George Washington Biography

George Washington Biography

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George Washington Biography



When I refuse to obey an unjust law, I do not fight for the right of majority order, but I simply appeal to the sovereignty of mankind over the sovereignty of the people.
Democracy in America
— Alexis de Tocqueville
George Washington is the hero of the American War of Independence and is revered by all Americans as the Father of the country. Being an American General, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the colonial armies in the American Revolution (1775-83) and subsequently became the first President of the United States of America.

"George Washington was born in 1732 in Virginia, Westmoreland County. We consider George Washington birthday on 22 February every year." His father was Augustine Washington, who had gone to school in England, had tested seafaring life, and was then managing his growing Virginia estates. His mother was Mary Ball, whom Augustine, a widower, had married in l731. When the family fortunes had fallen with the Puritan Revolution in England, John Washington, grandfather of Augustine, migrated to Virginia in 1657. "The ancestral home in Sulgrave, Northamptonshire is retained as a Washington monument." Augustine acquired much land, built mills, took an interest in opening iron mines, and sent his two eldest sons to England for schooling. He had four children, by his first wife, Jane Butler; By his second, six. Augustine died on April 12, 1743.

"There is little information about the childhood of George Washington, who spends a lot on a ferry farm on the Rappenhock River." He attended his school irregularly, first with the local church sexton and later with a schoolmaster marned Williams. At the age of 14, he began to work as a land surveyor, making many trips into the wilderness of Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The year 1751-52 marked a turning point in Washington's life, for they placed him in control of Mount Vernon. His half brother Lawrence, stricken by tuberculosis, went to Barbados in 1751 for his health, taking George along. In July of the next year, Lawrence died, making George executor and residuary heir of his estate in the event of the death of his daughter, Sarah, without issue. As she died within two months, George Washington at the age of 20 became head of one of the best virginia estates. He always thought farming as the 'most delectable' of pursuits. "It is honourable," he wrote, "it is amusing, and, with superior judgement, it is profitable."

In 1752, he joined the army. "In November 1752, he became a major and, with it, his career in the army was boosted." His first military experience came in the French and India War (1754-63), when he was sent on two missions deep into the Ohio Country.

He was married on January 6, 1759 to Martha Dandridge, the widow of Daniel Parke Custis. She was a few months older than George, was the mother of two children, and possessed one of the considerable fortunes of Virginia. Washington had met her the previous March and proposed her for marriage. Although it does not appear that it was a romantic love match, the marriage united the two harmonious dispositions and proved happy. Martha was a good housewife, a sociable companion and a distinguished hostess.

After an interval of 15 years, spent in managing his family estate at Mount Vernon, he returned to arms as the Commander-in-Chief for the American army that had gathered around Boston in 1775 to fight against the British. Though Washington was fighting against several odds, by his able military leadership and a vigorous siege he forced the British to give up the city and in the ensuing five years of war, proved himself a capable commander and a stalwart leader of the War of Independence, which ended after his capture of Yorktown and the surrender of the army of the British General, Charles Cornwallis (1781).

The United States of America had already proclaimed independence on July 4, 1776. After the war, George Washington was unanimously chosen the president of the Constitutional Convention (1787) for drafting the constitution and overwhelmingly, he was elected the first President of the Republic (1787), followed by re-elected in the year 1792. He could have been elected for a third term as well but, he went into retirement voluntarily, setting the precedent that no President should hold office for more than two terms. In his two terms, he established innumerable precedents and left a prominent stamp on the office of the presidency.

Descending from his physical powers and winning under opposition abuse, wishing for a comfortable rest, George Washington refused general pressure for a third term. This refusal was blended with a testament of sagacious advice to his country in the Farewell Address of September 19, 1796, written largely by Hamilton but remoulded by George Washington, expressing his ideas. Retiring in March 1797 to Mount Vernon, he devoted the last two and a half years of his life to his family farm operations, and the care of his slaves. In 1798 his seclusion was briefly interrupted when the prospect of war with France caused his appointment as commander-in-chief of the provisional army, and he was much worried by the political quarrels over high commissions; but the war cloud passed away. On December 12, 1799, he exposed himself on horseback for several hours to cold and snow and, returning home exhausted, was attacked with quinsy or acute laryngitis. He bled heavily four times and was given gargles of molasses, vinegar and butter, and a blister of cantharides was placed on his throat. After giving instruction to his secretary, Tobias Lear, about his burial, he died on December 14, 1799.

Besides being a very competent military commander, George Washington was held in high regard for his steadfastness and the nobility of his character. His grateful countrymen named his capital is 'Washington', a sign of his honor.