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George Washington

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Born in Westmoreland County, Va., on Feb. 22, 1732. George Washington of six children of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington. At the age of 16, he lived there and at other plantations along the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers, including the river later to be known as Mount Vernon. His education was simple, as surveying, mathematics, and "rules of civility." After he lost his father in 1743 at the age of eleven. He was soon sent to live with his half brother Lawrence, who had served in the Royal Navy. Who soon became something as a substitute father for George. Since Lawrence had married into the Fairfax family, influential and well-known Virginians who helped launch George's career. But his mother discouraged the Fairfax family from doing so.

Even though George was interested in a naval career. Instead George joined a surveying party sent out to the Shenandoah Valley by Lord Fairfax, a land baron. For the next few years, George conducted surveys in Virginia and present West Virginia and gained a lifetime interest in the West. In 1751-52 he also accompanied Lawrence on a visit he made to Barbados, West Indies, in an effort to cure Lawrence of tuberculosis, but Lawrence died in 1752. George in the end inherited the Mount Vernon estate.

The next year, Washington began his military career when the royal governor appointed him to an adjutant ship in the militia, as a major. That same year, the growing rivalry between the British and French over control of the Ohio Valley, soon to erupt into the French and Indian War (1754-63). Which created new opportunities for the young determined Washington. In 1754, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel and then colonel in the militia, Washington led a group that sought to challenge French control of the Ohio River Valley, but met defeat at Fort Necessity, PA. In April 1754, on his way to set up a post at the Forks of the Ohio (which is now Pittsburgh). Washington learned that the French had already set up a fort there. Warned that the French were advancing, he quickly set up fortifications at Great Meadows, Pa., fittingly naming the entrenchment Fort Necessity, and marched to intercept advancing French troops. In the resulting battle the French commander the sieur de Jumonville was killed and most of his men were captured. Washington pulled his small army back into Fort Necessity. Where he was surprised by a battle fought by the French all day, in the rain. Surrounded by enemy troops, exhausted, ammunition useless and food supply low. Washington surrendered. Under the terms of the surrender signed that day, he was allowed to march his troops back to Williamsburg, in embarrassment.

Depressed by his defeat and angered by discrimination between British and colonial officers in pay and rank. Washington resigned his commission at the end of 1754. The next year, he volunteered to join British general Edward Braddock's expedition against the French. When Braddock was ambushed by the Indians and French on the Monongahela River, Washington, though ill, tried to gather the Virginia troops. Washington's own military reputation was enhanced, and in 1755, at the age of 23, Washington was promoted to colonel and appointed commander in chief of the Virginia militia, with responsibility for defending the frontier. Assured that the Virginia frontier was safe from French attack, Washington left the army in 1758.

Washington entered politics, serving (1759-74) in Virginia's House of Burgesses. In January 1759 he married Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy and attractive young widow with two small children. After 1769, Washington became a leader in Virginia's resistance to Great Britain's colonial policies. At first he hoped for reconciliation with Britain, although some British policies had touched him personally. Prejudice against colonial military officers had rankled extremely, and British land policies and restrictions on western expansion after 1763 had seriously delayed his plans for western land conjecture. A delegate (1774-75) to the First and Second Continental Congress, Washington did not participate dynamically in the negotiations,



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