The PineyWoods Chapter #51, TXSSAR
In 1999 we observed the bicentennial year of George Washington's death. He was born 22 February 1732, at Wakefield, the Washington estate in Westmoreland County in what is now the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Augustine Washington, George's father, married twice; first to Jane Butler, with whom he had four children, and second to Mary Ball. George was the oldest of seven children from this marriage.
After his father's death, when George was eleven, he joined the household of his brother Lawrence at Mt. Vernon. It was this estate along the Potomac River that he considered his home for the rest of his life, succeeding to ownership after Lawrence's death in 1752.
Meanwhile, after completing his education at the age of sixteen, George Washington was employed as an assistant to George Fairfax. The assignment was to survey the vast western holdings of Lord Fairfax known as the Northern Neck of Virginia. More surveying jobs came his way and the income was used to purchase land. During this time he was also building a reputation of being thrifty and industrious with qualities of a good business man.
George Washington began his military career in 1753. He was commissioned a militia major and was appointed adjutant of the southern district of Virginia. His allegiance was to Great Britain and King George III. Commissioned a lieutenant colonel in 1754, he led a force that sought to challenge French control of the Ohio River Valley, thus fighting in the first skirmishes of what grew into the French and Indian War. The next year he escaped injury, although four bullets ripped his coat and two horses were shot from under him, when they were defeated at Fort Necessity, PA.
In 1755, after resigning his commission and returning to Mount Vernon, Washington reentered the military serving as an aide to Gen. Edward Braddock, barely escaping death when the French defeated the general's forces in the Battle of the Monongahela, PA. Late 1758 to early 1759 he again resigned his commission and returned to Mount Vernon.
January 06, 1759, George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis. After his marriage and until 1774, he managed his plantations and sat in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Supporting the initial protests against British policies and taking an active part in the non-importation movement in Virginia, Washington eventually became a Whig leader.
Washington represented Virginia at the first and second Centennial Congresses. Relations between the Colonies and Britain were very strained and by 1775 the battle at Lexington and Concord became the "shot heard around the world." It was at the second Centennial Congress that George Washington was appointed Commander-in-Chief. From that time until 1781 when the British surrendered at Yorktown, he was an example of true leadership to those fighting for America's independence.
It is no wonder that George Washington was unanimously chosen by the Electoral College to be the first President of the United States of America, a position which he held for two terms. Helping to guide and govern a fledging nation was not easy. Guidelines and laws had to be made that would have a positive effect on the future. Again Washington did an admirable job with the task set before him, keeping the division of power divided between executive, legislature and judicial as he perceived it in the constitution.
After his farewell address in 1796, Washington retired to Mount Vernon for the last time. It was there he died at the age of 67 on December14, 1799.
You can read more about George Washington and the events that took place prior to, during and following the American Revolution at: Archiving Early America
Kids can get lots of fun information about the American Revolution at the Liberty's Kids web site.
George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation:
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.
G. Washington (his actual signature)