with smallpox followed by tuberculosis may have left him sterile. [John K. Amory, M.D., "George Washington’s infertility: Why was the father of our country never a father?" "Fertility and Sterility", Vol. 81, No. 3, March 2004. [ (online, PDF format)] ] Later the Washingtons raised two of Mrs. Washington's grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis ("Nelly") and George Washington Parke Custis ("Washy") after their father died in 1781. [George and Martha had seven grandchildren from Martha's biological children.
*Baby girl Custis, died in 1775.
*Eliza Parke Custis was born on August 21, 1776 at Mount Airy Plantation in Maryland. She married an Englishman, Thomas Law, on March 21, 1796 at her mother and stepfather's home, Hope Park Plantation, Virginia.
*Martha Parke "Patty" Custis was born on December 3, 1777 at Mount Vernon. On January 6, 1795, she married Thomas Peter at her mother and stepfather's home, Hope Park Plantation, Virginia.
*Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis. She was born on March 21, 1779. She married Lawrence Lewis, George's nephew, on February 22, 1799 at Mount Vernon. She died in 1852.
*George Washington "Washy, Wash, or Tub" Parke Custis. He was born on April 30, 1781. He remained at Mount Vernon after his mother's second marriage. He died in 1857.
*Two set of twins died at birth.

Washington's marriage to a wealthy widow greatly increased his property holdings and social standing, and after his marriage, George Washington was the wealthiestman in Virginia, if not in the colonies. [ [,+Graeme+Mercer+Adam,+Henry+Wade+Rogers&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=6-Vn9reafO&sig=khWlO1neQZAVM_QPsCXyljWMI9c&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result| "George Washington: A Character Sketch"] , by Eugene Parsons, Graeme Mercer Adam, Henry Wade Rogers, p. 34, published by H. G. Campbell Publishing Co., 1903] He acquired one-third of the 18,000 acre (73 km²) Custis estate upon his marriage, and managed the remainder on behalf of Martha's children. He frequently purchased additional land in his own name, and was granted land in what is now West Virginia as a bounty for his service in the French and Indian War. By 1775, Washington had doubled the size of Mount Vernon to 6,500 acres (26 km²), with over 100 slaves. As a respected military hero and large landowner, he held local office and was elected to the Virginia provincial legislature, the House of Burgesses, beginning in 1758, [Acreage, slaves, and social standing: Joseph Ellis, "His Excellency, George Washington", pp. 41–42, 48.] and he served as a justice of Fairfax, and held court in Alexandria, Virginia between 1760 and 1774.

Washington first took a leading role in the growing colonial resistance in 1769, when he introduced a proposal drafted by his friend George Mason which called for Virginia to boycott imported English goods until the Townshend Acts were repealed. Parliament repealed the Acts in 1770. Washington also took an active interest in helping his fellow citizens. On September 21, 1771 Washington wrote a letter to Neil Jameson on behalf of Jonathan Plowman Jr., a merchant from Baltimore whose ship had been seized for exporting non-permitted items by the Boston Frigate, and requested his help toward recovery of Plowman's ship. [John C. Fitzpatrick, "The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799"] Washington regarded the passage of the Intolerable Acts in 1774 as "an Invasion of our Rights and Privileges." In July 1774, he chaired the meeting at which the Fairfax Resolves were adopted, which called for, among other things, the convening of a Continental Congress. In August he attended the First Virginia Convention where he was selected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress. [Washington quoted in Ferling, p. 99.]

American Revolution

name=George Washington and The American Revolutionary War

raw_name=Campaignbox French and Indian War
battles=BostonLong Island - Kip's Bay - Harlem Heights -White Plains - Fort Washington - Trenton - Assunpink Creek - Princeton - Brandywine - Germantown - White Marsh - Monmouth - Yorktown

Rembrandt Peale.] After fighting broke out in April 1775, Washington appeared at the Second Continental Congress in military uniform, signaling that he was prepared for war. Washington had the prestige, the military experience, the charisma and military bearing, the reputation of being a strong patriot, and he was supported by the South, especially Virginia. Although he did not explicitly seek the office of commander and even claimed that he was not equal to it, there was no serious competition. Congress created the Continental Army on June 14, 1775; the next day, on the nomination of John Adams of Massachusetts, Washington was appointed Major General and elected by Congress to be Commander-in-chief.

