Few leaders have ever served their country more unselfishly or in more different ways than did George Washington. After the American Revolution, he was so popular that he might easily have made himself a king or dictator. But he wanted no reward, he said, except the "affection of the free people."
George Washington was born on February 22nd, 1732 on a farm in Wakefield, Virginia. His father, Augustine Washington, died when George was only 11 years old. His older half brother, Lawrence, became a second father to him. Lawrence was the owner of a plantation named Mount Vernon, and George was a frequent visitor there. George received little formal schooling, but he studied surveying and practiced measuring fields around Mount Vernon. He drew such accurate maps that Lord Fairfax, that owner of a neighboring plantation, was very impressed.
Fairfax, who had recently come from Britain, had inherited thousands of acres of land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
He decided to send out some surveyors to map the land. George Washington was asked to be a member of the surveying team. He was only 16 years old at the time.
When he was 21 years old, Robert Dinwiddie, governor of Virginia, asked Washington to deliver a message to the French commander of a fort in the Ohio Valley. The message warned the French to withdraw from land claimed by the British. The refusal of the French helped bring on the French and Indian War that lasted from 1754 to 1763. In that conflict, Washington served first as a lieutenant colonel and then as a colonel in command of troops from Virginia.
When Lawrence died in 1752, Colonel Washington became the owner of Mount Vernon. Seven years later. He married a beautiful and wealthy widow, Martha Custis, and took her and...