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George Washington, First President of the United States

The United States first President was George Washington. A great leader, family man, commander, and President. He certainly was a true visionary in many important areas involving war, peace, and the minds & hearts of his fellow countrymen.

Introduction

Many only know George Washington as the father of the country of the United States of America. He was both a loved and controversial figure. Various opinions and facts are available about whom he was, his life, actions, and accomplishments. From a modern point of view, we can examine and consider an abundance of information relating to him. As for any historical figure, the histories of facts are decided upon by a person’s way of seeing things. From a European point of view he was considered a radical, and from the colonist point of view in America he was seen as a hero. Mason Locke Weems an Episcopal clergyman and book dealer wrote a biography of George Washington first published in 1800. From Weems point of view Washington’s life was one of virtue that included extraordinary honesty, bravery, wisdom, and great physical ability. In the fifth edition of the biography printed in 1806, the legend of George Washington and the Cherry tree first appeared. The Cherry tree legend is believed by some to be true, and is explained in various ways.

One version of the story of young George Washington basically says he can not tell a lie after possibly cutting down a Cherry tree, and making that fact clear. Some controversy to this being true or folklore has been discussed greatly, and whether or not it really happened or happened this exact way is open to ones own beliefs. We can not verify every detail of Washington’s life experience and one may look at some life story details to be possibly metaphoric examples of personal traits. The Cherry tree story shows us in a basic way he was believed to be a very truthful person.

Because of many literary versions regarding the details about the life and history of George Washington exist some have dismissed many events involving him as unverifiable or just storytelling. A great number of people look at details involving the history of George Washington as unclear at best. It has been widely believed that Washington’s family destroyed by fire, edited, and gave away a large number of his private papers and letters. Some believe that personal details about George Washington are obscure and filled with hero worship and faith of him being like a demigod.

It is a matter of fact that many details of the life of George Washington are verifiably true and credible. Popular figures in history are commonly explained by one’s own way of explaining and conveying a story. Although the controversy remains till modern times about Washington’s life history details, one can be confident that a large portion of what is believed to be true is indeed correct.

Historian W. E. Woodward wrote that people think they do not understand George Washington because they can find in him nothing that is not within themselves. “It was just in that quality that his greatness lay. He was the American common denominator…” It is up to the individual to gather the facts and find their own beliefs. George Washington brought about the beginnings of major changes in the world regarding politics and governance. In modern times we can look back at history and find an interesting context for why things are the way they are. Undeniably George Washington was a visionary that strived for good things and freedom.

Early Years

George Washington was born in a brick farmhouse at 10 AM on February 11, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Colony of Virginia, British America. According to the modern calendar adopted in 1752, the exact date is believed to be February 22, 1732. The Washington family was of English descent. George’s father was Augustine Washington. His father was said to be “a blond giant”, “fabulously strong but miraculously gentle” and “a nervous businessman” by biographer James T. Flexner. Although we know it was unlikely that Augustine was a real giant of lore and legend, we can assume he was a very large framed and tall individual.

Augustine’s second wife, Mary Ball Washington was the mother. George also had three brothers and two sisters. The names of his siblings were Samuel, John Augustine, Charles, Betty, and Mildred. George was the oldest child in Augustine’s marriage to Mary.

George Washington also had three more siblings that were half related to him from his father’s first wife Janet Butler who had passed away. They were Lawrence, Augustine Jr., and Jane. George Washington had a total of eight brothers and sisters.

It has been said that Mason Locke Weems and others idolized Mary Ball Washington as the ideal perfect mother. Some people say she was prone to arguments and rather illiterate. They also say George Washington’s success was resented by his Mother Mary because she felt he had neglected here. When it came to ceremonies honoring him for his achievements she refused to participate although George was said to have given her a great deal of support for her financial needs. History books have said at the height of the revolutionary war she requested the Virginia legislature to come give her assistance. Some believe Mary was strong willed, firm, and eccentric. His mother’s actions caused both anger and embarrassment to George. He tried his best to take care of her but for Mary it never was enough, and so she is believed to have remained generally unsatisfied.

Many of George Washington’s needs were attended to by slaves and servants. Little facts are known about details like working conditions of the slaves or servants. One must realize for the time and place George grew up in, these matters were all completely part of normal everyday life. It is believed that George eventually moved with his parents near the Potomac to a 2,500 acre estate named Epsewasson, later known as Mount Vernon. Around 1738 they relocated again to a smaller estate, Ferry Farm near the Rappahannock.

Learning through experience

When George was only eleven years old his father died. At this time George Washington became much more independent of his mother and family and would often leave home for extended periods to visit friends and relatives. George Washington said “Some men will gain as much experience in three or four years as some will in ten years or a dozen”. During this time young George was eager to learn about all he could and see the world as much as possible.

Much of George Washington’s education was self taught through experience. He also learned what he could from his family, private tutor, and from the school teachers in Fredericksburg and Westmoreland County. The many subjects he studied included accounting, arithmetic, geometry, geography, land surveying, and the calendar & zodiac. He was greatly admired and seen as a man of thought and action. George was known both as a man of work and intellect. George Washington was also said to be fond of reading the Bible.

Young George was an enthusiastic reader, and learned a great deal being self taught through reading and books. He was an intellectual type person and had far reaching interests in many fields. Also in his studies he researched proper social behavior and developed his beliefs. He gained valuable insights into social behavior by reading and considering many various literary works like The Rules of Civility that was said to be studied by French Aristocrats. Early concepts of civil and proper behavior were at this time important in laying the foundation for current and future social benefits for people.

The concepts of civil behavior were both interesting and novel. Beliefs of proper social behavior that he examined included the unacceptability of actions such as cleaning one’s teeth with a tablecloth. Early social concepts like this were open to interpretation. For example, was cleaning one’s teeth meant to be taking out a set of dentures and cleaning them or using the tablecloth as an alternative to a toothbrush? As we can not go back and ask more about what these unclear early social concepts were, for now we can just assume general tips like these were meant to serve as guidance for proper actions. In this example the main point was not to use the tablecloth as a means to clean one’s teeth in any way or fashion.

Social beliefs that George followed also included that every action done in public should be performed with respect to those that are present at the time. Something to think about and consider is what’s considered normal and polite in modern times may be not normal and polite a long time ago in the past. George Washington considered what was generally courteous and polite in his time and found other peoples feelings important and something to respect.

An important tutor in George Washington’s rise in early Virginia society was his half brother Lawrence Washington. Lawrence was married to Anne Fairfax, and her family was a wealthy family in Virginia. Belvoir was the name of the huge wealthy estate owned by Anne’s father. Social gatherings at Belvoir were everyday and young George would go along with his brother to these meetings. We can see the doors of opportunity now opening up to George as he attended the gatherings at Belvoir with all the people of wealth and status from the community.