Washington assumed command of the Continental Army in the field at Cambridge, Massachusetts in July 1775, during the ongoing siege of Boston. Realizing his army's desperate shortage of gunpowder, Washington asked for new sources. British arsenals were raided (including some in the Caribbean) and some manufacturing was attempted; a barely adequate supply (about 2.5 million pounds) was obtained by the end of 1776, mostly from France. [Orlando W. Stephenson, "The Supply of Gunpowder in 1776," "American Historical Review", Vol. 30, No. 2 (January 1925), pp. 271–281 in JSTOR] Washington reorganized the army during the long standoff, and forced the British to withdraw by putting artillery on Dorchester Heights overlooking the city. The British evacuated Boston and Washington moved his army to New York City.

Although negative toward the patriots in the Continental Congress, British newspapers routinely praised Washington's personal character and qualities as a military commander. [Bickham, Troy O. "Sympathizing with Sedition? George Washington, the British Press, and British Attitudes During the American War of Independence." "William and Mary Quarterly" 2002 59(1): 101–122. ISSN 0043-5597 [ Fulltext online in History Cooperative] ] Moreover, both sides of the aisle in Parliament found the American general's courage, endurance, and attentiveness to the welfare of his troops worthy of approbation and examples of the virtues they and most other Britons found wanting in their own commanders. Washington's refusal to become involved in politics buttressed his reputation as a man fully committed to the military mission at hand and above the factional fray.

In August 1776, British General William Howe launched a massive naval and land campaign designed to seize New York and offer a negotiated settlement. The Continental Army under Washington engaged the enemy for the first time as an army of the newly-declared independent United States at the Battle of Long Island, the largest battle of the entire war. This and several other British victories sent Washington scrambling out of New York and across New Jersey, leaving the future of the Continental Army in doubt. On the night of December 25, 1776, Washington staged a counterattack, leading the American forces across the Delaware River to capture nearly 1,000 Hessians in Trenton, New Jersey. Washington followed up his victory at Trenton, with another one at Princeton in early January. These winter victories quickly raised the morale of the army, secured Washington's position as Commander, and inspired young men to join the army.

British forces defeated Washington's troops in the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. Howe outmaneuvered Washington and marched into Philadelphia unopposed on September 26. Washington's army unsuccessfully attacked the British garrison at Germantown in early October. Meanwhile, Burgoyne, out of reach from help from Howe, was trapped and forced to surrender his entire army at Saratoga, New York. France responded to Burgoyne's defeat by entering the war, openly allying with America and turning the Revolutionary War into a major world-wide war. Washington's loss of Philadelphia prompted some members of Congress to discuss removing Washington from command. This attempt failed after Washington's supporters rallied behind him. [Fleming, T: "Washington's Secret War: the Hidden History of Valley Forge.", Smithsonian Books, 2005]

Washington's army camped at Valley Forge in December 1777, staying there for the next six months. Over the winter, 2,500 men of the 10,000-strong force died from disease and exposure. The next spring, however, the army emerged from Valley Forge in good order, thanks in part to a full-scale training program supervised by Baron von Steuben, a veteran of the Prussian general staff. The British evacuated Philadelphia to New York in 1778 but Washington attacked them at Monmouth and drove them from the battlefield. Afterwards, the British contiuned to head towards New York. Washington moved his army outside of New York, and in the summer of 1779, at Washington's direction, General John Sullivan, in retaliation for Iroquois and Tory attacks against American settlements earlier in the war, carried out a decisive scorched earth campaign that destroyed at least forty Iroquois villages throughout what is now upstate New York. He delivered the final blow in 1781, after a French naval victory allowed American and French forces to trap a British army in Virginia. The surrender at Yorktown on October 17, 1781 marked the end of most fighting. Though known for his successes in the war and of his life that followed, Washington suffered many defeats before achieving victory.

In March 1783, Washington used his influence to disperse a group of Army officers who had threatened to confront Congress regarding their back pay. The Treaty of Paris (signed that September) recognized the independence of the United States. Washington disbanded his army and, on November 2, gave an eloquent farewell address to his soldiers. [ [ George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741–1799: Series 3b Varick Transcripts] . Library of Congress. Accessed on May 22, 2006.] On November 25, the British evacuated New York City, and Washington and the governor took possession. At Fraunces Tavern on December 4, Washington formally bade his officers farewell and on December 23, 1783, he resigned his commission as commander-in-chief, emulating the Roman general Cincinnatus, an exemplar of the republican ideal of citizen leadership who rejected power. During this period, the United States was governed under the Articles of Confederation without a President, the forerunner to the Constitution.

