George Washington



Steven Sims
Social Studies 8-6
4/5/99


Born February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland County, he was the first son of
his father Augustine\'s second marriage; his mother was the former Mary
Ball of Epping Forest. When George was about three, his family moved to
Little Hunting Creek on the Potomac, then to Ferry Farm opposite
Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock in King George County.

In the interim, the powerful Fairfax family of neighboring Belvoir
introduced him to the accomplishments and appropriateness of mannered wealth
and, in 1748, provided him his first adventure. That year Lord Fairfax
dispatched him with a party that spent a month surveying Fairfax lands
in the still-wild Shenandoah. In the expedition, he began to appreciate
the uses and value of land, an appreciation that grew the following year
with his appointment as Culpeper County surveyor, certified by the
College of William and Mary.

Washington also succeeded to Lawrence\'s militia office. Governor Robert
Dinwiddie first appointed him adjutant for the southern district of the
colony\'s militia, but soon conferred on him Lawrence\'s aide for
the Northern Neck and Eastern Shore. So it happened that in 1753 the
governor sent 21-year-old Washington to warn French troops at Fort
Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio (modern Pittsburgh) that they were
infiltrating in territory claimed by Virginia.

The French ignored the warning and the mission failed, but when
Washington returned Dinwiddie had Williamsburg printer William Hunter
publish his official report as The Journal of Major George Washington.
It made the young officer well-known at home and abroad.

Returning to the Ohio in April with 150 men to remove the intruders,
Washington got his first taste of war in a fight with a French
scouting party. He wrote to his brother Jack, "I heard the bullets
whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound."

A second engagement quickly followed and Washington, retreating to Fort
Necessity, was beaten by a more numerous French force. He surrendered
and, in his ignorance of French, signed an embarrassing surrender
agreement. But he had opportunities to correct his defeat. The whistling
bullets declared the start of the Seven Years\' War, as it was called in
Europe. In America it was called the French and Indian War or,
sometimes, Virginia\'s War. Horace Walpole wrote, "The volley fired by a
young Virginian in the backwoods of America set the world on fire."

Washington returned to the field as an aide to General Braddock in 1755
and performed with honor, despite crippling illness, in the
disastrous campaign against Fort Duquesne. Later that year Dinwiddie
gave him command of all Virginia forces and promoted him to colonel.

In these years Washington had two disputes with English officers who
viewed their regular-army commissions as superior to that of the
Virginia militia commander. These disputes may mark the beginning of
Washington\'s resentment of British attitudes toward the colonies.
Operating from a fort at Winchester, Washington protected the Virginia frontier until 1758 when he was made a militia brigadier and helped to
chase the French from Fort Duquesne for good.

Washington resigned at war\'s end and retired to Mount Vernon. He was
defeated in elections for the House of Burgesses in 1755 and 1757, but
won in 1758 and was seated the following year from Frederick County. For
15 years he devoted himself to his legislative work and his farm. During
this period, he also became a family man, marrying the widow Martha
Dandridge Custis, the mother of two children, on January 6, 1759, in New
Kent County.

In 1760, Washington took on the additional duties of a Fairfax County
justice of the peace. He also found time for the amusements of a
Virginia gentleman--fox hunting, snuff taking, plays, billiards, cards,
dancing, and fishing. He delighted in bottles of Madeira, plates of
watermelon, and dishes of oysters.

In these years his anger of the inferiority of American interests
to those of England grew. When Parliament attempted to impose the Stamp
Act in 1769, Washington told an friend that Parliament "hath no
more right to put their hands into my pocket, without my consent, than I
have to put my hands into yours for money."

By 1774 he was in the lead of the defense of Virginia liberties and
was among the rebellious burgesses who gathered at the