It’s been said that George Washington became very fond of Anne’s brother George Fairfax and his wife Sally. George and Sally Fairfax were also residence of Belvoir estate and young George Washington looked forward to visiting them there. Belvoir estate gave George Washington an important insight and connection to Virginia society that was very fortunate.

In 1748 when George Washington was sixteen years old he accompanied George Fairfax for one month surveying Lord Thomas Fairfax’s land. Lord Fairfax had vast land beyond the Blue Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley. As payment for helping George Fairfax, young George Washington received $7.20 per day of work. During this early time in American history, his compensation was quite a large amount of money to receive as a daily wage and also a very large amount to receive for employment at sixteen years of age.

The places they would stay sometimes while working and surveying the land were kind of challenging for George Washington. He was not used to sleeping on dry straw beds bound together in old sheets of cloth. Often the beds they rested on at night to sleep only had one blanket in a cold room, and the blanket would often be dusty and have bugs on it. Sometimes there were no blankets and the weather was very cold during the night. They both did their best though, knowing it was often the best available accommodations at the time. George kept a positive attitude and knew one of his finest benefits from helping survey would be the opportunity to learn all about the local lands, wilderness, and frontier. Such information could be very valuable and useful to have for the future he believed.

Growing up quickly

Young George Washington was not thought of as a child in his time working as a surveyor. The young man he was stood over six feet tall, and was believed to be around six foot three inches tall by some. Other accounts have said George was between six foot one and six foot two and one half inches tall. In that day and age of the early 1700’s, any person over six feet tall was quite large compared to what we think of as a tall person in modern times. Not only was George Washington a large man for his time, he was also a very large man for his age. Some describe young George as husky, tall and strong. George Washington wore a size 13 shoe, and in this era of time in which he lived that was a very large shoe size for a common man. He is also believed to have had brown hair and dark gray-blue eyes. Some also say he was descendant of English royalty.

George Washington was a serious type of person who would look you straight on during a conversation and really pay attention to what was being said. Many people described him as graceful and majestic in his movement. Strong and intelligent, we can imagine many people were drawn to him by his charisma and the way he carried himself. George Washington was detailed and careful about counting his possessions. It’s been said he once calculated the number of seeds in a troy pound of red clover he had as being 71,000 total. He was said to have memorized every foot of land he purchased with his surveying wages. George Washington purchased 1.459 acres of land before he was nineteen years old and in 1749 he was appointed county surveyor.

In 1751 George Washington went to the country of Barbados with Lawrence Washington. Lawrence was sick with Tuberculosis and he hoped this trip would help to bring back his health. It was on this journey that George contracted the smallpox. The illness George had suffered gave him a permanent rough complexion to the skin on his face but made him immune to the disease that later in his life brought great illness and difficulty to his Continental army. The next year Lawrence Washington died and George Washington moved forward and began a career in the military.

Military career

George Washington was commissioned a major in the Virginia militia, in the year 1752. In fall of 1753, Governor Robert Dinwiddie gave George a historic assignment to deliver a message to the French at Fort Le Boeuf in the Ohio Valley. The message to be delivered was a British royal ultimatum to the French to stop occupation, fortifications and settlements in the area under dispute. During those times the Ohio Valley was considered the royal Majesty’s territory.

The autumn season will bring in much colder weather to the land. George is only twenty one years of age and he prepares for one of the most important and dangerous journeys of his life. It is fortunate for him that through his experience in surveying the land he acquired knowledge of the wilderness that would be necessary to help successfully navigate this mission. He knows already that it will be important to be swift in delivering the message to the French before the weather becomes freezing cold. While on his way to deliver the message he surveyed a site for a future fort in Logstown and had conversation with the local Indians regarding relations with the British. With his guide and a few brave men George Washington steadily made his way towards his destination, determined to successfully complete his task.

When they arrived at Fort Le Boeuf George firmly delivered the message, but the French completely dismissed the claims to the land by the British. After the meeting with the French was completed, George Washington went back to deliver the French reply to Governor Robert Dinwiddie. During this time George suffered freezing temperatures and heavy winds. It took a long time to travel all the way to the Ohio Valley and now the cold winter was making itself known on their course to get back home. Performing this journey was certainly one reason George was considered a hero. The snow they walked through was getting deep and they were unable to use the horses they had. With unfavorable travel conditions now becoming clear, George Washington and his guide strived to complete their journey home on foot. The treacherous journey was more than five hundred miles to get back home through dangerous conditions and local Indian territory.

A most challenging event occurred as George Washington hoped the Allegheny river was frozen over thereby making it easier to cross, but to his disappointment it was only partially frozen and full of dangerous chunks of ice. To cross the Allegheny river would not be an easy task. The water was freezing cold and could certainly make one ill if exposed to the moisture. Another important consideration was that the water was inherently dangerous because the ice pieces floating in the water were sharp and heavy. The ice and water would certainly need to be avoided as much as possible to attempt to successfully cross the river. George’s guide was also said to believe unfriendly local Indians were sure to attack sooner or later unless they quickly made their way across the water somehow.

With one hatchet between them George and his guide chopped trees down and formed an improvised raft they would use to cross over to the rivers other side. Within an icy cold river on a raft they had built out of pressure and desperation they made their way across the water, and later George says it was like a miracle they made it. He thought for sure the raft would break and sink, getting stuck frequently between huge pieces of ice that were frozen. Some legends say George did fall in the river and his guide helped save him by pulling him out. With luck on their side that day, both George and his guide made it to the other side of the river bank. With the worst behind them, they went forward to Will’s Creek on January 7, 1754.

French and Indian war

In 1754, after receiving the message from the French delivered by George Washington, Governor Robert Dinwiddie concluded the British claim to the Ohio Valley must be defended. George received a monetary reward for his efforts and his report was officially printed for all to see. George Washington was commissioned a lieutenant colonel by Robert Dinwiddie.

In the Ohio Valley near the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers was a fort under construction that was attacked and overtaken by the French, it later became known as Fort Duquesne. Word spread of several advancements by French troops. At Great Meadows, Pennsylvania George and his troops ambushed and attacked a troop of French soldiers. Not all battles during the French and Indian war were victories for George Washington. Some strategists criticize that some of the area’s chosen by George to fortify with resources and troops were badly thought out. One such area was an abandoned fort called “Necessity”. It was in an area overlooked by a nearby hill and was partially swamp land. This was considered a very bad choice for a fort location because the area could be observed by the nearby hill and the swamp land area was rather unsuited for a military base.

On July 3rd, 1754 a large French force attacked the British and moved George Washington to surrender. Criticism of George often was along the lines that he was too quick to attack French troops and this sometimes put him in an odd position to expect a successful battle victory, although there was probably little other choice. Others say his role in the Seven Years war accelerated the conflict between powers involved. Dissatisfied with Governor Robert Dinwiddie’s management of Virginia’s military, George Washington resigned his commission at the end of the year in 1754.