Washington's retirement to Mount Vernon was short-lived. He made an exploratory trip to the western frontier in 1784, was persuaded to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, and was unanimously elected president of the Convention. He participated little in the debates involved (though he did vote for or against the various articles), but his high prestige maintained collegiality and kept the delegates at their labors. The delegates designed the presidency with Washington in mind, and allowed him to define the office once elected. After the Convention, his support convinced many, including the Virginia legislature, to vote for ratification; the new Constitution was ratified by all 13 states.

Presidency: 1789–1797

Infobox U.S. Cabinet
President=George Washington
President start=1789
President end=1797
Vice President=John Adams
Vice President start=1789
Vice President end=1797
Foreign Affairs =John Jay
Foreign Affairs start=1789
Foreign Affairs end=1790
State =Thomas Jefferson
State start =1790
State end =1793
State 2=Edmund Randolph
State start 2=1794
State end 2=1795
State 3=Timothy Pickering
State start 3=1795
State end 3=1797
Treasury=Alexander Hamilton
Treasury start=1789
Treasury end=1795
Treasury 2=Oliver Wolcott, Jr.
Treasury start 2=1795
Treasury end 2=1797
War=Henry Knox
War start=1789
War end=1794
War 2=Timothy Pickering
War start 2=1795
War end 2=1795
War 3=James McHenry
War start 3=1796
War end 3=1797
Justice=Edmund Randolph
Justice start=1789
Justice end=1794
Justice 2=William Bradford
Justice start 2=1794
Justice end 2=1795
Justice 3=Charles Lee
Justice start 3=1795
Justice end 3=1797
The Electoral College elected Washington unanimously in 1789, and again in the 1792 election; he remains the only president to receive 100% of electoral votes. John Adams was elected vice president. Washington took the oath of office as the first President under the Constitution for the United States of America on April 30, 1789 at Federal Hall in New York City although, at first, he had not wanted the position.cite book|last=Morison|first=Samuel Eliot|title=The Oxford History of the American People, Vol. 2|publisher=Meridian|year=1972|chapter=Washington's First Administration: 1789–1793]

The 1st United States Congress voted to pay Washington a salary of $25,000 a year—a large sum in 1789. Washington, already wealthy, declined the salary, since he valued his image as a selfless public servant. At the urging of Congress, however, he ultimately accepted the payment, to avoid setting a precedent whereby the presidency would be perceived as limited only to independently wealthy individuals who could serve without any salary. Washington attended carefully to the pomp and ceremony of office, making sure that the titles and trappings were suitably republican and never emulated European royal courts. To that end, he preferred the title "Mr. President" to the more majestic names suggested.Fact|date=March 2008

Washington proved an able administrator. An excellent delegator and judge of talent and character, he held regular cabinet meetings to debate issues before making a final decision. In handling routine tasks, he was "systematic, orderly, energetic, solicitous of the opinion of others but decisive, intent upon general goals and the consistency of particular actions with them." [ Leonard D. White, "The Federalists: A Study in Administrative History" (1948)]

Washington reluctantly served a second term as president. He refused to run for a third, establishing the customary policy of a maximum of two terms for a president which later became law by the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. [After Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented four terms, the two-term limit was formally integrated into the Federal Constitution by the 22nd Amendment.]

Domestic issues

Washington was not a member of any political party, and hoped that they would not be formed out of fear of the conflict and stagnation they could cause governance. His closest advisors, however, formed two factions, setting the framework for the future First Party System. Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton had bold plans to establish the national credit and build a financially powerful nation, and formed the basis of the Federalist Party. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Jeffersonian Republicans, strenuously opposed Hamilton's agenda, but Washington favored Hamilton over Jefferson.

George Washington had a marked impact on the nation's highest court through his appointment of the first ten Justices of the Supreme Court: [" [ Supreme Court of the United States] ". About The Court: Members of the Supreme Court (1789 to Present) (PDF). Retrieved on May 31, 2007.] These included the first Chief Justice, John Jay (1789) as well as Cushing, Rutledge, Wilson, Blair, Iredell, Johnson, Paterson, Chase, and Ellsworth.

