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George Washington Biography

George WashingtonGeorge Washington (1732-1799) was the first President of the United States of America. He served as President from April 30, 1789, until March 4, 1797 (two terms). His Vice-President was John Adams (1735-1826), who was later voted the second President of the USA.

Early Life:
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Washington's father died when George was 11 years old. He had very little formal schooling, but taught himself to be an expert woodsman, surveyor (a person who determines the boundaries and area of tracts of land), and mapmaker. Washington grew to be over 6 feet tall -- this was very rare in Colonial times.

French and Indian War:
As a young man, Washington joined the Virginia militia. He and six men traveled 500 miles north to the shores of Lake Erie to deliver a message to the French -- the French were ordered to stop settling land that was claimed by the British. This land dispute led to a battle in which Washington and 160 men lost to the French; this was the beginning of the French and Indian War (the British and the Colonists fought the French and some Indian tribes). After many heroic battles, Washington became a colonel and the leader of Virginia's militia. The British eventually won the French and Indian War.

Marriage:
Washington married Martha Custis (born June 2, 1731 - died May 22, 1802) in 1759. Martha was a rich widow who had two children, Martha "Patsy" and John "Jacky." Their home in Virginia was called Mt. Vernon. George and Martha did not have children together.

A Start in Politics:
In 1758, Washington was elected to the House of Burgesses in Virginia (the local governing body of Virginia).

Revolutionary War:
In order to pay for the expensive French and Indian War, the British taxed the Colonists (the Stamp Tax), angering them. In Boston, the Colonists revolted, dumping precious tea into Boston Harbor (this event is called the Boston Tea Party).

In 1775, Washington was chosen as the Commander in Chief of the Colonial Army. In 1776, the Colonists declared their independence from the British. General Washington led ragtag Patriot troops who were poorly trained, barely paid, badly equipped, and outnumbered by the British. Patriot women, like Molly "Pitcher," often helped on the battlefields, carrying pitchers of water to cool down the cannons so they could be re-fired, and also nursing the wounded.

Due to the brilliant planning of George Washington and some help from the French late in the War, the British were defeated in 1781 after many bloody battles. The Americans were now independent of the British.

The US Constitution:
After independence, the Americans were governed under the Articles of Confederation (adopted by the Patriots in 1777), but the country struggled.

1787, Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during which the US Constitution was written.

The US Constitution outlined a representative government with checks and balances among three branches of government : the Executive (the President), the Legislative Branch (law makers), and the Judicial Branch (judges and courts). The Constitution was ratified in 1788 -- it went into effect in 1789. The next step was to set up this new, revolutionary form of government.

President of the US:
Washington was unanimously elected President of the United States of America by electors in early 1789 and again in 1792. Both votes were unanimous. John Adams was his vice-president. Washington's first inauguration took place in New York City, New York (which was the first capital of the USA, from 1789 to 1790). Washington's second inauguration took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (it was the capital from 1790 to 1800). Washington refused a third Presidential term, saying in his farewell speech that a longer rule would give one man too much power.

During Washington's presidency, the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution) was adopted (in 1791). The Bill of Rights guarantees the rights of the American people. In Washington's cabinet were Thomas Jefferson (Secretary of State), Alexander Hamilton (Secretary of Treasury), Henry Knox (Secretary of War), and Edmund Randolph (Attorney General).

Random Fact
Washington wore false teeth made from hippopotamus ivory.

Death
Washington died on December 14, 1799, at his home, Mt. Vernon, located in Fairfax County, Virginia. After his death, the nation's capital was moved from Philadelphia to a location on the border of Virginia and Maryland near Washington's home, and was named Washington, District of Columbia in his honor.

 

George Washington Quotes

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.
George Washington

It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company.
George Washington

It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.
George Washington

It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a Free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defense of it.
George Washington

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.
George Washington

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.
George Washington

Laws made by common consent must not be trampled on by individuals.
George Washington

Lenience will operate with greater force, in some instances than rigor. It is therefore my first wish to have all of my conduct distinguished by it.
George Washington

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.
George Washington

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
George Washington

Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.
George Washington

Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.
George Washington

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.
George Washington

Mankind, when left to themselves, are unfit for their own government.
George Washington

My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.
George Washington

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
George Washington

My observation is that whenever one person is found adequate to the discharge of a duty... it is worse executed by two persons, and scarcely done at all if three or more are employed therein.
George Washington

Nothing can be more hurtful to the service, than the neglect of discipline; for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army the superiority over another.
George Washington

Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.
George Washington

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.
George Washington

George Washington Facts

Basic George Washington Facts

Birthday: February 22, 1732
Birthplace: Wakefield, Virginia
College or University: none
Religion: Episcopalian
Occupation or Profession: Planter, Surveyor, Military
Military Rank: General
Married: (January 6, 1759) Mrs. Martha Dandridge Custis
Children:
- 2 step-children - John "Jackie" Parke Custis (1754 - 1781) and Martha "Patsy" Parke Custis (1756 - 1773) 
- 2 step-grandchildren - Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis and George Washington "Washy" Parke Custis
President number: First President of U.S.
Political Party: None (Washington opposed the idea of political parties)
Runner Up: none
Vice President: John Adams
Age at Inauguration: 57
Served: 1789-1797
Number of terms: 2
Other Offices or Commissions: President of Constitutional Convention, Lieutenant General and Commander in Chief of new United States Army
Died: December 14, 1799
Age at Death: 67
Place of Burial: Mount Vernon, Virginia
Only President to be elected unanimously
Only President inaugurated in 2 cities - New York and Philadelphia
Only President that did not live in the White House. He was involved in the planning of the Capitol.
Washington did his own bookkeeping and recorded every penny of expense or profit. His ledgers still exist today.
There were 13 stars on the United States flag when Washington became President in 1789.
Five states were added to the Union during Washington's presidency - North Carolina (1789), Rhode Island (1790), Vermont (1791), Kentucky (1792), and Tennessee (1796).


Surprising Facts About George Washington

--Washington was the only major founder who lacked a college education. John Adams went to Harvard, James Madison to Princeton, and Alexander Hamilton to Columbia, making Washington self-conscious about what he called his “defective education.”

--Washington never had wooden teeth. He wore dentures that were made of either walrus or elephant ivory and were fitted with real human teeth. Over time, as the ivory got cracked and stained, it resembled the grain of wood. Washington may have purchased some of his teeth from his own slaves.

--Washington had a strangely cool and distant relationship with his mother. During the Revolutionary War and her son’s presidency, she never uttered a word of praise about him and she may even have been a Tory. No evidence exists that she ever visited George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon. Late in the Revolutionary War, Mary Washington petitioned the Virginia legislature for financial relief, pleading poverty—and, by implication, neglect by her son. Washington, who had been extremely generous to his mother, was justly indignant.

--Even as a young man, Washington seemed to possess a magical immunity to bullets. In one early encounter in the French and Indian War, he absorbed four bullets in his coat and hat and had two horses shot from under him yet emerged unscathed. This led one Indian chief to predict that some higher power was guiding him to great events in the future.

--By age 30 Washington had survived smallpox, malaria, dysentery, and other diseases. Although he came from a family of short-lived men, he had an iron constitution and weathered many illnesses that would have killed a less robust man. He lived to the age of 67.

--While the Washingtons were childless—it has always been thought that George Washington was sterile—they presided over a household teeming with children. Martha had two children from her previous marriage and she and George later brought up two grandchildren as well, not to mention countless nieces and nephews.

--That Washington was childless proved a great boon to his career. Because he had no heirs, Americans didn’t worry that he might be tempted to establish a hereditary monarchy. And many religious Americans believed that God had deliberately deprived Washington of children so that he might serve as Father of His Country.

--Though he tried hard to be fair and took excellent medical care of his slaves, Washington could be a severe master. His diaries reveal that during one of the worst cold snaps on record in Virginia—when Washington himself found it too cold to ride outside—he had his field slaves out draining swamps and performing other arduous tasks.

--For all her anxiety about being constantly in a battle zone, Martha Washington spent a full half of the Revolutionary War with her husband—a major act of courage that has largely gone unnoticed.

--Washington was obsessed with his personal appearance, which extended to his personal guard during the war. Despite wartime austerity and a constant shortage of soldiers, he demanded that all members of his personal guard be between 5'8" and 5'10"; a year later, he narrowed the range to 5'9" to 5'10."

--While Washington lost more battles than he won, he still ranks as a great general. His greatness lay less in his battlefield brilliance—he committed some major strategic blunders—than in his ability to hold his ragged army intact for more than eight years, keeping the flame of revolution alive.

--Washington ran his own spy network during the war and was often the only one privy to the full scope of secret operations against the British. He anticipated many techniques of modern espionage, including the use of misinformation and double agents.

--Washington tended his place in history with extreme care. Even amid wartime stringency, he got Congress to appropriate special funds for a full-time team of secretaries who spent two years copying his wartime papers into beautiful ledgers.

--For thirty years, Washington maintained an extraordinary relationship with his slave and personal manservant William Lee, who accompanied him throughout the Revolutionary War and later worked in the presidential mansion. Lee was freed upon Washington’s death and given a special lifetime annuity.

--The battle of Yorktown proved the climactic battle of the revolution and the capstone of Washington’s military career, but he initially opposed this Franco-American operation against the British—a fact he later found hard to admit.

--Self-conscious about his dental problems, Washington maintained an air of extreme secrecy when corresponding with his dentist and never used such incriminating words as ‘teeth’ or ‘dentures.’ By the time he became president, Washington had only a single tooth left—a lonely lower left bicuspid that held his dentures in place.

--Washington always displayed extremely ambivalence about his fame. Very often, when he was traveling, he would rise early to sneak out of a town or enter it before he could be escorted by local dignitaries. He felt beleaguered by the social demands of his own renown.

--At Mount Vernon, Washington functioned as his own architect—and an extremely original one at that. All of the major features that we associate with the house—the wide piazza and colonnade overlooking the Potomac, the steeple and the weathervane with the dove of peace—were personally designed by Washington himself.

