George Washington

George Washington

He was born 1732 and he died in1799. George Washington seems today a figure
larger than life itself…..almost as he was when he was a familiar person in the
halls, homes, shops, and bars of 18th-century city Williamsburg. On Duke of
Gloucester Street, in the Raleigh Tavern\'s Apollo Room, or the Governor\'s Palace
Gardens, his powerful frame and his nice attitude..his presence….drew to him the
notice that wrote his place in the history of the city, the state, and the

"His bones and joints are large, as are his hands and feet," friend of
Washington George Mercer observed in 1760. He said Washington kept "all the
muscles of his face under perfect control, though flexible and expressive of
deep feeling when moved by emotion. In conversation he looks you full in the
face, is deliberate, deferential and engaging. His voice is agreeable . . . he
is a splendid horseman."

Thomas Jefferson who served with Washington in the House of Burgesses, wrote:
"On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in a few
points indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune
combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same
constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting

In Williamsburg, when it was the seat of Virginia\'s government, Washington
secured his first military commissions, learned and practiced the arts of
politics, and moved from the attitude of being just another country squire to
become the leader of a continental revolution.

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 3 his family moved to Little Hunting Creek on the
Potomac, then to Ferry Farm opposite of Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock in
King George County.

His father died in 1743, and Washington grew nervous under his mother\'s guidance.
He proposed at one point to follow the sea, but he divided his adolescence among
the households of relatives, finding a home and a model in his half-brother
Lawrence at Mount Vernon. From Lawrence he learned trig and surveying and
accomplished a taste for ethics, novels, music, and the theater. An officer in
the Virginia militia, Lawrence had served with Admiral Edward Vernon…for who the
plantation was named, and tinged George with aspirations for military service.

In the interim, the powerful Fairfax family of neighboring Belvoir introduced
him to the accomplishments of 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.

Lawrence, suffering from a lung complaint took a Barbados voyage in search of
health in a warmer climate….and george accompanied him. The younger brother
contracted smallpox and returned to Virginia alone, but with a immunity to a
disease that destroyed colonial-era armies. Lawrence died in 1752, and the Mount
Vernon estate passed by stages into George\'s hands until he inherited it in 1761.

Washington also succeeded to Lawrence\'s militia office. Governor Robert
Dinwiddie first appointed him assistant for the southern district of the
colony\'s militia, but soon conferred on him Lawrence\'s assistantcy 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 (that\'s modern Pittsburgh) that they were encroaching 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 away.

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 fight quickly followed and Washington, retreating to Fort Necessity,
was beaten by an even more numerous French force. He surrendered and, in his
ignorance of French, signed an embarrassing surrender agreement. But he had
opportunities to get revenge for his defeat. The whistling bullets heralded the
start of the Seven Years\' War, as it was called in Europe. In America it was
called the French and