In 1791, Congress imposed an excise on distilled spirits, which led to protests in frontier districts, especially Pennsylvania. By 1794, after Washington ordered the protesters to appear in U.S. district court, the protests turned into full-scale riots known as the Whiskey Rebellion. The federal army was too small to be used, so Washington invoked the Militia Act of 1792 to summon the militias of Pennsylvania, Virginia and several other states. The governors sent the troops and Washington took command, marching into the rebellious districts. [cite web|last=Hoover|first=Michael|url=|title=The Whiskey Rebellion|accessdate=2007-10-19|date= |publisher=United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau] There was no fighting, but Washington's forceful action proved the new government could protect itself. It also was one of only two times that a sitting President would personally command the military in the field. These events marked the first time under the new constitution that the federal government used strong military force to exert authority over the states and citizens.

Foreign affairs

In 1793, the revolutionary government of France sent diplomat Edmond-Charles Genêt, called "Citizen Genêt," to America. Genêt issued letters of marque and reprisal to American ships so they could capture British merchant ships. He attempted to turn popular sentiment towards American involvement in the French war against Britain by creating a network of Democratic-Republican Societies in major cities. Washington rejected this interference in domestic affairs, demanded the French government recall Genêt, and denounced his societies.

Hamilton and Washington designed the Jay Treaty to normalize trade relations with Britain, remove them from western forts, and resolve financial debts left over from the Revolution. John Jay negotiated and signed the treaty on November 19, 1794. The Jeffersonians supported France and strongly attacked the treaty. Washington and Hamilton, however, mobilized public opinion and won ratification by the Senate by emphasizing Washington's support. The British agreed to depart their forts around the Great Lakes, the Canadian-U.S. boundary was adjusted, numerous pre-Revolutionary debts were liquidated, and the British opened their West Indies colonies to American trade. Most importantly, the treaty delayed war with Britain and instead brought a decade of prosperous trade with Britain. It angered the French and became a central issue in political debates.

Farewell Address

Washington's Farewell Address (issued as a public letter in 1796) was one of the most influential statements of American political values. [ Matthew Spalding, "The Command of its own Fortunes: Reconsidering Washington's Farewell address," in William D. Pederson, Mark J. Rozell, Ethan M. Fishman, eds. "George Washington" (2001) ch 2; Virginia Arbery, "Washington's Farewell Address and the Form of the American Regime." in Gary L. Gregg II and Matthew Spalding, eds. "George Washington and the American Political Tradition." 1999 pp. 199–216.] Drafted primarily by Washington himself, with help from Hamilton, it gives advice on the necessity and importance of national union, the value of the Constitution and the rule of law, the evils of political parties, and the proper virtues of a republican people. While he declined suggested versions [ [ Library of Congress - see Farewell Address section] ] that would have included statements that there could be no morality without religion, he called morality "a necessary spring of popular government". He said, "Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." [" [ Religion and the Federal Government] ". Religion and the Founding of the American Republic. Library of Congress Exhibition. Retrieved on May 17, 2007.]

Washington's public political address warned against foreign influence in domestic affairs and American meddling in European affairs. He warned against bitter partisanship in domestic politics and called for men to move beyond partisanship and serve the common good. He called for an America wholly free of foreign attachments, saying the United States must concentrate primarily on American interests. He counseled friendship and commerce with all nations, but warned against involvement in European wars and entering into long-term "entangling" alliances. The address quickly set American values regarding religion and foreign affairs.

Retirement and death

After retiring from the presidency in March 1797, Washington returned to Mount Vernon with a profound sense of relief. He devoted much time to farming and, in that year, constructed (or oversaw the construction of) a 2,250 square foot (75-by-30 feet, 200 m²) distillery, which was one of the largest in the new republic, housing five copper stills, a boiler and 50 mash tubs, at the site of one of his unprofitable farms. At its peak, two years later, the distillery produced 11,000 gallons of corn and rye whiskey worth $7,500, and fruit brandy. [cite web|url=|title=George Washington's Distillery (site funded by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States)] [cite news |first=John |last=Fund |title=George Washington, whiskey entrepreneur |work=The Wall Street Journal |date=February 20, 2007]

On July 13, 1798, Washington was appointed by President John Adams to be Lieutenant General and Commander-in-chief of all armies raised or to be raised for service in a prospective war with France. He served as the senior officer of the United States Army between July 13, 1798 and December 14, 1799. He participated in the planning for a Provisional Army to meet any emergency that might arise, but did not take the field.

