By: Daminika Stenersen
George Washington was the eldest child of Augustine “Gus” and Mary Washington. He was born on February 22, 1732, somewhere in Westmoreland Country, Virginia. (I am not certain to where the exact place is because almost every place I looked gave a different name for it.)
(The birth-day of Washington was the eleventh February, 1732, according to the dates used at the time, but, as in the year 1752, the English dates were altered to conform with those of the rest of Europe, the is that which is here given, twenty-second February, 1732; Life of Washington 1842)
Gus had four children by his first wife, who died, although the oldest died as an infant. Lawrence was George’s favorite brother, even though they were only half-brothers and Lawrence was fourteen years older. George had two other half-siblings; their names were Augustine Jr. “Austin” and Jane. Jane died at the age of twelve. Though I am not sure of the year, I think it was 1734, which would make George only two years old.
George had five full siblings, all though only four reached maturity, Elizabeth “Betty”, Samuel, John “Jack”, and Charles, Mildred died around the age of one.
We do not know much about the early life of George Washington, though we do know that when he was three his family moved to what was later known as Mount Vernon. It was Lawrence who renamed this house; it was after his commanding officer, Admiral Edward Vernon.
When he was six they moved again to a plantation called Ferry Farm on the Rappahannock River, near Fredericksburg. It was here he spent most of his boyhood.
When George was about ten years old his father died and he was left the care of his mother. With his father gone his mother became very protective of he firstborn, this bothered George some, so he spent most his time at Mount Vernon with Lawrence.
As a child George was a lover of the truth, the children at school knew that they would be believed if they could say, “George Washington says it is so.”
If any of the schoolchildren were to disagree on something George was called on to tell who was right, and his decisions were always believed.
Mary Washington had a very fine colt, which she favored very much. Even though it was old enough for use, it had never been ridden. No one would try to break its wild spirit. George told his young companions that he wanted their help to get the colt so he could break it. Early in the morning they toke the wild colt and after great difficulty they got the bridle on him. When George jumped onto his back he bucked and ran over the open fields that they had brought him to. He tried to throw George, but he refused to let him.
The colt would not give up; he ran faster until it broke a large blood vessel and instantly died. Though George was not hurt he was very upset. His friends ran to him and when they saw that the colt was dead, they wanted to know who would tell his mother.
Mrs. Washington called them to breakfast; after they were all seated she asked, “Well, young gentlemen, have you seen my fine sorrel colt in your rambles?” When none answered she asked again, this time George said, “Your sorrel colt is dead, Mother.”
Mrs. Washington’s cheek turned red with anger, but was soon gone was George told her all that had happened. She said calmly, “While I regret the loss of my favorite, I rejoice in my son, who always speaks the truth.”
At the age of fifteen George had a plan to join the British Navy, but he had to give up his plan, because his protective mother did not wish him to go. If he had gone despite his mothers wishes, it would most likely not have been possible that he became known as “The Father of his Country”. He then began to study his father’s old surveying equipment, it is believed that he did his first survey at the age of fifteen, surveying Lawrence’s turnip field.
When George was sixteen he was asked to join a surveying party that was going to the Shenandoah Valley to survey for Lord Thomas Fairfax, to his surprise his mother agreed to let him go. It was at this time that George began to keep a dairy.
By the time George was seventeen he was appointed the job of being the surveyor for Culpeper County.
However, George’s new duties were soon interrupted in 1751; Lawrence Washington had tuberculosis and had to take a trip to Barbados to a warmer climate. George went with him, but George soon caught smallpox and almost died. George survived but in 1752, when George was twenty, his beloved big brother, Lawrence, died. George was now owner of Mount Vernon, but was without a father figure.
When George was around twenty (I am unsure his exact age) he was appointed a district adjutant with the rank of major.
During this time the French had large settlements in Canada and Louisiana, they wanted connect the settlements with a line if forts. When they did this they took possession of land that was considered part of Virginia. When the governor of Virginia, Mr. Dinwiddie, heard of this he thought it his duty to do something about it. Therefore, he asked twenty-one-year-old George Washington to bring the French commander a letter asking him to abandon the fort. (Life of Washington says that he was asked, but every other book that I read says he volunteered.)
