George Washington

George Washington
Head and shoulders portrait of George Washington
Portrait based on the unfinished Athenaeum Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1796
1st President of the United States
In office
April 30, 1789[a] – March 4, 1797
Vice PresidentJohn Adams
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byJohn Adams
7th Senior Officer of the United States Army
In office
July 13, 1798 – December 14, 1799
PresidentJohn Adams
Preceded byJames Wilkinson
Succeeded byAlexander Hamilton
Commander in Chief of the Continental Army
In office
June 19, 1775[2] – December 23, 1783
Appointed byContinental Congress
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byHenry Knox (as Senior Officer)
14th Chancellor of the College of William & Mary
In office
April 30, 1788 – December 14, 1799
PresidentJames Madison
Preceded byRichard Terrick (1776)
Succeeded byJohn Tyler (1859)
Delegate from Virginia to the Continental Congress
In office
September 5, 1774 – June 16, 1775
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byThomas Jefferson
Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses
In office
July 24, 1758[3][4] – June 24, 1775[5]
Preceded byHugh West[6][7]
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Personal details
Born(1732-02-22)February 22, 1732
Popes Creek, Virginia, British America
DiedDecember 14, 1799(1799-12-14) (aged 67)
Mount Vernon, Virginia, U.S.
Cause of deathEpiglottitis
Resting placeMount Vernon, Virginia, U.S.
38°42′28.4″N 77°05′09.9″W / 38.707889°N 77.086083°W / 38.707889; -77.086083
Political partyIndependent
(m. 1759)
ChildrenJohn Parke Custis (adopted)
RelativesWashington family
ResidenceMount Vernon, Virginia, U.S.
  • Military officer
  • farmer
  • politician
SignatureCursive signature in ink
Military service
Allegiance Great Britain
 United States
Years of service
  • 1752–1758 (Virginia Militia)
  • 1775–1783 (Continental Army)
  • 1798–1799 (U.S. Army)

George Washington (February 22, 1732[b] – December 14, 1799) was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father, who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continental Congress as commander of the Continental Army, Washington led the Patriot forces to victory in the American Revolutionary War, and presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which established the Constitution of the United States and a federal government. Washington has been called the "Father of the Nation"[10] for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the country.

Washington's first public office was serving as official Surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia from 1749 to 1750. Subsequently, he received his initial military training (as well as a command with the Virginia Regiment) during the French and Indian War. He was later elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses and was named a delegate to the Continental Congress. Here he was appointed Commanding General of the Continental Army. With this title, he commanded American forces (allied with France) in the defeat and surrender of the British at the Siege of Yorktown during the American Revolutionary War. He resigned his commission after the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783.

Washington played an indispensable role in adopting and ratifying the Constitution of the United States. He was then twice elected president by the Electoral College. He implemented a strong, well-financed national government while remaining impartial in a fierce rivalry between cabinet members Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. During the French Revolution, he proclaimed a policy of neutrality while sanctioning the Jay Treaty. He set enduring precedents for the office of president, including the title "Mr. President", and his Farewell Address is widely regarded as a pre-eminent statement on republicanism.

Washington owned several hundred slaves, and he supported measures passed by Congress to protect slavery. Starting in 1778, he became troubled with the institution of slavery and freed William Lee, one of his slaves, in his will. He freed the other 123 slaves that he owned upon the death of his wife, Martha Washington. She decided to respect her husband's wishes and freed these slaves on January 1, 1801, before her death. He also freed in his will 33 more slaves that he acquired in a prior debt agreement with his brother-in-law.[11][12] He endeavored to assimilate Native Americans into the Anglo-American culture but combated indigenous resistance during instances of violent conflict. He was a member of the Anglican Church and the Freemasons, and he urged broad religious freedom in his roles as general and president. Upon his death, he was eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen".[13]

Washington has been memorialized by monuments, a federal holiday, various media, geographical locations, including the national capital, the State of Washington, stamps, and currency, and many scholars and polls rank him among the greatest U.S. presidents. In 1976, as part of commemorations for the U.S. Bicentennial, Washington was posthumously promoted to the rank of General of the Armies of the United States.

  1. ^ Ferling 2009, p. 274; Taylor 2016, pp. 395, 494.
  2. ^ "Primary Documents in American History". Web Guides. Library of Congress. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  3. ^ "House of Burgesses". The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington. Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Retrieved May 9, 2020. After a failed bid for a seat in December 1755, he won election in 1758 and represented Frederick County until 1765.
  4. ^ "Enclosure V: Frederick County Poll Sheet, 1758, 24 July 1758". National Historical Publications and Records Commission (The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). 1758. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "House of Burgesses". The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington. Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Retrieved May 9, 2020. That year he ran in Fairfax County, winning a seat which he would retain until 1775 ... Dunmore did not call the House again until June of 1775. The House adjourned on June 24 and never again achieved a quorum (enough members to conduct business).
  6. ^ Bish, Jim (Spring 2010). "Hugh West and the West Family's Momentous Role in Founding and Developing Alexandria and Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, Virginia" (PDF). The Alexandria Chronicle. Alexandria Historical Society. pp. 13–14. Retrieved May 10, 2020. In 1755 Hugh West Jr. gave up his seat in Fairfax County and won a House of Burgess election in Frederick County defeating Colonel George Washington. This defeat was Washington's only electoral loss. Hugh West Jr. served as a Frederick County burgess until 1758 when he was defeated by Washington.
  7. ^ "To George Washington from Adam Stephen, 23 December 1755". National Historical Publications and Records Commission (The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). 1755. Retrieved May 10, 2020. GW kept a copy of the Frederick County poll sheet (c. 10 Dec., DLC:GW) in his papers with the names of the 40 men who voted for him and the names of the 271 men who voted for Hugh West and 270 who voted for Thomas Swearingen.
  8. ^ Randall 1997, p. 303.
  9. ^ Engber 2006.
  10. ^ Coe, Alexis (June 20, 2020). "The Father of the Nation, George Washington Was Also a Doting Dad to His Family". Smithsonian (magazine).
  11. ^ "A Decision to Free His Slaves". Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  12. ^ "slave, Abram (at Pamocra; New Kent County, Va.)". Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  13. ^ Hughes, Hillary. "First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen". The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington. Mount Vernon, Virginia: Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Retrieved June 6, 2021.

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