In 1755 George Washington was appointed aide-de-camp to General Edward Braddock. At Monongahela, Braddock met up being attacked by a French and Indian force. They lost badly and Braddock was also killed. Part of the concern here was Braddock was trained and fought in the traditional European battle style while the French and Indian force practiced frontier war tactics. More than 70% of Braddock’s army was slaughtered and the rest fled. It’s been said that George Washington believed the survivors who stuck it out and fought bravely were the Virginia colonists and the regular troops either got killed quickly or ran off. With the men who remained, George organized a successful rally and retreat, although this battle was lost.

Upon returning to Virginia George Washington was named a colonel and commander in chief of the militia. At only twenty three years old he was able to defend the colonies more than 300 miles of frontier land from the French and Indians. He would stand in bravery and honor to defend the colonists from attack. Many strategists considered this task impossible but George proved them wrong. Not given proper recognition for his expertise as a spymaster, George Washington’s great skill in deception and strategy really would help secretly guard and protect the early American frontier much more than is currently understood. Without the proper number of troops and supplies, limit’s to his command, and a royal governor forbidding him from attacking the key French stronghold Fort Duquesne, this did not look like a simple and clear road to victory but the tide would turn in America’s favor with hard work and persistence. For well over two years George defended Virginia’s frontier wilderness fighting many countless battles and ambushes.

In 1758, General John Forbes and his British troops were ordered to attack Fort Duquesne. George Washington was to be Forbes brigadier. In the end the French abandoned and burned down their fort. Again George would choose to resign his commission, and he was elected to the House of Burgesses. After this great victory at Fort Duquesne, he retired to public life for sixteen wondrous years.

Public life after serving in military

On January 6, 1759 George Washington married the widow Martha Dandridge Custis. An ample woman but beautiful in her own way, she was also believed to be the richest widow in the colony. With a large family wealth the Washington family estate had combined land holdings of over 22,000 acres. George adopted Martha’s two children as his own, John”Jacky”Custis and his epileptic sister Martha Parke Cutis who died at the age of seventeen. George and Martha Washington did not have any children together and their only children were from Martha’s prior marriage.

Martha Washington was well known to be a nice and healthy lady. They lived together at Mount Vernon very happily. George leased Mount Vernon from Lawrence Washington’s heirs until he inherited it in 1761. It has been said that although the Washington family were happy together, George really loved George Fairfax’s wife Sally very much but since she was already married he settled for Martha. Although George Washington had a great affinity for Sally Fairfax, his love for Martha was true and real to see.

George Washington spent a good deal of his life during this time planting and harvesting tobacco, serving as church warden, brokering land, and providing surveyor services. Some say he also may have tried planting wheat. By many he was considered one of the richest men in America. A man of many talents, he really had numerous contributions to the community he lived in. He also served as a Fairfax County justice from 1768 to 1774.

George was a great host that held extravagant parties and gatherings at his home, Mount Vernon. A wise and careful plantation supervisor and manager, he was careful to plant and harvest efficiently and profitably. Washington did have slaves and servants who helped labor at his plantation, but it has been said his actions later in the 1770’s committed him toward the gradual abolishment of slavery. George Washington saw common elements between the tyranny of slavery, and the tyranny of abuse the British expressed towards the colonists. It is believed that George was against giving freedom to slaves if they were happy in their work, but he also realized that if the slaves wanted their freedom then they deserved a chance to receive it. Some other related legends are also popularly known relative to George Washington’s beliefs toward slavery but the facts are clear.

America’s Revolutionary movement

In 1763 on February 10th the Treaty of Paris was signed and formally ended the Seven Year’s war. This war was known in North America as the French and Indian war. An important event then occurred in 1765 with the Stamp Act. This new tax was implemented by the British on the American colonies. An embossed stamp from paper made in London was required to be present on various printed materials produced in America. The colonies resented this unfair and controversial new tax for various reasons including the necessity to use British paper for printing purposes.

As time passed the British became even more aggressive toward the American colonies. In 1767 The Townshend Acts were imposed on America and were essentially more laws to control and govern. The total specific acts are a bit unclear historically but basically they were comprised of five main laws, the Revenue Act, the indemnity Act, the Commissioners of Customs Act, the Vice Admiralty Court Act, and the New York Restraining Act. In 1768 the Massachusetts Circular Letter was written by Samuel Adams. It was passed in America by the Massachusetts House of Representatives in response to the Townshend Acts. In the Massachusetts Circular Letter, Samuel Adams made it clear that the Townshend Acts were unconstitutional because the American colony of Massachusetts was not represented in Parliament and had no say about what they contained. The Townshend Acts were seen as unfair and invalid because they were produced without the proper representation. Also the Acts were believed to contain laws which were considered absurd and unnecessary.

Eventually due to grievances regarding British policies, laws, and taxes the House of Burgesses in colonial America was dissolved in 1769. This act of unfair aggression left the American colonists feeling even more like a great injustice was being forced upon them. The colonists were being pushed to the edge and a breaking point was dangerously near that would be impossible in reversing. In 1770 the Boston Massacre occurred. It was a horrendous event where colonists that were gathered around British troops guarding the customs house were mercilessly killed by British troop gunfire. The protesting colonists were giving the British troops a hard time and throwing snowballs then the troops lost their composure and killed three colonists and wounded several others. Meanwhile as the British and American colonist tension mounted, George Washington was working to secure the Ohio Valley for settlement by veterans of French and Indian war.

From 1771 to 1772 colonial public awareness and skirmishes were well known and building a greater resentment towards the British. By 1773 the Boston Tea Party had occurred. In response to the East India Companies monopoly on tea imported by the American colonies, a group in the Boston community dressed as Indians boarded the ships carrying the East India Companies tea cargo that were docked in the harbor and threw the tea overboard into the water. This act of protest was seen as a key point that would foreshadow the dawning of a new revolutionary trend where the colonists clearly demonstrated they were at their limits with the rule of the British.

In response to the events involving the Boston Tea Party, more British laws for governing the American colonists were passed. In 1774 the Intolerable Acts were passed by British Parliament taking away self government and various rights held by Bostonians. The people of Boston and the thirteen colonies were very angry with these new laws passed onto them, and now the seeds of Revolution were beginning to grow into action.