George left that very day (October 31, 1753) and traveled with speed until he came to a settlement. There he got a guide to show him the way over the Alleghany Mountain, which, at that time of the year, was very difficult to cross.
Waters were high, and snow was deep, but George Washington arrived at Turtles creek just the same. There he was told by an Indian trader that the French commanded had died just a short time before and that the French troops had gone into winter quarters.
He went on, not neglecting the opportunity to examine the countryside around him trying to find the best spots to build forts to protect the province.
Since the waters were impossible to cross without swimming the horses, he got a canoe to take the baggage to the fork of the Ohio River; he was intending to cross the river there.
He wrote in his journal, “As I got down before the canoe, I spent some time in viewing the rivers and the land in the fork which I think extremely well suited to a fort, as it has the absolute command of both rivers. The land at the point is twenty or twenty-five feet above the common surface.” (Life of Washington)
The spot that he described was soon afterwards the site of the French fort Duquesne. It was called fort Pitt by the English. It was from this name that Pittsburg was taken, which was built near the fort and is now a city.
He stayed in that spot for a few days trying to get the Indians there to be friendly with the English. He got his friends among the Indians and also got guides to bring him by the shortest way to the fort, where he expected to find the French officer, because the commander was dead.
He got there safely, and when he got a reply he began his journey back immediately. The journey was very dangerous and toilsome.
(Some extracts from his journal, which he kept with exactness, will show his disregard of self, when he was performing a duty for the benefit of others; Life of Washington)
George put on an Indian waking dress and used his horse for carrying the supplies. It being winter it soon became extremely cold and the snow froze. Soon the horse could no longer travel. Him and his companion, Mr. Gist traveled by foot, through the woods. After being shot at by an Indian, George Washington and Mr. Gist walked all night, not wanting the Indian party to catch up with them. After a few days of walking they came to the river. They had expected the river to be frozen over, but found that the ice had been broken up. The only way over was by a raft, which they started to make right away. It took almost the entire day. When it was finished they set out to cross this icy river.
The raft was soon stuck and they thought that the raft would sink, killing the both of them, any minute. George took his pole and stuck it into the icy water, hoping to stop the raft so the ice could pass them by. However, George was thrown into the icy river by the strength of the river. George Washington could have died that day, but God knew that he still had things to do on this earth and saved him from the river. He was able to grab a hold of the raft and pull him self back to safety. However, he was drenched to the bone, and Mr. Gist’s own fingers frostbitten. When they came to an island they set about to find a way to stay warm for the night. They somehow managed to do so, and come morning the river was completely frozen and all they had to do was walk across to the other side.
When George made it safely back to Mr. Dinwiddie, he was unable to tell the governor the good news he had hoped for. The French did not heed their warning and was preparing for war.
The governor was so pleased with how George Washington never gave up he appointed him as a lieutenant colonel of the regiment that was to go back out into the wilderness to prevent the French from taking the Ohio River. George was twenty-two-years-old. He led his troops into the Ohio Country; it was here that he told his troops to build a fort, which they named Fort Necessity. Here they were ambushed by French and Indians. George was forced to surrender, but soon after the king of England sent out Major General Edward Braddock to help with fighting the French and their allies. However, General Braddock was not much help to George for he refused to listen to George when he told him not to march his troops by the road, in plain sight of the enemy. It was because of this that when they reached the French Fort they were ambushed by a large force of French and Indians. General Braddock was killed along with more than nine-hundred British troops. Washington took charge after Braddock’s death. Two horses were shot out from under him and he had four bullet holes in his coat, but George Washington, once again, escaped from danger unharmed. …Even the Indians own a divine power in his preservation; and the physician, who was on the battle ground, in speaking of him afterwards, said, “I expected every moment to see him fall;-- his duty, his situation, exposed him to every danger; nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him from the fate of all around him.” (Life of Washington)
George Washington went on to be a colonel with all of Virginia’s military forces under his command. By this time George was only twenty-three. So you get the picture, George Washington was very young and he was already being prepared to take command of all of the American troops in the Revolutionary War.
