General George Washington was a Father and a leader of this country, and will never be forgotten by his people. After riding through a bad winter storm, General Washington caught a cold. His throat became infected making it difficult to breathe. On December 14, 1799, at the age of 67, George Washington died from this infection. As he wished, he was buried at Mount Vernon.
George Washington was born to Augustine and Mary Washington at ten o'clock in the morning on February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland County, Virginia. George grew up near Fredericksburg, Virginia. He had a younger sister and three younger brothers. He also had two older half brothers who were sent to England to go to school. Washington worked hard and learned about geography, astronomy, arithmetic and surveying.
When George was 11 years old, his father died and George became very close to his older half brother, Lawrence. George liked to visit Lawrence, who was living in a small house their father built on the Potomac River. Lawrence named the house and its farm, Mount Vernon, after his commanding officer, Admiral Edward Vernon of the British Navy.
George enjoyed listening to Lawrence talk about the time he served in the military with the British. He also liked to hear Lawrence and his friends talk about the Virginia frontier. George learned that Lawrence's friend, George William Fairfax, was going to the frontier to survey land. George wanted to go. He had learned a little about surveying and had practiced by measuring Lawrence's turnip field. Although he was only 16 years old, Mr. Fairfax allowed him to join the group.
George learned more than surveying on the trip. The men rode on horseback for days exploring the wilderness, slept in the open, still wearing their clothes and rolled up in blankets. They talked with Indians, ate some of their food, and watched them dance in the bright firelight. George wrote about these experiences in his journal. George Washington started his own surveying business when he was 17 years old. He was honest and fair; so many people hired him to survey their lands.
When George was 19, his older half brother, Lawrence, became very ill. Many doctors tried to cure him, but nothing helped. After Lawrence's death, George lived at Mount Vernon. George joined the Virginia militia. The British governor of Virginia sent him to the Ohio River on an important mission. Soon Major Washington was fighting in the first battles of the French and Indian War. The next year, he served as an aide to the British General Edward Braddock. In a fearful battle, George Washington escaped injury many times. Four bullets ripped through his coat and two horses were shot from under him. Later, he was made a colonel and led soldiers who defended Virginia's frontier in the Shenandoah Valley. Finally, after years of battles and a British victory, the war was over.
About this time, Colonel Washington met a young woman named Martha Custis. Her husband had died, leaving her with two small children, Jacky, three years old, and Patsy, one year old. George Washington and Martha Custis were married on January 6, 1759. He grew many food crops. He stopped growing tobacco and made wheat and corn his main cash crops.
Colonel Washington was elected to the House of Burgesses and often went to its meetings in the Virginia capital of Williamsburg.
By the early 1770s, George Washington and other colonists were becoming angry with England. Goods from England were expensive and poorly made. In addition, the colonists had to sell their crops to England for very low prices. Finally, England tried to force the colonists to pay higher taxes.
Washington went to Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress to discuss these problems. The British were told of the colonists' concerns, but did nothing. In 1775, Colonel Washington was elected to the Second Continental Congress. By the time it met, battles had been fought at Leton and Concord in Massachusetts. The American Revolution had started and a military leader was needed. The Congress named George Washington Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.
The Revolutionary War was long and difficult. General Washington did not have enough soldiers, guns, food or equipment. He had learned from the French and Indian War to make the most of his supplies and to keep his men healthy. His men became good soldiers because Washington demanded hard work and discipline. General Washington decided not to attack the British directly. Instead he would move his troops quickly and then strike by surprise. The British could not capture him. The years of fighting finally ended in Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, when the British General Cornwallis surrendered. In 1783 a peace treaty with England was signed. Some of General Washington's officers wanted him to seize power and run the new nation, but he refused. Instead he resigned as Commander in Chief, disbanded the Army, and went home to Mount Vernon to live the rest of his life as a private citizen.
The 13 new states did not work well together. Soon each state sent delegates to a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia to solve the problem. General Washington went and was asked to lead over the Convention. After weeks of long debates and many votes, the delegates worked out their differences. They wrote a new constitution for the nation with a democratic government. When the time came to elect a leader for the new government, George Washington was the unanimous choice.
In New York City on April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath of office as President of the United States. An excited crowd gave three rousing cheers. Those early years were very important to our new country. President Washington felt he had to make careful decisions so the new government would succeed. He worked very hard. He created departments within the government, each with a different job. He made sure that federal laws were obeyed everywhere. He had the Government Issue money that was good in all the states. President Washington also helped plan a new capital for the nation that was named "Washington" in his honor. Many of his decisions became precedents that later presidents would follow.
Washington agreed to serve a second term as president, even though he wanted to go home to Mount Vernon. Some people wanted him to be president even longer, but he would not. After eight years he left the office to the newly elected president, John Adams.
Once again called General Washington, as he liked, he returned home. At last he was able to take care of his beloved Mount Vernon plantation.