Although he believed in god, George Washington was not seen as religious in a formal way. He was a man of virtue and believed in doing his best for his family, country, and community. By 1774 George was a fully active organizer right away in America’s revolutionary movement, and many new paths to follow began to appear around this time in his life. George Washington was a member of the Federalist political party. He made it clear about his disapproval of the stamp act of 1765 and gave his approval for Boston, Massachusetts to refuse to submit to British commercial restrictions. Adding to a long list of oppressive actions against the American colonists, Britain retaliated by closing the port of Boston. In those times, ports were an especially vital and important means of trade, travel, and distribution so this was a very major injustice imposed on the Boston community and economy.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson attended a important historical meeting at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg on May 27, 1774. The British Crown had moved to dissolve the House of Burgesses because from their point of view it was seen as rebellious. At this important meeting the Virginia legislators issued a vote of sympathy with the New England colonists. Vital facts and information was analyzed and discussed regarding a separation of the American colonies from British rule and tyranny. They planned a Continental Congress and would seek representatives. A resolution would be passed stating that an attack on one of the colonies would be considered an attack on all of them. Later on that year in September George Washington would attend the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia. At the meeting of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia the delegates gathered at Carpenter’s Hall to discuss the actions they would take to counter British rule and aggression towards the American Colonies. They agreed to boycott imported British goods, send petitions that would contain lists of grievances to the King of Britain, and reconvene again in the near future for further discussions of steps that would be taken.

On April 19, 1775 the Battle of Lexington and Concord began. This was known as the start of the Revolutionary War. The situation had not yet escalated into a fully developed war, but the battle was an important one. Secretary of State, the Earl of Dartmouth ordered General Thomas Gage, the British commander in chief to disarm the rebel militias. The Earl of Dartmouth feared for the security of the British colony troop supplies falling into the hands of the rebel militias. The Earl planned to also arrest top colonial leaders. Important supplies were rumored to be stockpiled by the rebel militias at Concord. General Gage would attack and attempt to occupy Concord. Colonial intelligence had already alerted top colonists to evacuate the area to avoid capture. Days later, General Gage sent troops to occupy Concord but most of the supplies were moved to another location and many colonists and rebel militia were already gone. Paul Revere and William Dawes were warned the British would be marching that night to Cambridge and the road to Lexington and Concord by Colonial Patriot Joseph Warren. A great moment of history was in the making as Paul Revere accompanied by William Dawes performed their important ride through the night to warn the colonists “The British are coming, the British are coming”.

Captain John Parker assembled together Lexington’s militia troops and ordered them not to fire their weapons unless first fired upon. The British troops arrived and ordered the militia to give up their arms. The militia men by order from Captain Parker were told to stand down but take their weapons home with them, then a shot was fired somewhere and the British open fire on the militia. For days many battles occurred in different locations from Concord to Lexington. Eventually the British marched toward Lexington once more and were ambushed by Captain Parker’s militia looking for revenge from the prior battle. As the end of the battle grew near, the British wound up taking most of the total casualties.

In May 1775, George Washington was again appointed a delegate. This time to the Second Continental Congress gathered in Richmond. He would be working on a committee given the task of drafting regulations for a Continental army and a strategy for defending New York City. During this meeting of the Second Continental Congress, John Adams nominated George as Commander in chief of the proposed Continental army. George Washington was elected unanimously and refused a salary for his service. During his assuming of the position he said “Though I am truly sensible of the high honor done me in this appointment, yet I feel great distress from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important trust.” George Washington also continued his service as a member of the Federalist political party.

On June 17, 1775 the Battle of Bunker Hill happened. The siege was fought on the Charlestown Peninsula, on the North side of Boston Harbour British General Thomas Gage would continue the fight from the prior Battle of Lexington and Concord. General Gage was blockaded in Boston by the American colonist troops, who took up positions in the hills in the West. His new target was to take Charlestown by sailing North across Boston Harbour and attacking. British ships with redcoat troops would land on the beach and perform a forward attack charging Breed’s Hill onto Bunker Hill. A hard battle was expected forcing the American colonist troops to complete building a fortification in one night. The British war ships fired canons from Boston Harbour at the American colonist troops on Charlestown Peninsula.

British Major General William Howe landed his troops head on from the beach as expected and heavy British casualties were the result. A full frontal assault with light infantry was not a good idea. It is believed the British officers underestimated the American colonist troop’s ability to fight and hold off a frontal assault. As the battle raged on heavy American colonist casualties occurred. It was recommended for American colonist troop’s to advance to Breed’s Hill to help hold off the redcoats but it was certain death, and there were few volunteers. As the American colonist troops ran low on ammunition and manpower the British made another push forward to Bunker Hill and the American colonists were forced to retreat. The American colonist new Continental army eventually lost the battle but the British again paid a high price for the victory. Over twice as many British troops were killed compared to American troops, so this loss should really be considered a terrific win for the American’s. Although many battles were lost by the American colonists, the hit and run strategy was rather successful in regard to killing large amounts of British redcoats.

By this time, Thomas Jefferson was believed to have already created early versions of the Declaration of Independence. These draft versions may not have been entirely understood or seen as necessary at this point by Congress. Not all the Congressional delegates were looking for full independence from Britain and Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in this way were seen by some as sort of radical, and not visionaries at the time. In July 1775 the Olive Branch Petition would be produced by Congress to appeal to the King of Britain, George III. The King received the Olive Branch Petition and in August of that year declared the colonists in a state of rebellion. As hostilities continued the King also hired Hessian mercenaries to help control the situation in the colonies. The Patriot colonists and others involved in the Second Continental Congress were considered to be guilty of treason by the King of Britain.

The Revolutionary War

It was now a certainty that the Revolutionary War was in full scale operation. George Washington appealed to the colonists for a unified state of mind in their efforts. In this way he sought an end to all regional jealousies that would serve only to create unnecessary colonial separatism in their efforts during the Revolutionary War with Britain. Later George would be discontent by the selfish actions of colonial governors primarily concerned with strong defenses protecting their local regions and areas. Problems to be dealt with besides battle included a lack of supplies, desertion, ambiguous intelligence, profiteering by merchants, and limited conditions of troop conscription that caused increased time and costs to train them. Another factor to consider would be the coordination of a patchwork type fighting force of militia men and American colonist troops now both assembled loosely together into a new Continental army. Under these various conditions the Revolutionary War would most certainly last much longer than first thought.

George Washington formally assumed command of his Continental army troops in Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 3, 1775. A serious shortage of cannons and ammunition was a problem which set back progress toward his first major advancement until March, 1776 when British occupied Boston and a British fleet of ships were placed in grave danger of Continental Army heavy fire bombardment. A newly fortified Dorchester Heights strategic position used cannons captured at Ticonderoga to threaten British Major General William Howe. Rather than facing the possibility of facing heavy troop losses again like at the Battle of Bunker Hill, General Howe evacuated Boston and retreated. Around this time George Washington also received an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard University.