I would tell you even more of what George Washington did if I could, but I cannot; he did so much! Because of this, I am going to skip most of The French and Indian War.
When George was twenty-six years old, he returned home after the war, wanting to settle down. He met Martha Dandridge Custis at a party. At this time Martha was still had a husband, Daniel Parke Custis. However, Mr. Custis soon took ill and died. George Washington again seen Martha Custis at a friend’s house when he was asked to dine with them. They were married on January 6, 1759, when George was not yet twenty-seven.
Martha, who George called “Patsy”, had two children, Jacky and Patsy. George loved them as if they were his own. He lived with his family at Mount Vernon for several years. They were a very happy family, then, in 1773, Patsy died.
War was once again threatening the life of the Americans, taxes were being thrown upon the Americans by the English parliament, they said it was for the reason to pay the expenses of the war against the French. Because it was the Americans young men who had gave their lives in the war and they were not allowed to send anyone to parliament to represent them, the Americans found this taxing unfair.
Soon British troops were sent out into America and the shot heard around the world was sounded, they were at war with England. They needed an army, an army with a commander-in-chief they could trust, all eyes turned to George Washington.
The date was June 15, 1775 when Congress decided, George Washington was to be asked to be the commander-in-chief of the American Army. When George heard this he modestly replied, “Mr. President, Though I am truly sensible of the honor done me in this appointment, yet I feel great distress, from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important trust; however, as the Congress desire it, I will enter upon the momentous duty, and exert every power I posses in their service, and for the support of the glorious cause. I beg they will accept my most cordial thanks for this distinguished testimony of their approbation.
“But last some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room, that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.
“As to pay, sir, I beg leave to assure Congress that as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to accept arduous employment, at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish any profit from it. I will keep an exact account of my expenses. Those I doubt not they will discharge, and that is all I desire.” (Life of Washington)
George Washington gave up his peaceful life at home to do what he knew was right. The war was a stressful one, for everyone, but especially George Washington. How would you feel if the weight of the whole country lay in your hands? He did not want to let them down. Martha Washington, too, shared his pain. She traveled with him as much as she could. George Washington never forgot to pray for help to know what to do. And with the help of the Lord, he made it through the war. October 19, 1781, after 6 long years of war, Cornwallis surrendered to Washington. The joy that day must have been great. We won the war, I believe it would not have been possible without George Washington.
Before leaving for home, George Washington visited his mother who was in Yorktown. George then went home, where Martha waited.
November 1781, Jacky Custis, step-son of George Washington, died of camp-fever, leaving a wife and four children. Martha Washington was heartbroken, but both George and Martha knew they could not let their grief get in the way of the country’s joy. Traveling around, the country had the opportunity to thank the great General Washington, the praise that was received, George never let go to his head.
On December 23, 1783, George resigned as commander-in-chief, in doing so he rose and spoke to the president of Congress, General Mifflin, saying, “I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the union and the patronage of heaven. The successful termination of the war has verified the most expectation; and my gravitated for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest. *** I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them to his holy keeping. Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.” (Life of Washington)
He then left, hoping to go home and live in retirement for the rest of his life. But his country once again needed him. America being it’s own country and no longer under the English government they had the difficult task of making our own government. All states, but Rhode Island, agreed to choose a person to send to a convention to do so. Virginia chose George Washington as first on their list to go.
In May 1787, the convention met and it was decided that George Washington was to be president of the Untied States of America. After this decision was made, they set about writing the Constitution. In writing this, they discovered that many members of the convention could not agree to some parts. Soon it looked like they would never come up with any thing that would please the whole country. Dr. Benjamin Franklin, in attempt to make peace, proposed to take a break for three days, this way they would have time to seriously think about this subject. He concluded his speech to the following effect:--
“The small progress we have made, after four or five weeks close attendance and continued reasoning with each other, our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes and ayes, is, methinks, a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We, indeed, seem to feel our want of political wisdom, since we have been running all about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics which, having been originally formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist: and we have viewed modern states all round Europe, but to our circumstances.