--A master showman with a brilliant sense of political stagecraft, Washington would disembark from his coach when he was about to enter a town then mount a white parade horse for maximum effect. It is not coincidental that there are so many fine equestrian statues of him.

--Land-rich and cash-poor, Washington had to borrow money to attend his own inauguration in New York City in 1789. He then had to borrow money again when he moved back to Virginia after two terms as president. His public life took a terrible toll on his finances.

--Martha Washington was never happy as First Lady—a term not yet in use—and wrote with regret after just six months of the experience: “I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else...And as I cannot do as I like, I am obstinate and stay home a great deal.”

--When the temporary capital moved to Philadelphia in 1790, Washington brought six or seven slaves to the new presidential mansion. Under a Pennsylvania abolitionist law, slaves who stayed continuously in the state for six months were automatically free. To prevent this, Washington, secretly coached by his Attorney General, rotated his slaves in and out of the state without telling them the real reason for his actions.

--Washington nearly died twice during his first term in office, the first time from a tumor on his thigh that may have been from anthrax or an infection, the second time from pneumonia. Many associates blamed his sedentary life as president for the sudden decline in his formerly robust health and he began to exercise daily.

--Tired of the demands of public life, Washington never expected to serve even one term as president, much less two. He originally planned to serve for only a year or two, establish the legitimacy of the new government, then resign as president. Because of one crisis after another, however, he felt a hostage to the office and ended up serving two full terms. For all his success as president, Washington frequently felt trapped in the office.

--Exempt from attacks at the start of his presidency, Washington was viciously attacked in the press by his second term. His opponents accused him of everything from being an inept general to wanting to establish a monarchy. At one point, he said that not a single day had gone by that he hadn’t regretted staying on as president.

--Washington has the distinction of being the only president ever to lead an army in battle as commander-in-chief. During the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, he personally journeyed to western Pennsylvania to take command of a large army raised to put down the protest against the excise tax on distilled spirits.

--Two of the favorite slaves of George and Martha Washington—Martha’s personal servant, Ona Judge and their chef Hercules—escaped to freedom at the end of Washington’s presidency. Washington employed the resources of the federal government to try to entrap Ona Judge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and return her forcibly to Virginia. His efforts failed.

--Washington stands out as the only founder who freed his slaves, at least the 124 who were under his personal control. (He couldn’t free the so-called ‘dower slaves’ who came with his marriage to Martha.) In his will, he stipulated that the action was to take effect only after Martha died so that she could still enjoy the income from those slaves.

--After her husband died, Martha grew terrified at the prospect that the 124 slaves scheduled to be freed after her death might try to speed up the timetable by killing her. Unnerved by the situation, she decided to free those slaves ahead of schedule only a year after her husband died.

--Like her husband, Martha Washington ended up with a deep dislike of Thomas Jefferson, whom she called “one of the most detestable of mankind.” When Jefferson visited her at Mount Vernon before he became president, Martha said that it was the second worst day of her life—the first being the day her husband died.

Source: Washington: A Life (book by Ron Chernow)

George Washington Movies



National Geographic Expedition Week: The Real George Washington

The discovery of the ruins of George Washington's childhood home reveals the man behind the myth. Expedition Week :http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/expedition-week

 

 

George Washington Books

Who Was George Washington? [Paperback]

In 1789, George Washington became the first president of the United States. He has been called the father of our country for leading America through its early years. Washington also served in two major wars during his lifetime: the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. With over 100 black-and-white illustrations, Washington's fascinating story comes to life - revealing the real man, not just the face on the dollar bill!

   

George Washington [Paperback]

"He was born in a little red brick house that his father had built on the oyster-shell hill. By that time so much land had been cleared that the wilderness was far in the distance" (10). So begins the simple and inauspicious life of George Washington—a backwoods Virginia boy destined to become the Father of His Country. Meticulously researched, the d'Aulaires hiked and camped all over Virginia as they imbibed the spirit of this great man. The story follows his growth from young boy to surveyor, to soldier in the French and Indian War where he became a war hero. Then George courted Martha Custis and after their marriage they built a thriving plantation at Mount Vernon. Slavery is depicted as an acceptable fact "where his hundreds of slaves . . . kept everything spick and span and in beautiful order" (40). Then we see Washington lead his troops through the dark and hungry days of the Revolution—by his courage and integrity, inspiring the same in his men. The d'Aulaire illustrations reflect the folk-art style they intended, seeking to depict characters that would appear much as the rocking horses and toy soldiers children played with in their nurseries. 60pg

   

George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior [Kindle Edition]

“Labour to keep alive in your breast that little celestial fire called conscience.”“Run not in the streets. . .nor with mouth open; go not upon the toes nor in a dancing fashion.”George Washington was known as a remarkably modest and courteous man. Humility and flawless manners were so ingrained in his character that he rarely if ever acted without them.The “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior” that governed Washington’s etiquette were by turns practical, inspirational and curious. These rules are as instructive and invaluable today as they were hundreds of years ago. George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior includes the complete text of the rules, as well as famous Washington writings such as:-Farewell to the Armies speech-Inaugural Address-Retirement Address-Address at the End of His Presidency

   

George Washington Links