George Washington – First President of the United States
George Washington is the first American president (1789 – 1797) after he had been serving as commander-in-chief during the American Revolution. He was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on February 22, 1732, as a son to Mary and Augustine. George Washington is also called ‘the father of his nation’ because of the crucial role he played in creating the United States of America.
George Washington started out as a planter, and later (1749) became a county surveyor. His half-brother Lawrence Washington was also a surveyor, and after Lawrence died in 1752, George was inheriting part of his brother’s estate and he became an assistant of the colony. In 1752, George Washington continued to become a Virginia militia leader, which in the following years brought him a lot of experience
Washington received the rank of colonel (an honorary title) and joined the British Virginian army (under General Braddock) in 1755. Later that year, in August, Washington became the commander of all troops in Virginia at the age of just 23.
He had to patrol and protect some 400 border miles with under 700 badly disciplined and ill-motivated colonial troops while the colonial legislature in Virginia was also not inclined to help him, an unfortunate and frustrating assignment, and in 1757, he was sent home in bad health.
In December of 1758, George decided to give up military service and the following 16 years he lived his life as a planter. In 1759, he married Martha Dandridge, who was believed to be a very distant relative, but also a very wealthy widow. Together they raised the two children she had from the previous marriage, but the couple never had children of their own.
Washington’s real estate holdings had flourished and his social standing had increased. In 1757, he already owned some 6500 acres of land, and in 1758, George was elected to be part of Virginia’s provincial legislature. George was enjoying a pretty luxurious lifestyle and he could often be found fox hunting for leisure.
Through diversification, he managed to survive the sometimes hostile tobacco market, and he made the switch from tobacco to wheat to be his key crop. George turned out to be an excellent entrepreneur as he also set up spinning and weaving activities as well as horse breeding and various other operations.
During those years, George stayed away from politics totally as he was focusing solely on his business. But then in August 1774, George Washington was chosen to attend the first Continental Congress sitting, and in the following year, he was appointed by the Congress as Commander-in-chief.
Under his command played the Continental Army a crucial role when New York was seized from the British troops, and after the American forces were victorious in New Jersey and Trenton, it happened that many young people became enthusiastic and became committed to joining the army.
As commander-in-chief of America’s revolutionary forces was Washington instrumental to force the British Army out of Boston. He managed to hold a weak and fragile army together, and he successfully negotiated with the French to save the young nation from defeat and disintegration. The American Revolutionary War came to an end in 1783, and George Washington subsequently got out of the public eye to settle down at his Mount Vernon plantation, a move that surprised many.
George Washington was crucial for drafting the United States Constitution in 1787. In 1789 he became the first president and he was responsible for setting up many protocols in the executive department of the newly formed government. He was highly committed to creating a strong nation that would not be drawn into the war between France and Britain.
In 1793, his government issued the ‘Proclamation of Neutrality’ underscoring America’s non-involvement stand in foreign nations’ conflicts. More of Washington’s key reforms include the establishment of a national bank, setting up an effective national tax collection method, and building up an economic strong nation by the reduction of the nation’s debt.
George Washington died two years after he resigned from office of an acute pneumonia attack on December 14, 1799, at the age of 67. George was buried on his estate in a tomb. People from all over the world were mourning his death and even Napoleon ordered a 10-day mourning period in France. On December 18, there was an impressive funeral for George in Mount Vernon, Virginia.
All through the years, Washington has been ranked among the greatest and most influential U.S. presidents and he was the very first to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.