On July 4, 1776 Congress produced the Declaration of Independence. The document proclaimed the colonies were now free from the British Crown under “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. The document was authorized in a meeting by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The Declaration of Independence was signed by the congressional delegates in the Independence Hall. Before the historic building was renamed, the Independence Hall was formerly known as the Pennsylvania State House. The patriots wanted a land of liberty that was free from royal influence, and this was a new beginning for them to make a fresh start with The Declaration of Independence. The document is believed to be drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776. Some say other early versions do exist but the accepted version officially is this one authored by Thomas Jefferson during this frame of time.

British Major General William Howe returned again to battle after the redcoat’s evacuation and retreat from Boston on March 17, 1776. This time his objective was to focus on attacking New York. On August 27th, 1776 The British moved to attack the New York area. It was a hard battle to win from the beginning because the American Continental army was outnumbered approximately two to one. The British would be easily identified by their redcoat uniform and some Continental army troops were wearing a blue uniform but most soldiers were wearing whatever battle uniforms they could come by, carefully choosing not to wear red because they could possibly be engaged in a fight with Continental forces if mistaken as a member of the British army.

General Howe would advance his troops from the East towards Brooklyn and from the South more redcoats would strike with additional troops. George Washington’s men were setup in a line to defend British troop advancements from the South. The Continental army was also deployed to defend Brooklyn. The British army entered Staten Island on July 3, 1776 and the Continental Congress declared independence the next day on July 4, 1776. The British army landed on Long Island on August 22nd South of the Continental army and had German reinforcements in reserve to back them up in battle. Faced with overwhelming attack from multiple directions, on August 29th George Washington evacuated his troops from Brooklyn and by September 15th he pulled out the Continental army from New York in retreat brilliantly evading Major General Howe. A grave mistake was said to be made by General Howe in not being able to capture George Washington and large portion of the Continental army forces.

The resistance and cleverness of George and his Continental army frustrated and greatly upset Major General Howe, but from the British point of view it was still an important loss to the American cause having given up New York to them. Another British goal that went unfulfilled was General Howe hoping to sail up the East river and dividing George Washington’s army in two. The redcoats would just have to settle for the final battle results without this event occurring as planned. It was believed that possibly George Washington also requested to Congress permission to burn down New York, and this proposal was rejected

On October 28, 1776 The Continental army would battle again for New York in the Battle of White Plains. This time General George Washington’s Continental army was more even matched in regards to the total number of troops. The Continental army was in control of the North on Manhattan Island and an area West of the Bronx River in late September. The British navy was using their ships to land and attack various places. Eventually the British drove George Washington to retreat with his army to White Plains.

Major General Howe and his redcoats with German troops pursued George Washington and the Continental army hoping to crush them once and for all. As General Howe continued to advance from the South he requested reinforcements from Brigadier Lord Percy in Manhattan to intercept General George Washington and the Continental army, but it was too late and the American’s crossed the Croton River to safety. By the end of October the battle of White Plains was considered a stalemate and no progress was made in liberating New York. As the Continental Army marched to New Jersey, Major General Howe captured Fort Washington and took Kingsbridge. In November, George Washington was also saddened to face the fact that Fort Lee was captured by British General Cornwallis and his redcoats. After going through many trials in a short span of time, George Washington and the Continental army would end up extending their retreat all the way to the Delaware River.

Delaware River Crossing

By December 1776 George Washington and the Continental army were in Trenton, New Jersey on the Delaware River after being driven out of New York by the British. Moral was at a low point during this time. Freezing winter had set in and life was difficult from day to day. It is believed George Washington prayed for divine help to achieve victory fighting for freedom. Although it was believed that George was not overly religious, he did have faith in a higher power and was a man of virtue. He believed that he would persevere and come out on top. Nothing would detour his faith in the Revolutionary cause. His army felt very exhausted and lacking hope, but George was a phenomenal leader who inspired belief in all his men. They may not have believed they could make it through such a hardship on their own, but they did believe in him immensely and this would help carry them through this situation victorious in the end.

Facing overwhelming odds against them and the Continental Army’s period of enlistment soon to expire, George had a plan. George Washington and the Continental army planned to cross the Delaware River on Christmas night, December 25th, 1776. The crossing would be accomplished at three different points. Then they would attack the Hessian mercenaries in Trenton town. The Hessians were hired fighting men from Germany that were hired as reinforcements to expand the forces of the British army. Hessians were not officially part of the British army but often thieves, killers, or debtors. The British troops were spread thinly and overextended. George would take advantage of this fact after the British chased him inland.

George Washington had approximately 2,400 troops including subordinates Major Generals Nathaniel Greene and John Sullivan. At the Delaware River they boarded river boats in three different places. George had experienced similar winter conditions in his youth and although the river was partially frozen and full of dangerous blocks of ice, he and the Continental army forces that accompanied him bravely made the journey across the river. Persistent and admirable, the poorly clothed Continental army accomplished their crossing. Some soldiers even walked barefoot without shoes in the cold river water and snow. There were also some Continental army troops that failed to cross the river under the harsh and dangerous conditions.

Colonel Johann Rahl was the commander in charge of the British Hessian troops in Trenton Town. It is believed he was warned by intelligence that the Continental army was approaching Trenton Town and dismissed the information as rubbish. Colonel Rahl did not construct battle fortifications for defending the town from attack as he was ordered by the British. This was a grave mistake, for having not prepared for a defensive battle Colonel Rahl put himself at a great disadvantage. General George Washington and the Continental army marched into Trenton town and began to attack the Hessian troops from different directions and places in town.

Under attack from both front and back the British Hessian troops lost badly and many of them were killed or wounded from gun and artillery fire. Colonel Rahl was fatally wounded and died. The remaining Hessian troops retreated to an orchard grove near the far side of town and were captured. They surrendered and were taken prisoner. The Battle of Trenton was seen as a key battle victory that made it clear to the British that the American colonies would not easily be beaten or fall short to any foreign enemy. With his knowledge of the American frontier and his ingenious latent strategy to spare his troops by retreat, George Washington had just begun to exploit the thinly deployed British army to his advantage.

British General Cornwallis and his redcoats heard about General George Washington’s new headquarters at Trenton’s Assunpink creek and began marching towards the fortification in order to attack it. George used Continental army intelligence to learn of General Cornwallis and his British troops advancing towards his headquarters and after attending a council of war he quietly evacuated leaving campfires burning during the night of January 2, 1777 to give the look and feel he was still there. Meanwhile George Washington and the Continental army marched to Princeton where he ambushed a British garrison at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. This strategic move cut off supply somewhat to British General Cornwallis but Lieutenant Colonel Mawhood and his redcoats put up a fight directly with George Washington and his men.

Continental army General Hugh Mercer was mortally wounded and died in battle. British Lieutenant Colonel Mawhood became overwhelmed by Continental army troops and charged through them to fight and make way for escape. As George Washington and his men went after Lieutenant Colonel Mawhood, British General Cornwallis’ troops gave aid in battle reinforcements. The British supplies were not fully secured by the colonists and the marched forward on to Morristown. This battle never really got off the ground on either side. Plans and strategies on both sides did not work out. Although not a great number of deaths occurred considering such a blazing fast moving battle. The American colonists suffered the important loss of Continental army General Hugh Mercer.

