Washington, George2019-08-27T11:52:11+00:00
Portrait of George Washington

George Washington commanded the Colonial Army during the Revolutionary War and served as the first President of the United States.

George Washington

February 22, 1732–December 14, 1799

George Washington led the Continental Army to victory over the British in the Revolutionary War. He then served two terms as the first President of the United States under the Constitution.

George Washington was unanimously elected as the first President of the United States in 1789 and 1792. He is the only person to receive 100% of the electoral votes in any election. Fellow Founding Father John Adams served as his Vice President during both terms.

Prior to the French and Indian War, Washington served as an officer in the British army. In 1754 Washington and his troops built Fort Necessity in western Pennsylvania. On July 3, 1754, Fort Necessity was overwhelmed by French forces. Some consider this to be the actual start of the French and Indian War, although Britain did not formally declare war until 1756.

In 1755, Washington served under British General Edward Braddock on a failed mission to retake the Ohio Country from the French. Despite the defeat, he was promoted to Colonel and named Commander of all military forces in Virginia.

In 1758, Washington participated in the Forbes Expedition, which retook Fort Duquesne, paving the way for the settlement of Pittsburgh.

Following the French and Indian War, Washington returned to Virginia where he married Martha Dandridge Custis on January 6, 1759. She was a wealthy widow and immediately increased his property holdings and social standing. The two of them never had any children together, but they did raise her two children, John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis. Later, they would raise two of Martha’s grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis.

When the Second Continental Congress convened in 1775, Washington attended dressed in military uniform. On June 14,1775 the Congress created the Continental Army. On the following day, John Adams nominated Washington to lead the Army. He was then appointed Major General and elected by Congress to be Commander-in-Chief. After successfully leading the new nation to victory in 1783, Washington retired to his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

The retirement was short-lived, as he was asked to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of  1787. The convention led to the ratification of the new Constitution by all 13 states.

Upon completing his second term as President, Washington again retired to Mount Vernon. Again, his retirement was interrupted when President John Adams asked him to serve as Lieutenant General and Commander-in-Chief of the armies, which were being raised due to the threat of war with France. From 1788 to 1799, he served as the Senior Office of the United States Army and participated in the planning of a standing army.

After riding in the rain while inspecting his farm on December 12, 1799, Washington fell ill. He died two days later, on December 14 at his home. His personal secretary, Tobias Lear V, recorded his last words as, “‘Tis well.”

Washington’s funeral was held on December 18, 1799 at Mount Vernon. He was eulogized by Congressman Henry Lee, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting…Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues…Such was the man for whom our nation mourns.”

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title George Washington
  • Coverage February 22, 1732–December 14, 1799
  • Author
  • Keywords Entry on George Washington, a Founder and first President of the United States.
  • Website Name American History Central
  • URL
  • Access Date November 15, 2019
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 27, 2019

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