George Washington

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George Washington George Washington was born on his father's estate in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on February 22, 1732. He was the oldest son of a Virginia farmer, Augistine Washington , by his second wife, Mary Ball, The Washington family was descended from two brothers, John and Lawrence Washington, who emigrated from England to Virginia in 1657. The family's rise to modest wealth in three generations was the result of steady application to farming, land buying, and development of local industries. George seemed to have received most of his schooling from his father and, after the father's death in 1743, from his older half-brother Lawrence. The boy enjoyed mathematics, and he applied it to acquiring a knowledge of surveying, which was a skill greatly in demand in a country where people were seeking new lands in the West. For the Virginians of that time the West meant the upper Ohio River valley. Throughout his life, George Washington maintained a keen interest in the development of these western lands, and from time to time he bought properties for himself. Under the terms of the Constitution, the formal election for the president was done by electors, who were collectively called the Electoral College. Each elector was to vote for the two persons he considered most qualified; the winner would be the president, and the runner-up would be the vice president. The electors themselves were chosen January 7, 1789, by the direct vote of the people in some states, and by the legislature in other states. The electors met en each state on February 4 and unanimously voted for George Washington, who thereby became president. Their second choice, far from unanimous, was John Adams of Massachusetts. This pleased Washington because he had feared that the vice presidency might ho to Governor George Clinton of New York, who favored drastic amendment of the constitution. Washington, considering these amendments dangerous, had allowed amendment word to go out that votes for Adams would be agreeable to him because he considered Adams to be a "safe man" and a strong supporter of the constitution. Also, Washington still had a lingering hope that, after getting the government well started, he might resign from office and hasten home to Mount Vernon. He could not reconcile this hope with his conscience unless a man he considered safe was next in line of succession. In the spring of 1790, Washington was struck by a severe cold and then by influenza. For several days it was thought that George would not live. The illness and the anxiety it caused throughout the country underlined Washington's importance to the new nation. Abigail Adams, wife of the vice president, wrote: "It appears to me that the union of the states and consequently the permanency of the government depend under Providence upon his life. At this early day when neither our finances are arranged nor our government sufficiently cemented to promise duration, his death would …have…the most disastrous consequences." (page 322 Encyclopedia) Washington attended the inauguration of President John Adams on March 4, 1797, and left Philadelphia two days later for Mount Vernon. There he wrote to an old friend that he did not intend to allow the political turmoil of the country to disturb his ease. "I shall view things," he said, "in the light of mild philosophy." But he did not always agree to this resolve. He strongly opposed the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, which where an attempt to limit federal powers in line with Jefferson's beliefs. These resolutions seemed to Washington a formula for the dissolution of the Union. In that year also, he accepted the nominal command of the army should the undeclared hostility with France develop into open war. The last journey of his life, in 1799, were to the army camp at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and to Philadelphia to consult on any matters. Early

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