On December 12, 1799, Washington spent several hours inspecting his farms on horseback, in snow and later hail and freezing rain. He sat down to dine that evening without changing his wet clothes. The next morning, he awoke with a bad cold, fever and a throat infection called quinsy that turned into acute laryngitis and pneumonia. Washington died on the evening of December 14, 1799, at his home aged 67, while attended by Dr. James Craik, one of his closest friends, and Tobias Lear V, Washington's personal secretary. Lear would record the account in his journal, writing that Washington's last words were "Tis well."

Modern doctors believe that Washington died largely because of his treatment, which included calomel and bloodletting, resulting in a combination of shock from the loss of five pints of blood, as well as asphyxia and dehydration. [cite web |last=Vadakan, M.D. |first=Vibul V. |title=A Physician Looks At The Death of Washington |work=Early America Review |publisher=Archiving Early America |date=Winter/Spring 2005 |url=|accessdate=2008-02-17 ] Washington's remains were buried at Mount Vernon. To protect their privacy, Martha Washington burned the correspondence between her husband and herself following his death. Only three letters between the couple have survived.

Following his death, Britain's Royal Navy lowered its flags at half mast, the American army wore black armbands for six months, and Napoleon ordered ten days of mourning throughout France. []

During the United States Bicentennial year, George Washington was posthumously appointed to the grade of General of the Armies of The United States by the congressional joint resolution of January 19, 1976, approved by President Gerald R. Ford on October 11, 1976, and formalized in Department of the Army Order Number 31-3 of March 13, 1978 with an effective appointment date of July 4, 1976. This restored Washington's position as the highest ranking military officer in U.S. history, which had been undone when General John J. Pershing was made General of the Armies at the end of World War I.


Congressman Henry Lee, a Revolutionary War comrade and father of the Civil War general Robert E. Lee, famously eulogized Washington as::"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting…Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues…Such was the man for whom our nation mourns."

Lee's words set the standard by which Washington's overwhelming reputation was impressed upon the American memory. Washington set many precedents for the national government and the presidency in particular.

As early as 1778, Washington was lauded as the "Father of His Country." [He has gained fame around the world as a quintessential example of a benevolent national founder. Gordon Wood concludes that the greatest act in his life was his resignation as commander of the armies—an act that stunned aristocratic Europe. Gordon Wood, "The Radicalism of the American Revolution" (1992), pp 105–6; Edmund Morgan, "The Genius of George Washington" (1980), pp 12–13; Sarah J. Purcell, "Sealed With Blood: War, Sacrifice, and Memory in Revolutionary America" (2002) p. 97; Don Higginbotham, "George Washington" (2004); Ellis, 2004. The earliest known image in which Washington is identified as such is on the cover of the circa 1778 Pennsylvania German almanac (Lancaster: Gedruckt bey Francis Bailey).]

Monuments and memorials

Today, Washington's face and image are often used as national symbols of the United States, along with the icons such as the flag and great seal. Perhaps the most prominent commemoration of his legacy is the use of his image on the one-dollar bill and the quarter-dollar coin. Washington, together with Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, is depicted in stone at the Mount Rushmore Memorial. The Washington Monument, one of the most well-known American landmarks, was built in his honor. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia, constructed entirely with voluntary contributions from members of the Masonic Fraternity, was also built in his honor. [cite web|url=|]

Many things have been named in honor of Washington. Washington's name became that of the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., and the State of Washington, the only state to be named after an American (Maryland, , the Carolinas and Georgia are named in honor of British monarchs). George Washington University and Washington University in St. Louis were named for him, as was Washington and Lee University (once Washington Academy), which was renamed due to Washington’s large endowment in 1796. Countless American cities and towns feature a Washington Street among their thoroughfares.

The Confederate Seal prominently featured George Washington on horseback, in the same position as a statue of him in Richmond, Virginia.

Washington and slavery

The slave trade continued throughout George Washington’s life. On the death of his father in 1743, the 11-year-old inherited 10 slaves. At the time of his marriage to Martha Custis in 1759, he personally owned at least 36 (and the widow's third of her first husband's estate brought at least 85 "dower slaves" to Mount Vernon). Using his wife's great wealth he bought land, tripling the size of the plantation, and additional slaves to farm it. By 1774 he paid taxes on 135 slaves. (This does not include the "dowers".) The last record of a slave purchase by him was in 1772, although he later received some slaves in repayment of debts. [Fritz Hirschfeld, "George Washington and Slavery: A Documentary Portrayal", University of Missouri, 1997, pp. 11-12]

