George Washington was one of the most influential, well-recognized and important Founding Fathers of the United States. Washington led the Continental Army against British forces during the American War of Independence. His leadership was vital in securing a victory for the Americans and ensuring American independence from Britain. Washington would later go on to serve as the 1st President of the United States.
George Washington was born in Virginia in 1732. His father had a considerable land in Virginia and was fairly wealthy. During his early years, Washington spent much of his time at the family farm. He would later serve as a land surveyor before becoming a planter himself. He also became interested in acquiring military and political experience. This led him to serve in the Virginia militia.
George Washington fought in the French and Indian War as a part of the British forces. He served in the Virginia militia from 1752 to 1758. During this period, the British were at war with the French and their Indian allies. Washington gained valuable experience in fighting against the French, devising military strategies and leading troops and men.
In 1758, he was tasked with commanding an entire brigade. As the Brigadier General, Washington played an important role in gaining control of the strategically positioned Fort Duquesne. Washington retired from Virginia Regiment in 1758 but by his retirement, he had gained valuable experience that would later serve him well.
After his retirement from Virginia militia, Washington focused on his plantation. He also became actively involved in local politics at the same time. At the age of 27, he was elected to the Virginia provincial legislature in 1758. He was a vocal supporter of the rights of the American colonies.
As Britain began to impose more and more taxes during the 1760s, Washington fervently opposed these taxes as a politician. He played a role in creating the Fairfax Resolves which called for the creation of a Continental Congress. He was later appointed as the Virginia delegate for the First Continental Congress.
George Washington became a member of the First Continental Congress. When the Second Continental Congress was later created, it took over the control and command of the revolutionary forces, styling it as the Continental Army. The question then arose of finding someone to lead these forces. The Congress nominated George Washington as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
George Washington served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army throughout the American War of Independence. The war started in 1775 and Washington initially found his forces at a disadvantage against the better organized and better-equipped British troops. By the winter of 1776, his Continental Army had suffered multiple defeats and morale was very low. This is when Washington planned his daring Delaware Crossing and secured a crucial victory for the Continental Army.
In December, 1776, George Washington conceived an ambitious plan of crossing the Delaware River and attacking a Hessian camp allied with British forces. The plan was executed by Washington himself who led the troops in the attack. The Hessians were taken by surprise and roundly defeated. Days after this crucial victory that boasted the morale of the revolutionary forces, Washington led his soldiers to another victory at Princeton. With these two victories, the Americans once again believed that they could win the war.
By the end of 1777, the Continental Army was becoming a formidable fighting force. The British had begun to realize that they may not be able to defeat the army. To further shape and train the army, Washington decided to quarter at Valley Forge during the winters. This winter was instrumental in turning the Continental Army into a proper army. The army was trained and organized with its morale raised and numbers increased. By the spring of 1778, this army was once again ready to fight under the leadership of Washington.
By 1783, the Continental Army had steadily gained ground and defeated British forces. Washington’s forces besieged the main British army in Yorktown and forced it to surrender in 1781. This effectively brought about the end of the war. The conclusion of the war was formalized in the Treaty of Paris signed in 1783. With the end of the war, Washington emerged as the savior and hero who had led the newly born United States to victory against Britain. Washington would continue to receive popular support throughout United States after the war ended.
Following the end of the American War of Independence, Washington briefly retired from military and politics. He returned to his land holdings. Before soon however, Constitutional Convention took place and he was invited to the landmark event. When he arrived, he was unanimously elected as the President of the convention. Washington strongly supported a more robust and powerful federal government for the new nation. However, his views didn’t enjoy widespread support, although they would eventually become the bedrock of American unity.
In 1789, George Washington was elected as the 1st President of the United States through a unanimous vote. Washington was aware of his immense responsibility – he was to serve as the model for all subsequent presidents. He chose ‘Mr. President’ as the title that would be used for American presidents.
During his presidency, he sought to foster unity and keep together various political factions. Washington served for two consecutive terms from 1789 to 1797. He oversaw the establishment of important federal departments such as the treasury, the customs services, taxation and judiciary. He made most of the notable appointments during his term and was careful to prefer merit above all else. Internationally, he was in favor of peace and helped forge treaties with different European nations to establish bilateral ties.