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George Washington

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Childhood

George Washington was born in the year 1732 on February 2nd at his father’s vast plantation in Pope’s Creek, Westmoreland County in Virginia. George Washington was the eldest son of Augustine Washington and Mary Ball. Augustine Washington was a leading planter in Virginia as well as a justice of the county court. In 1735, Augustine moved his family to the Potomac River region at the Little Hunting Creek which was later known as Mount Vernon. In the year 1738, The Washington’s moved again to Ferry farm where George Washington spent much of his youth. However, not much is known regarding Washington’s childhood although there are various analytical theories describing him to have been honest, piety and physically strong.

When Washington was eleven years of age, his father died leaving most of his property to Washington’s half brother Lawrence. The remaining inheritance which was not much was left to Washington’s mother and was barely enough to offer them a comfortable living. However, Washington devoted his early life in helping his mother manage Rappahannock River plantation where they lived. This formed a formidable part of his character as hardworking and efficient.

Education

Washington’s education started at the age of eleven. Although not much of his education life is known, Washington exhibited the characteristics of a bright and hardworking fast learner. Most of the children in Virginia at the time were taught at home by private tutors or in local private schools. Boys were a little advantaged with regards to education since they had a chance of beginning education at an earlier age than the girls. Boys were taught basic education skills such as writing and basic arithmetic skills. However, Washington was denied a chance to attend school in England like it was the case with his two elder half brothers as a result of his father’s death.

Washington attended school near his home for the first new years of his education life. Later, Washington attended another school in Fredericksburg where he excelled in mathematics and rudiment of surveying. However, Washington was not taught foreign languages such as Greek and Latin. His formal education life ended when he was around the age of fifteen. Although Washington could not access the gentry’s class which was considered very essential in developing social skills in education, he spent some formidable part of his time learning from his brother. Lawrence became Washington’s mentor teaching him in studies and social grace as well as introducing him to the society.

Career

In his early career life, George Washington applied himself to surveying which was a very lucrative skill during the colonial period. This is because at the time, there was constant settling of land. In 1748, Washington joined a survey expedition to Western Virginia where he had been invited by the powerful Fairfax family. After the expedition, the Fairfaxes helped Washington secure an appointment as a county surveyor. By the age of 17, Washington was on his way to a profitable career.

George Washington had a long standing desire of joining the military. At first, his mother was against him joining the military. However after the death of Lawrence who was a high ranking official in the Virginia militia, Washington was commissioned with the rank of a major in the military. During the time when Washington was appointed major in the Virginia militia, the French were expanding their military control in Ohio. The British were also interested in the Virginia- Pennsylvania area a situation that led to a conflict of interest which later escalated to war. The Ohio Company was the main tool that the British intended to expand their influence with. The British governor at the time received orders from the British government to warn the French to refute to the claims of colony ownership. Washington was sent to deliver a letter to the ten French commander who politely refused to leave.

Washington was sent back to Ohio County to protect the Ohio Company group. What followed was a series of attacks and counterattacks both by the British and the French a situation that led the two parties lose some of their key men. The French and the British declared war on each other. At this time, Washington was rewarded with the commission as a Colonel of the Virginia and Commander in Chief of all the militia orces raised to defend the British protectorate. In 1758, Washington decided to retire from the military and it was not until 1775 after the outbreak of the revolution that Washington returned back to his military life.

On 6th January, 1759 Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis. However, rumor has it that Washington at the time was in love with Sally Fairfax who was a legally wedded wife of his friend. However, Washington and Martha made a compatible marriage despite the tow not having any children together. This was as a result of the smallpox infection that Washington previously had that resulted to him being sterile. During his marriage life, Washington amassed his wealth and succeeded in doubling the size of Mount Vernon to up to 6,500 acres. These made Washington become one of the wealthiest men in Virginia as well as being elected to the Virginia Provincial Legislature ‘the House of Burgesses’ in 1758.

Washington led an aristocratic lifestyle. Some of his main leisure activities were such as fox hunting, theater, races and cockfighting. During this time, tobacco was the main cash crop for most Virginia planters. However, most planters faced the risk of huge losses due to extravagant spending and the unpredictability of the tobacco market. Washington maneuvered himself out of debts by diversifying his interests which he achieved through growing of wheat. He also diversified his operations to include flour milling, horse breeding and spinning and weaving. In 1769, Washington became more and more involved in politics where he presented the Virginia Assembly with a legislation introducing a ban on all imported goods from Britain.