Before the American Revolution, Washington expressed no moral reservations about slavery, but by 1778 he wrote to his manager at Mount Vernon that he wished "to get quit of negroes." Maintaining a large, and increasingly elderly, slave population at Mount Vernon was not economically profitable. Washington could not legally sell the "dower slaves," however, and because these slaves had long intermarried with his own slaves, he could not sell his slaves without breaking up families. [Slave raffle linked to Washington's reassessment of slavery: Wiencek, pp. 135–36, 178–88. Washington's decision to stop selling slaves: Hirschfeld, p. 16. Influence of war and Wheatley: Wiencek, ch 6. Dilemma of selling slaves: Wiencek, p. 230; Ellis, pp. 164–7; Hirschfeld, pp. 27–29.]

As president, Washington brought 7 slaves to New York City in 1789 to work in the first presidential householdndash Oney Judge, Moll, Giles, Paris, Austin, Christopher Sheels, William Lee. Following the transfer of the national capital to Philadelphia in 1790, he brought 9 slaves to work in the President's Housendash Oney Judge, Moll, Giles, Paris, Austin, Christopher Sheels, Hercules, Richmond, and Joe (Richardson). [ [ Biographical sketches of the 9] ] Oney Judge and Hercules escaped to freedom from Philadelphia, and there were foiled escape attempts from Mount Vernon by Richmond and Christopher Sheels.

Pennsylvania had begun an abolition of slavery in 1780, and prohibited non-residents from holding slaves in the state longer than 6 months. If held beyond that period, the state's Gradual Abolition Law [ [ Pennsylvania's Gradual Abolition Law (1780)] ] gave those slaves the power to free themselves. Washington argued (privately) that his presence in Pennsylvania was solely a consequence of Philadelphia's being the temporary seat of the federal government, and that the state law should not apply to him. On the advice of his attorney general, Edmund Randolph, he systematically rotated the President's House slaves in and out of the state to prevent their establishing a 6-month "continuous" residency. This rotation was itself a violation of the Pennsylvania law, but the President's actions were not challenged.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 [ [ The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793] ] established the legal mechanism by which a slaveholder could recover his property, a right guaranteed by the Fugitive Slave Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, Section 2). Passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by Washington, the 1793 Act made assisting an escaped slave a federal crime, overruled all state and local laws giving escaped slaves sanctuary, and allowed slavecatchers into every U.S. state and territory.

Washington was the only prominent, slaveholding Founding Father who succeeded in emancipating his slaves. His actions were influenced by his close relationship with the Marquis de La Fayette. He did not free his slaves in his lifetime, however, but included a provision in his will to free his slaves upon the death of his wife. At the time of his death, there were 317 slaves at Mount Vernonndash 123 owned by Washington, 154 "dower slaves," and 40 rented from a neighbor. [ [ 1799 Mount Vernon Slave Census] ]

Martha Washington bequeathed the one slave she owned outrightndash Elishandash to her grandson George Washington Parke Custis. Following her death in 1802, the dower slaves were inherited by her grandchildren.

It has been argued that Washington did not speak out publicly against slavery, because he did not wish to create a split in the new republic, with an issue that was sensitive and divisive. [Twohig, "That Species of Property", pp. 127–28.] Even if Washington had opposed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, his veto probably would have been overridden. (The Senate vote was not recorded, but the House passed it overwhelmingly, 47 to 8.) [ [ Slavery by the Numbers] ]

Religious beliefs

Washington was baptized into the Church of England. [Family Bible entry] [Image of page from family Bible] In 1765, when the Church of England was still the state religion, [ [ Colonial Williamsburg website] has several articles on religion in colonial Virginia] he served on the vestry (lay council) for his local church. Throughout his life, he spoke of the value of righteousness, and of seeking and offering thanks for the "blessings of Heaven."

