George Washington Father of a Nation




George Washington: Father of a Nation

A desolate wind swept over the American encampment at Valley Forge. Freezing temperatures and blinding snow storms accompanied by heartbreaking defeats had taken their toll on these young freedom fighters. The cry for freedom could no longer be heard over hunger pains and the freezing wind. One lone figure could be seen walking through the camp trying to re-ignite that fire in his dwindling troops who were huddled together for warmth. We can only wonder what words of encouragement George Washington told his men to keep their hopes alive that long hard winter of 1778. Whatever they were, they held an army together and inspired a young nation to go on and defeat the greatest power in the world at that time. Is it any wonder why the United States capital, a State, and hundreds of small towns and counties across the country are named in honor of one of the greatest men in our nations history, George Washington.
Born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, George Washington began his life on the family estate along the Potomac River. When George was a young boy he loved going to the home of his half brother Lawrence, a house called Mount Vernon. Lawrence had named the house and its farm, Mount Vernon, after his commanding officer, Admiral Edward Vernon of the British Navy. After the death of his father when he was only 11, Washington moved to Mount Vernon where his brother acted like a second father. George was privileged to grow up in Virginia’s higher society and was able to attend school unlike many children of that day. His last two years in school were devoted to engineering, geometry, trigonometry, and surveying. At age sixteen, in 1748, he was appointed a public surveyor. According to one authority, he was "engaged to survey these wild territories for a doubloon a day, camping out for months in the forest, in peril from Indians and squatters." Actually it seems that the backwoodsmen and the Indians all liked him very much. Incidentally, his surveying knowledge came in handy much later when he was President.
When George was nineteen he was made a Major in charge of one of the military districts into which the colony of Virginia was divided from handling attacks on the frontier by French and Indians. This was the real beginning of the seven-year French and Indian War. Two years later he was sent on a mission to the French, to find out just what their intentions were and to warn them off. This meant six hundred miles alone through the wilderness. However, for a young fellow of his build, experience, and aptitudes this was all in the day\'s work and probably very enjoyable. In 1754 he commanded a regiment against the French, who had established themselves at Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh): but he was driven back by superior forces to Fort Necessity, the American stronghold, which he held as long as humanly possible before surrendering. Washington then accompanied General Braddock and led two regiments of volunteers against Fort Duquesne. In this campaign he received four bullet holes in his coat and had two horses shot under him. Perhaps he was being saved for another time. Even though Braddock was killed, Washington was able to lead the rest of the Virginia troops to defeat the French troops. For doing this, Washington was promoted to coronal and appointed commander and chief of the Virginia militia. Assured that the Virginia frontier was safe from French attack, Washington left the army in 1758 and returned to Mount Vernon to restore his estate which he inherited after his brothers death in 1752.

On January 6, 1759 Washington was married to Martha Dandridge Custis, widow of Daniel Parke Custis. She had two children from the marriage to Parke, John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis, both of whom Washington legally adopted in 1761. He settled down with his new family to begin what he though would be a peaceful life of farming. However, this was not to be, because a developing country would have many other plans in store for George Washington. In 1774 Washington was one of the seven delegates selected from Virginia to the First Continental Congress. Washington