George Washington.

Essay by lcobb001University, Bachelor'sA+, December 2005

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Born in 1732 Washington pursued two intertwined interests: military arts and western expansion. When Washington was born they wrote an inscription near Fredericksburg, Virginia that read: "Here a matchless flower came to birth- Time paused and blessed the spot." (9) At 16 he helped survey Shenandoah lands for Thomas, Lord Fairfax. Commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in 1754, he fought the first skirmishes of what grew into the French and Indian War. (1)

In 1757 he married Martha Dandridge Custis. The couple moved to his estate Mount Vernon where he took up the life of a genteel farmer. He became a member of the House of Burgesses. He was initiated as a Freemason in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on 4 February 1752. (2)

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. On July 3, 1775, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he took command of his ill-trained troops and embarked upon a war that was to last six grueling years.

(1) On December 25, 1776, Washington led the American forces to attack Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey. The successful attack built morale among the pro-independence colonists. Washington, kept British forces tied down in the center of the country while Generals Gates and Benedict Arnold won the battle of Saratoga in 1777. This victory led to French recognition of the United States. (2)

In 1781, Washington, commanding both American and French forces, besieged General Cornwallis at Battle of Yorktown, Virginia. The British surrender there was the effective end of British attempts to quell the Revolution. In 1783, by means of the Treaty of Paris, the Kingdom of Great Britain recognized American independence. (2)

Washington longed to retire but he soon realized that the Nation under its...