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George Washington was a leader of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, and was the first to become U.S. president.
Founding Father George Washington served as commander-in-chief of the Colonial Armies during the American Revolution and was the first President of the United States.
Learn about a young George Washington and how his early years shaped the man he later became.
After leaving the military, George Washington set out to become a farmer with the land at Mount Vernon he received from his brother, Lawrence.
When George Washington was 11 years old, his father passed away and he immediately took on adult responsibilities.
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It was a frustrating assignment. His health failed in the closing months of 1757 and he was sent home with dysentery.
In 1758, Washington returned to duty on another expedition to capture Fort Duquesne. A friendly fire incident took place killing 14 and wounding 26 of Washington's men. However, the British were able to score a major victory,
capturing Fort Duquesne and control the Ohio Valley. Washington retired from his Virginia regiment in December 1758. His experience during the war was generally frustrating, with decisions made excessively slow, poor support from the colonial legislature, and poorly trained recruits. Washington applied for a commission with the British Army but was turned down. In December 1758, he resigned his commission and returned to Mount Vernon disillusioned.
A month after leaving the army, Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, a widow, who was only a few months older than he. Martha brought to the marriage a considerable fortune: an 18,000-acre estate, from which George personally acquired 6,000 acres. With this and land he was granted for his military service, Washington became one of the more wealthy landowners in Virginia. The marriage also brought Martha's two young children, John (Jacky) and Martha (Patsy), ages 6 and 4, respectively. Washington lavished great affection on both of them, and was heartbroken when Patsy died just before the Revolution. Jacky died during the Revolution, and George adopted two of his children.
From his retirement from the Virginia militia until the start of the Revolution, George Washington devoted himself to the care and development of his land holdings, attending the rotation of crops, managing livestock and keeping up with the latest scientific advances. He loved the landed gentry's life of horseback riding, fox hunts, fishing, and cotillions. He worked six days a week, often taking off his coat and performing manual labor with his workers. He was an innovative and responsible landowner, breeding cattle and horses and tending to his fruit orchards. While he kept over 100 slaves, he was said to dislike the institution, but accepted the fact that slavery was the law. He also entered politics and was elected to Virginia's House of Burgesses in 1758.
Though the British Proclamation Act of 1763—prohibiting settlement beyond the Alleghenies—irritated him and he opposed the Stamp Act of 1765, Washington did not take a leading role in the growing colonial resistance against the British until the widespread protest of the Townshend Acts in 1767. His letters of this period indicate he was totally opposed to the colonies declaring independence. However, by 1767, he wasn't opposed to resisting what he believed were fundamental violations by the Crown of the rights of Englishmen.
In 1769, Washington introduced a resolution to the House of Burgesses calling for Virginia to boycott British goods until the Acts were repealed. After the passage of the Intolerable Acts in 1774, Washington chaired a meeting in which the Fairfax Resolves were adopted calling for the convening of the Continental Congress and the use of armed resistance as a last resort.
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