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|Top > Society > History > By Region > North America > United States > Presidents > George Washington|
George Washington, President of U.S. (National Archives)
The earliest known image in which Washington is identified as such is on the cover of the circa 1778 Pennsylvania German almanac, Lancaster: Gedruckt bey Francis Bailey. This identifies Washington as "Landes Vater" (Father of the Land).
Washington was part of the economic and cultural elite of the slave owning planters of Virginia. As a youth, he was trained as a surveyor and helped survey the Shenadoah valley in Virginia.
French and Indian WarWashington was commissioned in 1754 as an Colonel in the Virginia Militia and served with Edward Braddock of the British Army during the French and Indian War. During the battle of the Forks of the Monongehela he had three horses shot out from under him. He showed his coolness under fire in organizing the retreat from the debacle. Washington then organized the First Virginia Regiment, which saw service through the war; however, Washington left the Regiment to serve in the House of Burgesses.
Following his miltiary service, in 1757 he married Martha Dandridge Custis, the wealthy widow of Daniel Parke Custis. The newlywed couple moved to his estate Mount Vernon where he took up the life of a genteel farmer. He became a member of the House of Burgesses. He was initiated as a Freemason in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on 4 February 1752.
On July 3, 1775 he assumed command of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. After successfully driving the British out of Boston, Washington lost the Battle of Long Island in 1776 and retreated to Valley Forge, outside of British-held Philadelphia, where the American forces recovered. On December 25, 1776, Washington led the American forces crossing the Delaware to attack Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey. The successful attack built morale among the pro-independence colonists.
Washington retained an army in being throughout the Revolution, keeping British forces tied down in the center of the country while Generals Gates and Benedict Arnold won the battle of Saratoga in 1777. This victory led to French recognition of the United States.
In 1781, Washington, commanding both American and French forces, besieged General Cornwallis at Battle of Yorktown, Virginia. The British surrender there was the effective end of British attempts to quell the Revolution. In 1783, by means of the Treaty of Paris, Great Britain recognized American independence.
After the war, he presided over the American Constitutional Convention in 1787. He was elected President in 1788 and 1792. Washington remains the only president unanimously elected by the Electoral College.
In 1793, The revolutionary government of France sent diplomat Citizen Genet, who attempted to turn popular sentiment towards American involvement in the war against Great Britain. Genet also was authorized to issue letters of marque and reprisal to American ships and gave authority to any French consul to serve as a prize court. Genet's activities forced Washington to ask the French government for his recall
The Whiskey Rebellion
In 1791, the Federal government imposed an excise tax on whiskey. This tax was highly unpopular on the American frontier, and in July, 1794, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, a Federal marshal was attacked by a mob and a regional inspector's house was burned. On August 7, 1794, Washington called out the militias of several states and led a force of 13,000 to suppress the unrest
Washington's estate, Mount Vernon, is located in what is now a suburb of Washington, D.C.
Admirers of Washington circulated an apocryphal (and questionable) story about his honesty as a child. In the story, he wanted to try out a new axe and chopped down his father's cherry tree. When questioned by his father, he gave the famous non-quotation "I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down the cherry tree." The story first appeared after Washington's death in a naive "inspirational" children's book by Parson Mason Weems, who has been rector of the Mount Vernon parish.
Legacy in the contemporary U.S.
The capital city of the United States, Washington, D.C., is named for him. The District of Columbia was created by an Act of Congress in 1790, and Washington was deeply involved in its creation, including the siting of the White House. At this time, the future site of the capital was a swamp, and Washington remained largely marshland well into the 19th century. The capital was placed in the South, rather than in the major towns of the North, as a compromise during the writing of the United States Constitution in order to get Southern votes for important compromises.
Washington also selected West Point, New York, as the site for the United States Military Academy.
Washington State in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. is also named for him, the only state named for a president.
His image is on the one dollar bill and the quarter-dollar coin.
Washington, George, the Virginia Colonel (3/4 length),
1772 (National Archives)
Washington taking command of the American Army at Cambridge,
1775 (National Archives)
George Washington receiving French generals at Mount Vernon
George Washington's Revolutionary War Account Book,
1775 - 1783 (National Archives)
French General Lafayette with Washington at Mount Vernon
Engraving of George Washington at Monmouth,
06/28/1778 (National Archives)
President Washington's arch-rival: George III, King of England (3/4 length), ca. 1778 (National Archives)
George Washington Letter to Mr. Stuart January 4, 1799, 01/04/1799 (National Archives)
The famous English General who surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown. General Cornwallis after the Revolutionary War (full length), ca. 1799 (National Archives)
Mount Vernon during the last century. Photograph of a group of dignitaries, including British Field Marshal Harold Alexander and Mrs. Alexander, outside George Washington's home at Mount Vernon., 02/04/1947 (National Archives)
Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens - Well laid out site dedicated to Washington's home in Virginia. Site includes a visitor guide, virtual tour and educational resources.
Apotheosis of George Washington - How Washington's image has changed and been manipulated to make him the ultimate American hero. "Politically, socially - and of course, commercially - Washington's image has become an easily-recognized and powerful tool."
Resonating with Washington Crossing the Delaware - Bus driver's experience tuning in to George Washington in commemoration of the miraculous turning of the American Revolutionary War in its darkest hour.
George Washington - Biographical article covering both his military and presidential career.
George Washingtons Remarkable Vision - Article published in 1880 which purports to describe a vision of America's future seen by Washington at Valley Forge.
The Moland House - "George Washington's headquarters on August 10, 1777, where the Marquis de Lafayette joined the American Revolution, the American Flag was said to have first flown over American troops, and several other historic generals joined the American Revolution"
The Surprising George Washington - Attempting to find the real man in the historical record. From Prologue, the quarterly journal of the National Archives and Records Administation.
Sulgrave Manor - The ancestral home, in England, of George Washington's family.
The Rise and Fall of the Newburgh Conspiracy - "How General Washington and his spectacles saved the Republic". The near-mutiny that took place in the army in 1783 and Washington's role in defusing it.
The Life of George Washington - Online version of a biography originally published in 1808.
George Washington Papers - Library of Congress site which presents its collection of 65,000 Washington documents. Each page of these documents has been photographed and is presented online. Site also includes a timeline of his lie and a selection of essays.
George Washington Discussion Port - Forum and live chat devoted to discussing George Washington's life and leadership.
Encyclopedia Americana: George Washington - A detailed biography written for students. Includes Washington's inaugural addresses and a fact file.
Top-biography.com: George Washington - Includes a biographical sketch, fact file, quotations, and a timeline of his life.
The American President: George Washington - Fact file and comprehensive biographical sketch based on PBS series. Includes lesson plans and links.
Six Historic Americans: George Washington - Article which sets out to prove that Washington was not a Christian communicant and not a believer in the Christian religion.
Historic Valley Forge: George Washington - Documents and stories from the life of the man who led colonial troops through the harsh winter at Valley Forge.
POTUS: George Washington - Background information, election results, cabinet members, and links.
George Washington - Student publishing site includes biography, pictures of Washington's teeth, exceptional letters, portraits and links.
History House: Put it on George's Tab - A brief look at Washington's extravagant expense account while General of the Continental Army.
George Washington Art Page - Six paintings showing George in different stages of presidential and pre-presidential development.
George Washington - Short biography from the official Whitehouse site.
A Concert of Mourning - An in-depth look at Washington's final days and the nation's response to his death.
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