George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Washington’s father died when he was eleven years old leaving most of his property to Washington’s half brother Lawrence. Lawrence took over the family’s Little Hunting Creek Plantation until his death in 1748, after which Washington took over the estates. Little Hunting Creek Plantation was later renamed Mount Vernon. After a few years in the farming industry, Washington grew his land to around 8,000 acres. Washington’s formal education ended when he was 15 and after that he became a surveyor in Virginia.
Washington joined the military shortly after Lawrence’s death. He was appointed a Major in the Virginia militia. In the fall of 1753, he was sent to deliver a message to the French during the French and Indian War. Eventually, Washington was given command of the entire Virginia military force and peace was finally returned to Virginia. At the end of the French and Indian War, Washington decided to resign his position and return to his home at Mount Vernon. Shortly after, he married Martha Dandridge Custis on January 6th, 1759. Martha had two children from a previous marriage, Patsy and Jacky. Patsy died as a teenager and Jacky died of camp fever when he was 27. Martha and George took in Jacky’s two children after his death. Martha also brought in more land when they got married, which made Washington a wealthy landowner in the state of Virginia.
After the French and Indian War, Washington used his time to focus on his house and his plantation. He built 5 farms on his plantation and he planted tobacco and wheat as cash crops. Along with his cash crops, he experimented with new crops and livestock breeding. He expanded the work on the plantation by including flour milling and commercial fishing. He moved into making whiskey and would eventually create one of the largest distilleries in America.
In March of 1775, Washington was called in again to provide service to our country when he was selected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress. Soon after he was appointed Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the colonial forces in the war against Great Britain. After many battles, Washington finally lead the Colonists to their independence and he resigned his position as Commander-in-Chief on December 23, 1783. Once again, Washington moved back home to Mount Vernon and went back to work on his farming.
In February of 1789 during the first U.S. presidential election, Washington was elected president after receiving every vote from the Electoral College. On April 30th of that same year Washington traveled across the Hudson River to New York, for the first U.S. Presidential inauguration. Surrounded by a large crowd of people cheering him on, Washington took the oath of office and became the first President of the United States of America. After he read his inaugural address to Congress inside the Federal Hall, the evening came to a close with 13 cannons and skyrockets.
In his first term as President, Washington’s primary goal was to organize the executive branch of the new government. He sought to create administrative procedures that he believed could withstand the test of time. He appointed Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury, Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, and Henry Knox as Secretary of War. Thomas Jefferson said “his integrity was most pure, his injustice the most flexible I have ever known. No notice of interest of consanguinity, friendship, or hatred, being able to bias his decision.” With the assistance of Alexander Hamilton, Washington was able to resolve some of America’s escalating debt from war, he created a peace treaty with the southeastern Indian tribes, and established the permanent capital of the US.
Washington reluctantly accepted his second term as President on the eve of the French Revolution, “[O]ne of Washington’s most important accomplishments was keeping the United States out of the war, giving the new nation an opportunity to grow in strength while establishing the principle of neutrality that shaped American foreign policy for more than a century.” In his farewell speech, he reiterated his beliefs on what it will take to continue to grow America.
After his second term was over, Washington and his wife returned to Mount Vernon. Shortly after on December 14, 1799 after falling ill, George Washington passed away. He was 67 years old. Three days later on December 18, 1799 a funeral was held for him at Mount Vernon. George Washington set the tone as the first President and to this day he is still an important part of the United States history. His legacy lives on in numerous ways including being a part of Mount Rushmore, American currency, the Washington Monument, and several others. Washington envisioned an America built with a solid foundation on strength and integrity.
The Purple Heart Foundation is committed to helping provide assistance to our members of the military, veterans, and Commander-in-Chief, in numerous ways. Nearly 90% of cash donations we receive provides funds for programs that help women, the National Service Officer Program, the Scholarship program, as well as other programs. It is our goal to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for our men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Show your support for them by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve by clicking here.