George Washington in just a few great battles against the British forces had taken back a large portion of New Jersey and suffered through many hardships, including some troop desertion and negotiating a several week conscription increase so he could keep some of his Continental army troops with him a bit longer to solidify his tactical objectives. But now many of the troops were exhausted and would return soon to their homes after serving out the duty they performed in America’s service. Many brave militia men had also helped serve their country, but George still was uneasy about the reality of training new men to replace the army troops that were done with their tour of duty. For now there was no time to lament. The only way to win the war was to keep moving progressively forward.

As more territories became increasingly important to defend from Britain, in 1777 Pennsylvania was also now the focus of British interest and they would have both British and Hessian troops confront the Continental army and militia men. Major General Howe and his redcoats would often take to the sea when necessary and sail to each location for many different battles. On September 9th, 1777 George Washington prepared for defense of the Pennsylvania area to the West of Philadelphia. The Brandywine Creek at Chad’s Ford was used to set up Continental army fortifications to fend off the British troops intending to take control. The Battle of Brandywine Creek happened on September 11th, 1777.

On the West side of the battlefield, British/ Hessian Lieutenant General Knyphausen fired cannons across the river at George Washington and the Continental army. To the North of George Washington’s forces, General John Sullivan had his line of troops fighting and giving important intelligence updates on British Major General Howe and his battle position. While the Hessian troops continued to target the Continental army with cannon fire, Major General Howe pushed the Continental army from their positions and the colonists were forced to march East toward Philadelphia to retreat. After this time Philadelphia would eventually become an important target for British control and occupation. The Battle of Brandywine Creek is considered an indecisive battle. The fight ended in the withdrawal and retreat of the Continental forces. It was also not a good place for the Continental army to easily defend considering the geography and direction of enemy troop approach. Making a stand may have been the only choice here.

Shortly after the Battle of Brandywine Creek, British Major General Howe captured Philadelphia on Sept. 26th, 1777. Philadelphia had long been in the eye of General Howe and the British crown because it was the location of the Second Continental Congress. Although they would later learn that the simple occupation of Philadelphia would not easily stop the Second Continental Congress, because they just end up moving to a different location where they can not be easily interfered with.

Germantown is a town in Pennsylvania, North of Philadelphia. Just one month after the Battle of Brandywine Creek, the British and American colonists were ready again for battle in the Pennsylvania area. The Battle of Germantown was fought on October 4th, 1777. The Pennsylvania Militia was positioned west of Germantown, and General George Washington’s troops were primarily positioned north of Germantown near the Chew House. British Major General Howe and his troops had setup camp in the northern part of Germantown after the Battle of Brandywine Creek.

George Washington planned to launch a surprise attack from multiple fronts in a similar manner as the Battle of Trenton, but unfortunately it did not go as they expected. British Colonel Thomas Musgrave fortified the house of Chief Justice Chew. It was a building made of strong and sturdy stone. Colonel Musgrave used the Chew House like a stone fort to hold off George Washington and the Continental army. There was fog that made it hard to see and the colonists attack plan did not flow as expected. Militia never got their attack off the ground and the Continental army attack plans backfired. As fatalities mounted up on the colonist’s side, they lost their confidence and all George Washington’s troops ended up in retreat.

Perhaps the colonists had some bad luck or maybe just poor planning? Nothing in this battle went right for George this day and the colonists ended up with twice the losses of the British. One fine quality about George Washington is he knew when he was beaten and did not believe in fighting to the death if lives could be saved by withdrawing from battle to fight another day.

In New York State on October 17th, 1777 near the Hudson River at Saratoga the war continued with the Battle of Saratoga. During the Battle of Saratoga, many British and hired troops under British Major General John Burgoyne were defeated and killed by a huge American Continental force of over 17,000 troops led by ex-British officer, Major General Horatio Gates and the later infamous Brigadier Benedict Arnold. The British forces were estimated to be at over 5000 men. The large numbers of British fighting troops were clearly no match for the American Continental forces that outnumbered them nearly three to one.

The British originally planned to use their army to isolate New England from the colonists. The minister in London, Lord Germaine had used his authority of direct control of the British war policy to convince the King of Britain, George III to appoint Major General John Burgoyne to be commander of the operation against the colonists. The British army under command of General Burgoyne was to capture Fort Ticonderoga and proceed south eventually expecting to combine forces with a second British force under General Clinton, but Major General Howe did not send the reinforcements due to a lack of communication regarding proper orders being given to do so. The occurrence of this key error between British command orders could have been the difference in turning the tide of battle to support General Burgoyne, although it would have still been a great battle victory to have been able to defeat the gigantic numbers of the American Continental army.

Unable even to acquire enough supplies for his troops, General Burgoyne seemed to march straight into a hopeless defeat. General Burgoyne and the British continued to fight without retreat to Fort Ticonderoga because they held on to the belief General Clinton and his army would finally arrive to support them. British General Burgoyne continued to battle the colonists until October 17th, 1777 where during this time he would yield to defeat and sign the agreement to surrender to General Horatio Gates and the Continental army. The ramifications of surrender by General Burgoyne were very negative for the British, for their defeat during the Battle of Saratoga would only lead to more support in Europe for the American Revolution.

The Articles of Confederation were adopted in America by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777. The Articles were a short lived but significant framework to provide a type of confederation of sovereign American states. Final ratification of the articles would be considered at a later time because there were still discrepancies to be worked out between the states including such issues as control of frontier lands.

Valley Forge

December 1777 was a low time for George Washington. In Pennsylvania, Valley Forge was a camp for the American Continental army to ride out the winter time season that brought extremely harsh weather conditions and cold freezing temperatures. The location was important because it was near key locations that the army could support in a hurry if needed. Some say it would have been best to have camped farther south to avoid the winter weather but this would not have been a good decision because travel during these times during the winter season were slow and inefficient. We know George Washington dreaded the stay at Valley Forge by his comment describing his stay there, ‘A dreary kind of a place, and uncomfortably provided’. This may be seen as a polite understatement for the troop accommodations were often just basic log cabin barracks, uninsulated from the cold weather and not well designed to provide means of heating to keep warm.

The army troops were forced to eat mostly soup, and make due without necessities like shoes, proper clothes, and warm blankets. The soup they had to eat was sometimes full of dry leaves and dirt. The soldier’s clothes were generally dirty and often full of lice. Adding to their hardships, Valley Forge troops also dealt with much disease and sickness ranging from colds and flu, to smallpox and pneumonia. When possible local community groups did what they could to help the support the troops with many things like donations and medical care. The British troops were better off during this time because they often had better supplies and camps to recover from battle.

