George Washington (February 22, 1732—December 14, 1799) was an American statesman and soldier who served as the first President of the United States (1789—1797) and was one of the Founding Fathers of the country. He is popularly considered the driving force behind the nation’s establishment and came to be known as the “father of the country,” both during his lifetime and to this day.
George Washington was 17 years old when he qualified as a surveyor. He completed his first survey in less than two days (plotting a 400-acre parcel of land) and was well on his way to a promising career.
By 1752, Washington had finished nearly two hundred surveys on several properties on roughly 60,000 acres of land. Washington surveyed at completely different times throughout his life even until a few weeks before his death in December 1799.
Love and Marriage
In 1759, the 27-year-old Washington married a wealthy widow, Martha Dandridge Custis who was 28 years old. Although surviving letters suspected a love affair with Sally Fairfax, a married friend, George and Martha were a compatible couple, because Martha was intelligent, gracious, and experienced in managing a planter’s estate.
The couple never had any children together due to George’s earlier bout with smallpox in 1751 which might have made him sterile.
President Washington had a brewery company which produced 1000 gallons of whiskey per month. He also exported tobacco.
If Washington and his contemporaries had lost the American Revolution (1775-1783) they would have had their properties confiscated and would have been executed on a scaffold by the British.
As a General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Washington refused to accept the salary and this earned him a reputation as a “noble and disinterested” commanding officer.
In 1787, Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention which devised a new form of the federal government the United States use today.
Washington was widely loved for his robust leadership qualities and was unanimously elected President by the electoral body in 1789 and 1792. He remains the only American president to receive all the electoral votes.
Lawyer John Adams was elected the first Vice President after receiving the next highest votes in total.
Washington’s inauguration took place on the 30th day of April 1789, taking his first presidential oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City.
At his death in 1799, George Washington had only one of his natural teeth left. The rest were wooden teeth, teeth bought from black slaves and teeth of dead soldiers acquired from the battle-field.
He was aware that everything which he did set a precedent, and he attended carefully to the pomp and ceremony of office, making sure that the titles and trappings were not modeled after the Kings and Queens in Europe.
To that end, he preferred the title “Mr. President” to other majestic names proposed by the Senate.
George Washington oversaw the creation of a robust, well-financed national government that was neutral in the French Revolutionary Wars. The President suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion and won wide acceptance amongst Americans.
His incumbency established several precedents still in use nowadays, such as the cabinet system, the inaugural address, and the title “Mr. President“.
His retirement from the Presidency after two terms or eight years established a convention that lasted till 1940 and was later created law by the 22nd Amendment.
President Washington wanted a strong center that would bind the original 13 states together but the majority of Americans did not agree with him and the country has a weak center even till today.
Scholarly and public polling systematically ranks him among the top three presidents in the history of American presidents.
Washington has been depicted and remembered in monuments, public works, currency, and other dedications to the present day.
After reluctantly serving a second term, Washington refused to run for a third, establishing the tradition of a maximum of two terms for a president which was solidified by presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
Washington remains the only president without a political party and the only one never to have lived in the White House.
Washington had red hair but powdered it to be white. He was 6ft. 2in. tall and he had over 100 slaves. He wrote in his will for them to be freed after Martha’s death. However, after Washington’s death and fearing the slaves would kill her, Martha freed them a year after Washington died in 1800.
Washington’s Birthday (February 22) is marked as a federal holiday within the United States.
In 1976, while celebrating the country’s Bicentennial anniversary, George Washington was posthumously appointed to the rank of General of the Armies of the United States on January 19, 1976, to take effect on Independence Day, 1976.
The nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. was named after him.
Washington remains the only President who has a state in the U.S. named after him; the State of Washington.
‘Associate yourself with men of good quality……for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.’- George Washington (1732-1799), 1st President of the United States (1789-1797).
At his death in 1799, President George Washington had only one of his natural teeth left. The rest were wooden teeth, teeth bought from black slaves and teeth of dead soldiers acquired from the battle-field.
Washington died at his Mount Vernon home around 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 14, 1799, from an ailment believed to be cancer of the throat. He was 67.
The French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte gave an order of ten-day mourning in France and Britain’s entire Royal Navy flown its flag at half-mast.
His last words were, “It is well.”
Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.