In a letter to George Mason in 1785, Washington wrote that he was not among those alarmed by a bill "making people pay towards the support of that [religion] which they profess," but felt that it was "impolitic" to pass such a measure, and wished it had never been proposed, believing that it would disturb public tranquility. [cite web|url=|title=George Washington to George Mason, October 3, 1785, LS|publisher=Library of Congress: American Memory|accessdate=2006-09-05]

His adopted daughter, Nelly Custis Lewis, stated: "I have heard her [Nelly's mother, Eleanor Calvert Custis, who resided in Mount Vernon for two years] say that General Washington always received the sacrament with my grandmother [Martha Washington] before the revolution." [ [] Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis' letter written to Jared Sparks, 1833] After the revolution, Washington frequently accompanied his wife to Christian church services; however, there is no record of his ever taking communion, and he would regularly leave services before communion—with the other non-communicants (as was the custom of the day), until he ceased attending at all on communion Sundays. [cite web|title=Annals of the American Pulpit|volume=Vol. v|pages=p 394|first=Rev. Wm. B.|last=Sprague|url=] [cite web|url=|title=article reprinted from "Episcopal Recorder"|date=1885-01-02|first=Rev. E.D.|last=Neill|format=PDF|publisher=NY Times|pages=p 3|length=510 words] Prior to communion, believers are admonished to take stock of their spiritual lives and not to participate in the ceremony unless he finds himself in the will of God.cite web|url=|title="The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents"|first=Franklin|last=Steiner|publisher=Internet Infidels] [ [] Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis' letter written to Jared Sparks, 1833] Historians and biographers continue to debate the degree to which he can be counted as a Christian, and the degree to which he was a deist.

He was an early supporter of religious toleration and freedom of religion. In 1775, he ordered that his troops not show anti-Catholic sentiments by burning the pope in effigy on Guy Fawkes Night. When hiring workmen for Mount Vernon, he wrote to his agent, "If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans, Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists." In 1790, he wrote a response to a letter from the Touro Synagogue, in which he said that as long as people remain good citizens, their faith does not matter. This was a relief to the Jewish community of the United States, since the Jews had been either expelled from or prejudiced against in many European countries.:"...the Government of the United to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance...May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy." [ [] Letter of George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island.]

The United States Bill of Rights was in the process of being ratified at the time.

Personal life

In addition to Martha's biological family noted above, George Washington had a close relationship with his nephew and heir Bushrod Washington, son of George's younger brother John Augustine Washington, who became an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court after George's death.

As a young man, Washington had red hair. [cite web|url=|title=Taking a New Look at George Washington|accessdate=2007-09-28|last=Homans|first=Charles|date=2004-10-06|work=The Papers of George Washington: Washington in the News|publisher=Alderman Library, University of Virginia] [citation|url= |title=Unmasking George Washington|accessdate=2007-09-28|last=Ross|first=John F|date=October 2005|year=2005|publisher=Smithsonian Magazine] A popular myth is that he wore a wig, as was the fashion among some at the time. Washington did not wear a wig; instead he powdered his hair, [cite web|url=|title=George Washington's Mount Vernon: Answers|accessdate=2006-06-30] as represented in several portraits, including the well-known unfinished Gilbert Stuart depiction. [cite web|url=|title=Smithsonian National Picture Gallery: George Washington (the Athenaeum portrait)|accessdate=2006-06-30|author=Gilbert Stuart]

Washington suffered from problems with his teeth throughout his life. He lost his first tooth when he was twenty-two and had only one left by the time he became President.Lloyd, J & Mitchinson, J: "The Book of General Ignorance". Faber & Faber, 2006.] According to John Adams, he lost them because he used them to crack Brazil nuts, although modern historians suggest it was probably the mercury oxide he was given to treat illnesses such as smallpox and malaria. He had several sets of false teeth made, four of them by a dentist named John Greenwood. Contrary to popular belief, none of the sets were made from wood. The set made when he became President was carved from hippopotamus and elephant ivory, held together with gold springs. [cite web|url=|title=George Washington - A Dental Victim|accessdate=2006-06-30|author=Barbara Glover] The hippo ivory was used for the plate, into which real human teeth and also bits of horses and donkeys teeth were inserted. Dental problems left Washington in constant discomfort, for which he took laudanum, and this distress may be apparent in many of the portraits painted while he was still in office, including the one still used on the $1 bill.

One of the most enduring myths about George Washington involves him as a young boy chopping down his father's cherry tree and, when asked about it, using the famous line "I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet." In fact, there is no evidence that this ever occurred. [cite web|url=|title=Religious Liberalism and the Founding Fathers|author=Nicholas F. Gier, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho|date=1980 and 2005|accessdate=2007-12-11] It, along with the story of Washington throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac River, was part of a book of stories authored by Mason Weems that made Washington somewhat of a legendary figure.

ee also

*American Revolution
*Military career of George Washington
*Town Destroyer, a nickname given to Washington by the Iroquois
*Betty Washington, his sister