The very location and plan to set up camp at Valley Forge was intentionally meant to allow George and his troop’s time to heal, rest, and train for battle. Also there was a security about the location and camp conditions that would by nature lend itself to failure by the British to attack it. Although Valley Forge was dark and dreary it offered the Continental army a place of security to regroup and plan their next moves.

During his stay at Valley Forge, harsh living conditions were not his only problems. George was also criticized in Congress by some who felt he was making poor decisions, loosing too many battles, and unnecessarily sacrificing his men. The dissatisfaction regarding George Washington’s performance in battle led to the Conway coalition, or also known as the Conway Cabal. Brigadier General Thomas Conway authored letters to the Second Continental Congress recommending that George Washington needed to be replaced as Commander of the American Continental army. There was no real coalition set in place to replace George. After the controversy General Thomas Conway would eventually end up resigning from the American Continental army after many supporters come to the defense against the harsh words and criticisms delivered towards George Washington. General Horatio Gates was a proposed replacement for George Washington’s position. He would later come forward to offer an apology for his participation in the matter. Little did many realize that George was involved in conditions on and off the battlefield that were often near hopeless. The negative criticisms would never detour George from his loyalty to serve his country.

The Franco-American alliance of 1778 was brought about in part by the phenomenal victory by the American Continental army in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. At Saratoga the American colonists inspired France and they came to strongly believe in the American Revolutionary cause. In time Spain and other European forces would come together to strengthen this alliance. Through a treaty, France would officially recognize the United States of America. The Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a Treaty of Alliance were signed in Paris on February 6, 1778 by both American and French representatives serving to further isolate European support for the British. The French under King Louis XVI offered the American colonists supplies. George Washington was very pleased by the offering to his Continental army.

This same year, France would ultimately end up declaring war on Britain while allied with America. King Louis XVI saw the American Revolution as an opportunity to strike out against Britain. Sometime later due to the French Revolution, the King of France would be beheaded in execution. King Louis XVI may not have foreseen the American Revolution as a possibly dangerous inspiration for the French Revolution that would occur in his own country.

Growing stronger each day the American Revolutionary cause became a larger and larger thorn in the side for Britain. In March 1778, the British Parliament forms a Peace Commission. The Commission claims Britain will accept all American demands except their independence. Congress then ended up rejecting the offer. Years were beginning to pass, and the rebellion as seen by the Crown was still not yet any closer to being put down.

By his own request Major General Howe was replaced in his position of command in May of 1778, by another British general named Sir Henry Clinton. In June 1778, Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton departed from Philadelphia traveling to New York. While making his way through New Jersey he would be pursued by George Washington who confronted him at the Battle of Monmouth on June 28th, 1778. The battle that followed would be known as the last major battle in the north.

General Clinton had his redcoat army positioned in the east, while General George Washington positioned the Continental army in the west. The day was hot and muggy at Monmouth with intermittent rainy weather. American General Charles Lee was to engage the enemy and delay them long enough for the main Continental army troops to attack. General Lee was said to have delivered a poor performance of command by launching a uncoordinated free style attack which resulted in his retreat. George Washington was expecting to attack the British from the rear, but instead met up with General Lee in process of retreat.

Very upset about the out of position forces of General Lee, George Washington angrily ordered him to the rear of the Continental army and charged forward replacing General Lee’s command with his own in an attempt to regain control of the retreating troops. The British maintained their attack while George Washington ordered the Continental army to use an artillery attack from near by Comb’s Hill in the south. Legend says American patriot Molly Pitcher took over the duty of firing artillery cannon when her husband fell in battle. At days end, the British made their retreat in a similar way as George had used in the past. The British army retreated under cover of darkness as the night fell upon the battlefield. With approximately 300 casualties on both sides, and numerous men expired from heatstroke due to the hot weather this battle was seen as a draw with neither side able to claim victory.

While in retreat British General Clinton was plagued by deserters and lost a great deal of troops not by death but to troops leaving his command, and many of them joining the American Continental army. Plans to retake Pennsylvania and New Jersey were a failure. The British were pleased by the lack of battle command by American General Lee and he was later disciplined for his actions on the battlefield with a court martial.

Some factors to consider relating to why General Lee acted the way he did at the Battle of Monmouth were open to speculation. Valley Forge offered new battlefield training, perhaps awkward and unfamiliar to many in the American Continental army. Some troops were set in their ways of combat using frontier style battle techniques, and not formal army battle styles. No Continental generals ever made perfect decisions all the time to win every battle, but perhaps this time General Lee’s actions were considered gross negligence unbefitting of a seasoned army commander. Some people said his actions were rather traitorous. Possibly General Lee was highly eccentric, and was just prone to do things in his own way.

While British General Clinton battled in the North, on December 1778 the British turned their main focus toward an offensive in the Southern colonies under General Cornwallis. Savannah, Georgia was first to be captured followed shortly thereafter by other surrounding area towns including Augusta. After failure to control the Northern American states during the first few years of the Revolutionary War, the British believed the South would be an easier target of forced compliance with Britain. In this way it was hoped the colonists would yield to the King of Britain and give up their pursuit of independence.

On May 10th, 1779 the towns of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va. were attacked with fire by troops in the British Navy. This was part of the plan by the British to administer terror as an alternative to outright battle exclusively. Not only would the Continental army suffer, but the American colonist people were made to suffer directly and feel a personal loss. Britain was soon to be in a place where it had no allies. Spain was also ready to declare war with Britain, and did just that on June 16th, 1779. Spain did not directly ally itself with the American colonies in battle, but offered other types of help like spreading the British troops out more thinly by fighting the British on other battlefronts that were more closely aligned with Spain’s own direct interests.

Originally George Washington thought the Revolutionary War would be a conventional war fought only with troops and battlefields. His men even received special training for battle at Valley Forge. By this late stage in the war there were new threats emerging and developing into a clearer picture to be learned and understood. Perhaps the British were exploiting his widening of the battlefield by warping it into something different, like attacking colonial states less prepared for defending themselves. It may be that the British were intentionally avoiding his command of the battlefield and avoiding the reach of the Continental army. They were targeting the weak and defenseless in a cowards fight. Secret loyalist to the King were also spying on patriots and attempting to destroy the colonists from within. George saw evidence of this with fire attacks by loyalist insiders and intelligence leaks. These new and devious moves by the Crown were despicable and justice would need to prevail soon.

Benedict Arnold was said to have had communications directly with the British since the summer of 1779. His wife Peggy Shippen was said to be a secret loyalist to the Crown and she personally knew Major John Andre when the British occupied Philadelphia. George Washington said he though very highly of Benedict Arnold and wanted him to play a greater role in the Continental army.

