George Washington


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George Washington mentioned, “We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.” Beginning something new is always a challenge, even for a powerful leader. As the first Commander in Chief of the United States of America, George Washington was a man who stood by his morals and was courageous in the battlefield and in character. George Washington is known as one of the founding fathers of this nation and displays what it stands for today. His contribution to our country provided the freedoms we exercise nowadays. As the first president of the United States of America, he set precedent for the executive office.











Background

The first president of the United States of America, George Washington, was born on February 22, 1732. He was born on his father’s farm plantation, known as Wakefield plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia (Hollar). His father, Augustine Washington, had already been married and had two children before George was born. When Augustine’s first wife died in 1730, he married Mary Ball (Hollar). After two years of marriage, Augustine and Mary had George. The family then expanded and had six more children.


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The Washington family moved to the Potomac River to the Epsewasson plantation in 1735. After three years, the family moved in 1738 to Ferry Farm on the Rappahannock River, opposite Fredericksburg, Virginia, where George Washington spent much of his childhood (Hollar). While growing up, Washington got the reputation of being an honest person and grew up with the morals and values his parents taught him. At the young age of eleven in 1743, Washington’s father died (Knott). This made Washington’s mother, Mary, strong and made Washington appreciate his mother’s hard work and dedication.

Even though Washington did not have a formal education, he was an intelligent person. At the age of sixteen, Washington worked as a surveyor for Lord Fairfax. As a surveyor, he had the opportunity to tour the American wilderness (Knott). After becoming a surveyor, Washington joined the military and fought in the French and Indian war in 1754 (Friedel and Sidley). From then on, his military career flourished and was successful on the battlefield.


On January 6, 1759, Washington married Martha Dandridge (Hollar). Martha was a widow and had two children from her previous marriage. Washington never had children of his own.Unknown-2.jpeg


After having had an effective military career, Washington became Commander-in-chief of the United States of America, becoming the first president and not a king in 1775 (Friedel and Sidley). Washington set a precedent of what was to follow for the executive office. After his first term, Washington felt that it was time to withdraw from the executive office, but was “unanimously supported by the electoral college for a second term in 1792” (Knott).

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After his second term in the executive office, Washington decided to retire and move back to Mount Vernon. On December 14, 1799, Washington died due to the development of laryngitis (Hollar).










Personality Traits


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President George Washington has a reputation of being truthful and a man of good character. Hence, he stated, “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.” Even though Washington did not have a formal education, he was a well- mannered man. Washington’s honesty is noted by Mason Locke Weem's story of him confessing to his father at a young age that he chopped down a cherry tree, which was illustrated to point out his unflinching honesty (Marrin, 15).

Even though Washington was a man of good judgment, he was also a man who was serious and withdrawn, as his mother showed minimal affection while growing up (Wood). Nevertheless, he was ambitious to achieve his goals and was intelligent, which made people respect him (Knott). During his presidency, Washington was a man who was able to direct men into battle and come out triumphant, as he was known to be fearless. He is also known for his good judgment and impartiality during his terms in office (Knott). The first president of the United States is known as a noble man and many consider him a heroic figure (Marrin, 222). Washington’s leadership and moral character set precedent for men following his example as future commander-in- chief.



Obstacles


George Washington had a challenging personal life. Washington’s father died in 1743, leaving Washington fatherless at the young age of eleven (Hollar). This death made his mother brawl to keep the home together (Knott). Suffering the death of his father made Washington fend for himself and made him a serious and determined person to accomplish many tasks. Even though he never had a formal education, he was able to persevere in many manners (Knott).

After suffering the tragic death of his father, Washington suffered another loss when his half brother Lawrence died of tuberculosis (Knott). This agonized Washington because Lawrence was his mentor and confidant since Lawrence was fourteen years older than him (Knott).

Even though Washington married Martha, he was never able to have children of his own. Once again, death struck his household when his sixteen-year-old step- daughter, Martha Park, known as Patsy, died during a seizure in 1773 (Knott). His stepson, John Park, known as Jacky, was rebellious and “visited the Continental army shortly after the Battle of Yorktown” (Knott). Visiting this camp, made Jacky contract disease and died, leaving Martha without children and Washington to care for his distraught wife.


During his career in the military, Washington saw first-hand the hardships of a soldier. There, he witnessed deaths and hostile environments. During the presidency, he suffered from pressures of the trying to unite a nation and having it become independent from the British crown.


After his retirement from the presidency, Washington moved to Mount Vernon. After returning home in cold weather from observing his farms, Washington developed laryngitis (Hollar). This made him extremely fragile and died two days later on December 14, 1799 (Hollar).



Historical Significance

George Washington isknown as the first president of the United States of America. Therefore, Friedeland Sidley mention, “When the Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia in May 1775, Washington, one of the Virginia delegates, was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army.” This was an immense accomplishment since the new republic had only known the ways of the monarchy. Knott mentions, “It is the substantial consensus among historians that Washington's tenurein office set the nation on a path that has endured now for over 200 years, longer than any other republic in history.” This shows that Washington had the responsibility to set precedent for the presidents to come, such as two-term limit for the presidency. This is notable to mention because he did not want to run for reelection of the coveted office. Washington was also able to work collaboratively with other branches of government, which set precedent for presidents to come in order not to take total control of the decision making process; although, he also set precedent for “invoking the executive privilege” where he as president, made certain decisions (Knott).


George Washington Miliatry.jpegWashington is also known as being a man of character. He was a president who was impartial and looked out for the best interest of the country. Knott asserts, “He was the man who could have been a king but refused a crown and saved a republic”. Another thing that distinguishes Washington from others would have to be his ability to lead during battle. His leadership skills were exemplary and were able to lead the nation to victory.


As a founding father of this nation, Washington was instrumental in the writing of the Constitution, the

most important document that still stands until this day. Without the insights of Washington and the founding fathers, the constitution, would not have endured as it has done and for many more years to come. This important document because it defines what our country stands for and what it values.



Unknown-3.jpegAside from the presidency, Washington was a man who was wealthy and was able to cultivate the land. He owned land and slaves, of which he was highly criticized by many (Knott). However, Washington was able to work and gain recognition by the people. After the presidency, Washington relocated to Mount Vernon and lived there shortly after getting sick and dying, having left no progeny to continue his legacy.






















References

Alden, John Richard. George Washington: A Biography. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1984. Print.

Friedel, Frank, Sidley, Hugh. "George Washington." The White House. The White House, n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2014.
<https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/georgewashington>

Knott, Stephen."Miller Center." American President: George Washington. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.
<http://millercenter.org/president/washington>

Lengel, Edward G. General George Washington: A Military Life. New York: Random House, 2005. Print.

Wood, Gordon S. "The Greatness of George Washington." Virginia Quarterly Review 68.2 (7 June 2000): 189. History Study Center. 10 Oct. 2014.
<http://www.vqronline.org/essay/greatness-george-washington>