George Washington


George Washington


Executed: Gadjimagomedova H.

Examined: Akhmedova Z.G.

Makhachkala 2001


1. Introduction

2. Early Career

3. French and Indian War

4. Life at Mount Vernon

5. Early Political Activity

6. The American Revolution

7. Washington Takes Command

8. Washington Takes Command

9. The Military Campaigns

10. Political Leadership During the War

11. The Confederation Years

12. The Presidency

13. The Executive Departments

14. The Federalist Program

15. The Judiciary System

16. The Western Frontier

17. The British and French

18. Washington Steps Down

19. Last Years

George Washington (1732-1799) first PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. When Washington retired from public life in 1797 his homeland was vastly different from what it had been when he entered public service in 1749. To each of the principal changes he had made an outstanding contribution. Largely because of his leadership the Thirteen Colonies had become the United States a sovereign independent nation.

As commander in chief during the American Revolution he built a large army held it together kept it in a maneuverable condition and prevented it from being destroyed by a crushing defeat. By keeping the army close to the main force of the British he prevented them from sending raiding parties into the interior. The British did not risk such forays because of their belief that their remaining forces might be overwhelmed. The British evacuation of Boston in 1776 under Washington's siege gave security to nearly all New England.

Drawing from his knowledge of the American people and of the way they lived and fought Washington took advantage of British methods of fighting that were not suited to a semiprimitive environment. He alternated between daring surprise attacks and the patient performance of routine duties. Washington's operations on land alone could not have overcome the British for their superior navy enabled them to move troops almost at will. A timely use of the French fleet contributed to his crowning victory at Yorktown in 1781.

After the war Washington took a leading part in the making of the CONSTITUTION and the campaign for its ratification. Its success was assured by 1797 at the end of the second term of his presidency. In 1799 the country included nearly all its present-day territory between the Atlantic coast and the Mississippi River.

President Washington acted with CONGRESS to establish the first great executive departments and to lay the foundations of the modern federal judiciary. He directed the creation of a diplomatic service. Three presidential and five congressional elections carried the new government under the Constitution through its initial trials.

A national army and navy came into being and Washington acted with vigor to provide land titles security and trade outlets for pioneers of the trans-Allegheny West. His policy procured adequate revenue for the national government and supplied the country with a sound currency a well-supported public credit and an efficient network of national banks. Manufacturing and shipping received aid for continuing growth.

In the conduct of public affairs Washington originated many practices that have survived. He withheld confidential diplomatic documents from the House of Representatives and made treaties without discussing them in the Senate chamber. Above all he conferred on the presidency a prestige so great that political leaders afterward esteemed it the highest distinction to occupy the chair he had honored.

Most of the work that engaged Washington had to be achieved through people. He found that success depended on their cooperation and that they would do best if they had faith in causes and leaders. To gain and hold their approval were among his foremost objectives. He thought of people in the main as right-minded and dependable and he believed that a leader should make the best of their good qualities.

As a Virginian Washington belonged to attended and served as warden of the established (Anglican) church. But he did not participate in communion nor did he adhere to a sectarian creed. He frequently expressed a faith in Divine Providence and a belief that religion is needed to sustain morality in society. As a national leader he upheld the right of every sect to freedom of worship and equality before the law condemning all forms of bigotry intolerance discrimination and persecution.

Throughout his public life Washington contended with obstacles and difficulties. His courage and resolution steadied him in danger and defeat steeled his will. His devotion to his country and his faith in its cause sustained him. Averse to harsh measures he was generous in victory. "His integrity " wrote Thomas JEFFERSON "was the most pure his justice the most inflexible I have ever known. He was indeed in every sense of the word a wise a good and a great man."

Early Career

George Washington was born in Westmoreland county Va. on a farm later known as Wakefield on Feb. 11 1731 Old Style (Feb. 22 1732 New Style). His first American ancestor John Washington came to Virginia from England in 1657. This immigrant's descendants remained in the colony and gained a respected place in society. Farming land buying trading milling and the iron industry were means by which the family rose in the world. George's father Augustine had four children by his first wife and six by his second wife Mary Ball George's mother. From 1727 to 1735 Augustine lived at Wakefield on the Potomac River between Popes Creek and Bridges Creek about 50 miles (80 km) inland and close to the frontier.

Of George's early life little is known. His formal education was slight. He soon revealed a skill in mathematics and surveying so marked as to suggest a gift for practical affairs akin to youthful genius in the arts. Men plantation life and the haunts of river field and forest were his principal teachers. From 1735 to 1738 Augustine lived at "Little Hunting Creek" (later Mount Vernon). In 1738 he moved to Ferry Farm opposite Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River. Augustine died when George was 11 leaving several farms. Lawrence George's half brother inherited Mount Vernon where he built the central part of the now famous mansion. Another half brother Augustine received Wakefield. Ferry Farm went to George's mother and it would pass to George after her death.

These farms bounded the world George knew as a boy. He lived and visited at each. Ambitious to gain wealth and eminence mainly by acquiring land he was obliged to depend chiefly on his own efforts. His mother once thought of a career for him in the British Navy but was evidently deterred by a report from her brother in England that an obscure colonial youth could not expect more at Britain's hands than a job as a common sailor. George's youthful model was Lawrence a cultivated gentleman whom he accompanied on a trip to Barbados West Indies in 1751. Here George was stricken with smallpox which left lasting marks on his face.

When but 15 George was competent as a field surveyor. In 1748 he went as an assistant on a surveying party sent to the Shenandoah Valley by Thomas 6th Baron Fairfax a neighbor of Lawrence and owner of vast tracts of land in northern Virginia. A year later George secured a commission as surveyor of Culpeper county. In 1752 he became the manager of a sizable estate when he inherited Mount Vernon on the death of Lawrence.

