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George Washington

A Brief History of the Nation's First President
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George Washington (February 22, 1732 - December 14, 1799) was the first (1789-1797) President of the United States of America and is recognized by Americans as "The Father of His Country." (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" or Father of the Land.) 
George Washington
George Washington
Order: 1st President
Term of Office: April 30, 1789 - March 4, 1797
Succeeded by: John Adams
Date of Birth February 22, 1732
(Gregorian Calendar)
Place of Birth: Westmoreland County, Virginia
Date of Death: Saturday, December 14, 1799
Place of Death: Mount Vernon, Virginia
First Lady: Martha Dandridge Custis
Occupation: farmer, soldier
Political Party: no affiliation
Vice President: John Adams
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  • George Washington's birthday is celebrated on February 22 using the Gregorian Calendar, but under the Julian Calendar, which was in use throughout Britain and its colonies at the time of this birth, he was born on February 11. 


    Washington was part of the economic and cultural elite of the slave owning planters of Virginia. His parents Augustine Washington (1693 - April 12, 1743) and Mary Ball (1708 - August 25, 1789) were of English descent.As a youth, he was trained as a surveyor and helped survey the Shenadoah valley in Virginia. 

    French and Indian War 

    Washington was commissioned in 1754 as a Colonel in the Virginia Militia and built a series of Forts in the western frontier of Virginia. He accompanied the Braddock Expedition of the British Army during the French and Indian War. During the battle of the Wilderness near the Monongahela 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. 

    Between wars 

    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. 

    American Revolution 

    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. 

    Postwar activities 

    After the war, he presided over the American Constitutional Convention in 1787. He was elected President on February 4, 1789 and 1792. Washington remains the only president unanimously elected by the Electoral College. 

    His election as president was a disappointment to his wife, the first First Lady, who wanted to continue living in quiet retirement at Mount Vernon after the war. Nevertheless, she quickly assumed the role of hostess, opening her parlor and organizing weekly dinner parties for as many dignitaries as could fit around the presidential table. 

    Washington held the first Cabinet meeting of any US President on February 25, 1793. 

    Events during Washington's administration 

    Citizen Genet 

    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. The event has gone down in history as the "Whiskey Rebellion". 

    Personal information 

    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 had been rector of the Mount Vernon parish.

    In 1790 Washington sent a letter to the Jewish community in Rhode Island. He wrote that he envisioned a country "which gives bigotry no sanction ... persecution no assistance". For the first time in history, Jews lived in a country where they enjoyed full and equal human and political rights - as a birthright of citizenship ([1]). 

    In recent years Washington's image has been unfairly tarnished by anti-Semites who attempt to use his name to further their goals. Many anti-Semitic Arab and Neo-Nazi books, journals and websites offer forged "quotes" supposedly by America's founding fathers, especially George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. These supposed quotes have been debunked as forgeries by historians. 

    Example of an Anti-Semitic website pushing fraudulent quotes from America's founding fathers

    Egyptian government sponsored press spreads Anti-Semitic forgeries about Washington and Franklin

    Urban Legends website debunks the anti-Semitic Washington quote forgery

    Because of Washington's involvement in Freemasonry, some publicly visible collections of Washington memorabilia are maintained by Masonic lodges. The museum at Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York City includes specimens of Washington's false teeth. 

    George Washington was plagued thoughout his adult life with bad teeth, losing about 1 tooth a year from the age of 24. In his later years he consulted a number of dentists and had a number of sets of false teeth, (but none of wood). For a more or less definitive chronicle of his struggles see George Washington's Teeth, Madeleine Comora and Deborah Chandra, illustrated by: Brock Cole, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003, hardcover, ISBN 0374325340. 

    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. 

    Numerous ships of United States Navy have been named USS George Washington in honor of the man, or USS Washington in honor of the state named in honor of the man. 

    His image is on the one dollar bill and the quarter-dollar coin. 

    Places named for George Washington 

    • Washington County, Alabama
    • Washington County, Florida
    • Washington County, Indiana
    • Washington County, Maryland
    • Washington County, New York
    • Washington County, Oregon
    • Washington County, Utah

    Supreme Court appointments 

    • John Jay - Chief Justice - 1789
    • John Rutledge - Chief Justice - 1795
    • Oliver Ellsworth - Chief Justice - 1796
    • James Wilson - 1789
    • John Rutledge - 1790
    • William Cushing - 1790
    • John Blair - 1790
    • James Iredell - 1790
    • Thomas Johnson - 1792
    • William Paterson - 1793
    • Samuel Chase - 1796

    Related articles 

    External links 


    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license. See for details. It uses material from the Wikipedia article George_Washington

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