By: Gary J Verdes
George Washington was the fifth of Augustine Washington’s ten children, who was a Planter and was part owner and director of an iron mine.
Washington never attended any school or college, he was educated as a child by his father and brother, and also self-educated as he became an adult. Washington was a “Low Church” Anglican, the branch of the Anglican Church that took the Bible literally and would be considered “true” to the Bible by evangelical Christians today. Married Martha Dandridge Custis on January 6, 1759, she was a widow; they were both 27 years old. George and Martha never had any children together, George had bouts with both smallpox and tuberculosis earlier in life and these may have left him unable to have children. In spite of their inability to have their own children, George and Martha raised two children from her first marriage: John Parke Custis known as “Jackie” and Martha Parke known as “Patsy”. John Parke Custis served as an aide to Washington at the Battle of Yorktown, he contracted camp fever and died on November 5, 1781, after this, George and Martha Washington raised John’s two children: Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis. Washington’s first involvement in the resistance against Great Britain was in 1769 when he introduced a bill in the House of Burgesses calling for a boycott of all British goods, the bill was written by George Mason, the boycott was in response to the Townsend Acts, a set of laws created by Parliament that taxed imports to the American colonies, the colonists believed the acts were illegal and violated their rights as British citizens. The Second Continental Congress formed the Continental Army and made George Washington a general. He started training his 14,000 men. On April 19, 1775, war broke out between the colonies and Great Britain. This was the Battle of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. Washington took his men across the Delaware River, but the Redcoats couldn’t cross it because they didn’t have boats. General Washington thought his army should fight defensively, meaning not fighting unless they had to, but he saw a perfect chance to attack the British. On Christmas Eve, they attacked the Redcoats’ camp at Trenton. Washington’s men really trusted him. Once in the middle of a battle, Washington rode out on his horse and waved his hat at his men. This made them fight harder. The Americans won battles because they were fighting on their own soil for their own country, and they were Patriots who would never give up. During the terrible winter at Valley Forge, Martha Washington came to help the soldiers that were sick. They went without food for weeks but the soldiers held up till the food came. France wanted to help the Americans win, so they sent ships, soldiers, weapons and money. Benjamin Franklin had convinced France to join the American side in the spring of 1778. By October, 1781, the colonists were ready to trap the Redcoats. They circled around the city of Yorktown, Virginia, where the huge British army was located, attacked them and won the Battle of Yorktown. This ended the major Revolutionary War fighting. The Peace Treaty of Paris was signed on Sept. 3, 1783.
Following the Revolutionary War Washington returned to work with his plantation – Mount Vernon. In 1787 there was a call for a constitutional convention to meet in Philadelphia and write a constitution for the United States. 56 persons were asked to meet for this purpose; one of the men selected from Virginia was George Washington. Washington in every way, shape, and form was a leader. His very presence was extraordinary even to all of the leaders of all the states. He was appointed president of the constitutional convention. When the Constitution was completed Washington was selected as the first President of the United States. He served two terms (1789 to 1797). Washington did not belong to a political party he was against parties because he thought they created too much division, he was considered to be the informal figurehead of the Federalist Party. Washington was not elected by the people. He was appointed by the signers of the Constitution of the United States. They were unanimous in their choice. Washington is often revered for his retiring from public service and going back to private life, rather than seeking to extend his power as many monarchs did, thought to be very shy and reserved, was believed to be very humble, not even wanting positions of power, turned down a $25,000 salary (an enormous amount of money at the time), known for his motto “Deeds, not words,” not concerned about leaving a “legacy”. December 14, 1799 at age 67, Washington became ill after spending all day December 12 on horseback in snow and freezing rain, he awoke the next day with a cold, fever and throat infection, these turned into pneumonia and possibly laryngitis, Washington apparently died of asphyxiation as a result of all these complications.
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796