George Washington

He was born 1732 and he died in1799.
George Washington seems today a figure larger than life itself…..almost as he was when he was a familiar person in the halls, homes, shops, and bars of 18th-century city Williamsburg.
On Duke of Gloucester Street, in the Raleigh Tavern\'s Apollo Room, or the Governor\'s Palace Gardens, his powerful frame and his nice attitude..his presence….drew to him the notice that wrote his place in the history of the city, the state, and the nation.

"His bones and joints are large, as are his hands and feet," friend of Washington George Mercer observed in 1760. He said Washington kept "all the muscles of his face under perfect control, though flexible and expressive of deep feeling when moved by emotion. In conversation he looks you full in the face, is deliberate, deferential and engaging. His voice is agreeable . . . he is a splendid horseman."

Thomas Jefferson who served with Washington in the House of Burgesses, wrote: "On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in a few points indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance."

In Williamsburg, when it was the seat of Virginia\'s government, Washington secured his first military commissions, learned and practiced the arts of politics, and moved from the attitude of being just another country squire to become the leader of a continental revolution.

Born February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County he was the first son of his father Augustine\'s second marriage: his mother was the former Mary Ball of Epping Forest. When George was about 3 his family moved to Little Hunting Creek on the Potomac, then to Ferry Farm opposite of Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock in King George County.

His father died in 1743, and Washington grew nervous under his mother\'s guidance. He proposed at one point to follow the sea, but he divided his adolescence among the households of relatives, finding a home and a model in his half-brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon. From Lawrence he learned trig and surveying and accomplished a taste for ethics, novels, music, and the theater. An officer in the Virginia militia, Lawrence had served with Admiral Edward Vernon…for who the plantation was named, and tinged George with aspirations for military service.

In the interim, the powerful Fairfax family of neighboring Belvoir introduced him to the accomplishments of wealth and in 1748 provided him his first "adventure". That year Lord Fairfax dispatched him with a party that spent a month surveying Fairfax lands in the still-wild Shenandoah. In the expedition, he began to appreciate the uses and value of land, an appreciation that grew the following year with his appointment as Culpeper County surveyor, certified by the College of William and Mary.

Lawrence, suffering from a lung complaint took a Barbados voyage in search of health in a warmer climate….and george accompanied him. The younger brother contracted smallpox and returned to Virginia alone, but with a immunity to a disease that destroyed colonial-era armies. Lawrence died in 1752, and the Mount Vernon estate passed by stages into George\'s hands until he inherited it in 1761.

Washington also succeeded to Lawrence\'s militia office. Governor Robert Dinwiddie first appointed him assistant for the southern district of the colony\'s militia, but soon conferred on him Lawrence\'s assistantcy for the Northern Neck and Eastern Shore. So it happened that in 1753 the governor sent 21-year-old Washington to warn French troops at Fort Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio (that\'s modern Pittsburgh) that they were encroaching in territory claimed by Virginia.

The French ignored the warning and the mission failed, but when Washington returned Dinwiddie had Williamsburg printer William Hunter publish his official report as The Journal of Major George Washington. It made the young officer well-known at home and away.

Returning to the Ohio in April with 150 men to remove the intruders, Washington got his first taste of war in a fight with a French scouting party. He wrote to his brother Jack, "I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there is something charming in the sound."