George Washington is key to the history of the United States of America. Also known as "The Father to his Country," he was a gentleman farmer and war hero as well as the first President of the United States of America.
George was born on his family's plantation in Virginia on February 22, 1732. His parents were modestly successful farmers and considered members of the landed gentry. At this time, the colonies were rich in tobacco, sugar and coffee and held slaves as free labor. He had a knack for math and cartography, and after school he became a successful land surveyor around the Virginia wilderness, where he made enough money to buy land of his own. When his older half brother Lawrence passed away from tuberculosis, George inherited the Mount Vernon Estate, located on the shores of the Potomac River also in Virginia.
In 1752, despite having no military training or experience, George became the commander of the Virginia Militia. He also married his wife Martha, a wealthy widow. He became a gentleman farmer and expanded his land holdings in Mount Vernon.
The British began to increase the taxes imposed on American colonists within the next decade. George experienced this first hand and joined the growing movement for the colonies to declare their independence from England.
In 1774, he was a delegate to the First Continental Congress, and in 1775 the American Revolution began. Thanks to his previous militia experience and the fact that he was from Virginia, Washington was named commander in chief of the Continental Army. Despite the lack of training and equipment, General Washington successfully defeated England, forcing them out in 1781. He retired in 1783 and was declared a national hero.
He went back to his estate and quiet farmer's life. But in 1787, he was asked to lead the committee that would draft America's new constitution. He was so impressive that the other delegates, now known as the United States' founding fathers, thought he would be the most qualified to become America's first president. He was extremely reluctant but gave in to the clamor of the public. At 57, he won the first presidential election n 1789 with his opponent John Adams who won second place as the first vice president.
When Washington took office, America grew from 11 to 16 states. He had to set the tone for how a new president should conduct domestic/national and foreign affairs. George deliberately set an example of being fair, implacable integrity, as well as strength and prudence. He set up the US judicial system and the first national bank. He also set up a cabinet of colleagues to handle the different sectors of a growing civil society. When dealing with other nations, he pushed an agenda of neutrality, putting America's interest first.
To lead a newlyborn country from backwater colony of England to greatness is no easy feat. But George Washington delivered, and today, 220+ years after his death, his legacy of dignity and integrity is still felt in the Oval Office.