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George Washington
George washington.jpg
Mr. Washington
Political party: None
Awards: Congressional Gold Medal

Thanks of Congress

Religion Episcopal Church

or Deism

Born February 22, 1732
Died December 14, 1799 (aged 67)

These short articles are partly to help users outside the United States. The articles also have links to websites with material of interest to users who know the background to United States history.


George Washington was a highly influential statesman and military leader in the American Revolution, and will always be remembered for bravery and endurance when he led the forces that brought independence for the United States. Washington will also be remembered for his role in developing the United States as a democratic nation.

While not officially a member of either party, his ideals and beliefs were Federalist in nature (he supported a more centralized government like that of Great Britain), which today would be closer to the Democratic Party. He is on the US Quarter ($0.25) and the $1 Dollar bill.

Early Life and Military Career

Washington was born on February 22, 1732, into a wealthy family which had apparently gotten rich off of estate speculation. He was the fourth of nine children, although the first of his six (his father had remarried, the three before were from the previous marriage), and his father served as what would be best described as a petty judge of the court. While he did not receive a proper education, he did learn math all the way to trignometry among other things. Interestingly, even in his early adulthood, he was apparently a good writer, if "humorless" and "dry".

His father having been a military man, Washington himself went for a royal commission (becoming a CO, or Commissioned Officer,) in the Virginia Militia. Before the Revolutionary War, Washington served with the British against the French in the Virginian Militia, as part of the French and Indian War. He served well all things considered, and was promoted to Lt. Colonel, before a battle that resulted in his surrender and his resignation.

He wanted to be receive a commission in the British Army but the British wouldn't have an American in their army so they gave him the rank of Colonel of the Virginia Militia.

Fairfax Resolves

In July of 1774, George Washington with his friend and mentor George Mason wrote the Fairfax Resolves. The Fairfax Resolves set forth the legal arguments against British policy in the American Colonies, called for a Convention of Representatives of the Colonies to protest British policy, and helped establish Washington's reputation as a political as well as military leader.[1]

American Revolution

Washington was appointed commanding general of the newly formed American Army by the Second Continental Congress on June 19th 1775.[2] Washington remained the Commander-in-chief of the American Army during the American Revolutionary War and lead the army during times of severe privation when it was touch and go who would win.

George Washington went though his own 9/11 on September 11, 1777 when he lost to the British.[3]

Initially Washington trained his new army and struggled to get supplies. Then he lost New York City [4] and Congress left Philadelphia through fear of British attack, soldiers were deserting and civilian moral was falling. Washington kept his army going in a hard winter at Valley Forge. Later the tide turned America’s way especially as France recognised the independence of America while French and Prussian military men helped improve his army. Later still the main military action was in the south but Washington coordinated war efforts and with the aid of French Noblemen America won the war overall. [5]

Respect for George Washington grew remarkably during the war due to his ability and integrity.

Constitutional Convention

Presidency

After the war George Washington was president of the Constitutional Convention and was unanimously chosen as the first President of the United States of America. As President Washington worked to construct an executive that would function for future presidents. Washington strove to unify the new nation but could not prevent a split between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. During Washington’s second term as president there were greater divisions involving American policy over a war between Britain and France. Washington concluded a treaty with Britain but his critics in the Democratic-Republicans felt that he gave away too much.

The whole world owes to George Washington Representative democracy. George Washington was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.

Unfortunately, Washington owned slaves and profited from the work of slaves. While he did ensure his slaves would be freed, it would only be after he and his wife had died. He was a product of his time and nobody is perfect.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Lead our nation to independence in the Revolution.
  • Was our nation's First President.
  • Managed to keep 13 quarrelling states together for 8 years.
  • Willing left office after 8 years instead of holding on to power like a dictator.
  • Humbling rejected to be crowned king after the Revolution.
  • Leader of men, both on and off the battlefield.
  • Lead the nation to economic prosperity after years of economic chaos.
  • Was against the concept of partisan political parties.
  • Was very anti-interventionalist.
  • Kept America out of the Napoleonic Wars.

Good, but also bad

  • Washington kept slaves, and regularly moved his household slaves out of the District of Colombia in order to avoid the local law that slaves be freed after 6 months residence. He stipulated that those slaves he owned were to be freed... but only after the deaths of both himself and his wife. The sole exception to this was William (Billie) Lee, who was Washington's personal attendant and companion. It's also rumored that Washington fathered a son, West Ford, with his brother's house servant, Venus, .

Cons

  • Owned slaves (He was a product of his time)
  • Unduly obsessed with presidential prerogatives and the dignity of his office.
  • The Hamiltonian policies favored by Washington emphasized special benefits for the rich and well-born, while ordinary farmers and artisans were left to fend for themselves.
  • Washington's handling of the Whiskey Rebellion was a little excessive.
  • Failed to lend support to the new republican forces in France and allowed U.S. policy to drift in a pro-British direction. The Jay Treaty was a sellout to Britain and a betrayal of France, who's assistance in our Revolution guaranteed our independence.

Quote from George Washington

"As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality."- George Washington

References

Footnotes

  1. The Fairfax Resolves, July 6-18, 1774
  2. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw8&fileName=mgw8b/gwpage001.db&recNum=2&tempFile=./temp/~ammem_bB3b&filecode=mgw&next_filecode=mgw&prev_filecode=mgw&itemnum=5&ndocs=100
  3. The Battle of Brandywine
  4. [1]
  5. I, the author of most of this section am British but I recognise that my country also owes a debt to Washington because he gave Parliamentary democracy to the world and my country now benefits from that as well.
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