Washington Biography

George Washington was born in Virginia on Feb. 22, 1732 to Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington. George spent his early years on the family estate on Pope's Creek along the Potomac River. His early education came by way of studying mathematics, surveying, the classics, and "rules of civility." His father died in 1743. This caused George to live with his half brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon, Lawrence's plantation on the Potomac. Lawrence became a substitute father for his brother, he'd married into the Fairfax family, prominent and influential Virginians who helped launch George's career. George wanted to go to sea, however, he was discouraged by his mother; Instead he turned to surveying. In 1748 he was appointed to survey Lord Fairfax's lands in the Shenandoah Valley. He helped lay out the Virginia town of Belhaven (now Alexandria) in 1749 and was appointed surveyor for Culpeper County. George accompanied his brother to Barbados in an effort to cure Lawrence of tuberculosis, but Lawrence died in 1752 after returning to America. George inherited the Mount Vernon estate.
Washington first gained public notice in October 1753 when he was dispatched by Gov. Robert Dinwiddie to warn the French commander at Fort
Le Boeuf against further encroachment on territory claimed by Britain. Washington at the age of 22, was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Although he lacked experience, he learned quickly, and dealt with the problems of recruitment, supply, and desertions. This helped him earn respect from his superiors.
In April 1754, on his way to establish a post at the Forks of the Ohio (the current site of Pittsburgh), Washington learned that the French had already erected a fort there. Warned that the French were advancing, he quickly threw up fortifications at Great Meadows, Pa., and named it, Fort Necessity. Then he marched to intercept advancing French troops. In the resulting skirmish the French commander the sieur de Jumonville was killed and most of his men were captured. Washington pulled his small force back into Fort Necessity, where on July 3 he was overwhelmed by the French in an all-day battle fought in the
rain. Surrounded by enemy troops, with his food supply almost exhausted and his dampened ammunition useless, Washington surrendered. Under the terms of the surrender signed that day, he was permitted to march his troops back to Williamsburg.
Discouraged by his defeat and angered by discrimination between British and colonial officers in rank and pay, he resigned his commission near the end of 1754. The next year, however, he volunteered to join the expedition of British general Edward Braddock against the French. When Braddock was ambushed by the French and their Indian allies on the Monongahela River, Washington, although seriously ill, tried to rally the Virginia troops. Though critized by the public, in 1755 Washington was promoted to colonel and appointed commander in chief of the Virginia militia, with responsibility for defending the frontier. In 1758 he took an active part in the successful campaign of Gen. John Forbes against Fort Duquesne.

Assured that the Virginia frontier was safe from French attack, Washington left the army in 1758 and returned to Mount Vernon, directing his attention toward restoring his neglected estate. He erected new buildings, refurnished the house, and experimented with new crops. With the support of an ever-growing circle of influential friends, he entered politics, serving in Virginia's House of Burgesses from 1759 to 1774. In January 1759 he married Marth Dandridge Curtis, a wealthy and attractive young widow with two small children.

After 1769, Washington became a leader in Virginia's opposition to Great Britain's colonial policies. At first he hoped for reconciliation with Britain, although some British policies had touched him personally. Discrimination against colonial military officers had grown, and British land policies and restrictions on western expansion after 1763 had seriously hindered Washington's plans for western land speculation. In addition, he shared the usual planter's dilemma in being continually in debt to his London agents. As a delegate (1774-75) to the First and Second Continental Congress, Washington did not participate actively in the deliberations, but his presence was undoubtedly a stabilizing influence. In June 1775 he was Congress's unanimous choice as commander in chief of the Continental forces.

Washington took command of the troops surrounding British-occupied Boston on