“In this situation of this assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarcely able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Light to illuminate our understandings?-- In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard;-- and they were graciously answered. All of us, who were engaged in the struggle, must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future and national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?-- we have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believed this; and I also believe, that without his concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: we shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and by-word down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest. I therefore beg leave to move,
“ That henceforth prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be made in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business; and that one or more of the clergy of his city be requested to officiate in that service.” (Life of Washington)
While only one member opposed to Dr. Franklin’s idea, George Washington looked upon him with surprise, but nobody seemed to care about how George felt towards this man.
On September 17, 1787 the Constitution was signed by delegates from twelve sates. Soon they announced it to the county and all the people agreed that George Washington was the only man worthy to be their president. On April 14, 1789, Congress told George Washington about the country electing him, and he accepted seeing as how it was the call of his countrymen.
He went and told his mother about how the country had elected him and tried to convince her to move to Mount Vernon, but she would not. When George was leaving her he said, “As soon as the weight of public business, which must necessarily attend the outset of, I shall return to Virginia, and--”
“You will see me no more, said his mother, interrupting him, “My great age warns me, that I shall not be long in this world,--I trust in God that I may be somewhat prepared for a better. Go, George, go my son! And perform your duties, and may the blessing of God, and that of a mother, be with you always.” She cast her arms around his neck, and resting his head on the shoulder of his aged parent, the truly great man shed tears of filial tenderness. (Life of Washington)
George Washington left her then, with a sad feeling that he would not see her again. It wasn’t long after when Mary Washington died at the age of eighty-five.
It was the middle of April when George left Mount Vernon for the capital, which at that time was New York, leaving private life behind. On the road he was met by neighbors and citizens of Alexandria to take him to the place where he was invited to dine. He went on with his journey, which he had hoped would be private, but he soon discovered that each town he passed through had plans of thanks for things he had done and things they believed he would do. By the time he made it to New York he was very tired of the noise.
April 30, 1789 was the date that was picked for him to take the oath to become the president. When R. R. Livingston, Chancellor of New York, announced that George Washington was President of the United States, all the thousands of people who were gathered there let out a shout of joy. George then went into the senate chamber and addressed the senate and House of Representatives. I would tell you what he said to them, but I am trying to make the rest of this report short, but you can read it on page 222 in “Life of Washington”.
Again I am going to skip over some of George Washington’s life, it being so long. We all know that he was the President for eight years. The country wanted him for more, but he was tired and declared that a President of the United States could only serve for two terms of four years.
After being President, George Washington finally went home for good. Something that he had wanted to do since The French and Indian War. At home at Mount Vernon, George lived as a private citizen, for three years.
On December 14, 1799, Martha Washington woke up and found that her husband had become sick and was finding it hard to breath. She immediately sent for the doctor. Before Dr. Plask arrived another man, Mr. Rawlins, came and was getting ready to bleed him. When George saw what he was about to do he said, though it was very hard, “Don’t’ be afraid.” Martha wasn’t sure if bleeding was the thing to do and asked if they could stop it. But when they went to do that, George stopped them and said, “More”. After one pint of blood was taken out they stopped it. They tried every thing they could, but at 11:30 p.m. his throat closed off and George Washington died. The whole country was devastated.
I feel bad for George Washington, you hear now that he was so hungry for fame he would’ve done anything to get it. But the truth is he never wanted to be famous, all he ever wanted to do was live a peaceful life at home with Martha and have children. He never got either.
I admire him for doing what he thought was right even though he didn’t want to. You hear so many lies about him, and I get so mad, but I also wonder how could anyone believe that what they say is true? It’s so clear to me that George Washington was a Christian. I do believe that George Washington was the greatest President we ever had.
Sorry that I haven't been posting, much. I just haven't become comfortable with this blog yet. But I'm trying.