George Washington (February
22, 1732 - December 14,
1799) was the first
President under the
Constitution of the United
States of America and is Order: 1st President
recognized by Americans as Term of Office: April 30, 1789 - March 4, 1797
"The Father of our
Country." (The earliest Succeeded by: John Adams
known image in which
Washington is identified as Date of Birth February 22, 1732
such is on the cover of the
circa 1778 Pennsylvania Place of Birth: Westmoreland County, Virginia
German almanac, Lancaster: Date of Death: Saturday, December 14, 1799
Gedruckt bey Francis Place of Death: Mount Vernon, Virginia
Bailey. This identifies
Washington as "Landes First Lady: Martha Dandridge Custis
Vater" or Father of the Occupation: farmer, soldier
Land.) Dating back to the Political Party: no affiliation
Articles of Confederation,
Washington can be seen as Vice President: John Adams
the 11th American head of
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 his birth, he was born on
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 Shenandoah Valley
French and Indian War
Washington was commissioned in 1754 as an 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.
Following his military 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.
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 the Battle of Yorktown in 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, the Kingdom of Great
Britain recognized American independence. As a result, on November 2 of that
year at Rocky Hill, New Jersey General Washington gave his "Farewell Address
to the Army".
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
Events during Washington's administration
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
Washington's estate, Mount Vernon, is located in what is now a suburb of
Admirers of Washington circulated an apocryphal 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. See also George Washington's axe for an
elaboration of this story.
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 throughout 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.
At his time of death, Washington last held the rank of major general,
appointed by John Adams in anticipation of a possible war with France. Over
the years, many military officers outranked him. In 1976, President Gerald
Ford posthumously appointed George Washington as General of the Armies of
the United States, and specified that he would always outrank all officers
of the Army, past and present.
George Washington was argueably one of the few American Presidents who was
not a Christian. He professed a strong belief in God, but did not believe
that God intervened in the world through supernatural miracles. His informal
religion was Deism, although he was a lifelong member of the Episcopal
Washington was an early supporter of religious pluralism. In 1790 he wrote
that he envisioned a country "which gives bigotry no sanction...persecution
no assistance....May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this
land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants;
while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall
be none to make him afraid." This letter was seen by the Jewish community as
a significant event; they felt that for the first time in millennia Jews
would enjoy full human and political rights.
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
* U.S. presidential election, 1789
* U.S. presidential election, 1792
* Famous military commanders
* George Washington's farewell address
In recent years, a number of anti-Semitic groups have promulgated forged
quotes from George Washington and other founding fathers of the USA, with
the intention of inciting anti-Semitism. This subject is discussed in
Neo-Nazi Theory (American founding fathers).