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The life and presidency of george washington

Visit Website Did you know? At the time of his death in 1799, George Washington owned some 300 slaves. However, before his passing, he had become opposed to slavery, and in his will he ordered that his slaves to be freed after his wife's death.

As a teenager, Washington, who had shown an aptitude for mathematics, became a successful surveyor. His surveying expeditions into the Virginia wilderness earned him enough money to begin acquiring land of his own. In 1751, Washington made his only trip outside of America, when he travelled to Barbados with his older half-brother Lawrence 1718-52who was suffering from tuberculosis and hoped the warm climate would help him recuperate.

Shortly after their arrival, George contracted smallpox. He survived, although the illness left him with permanent facial scars. An Officer and Gentleman Farmer In December 1752, Washington, who had no previous military experience, was made a commander of the Virginia militia. By 1759, Washington had resigned his commission, returned to Mount Vernon and was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he served until 1774.

In January 1759, he married Martha Dandridge Custis 1731-1802a wealthy widow with two children. Washington became a devoted stepfather to the children; he and Martha never had any offspring of their own. In the ensuing years, Washington expanded Mount Vernon from 2,000 acres into an 8,000-acre property with five farms.

  • As she died within two months, Washington at age 20 became head of one of the best Virginia estates;
  • Shortly after their arrival, George contracted smallpox;
  • From this sole journey beyond the present borders of the United States, Washington returned with the light scars of an attack of smallpox;
  • The 16-year-old lad kept a disjointed diary of the trip, which shows skill in observation.

He grew a variety of crops, including wheat and corn, bred mules and maintained fruit orchards and a successful fishery. He was deeply interested in farming and continually experimented with new crops and methods of land conservation.

The American Revolution By the late 1760s, Washington had experienced firsthand the effects of rising taxes imposed on American colonists by the British, and came to believe that it was in the best interests of the colonists to declare independence from England. Washington served as a delegate to the First Continental Congress in 1774 in Philadelphia.

By the time the Second Continental Congress convened a year later, the American Revolution had begun in earnest, and Washington was named commander in chief of the Continental Army. Washington proved to be a better general than military strategist.

  • William Fairfax, a cousin and agent of Lord Fairfax and one of the chief proprietors of the region;
  • Some of his schoolboy papers survive.

His strength lay not in his genius on the battlefield but in his ability to keep the struggling colonial army together. His troops were poorly trained and lacked food, ammunition and other supplies soldiers sometimes even went without shoes in winter.

However, Washington was able to give them the direction and motivation to keep going. Over the course of the grueling eight-year war, the colonial forces won few battles but consistently held their own against the British.

In October 1781, with the aid of the French who allied themselves with the colonists over their rivals the Britishthe Continental forces were able to capture British troops under General Charles Cornwallis 1738-1805 in Yorktown, Virginia. This action effectively ended the Revolutionary War and Washington was declared a national hero. However, in 1787, he was asked to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and head the committee to draft the new constitution.

At first Washington balked. He wanted to, at last, return to a quiet life at home and leave governing the new nation to others. But public opinion was so strong that eventually he gave in. The first presidential election was held on January 7, 1789, and Washington won handily.

The United States was a small nation when Washington took office, consisting of 11 states and approximately 4 million people, the life and presidency of george washington there was no precedent for how the new president should conduct domestic or foreign business. Mindful that his actions would likely determine how future presidents were expected to govern, Washington worked hard to set an example of fairness, prudence and integrity.

In foreign matters, he supported cordial relations with other countries but also favored a position of neutrality in foreign conflicts. Domestically, he nominated the first chief justice of the U. Supreme CourtJohn Jay 1745-1829signed a bill establishing the first national bank and set up his own presidential cabinet.

His two most prominent cabinet appointees were Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826 and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton 1755-1804two men who disagreed strongly on the role of the federal government.

George Washington

Washington believed that divergent views were critical for the health of the new government, but he was distressed at what he saw as an emerging partisanship. Washington Retires to Mount Vernon In 1796, after two terms as president and declining to serve a third term, Washington finally retired. In his farewell address, he urged the new nation to maintain the highest standards domestically and to keep involvement with foreign powers to a minimum. The address is still read each February in the U.

Washington returned to Mount Vernon and devoted his attentions to making the plantation as productive as it had been before he became president. More than four decades of public service had aged him, but he was still a commanding figure. In December 1799, he caught a cold after inspecting his properties in the rain. The cold developed into a throat infection and Washington died on the night of December 14 at the age of 67.

He was entombed at Mount Vernon, which in 1960 was designated a national historic landmark.

  • On July 3 Washington assumed command of the American forces at Cambridge;
  • In December 1799, he caught a cold after inspecting his properties in the rain;
  • He had to manage the 18 slaves that came with the estate and others he bought later; by 1760 he had paid taxes on 49 slaves—though he strongly disapproved of the institution and hoped for some mode of abolishing it.

Washington left one of the most enduring legacies of any American in history. Start your free trial today.