George Washington was the first President of the United States who led the Continental Army to victory in the American Revolutionary War against the Kingdom of Great Britain and saved the nation from the threat of collapse during its most crucial time. The commander-in-chief of the American Revolution Army, Washington became the President of the world's most powerful country in 1789 following the end of war with The Great Britain in 1783. As President, George Washington played a leading role in drafting the American Constitution in 1787 and extended his contribution by building a strong central government, establishing a national bank system and implementing an effective tax system. Washington first adopted the foreign policy of 'neutrality' in 1773, to avert international conflicts and intervention of other countries. His presidency lay down the foundation of the world’s major power, making him the greatest President in the American history.
Childhood and Early Life
George Washington was born on 22 February 1732 near Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County in Virginia. He was the first son of Augustine Washington and his second wife Mary Ball Washington and had an older half-brother Lawrence Washington. He didn’t get any formal education, but was educated by his father and older brother at home. In early days of youth, George Washington worked as a surveyor before taking a career as a planter in 1748. In 1749, Washington was appointed as surveyor of the Culpeper County, and while working there he developed interest in the Ohio Company, which had a reputation for exploiting foreign lands.
After Lawrence’s death in 1752, Washington took charge of the colony as assistant officer, the position previously held by Lawrence. George Washington was made Major Washington at the age of 20, after his appointment as district adjutant general in the Virginia militia in 1752. The work included training the militia and moving ahead in his career, he became a Master Mason in the organization of Freemasons, a fraternal organization, at the age of 21.
In 1754, Washington was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was sent on a mission to drive out the French troops from Fort Duquesne. The mission could not be accomplished and George resigned upon returning to Virginia because he could not put up with the new Virginia Militia. After having worked as a brigadier general in the Forbes expedition, he resigned from the military in 1758 and engaged himself in his work as a planter and politician.
Marriage and Personal Life
George married a widow Martha Dandridge Custis on 6 January 1759 and the couple moved to Mount Vernon where together they raised Daniel Parke Custis and John Parke Custis, the two children which Martha had from her previous marriage. The couple never had their own children. Washington’s marriage to a wealthy widow brought him a fortune by increasing his property holding and social status and making him the wealthiest man in Virginia.
George Washington and American Revolution
After the American Revolution broke in 1775, Congress created the Continental Army on 14 June 1775 and Washington, who had the charisma and prestige to win people around him and had a reputation of being a true patriot, was appointed Major General and Commander-In Chief for the war. Washington came in charge of the Continental Army during the ongoing siege of Boston and despite a huge shortage of weapon and manpower; he forced the British Troops to evacuate Boston and further led his Army to New York City. The landslide victory in Boston gave him an image of a hero and a committed patriot. His bravery and qualities as a commander made their presence in every newspaper; even in British newspapers, where his courage, endurance and bravery were found worth praising.
In 1776, British troops under General William Howe instigated a series of land and marine attacks in an attempt to siege New York. The attacks resulted in the defeat of the Continental Army at the ‘Battle of Long Island’ and forced Washington to move back with his army. A series of defeat followed, and demands intensified to remove Washington from his position, which came to a halt after a rally came in his support. In a historical victory in 1781, Washington’s American army and French army, who was an ally in the war, captured a British army and forced them to surrender. After a number of defeats and personal suffering of Washington, the war came to an end when the British troops surrender at Yorktown on 17 October 1781.
The American army was disbanded on 2 November, with Washington’s final farewell to his soldiers after capturing the New York City and forcing British troops to evacuate the City on 25 November. On 4 December, Washington formally announced his resignation and in less than a month, he resigned from the position of commander-in-chief on 23 December. In 1787, Washington was invited to attend the Constitutional convention in Philadelphia, where he was elected President of the convention. The American Constitution was formed with electing Washington as First President of the United States.
Presidency of the United States (1789-1797)
George Washington was elected the first President of the United States and he took the oath under the American Constitution on 30 April 1789. He was the only President to receive 100 electoral votes. Though he first declined to accept any salary for his service as President, later he accepted it to avoid setting a standard for the Presidents who would lead the nation in future. Being a good administrator and a talented judge, he consulted his delegates before reaching any final decision. His commitment to serve common goal gained him huge appreciation and respect from the nation as well as from his delegates. Washington was elected for his second successive term.
Domestic and Foreign Policies
Washington himself was not a member of any party and held a view against it because he believed that it will cause conflicts and stop the growth of the country. Other policies he employed to build a strong nation include the establishment of national banking system and tax system in U.S. Furthermore, making a historical move in future, he appointed the first ten Justice of the Supreme Court during his presidency.
He adopted a no-interference policy in the domestic affairs of other states and following the same, he refused to become involve in the France war against Britain. During that period, he signed widely opposed Jay Treaty on 19 November 1794 with a hope to improve trade relations with Britain and resolve the financial debt accumulated since the Revolutionary War of America. The treaty smoothen the rough edge between the countries making The French feel enraged at the same time.
Farewell Address and Retirement
George Washington delivered his farewell speech, which he himself had drafted, in 1796. The letter that carried his advice of unity and morality, warned the Americans against foreign influence in America and America’s meddling in European affairs. He had a strong view that United States is republic and it should refrain from the policy of partisanship serving a common interest. He called for an Independent America saying the United States must concentrate on American interests while marinating a friendship and trade with all nations.
Washington took retirement from the presidency in 1797 and returned to Mount Vernon where he emerged himself in farming and gardening; something he had taken as career many years back. He remained active even after his retirement and was appointed Lieutenant General by the then President John Adams, for an expected war with France and between 13 July 1798 and 14 December 1799, he served as the senior officer of the United States Army.
Washington died on 14 December 1799, at the age of 67 with his close friends and personal secretary by his side. He was suffering from cold, bad throat and fever for the past two days before his death on 14 December and was diagnosed with a throat infection called quinsy, which had turned into laryngitis and pneumonia. After his death, Washington’s remains were buried at Mount Vernon. Washington’s death came as a big shock to the nation and the American Army wore black bands as a sign of grief for the next six months. Following his death, Britain Royal Navy lowered its flag at half mast and Napoleon declared ten days of mourning throughout France.