References: biographies

*Buchanan, John. "The Road to Valley Forge: How Washington Built the Army That Won the Revolution" (2004). 368 pp.
*Burns, James MacGregor and Dunn, Susan. "George Washington." Times, 2004. 185 pp. explore leadership style
*Cunliffe, Marcus. "George Washington: Man and Monument" (1958), explores both the biography and the myth
*Grizzard, Frank E., Jr. "George! A Guide to All Things Washington." Buena Vista and Charlottesville, VA: Mariner Publishing. 2005. ISBN 0-9768238-0-2. Grizzard is a leading scholar of Washington.
*Hirschfeld, Fritz. "George Washington and Slavery: A Documentary Portrayal". University of Missouri Press, 1997.
*Ellis, Joseph J. "". (2004) ISBN 1-4000-4031-0. Acclaimed interpretation of Washington's career.
*Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick. "The Age of Federalism." (1994) the leading scholarly history of the 1790s.
*Ferling, John E. "The First of Men: A Life of George Washington" (1989). Biography from a leading scholar.
*Fischer, David Hackett. "Washington's Crossing." (2004), prize-winning military history focused on 1775–1776.
*Flexner, James Thomas. "Washington: The Indispensable Man." (1974). ISBN 0-316-28616-8 (1994 reissue). Single-volume condensation of Flexner's popular four-volume biography.
*Freeman, Douglas S. "George Washington: A Biography". 7 volumes, 1948–1957. The standard scholarly biography, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. A single-volume abridgement by Richard Harwell appeared in 1968
*Grizzard, Frank E., Jr. "George Washington: A Biographical Companion." ABC-CLIO, 2002. 436 pp. Comprehensive encyclopedia by leading scholar
*Grizzard, Frank E., Jr. "The Ways of Providence: Religion and George Washington." Buena Vista and Charlottesville, VA: Mariner Publishing. 2005. ISBN 0-9768238-1-0.
*Higginbotham, Don, ed. "George Washington Reconsidered". University Press of Virginia, (2001). 336 pp of essays by scholars
*Higginbotham, Don. "George Washington: Uniting a Nation." Rowman & Littlefield, (2002). 175 pp.
*Hofstra, Warren R., ed. "George Washington and the Virginia Backcountry". Madison House, 1998. Essays on Washington's formative years.
*Lengel, Edward G. "General George Washington: A Military Life." New York: Random House, 2005. ISBN 1-4000-6081-8.
*Lodge, Henry Cabot. "George Washington," 2 vols. (1889), [ vol 1 at Gutenberg] ; [ vol 2 at Gutenberg]
*McDonald, Forrest. "The Presidency of George Washington". 1988. Intellectual history showing Washington as exemplar of republicanism.
*Smith, Richard Norton "Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation" Focuses on last 10 years of Washington's life.
*Spalding, Matthew. "George Washington's Farewell Address." "The Wilson Quarterly" v20#4 (Autumn 1996) pp: 65+.
*Stritof, Sheri and Bob. "George and Martha Washington"
*Wiencek, Henry. "An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America". (2003).

Further reading


External links

* [ George Washington Biography] from HistoryEmpire as well as gallery, quotes and speeches
* [ George Washington: A Life] ndash first chapter of the biography by Willard Sterne Randall
* [ George Washington for Kids]
* [ 39 Volume Collection of the Works of George Washington]
* [ Library of Congress: Washington's Commission as Commander in Chief]
* [ Extensive essay on George Washington and shorter essays on each member of his cabinet and First Lady from the Miller Center of Public Affairs]
* [ "The Washington Monument: Tribute in Stone," a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan]
* [ George Washington historic sites in Virginia - Official Tourism Website]
* [ Scientific American Magazine (February 2006 Issue) Putting a Face on the First President]
* [ George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens]
* [ President's House in Philadelphia] with first person accounts. Washington's presidential years (1790–96) in Philadelphia when it was the national capital.
* [ George Washington Birthplace National Monument]
*Find A Grave|id=1075
* [ The Winterthur Library] Overview of an archival collection on George Washington.

NAME = Washington, George
SHORT DESCRIPTION = 1st President of the United States, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army
DATE OF BIRTH = birth date|1732|2|22|mf=y
PLACE OF BIRTH = Colonial Beach, Virginia, United States of America
DATE OF DEATH = death date|1799|12|14|mf=y
PLACE OF DEATH = Mount Vernon (plantation), Mount Vernon, Virginia, United States of America

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