In 1774, Washington chaired a meeting which passed the ‘Fairfax Resolves’ whose main objectives was to call for the convening of a Continental Congress. That same year, Washington was selected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress. In April 1775, Washington appeared at the Second Continental Congress in military attire implying that he was ready for war after the colonies went to war. Washington had all the characteristics of a military leader since he had all the prestige, military experience and charisma. Congress went on to create the Continental Army handing Washington the post of Major General and Commander-in-Chief. Some of the main roles that Washington had in the war are that he led his men against the British forces and regardless the fact that he lost many battles, he fought relentlessly and never surrendered.

Washington was also charged with organizing and training the army. In collaboration with a German military training professional known as General Von Steuben, Washington would recruit army regulars and assign them to Von Steuben for training. Washington was in the frontline pressuring Congress and the states to provide the army with essentials if they expected any victory in battle. Washington was also charged of laying out military strategies as well as appointing army generals for command. The most important role of Washington in the battle is that he was a unifying factor in the war. His enormous stature and political experience helped the Congress, and the states focus on a common objective.

Washington attended a constitutional convention and was unanimously elected the leader and president of the convention. Although his participation in debates was very minimal, Washington succeeded in actively involving all the delegates in their labors. The present delegates designed a presidential office and gave Washington the jurisdiction to define the office. After the convention, the new constitution was ratified by all the thirteen states.

In 1789, George Washington was elected unanimously by the Electoral College as the first president. George Washington made his way in the books of history as being the only president to have received a 100% of the electoral votes. John Adams became the vice president by receiving the second highest total vote. George Washington took oath of office as the first President of the United States of America on 30th April 1789.A vote was passed to pay Washington a sum of $25,000 a year while serving as the president. At first, Washington declined this offer as a gesture of his selflessness and value of his public image.

However, Washington ultimately accepted the payment. This was to avoid a situation whereby the president’s office would be reserved for a few wealthy individuals who were willing to serve without any sallary. Washington was aware that his conduct and character as the president served as a precedent. He therefore saw the importance of attending pomp and ceremonies of office. Washington also preferred the name “Mr. President” contrary to some majestic names proposed. Some of Washington’s outstanding characteristics as the President of the United States of America are that he was an excellent delegator and judge of talent and character. Washington was systematic, orderly and energetic in his duties as the president. Washington served as the president of the U.S.A for two consecutive terms but refused to run for a third term. This set a customary policy requiring future president to run for only two terms.

Washington’s Farewell Address is perhaps one of the most influential statements in the history of republicanism. The farewell statement was primarily drafted by Washington himself. Some of the key issues that Washington emphasized on are that he advised the American people on the essence of national unity. He also advised the people to respect the rule of law and the national constitution. Washington address towards public politics is that he warned the people against accepting foreign influence in domestic issues. He also warned America not to meddle in European affairs. During that time, partisanship was a main problem in America’s politics and Washington addressed the issue by calling the people to move beyond partisan politics and work for a common goal. This address is the key basis to the current American values regarding foreign policies.

Retirement

George Washington retired from presidency in March 1797 and went back to Mount Vernon. Washington devoted much of his time in his farm as well as his other business interests. His estate in Mount Vernon was valued at an estimated $ million as at 1799.The then president of the United Sates President Adams recalled Washington back to serve a lieutenant general in an imminent war with the French. Washington participated in planning a Provision army aimed at repelling emergency attacks from the French. Washington however avoided any direct delegation of the army preferring to conduct most of the delegation through a deputy army commander that he had appointed.

Conclusion

George Washington is one of the most influential presidents in the history of the United States of America. Being the first president of the U.S. George Washington set precedent for future presidents of America. Washington himself was not a member of any political party. His approach towards this is that formation of political parties would undermine republicanism. His views with regards to foreign policies and relation are that America should not allow foreign influence from other countries in the domestic issues of America. He also set the country’s foreign policy approach by setting guidelines that limited America’s interference in domestic affairs of other countries.

On 12th December 1799, Washington was involved in exercise of inspecting his cattle in snow and freezing rain. The following day, Washington developed acute epiglottis which got worse as the day progressed. Washington’s illness progressed until his death at around 10 pm on December 14 1799.Theer was a worldwide mourning of the death of the first president of the United States. The then French leader Napoleon declared a ten day mourning period throughout the country. The mourning was escalated by U.S. citizens who wore mourning clothes for months. In an attempt to protect their privacy, Martha Washington destroyed the correspondence between her husband and herself and only a couple of letters have survived form then.

George Washington has received acclaims of being an indispensible man of the current revolution. However, Washington secured immortality by the constant clarifications he made stating that he was dispensable. Washington main message to the world is that the cause of liberty is larger than any individual. Co-existence according to Washington is the best strategy in life. Washington wrote that each individual should extend his or her views beyond self effects and that individual conduct affects the whole society and not just the country or the immediate posterity. Washington message was that individual conduct at the time stamped political misery or happiness on ages not yet born. This call to the American citizens is not only meant for Americans but the whole world at large.

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