George's early experiences had taught him the ways of living in the wilderness had deepened his appreciation of the natural beauty of Virginia had fostered his interest in the Great West and had afforded opportunities for acquiring land. The days of his youth had revealed a striving nature. Strength and vigor heightened his enjoyment of activities out of doors. Quick to profit by mistakes he was otherwise deliberate in thought. Not a fluent talker he aspired to gain practical knowledge to acquire agreeable manners and to excel in his undertakings.

French and Indian War

In the early 1750's Britain and France both strove to occupy the upper Ohio Valley. The French erected Fort Le Boeuf at Waterford Pa. and seized a British post Venango on the Allegheny River. Alarmed by these acts Virginia's governor Robert Dinwiddie sent Washington late in 1753 on a mission to assert Britain's claim. He led a small party to Fort Le Boeuf where its commander stated France's determination to possess the disputed area. Returning to Williamsburg Washington delivered the defiant reply. He also wrote a report which told a vivid winter's tale of wilderness adventure that enhanced his reputation for resourcefulness and daring.

Dinwiddie then put Washington in command of an expedition to guard an intended British fort at the forks of the Ohio at the present site of Pittsburgh. En route he learned that the French had expelled the Virginia fort builders and were completing the works which they named Fort Duquesne. He advanced to Great Meadows Pa. about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of the fort where he erected Fort Necessity. On May 28 1754 occurred one of the most disputed incidents of his career. He ambushed a small French detachment the commander of which Joseph Coulon de Villiers sieur de Jumonville was killed along with nine of his men. The others were captured. This incident started the French and Indian War. The French claimed that their detachment was on a peaceful mission; Washington thought that it was engaged in spying. He returned to Fort Necessity which a large French force attacked on July 3. It fell after a day's fighting. In making the surrender Washington signed a paper that imputed to him the blame for "l'assassinat" (murder) of Jumonville. Not versed in French Washington later explained that he had not understood the meaning of the incriminating word.

By the terms of the surrender he and his men were permitted to return disarmed to the Virginia settlements. The news of his defeat moved Britain to send to Virginia an expedition under Gen. Edward Braddock whom Washington joined as a voluntary aide-de-camp without command of troops. Braddock's main force reached a point on the Monongahela River about 7 miles (11 km) southeast of Fort Duquesne where on July 9 1755 he suffered a surprise attack and a defeat that ended in disordered flight. Washington's part was that of inspiriting the men. His bravery under fire spread his fame to nearby colonies and abroad. Dinwiddie rewarded him by appointing him in August to the command of Virginia's troops with the rank of colonel.

His new duties excluded him from leadership in the major campaigns of the war the operations of which were directed by British officials who assigned to Virginia the humdrum task of defending its inland frontiers. No important battles were fought there. Washington drilled his rough and often unsoldierly recruits stationed them at frontier posts settled disputes struggled to maintain order and discipline labored to procure supplies and to get them transported strove to have his men paid promptly and provided with shelter and medical care sought support from the Virginia government and kept it informed. His command trained him in the management of self-willed men familiarized him with the leaders of Virginia and schooled him in the rugged politics of a vigorous society.

The French and Indian War also estranged him from the British. Thereafter he never expressed a feeling of affection for them. He criticized Braddock for blaming the Virginians as a whole for the shortcomings of a few local contractors. He also thought that Braddock was too slow in his marches. As commander in Virginia he resented his subordination to a British captain John Dagworthy and made a trip to Boston early in 1756 in order to get confirmation of his authority from the British commander in America. He objected that one of his major plans was upset by ill-considered orders from Britain and in 1758 he disputed with British officers about the best route for an advance to Fort Duquesne. The war ended in such a way as to withhold from him a suitable recognition for his arduous services of nearly six years and to leave him if not embittered a somewhat disappointed man.

Life at Mount Vernon

Resigning his commission late in 1758 he retired to Mount Vernon. On Jan. 6 1759 he married Martha Dandridge widow of Daniel Parke Custis whose estate included 15 000 acres (6 000 hectares) and 150 slaves. Washington became devoted to Martha's two children by her first marriage John Parke Custis and Martha Custis.

As a planter Washington concentrated at first on tobacco raising keeping exact accounts of costs and profits. He soon learned that it did not pay. British laws required that his exports should be sent to Britain sold for him by British merchants and carried in British ships. Also he had to buy in Britain such foreign finished goods as he needed. On various occasions he complained that his tobacco was damaged on shipboard or sold in England at unduly low prices. He thought that he was often overcharged for freight and insurance and he objected that British goods sent to him were overpriced poor in quality injured in transit or not the right type or size. Unable to control buying and selling in England he decided to free himself from bondage to British traders. Hence he reduced his production of tobacco and had his slaves make goods of the type he had imported especially cloth. He developed a fishery on the Potomac increased his production of wheat and operated a mill. He sent fish wheat and flour to the West Indies where he obtained foreign products or money with which to buy them.

From the start he was a progressive farmer who promoted reforms to eliminate soil-exhausting practices that prevailed in his day. He strove to improve the quality of his livestock and to increase the yield of his fields experimenting with crop rotation new implements and fertilizers. His frequent absences on public business hindered his experiments for they often required his personal direction.

He also dealt in Western lands. Virginia's greatest estates he wrote were made "by taking up ... at very low prices the rich back lands" which "are now the most valuable lands we possess." His Western urge had largely inspired his labors during the French and Indian War. At that time Britain encouraged settlement in the Ohio Valley as a means of gaining it from the French.

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