The infiltration of loyalists throughout the colonies would become a great concern, and the problem would need to be addressed firmly sooner or later. Several hostile raids had occurred in coastal towns. In Connecticut, both Fairfield and Norwalk were burned by British loyalists. Many ships in New Haven harbor were also set ablaze on July 5-11, 1779. As the year progressed forward in 1779, there would be more social dysfunction. Not just problems with loyalists, but problems with native American Indian tribes not getting along with local colonist communities. Both would often attack one another for revenge or just to prove a point.

A tremendous loss occurred in Georgia where Continental army forces attacked British troops in Savannah. Over 800 American troops were killed. This was a smaller battle that occurred Sept. 3 - Oct. 28, 1779. Even though it was a minor battle, the tremendous loss that occurred was not easy to fathom.

September 1779, appointed by the Continental Congress to negotiate peace with Britain, John Adams would participate in political negotiations trying to work out a resolution and end to the American Revolutionary War. Both sides had many chances to voice their conditions, and a large number of options were well known already. Many believe these meetings were more of a formality then an actual progress maker.

George Washington sets up winter camp in December 1779. This year it was to be located in Morristown, New Jersey instead of Valley Forge. A large number of troops were again unhappy and this time chose to desert the Continental forces or act in mutiny. George Washington was in the Northern area of America, and army troops were sympathetic to the situation down South. They began to wonder why they were in this location, when the main battle was proven to be in the Southern States. George and those soldiers who bravely stayed at camp would go through a similar experience like Valley Forge all over again. George was firm in his ways, and he would ride out the winter again just like he did last time.

George Washington continues to recover with his troops in Morristown, New Jersey while British General Clinton sets sail for Charleston, South Carolina. Since the British planned to concentrate their efforts to focus on the Southern colonies, they would be sure to fortify the area with a large troop presence. British General Charles Cornwallis would combine forces with General Clinton, and a large loyalist population that would total over 14,000 men. Also a large number of ships would meet up with the British troops and serve as a stronghold of operations for plans to attack the North. The attack to be launched against the South Carolina colonists would be fought in Charleston.

In April 1780, The Battle of Charleston was fought against invading British General Clinton. Benjamin Lincoln and the colonists were overwhelmed by the attack, and in May 1780 the Americans were defeated and surrendered. Lack of sufficient Continental army protection was said to be a large factor in the loss of Charleston to the British. Less than one hundred colonists were killed, and thousands were captured.

Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold was a highly admired General in the Continental army with several important victories he had achieved at battles like Saratoga and Fort Ticonderoga. He became a person of interest regarding treason around 1779, when he was suspected of leaking intelligence to the British. It’s also been said that his wife was a loyalist with personal military connections. Although under suspicion by the Continental forces, he was a highly respected friend of George Washington. George originally believed in him, and had a hard time seeing Benedict Arnold was an informer.

General Benedict Arnold was put into command of a garrison at West point in New York in August of 1780. It was unexpected that he would plan to soon betray the American colonies and surrender West point to the British. General Benedict Arnold continued to turn over information to the British and his foreign contact Major John Andre. A colonist who was in conversation with General Benedict Arnold told him British Major John Andre was captured and arrested by the militia. Fearing for his life, General Benedict Arnold escaped and defected to the British army, later living in exile never to return. George Washington was rather let down about this after having learned about General Benedict Arnold being a spy, yet he did have some ideas about him and chose to look the other way. In war sometimes you can not even trust your own friends, he must have thought to himself.

Early beginnings drafting the Articles of Confederation were begun in 1776-1777. They were being finalized and agreed upon to provide a type of confederation of sovereign American states. The 13 colonial states had disagreements regarding details in the Articles. With the states now in agreement, they would be formally ratified on March 1, 1781.

After loosing his hold on the Carolinas, British General Cornwallis marched into Virginia and captured Yorktown. In the North, French troops under the Comte de Rochambeau combined forces with Washington and the Continental army. They would join together with the French Naval commander the Comte de Grasse from the West Indies. In August of 1781 they planned to trap British General Cornwallis on land and by sea. George Washington marched with troops to Virginia and outnumbered General Cornwallis two to one. French navy victories from the sea devastated British forces and the Franco-American alliance siege created a hopeless situation for General Cornwallis during September and October of 1781. British General Cornwallis expected the arrival of General Clinton, but as that possibility faded away General Cornwallis surrendered on October 19th, 1781.

The victory of the American colonist’s Continental army and the French army at the Battle of Yorktown would become known as the last major military engagement of the Revolutionary war. A seemingly odd tradition and act of goodwill, legend says the Continental army officers offered to provide dinner as hosts to the British officers. With brave and skillful efforts by the combined might of the Franco-American alliance, the Battle of Yorktown was a phenomenal success for George, the French, and all Americans. Possibly this battle was the greatest victory of all in the Revolutionary war. The Battle of Yorktown was generally seen as the end of the Revolutionary war. Britain would not officially end the war till a later time.

The end of the Revolutionary War – A new American beginning

The formal end to the Revolutionary War was near. New objectives and challenges would face George Washington and the American people. George had stood his ground against unjust tyranny and the King of Britain to bring freedom and independence to America. Many events that occurred during the Revolutionary War show the great character and brilliance of George Washington. From his brave perseverance during the hardest of times to firm rejection of the British Crown, he was a man who was a model patriot.

On September 3, 1783 the Treaty of Paris was signed. The United States of America and Great Britain would officially declare peace. The treaty was signed by British Crown Representative, David Hartley. For America, the treaty was signed by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay. Britain would sign other separate agreements with countries like France and Spain. The treaty of Paris would later be ratified by the American Congress of the Confederation in January of 1784.

Prior to signing of the Treaty of Paris, George Washington set the date of April 19, 1783 as the day for formal ending the hostility with Great Britain. The date of April 19 was significant because it was the anniversary of the Battle of Lexington. As George entered New York in November 1783 he was welcomed triumphantly by waving American flags and fireworks. He bade his officers’ farewell at Fraunces Tavern and resigned his commission as commander-in-chief to Congress in December.

With his great mission now done, George returns to Mount Vernon. He said at age fifty one “I have become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac”. Described himself like “A wearied traveler”. He told of his experience as having “escaped the quicksand’s and mires which lay in his way”.

Retirement for George Washington was not sedentary rest. It was getting back to all the things he loved to do again. He would enjoy happy, fun, and rewarding activities. Spending time with his family was most certainly a top priority he looked forward to. During his retreat, George was asked to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia May 25 to September 17, 1787. George was comfortable at home and had some second thoughts about leaving his wife Martha and family.

While attending, he was already well informed and knowledgeable about many current issues and was unanimously elected president of the Constitutional Convention. The goal of the convention was to create the American Constitution. Executive power and how it would be allocated and applied was also an important topic of discussion. Some believe the Presidential position was created with George Washington in mind. Providing for the common defense was a vital issue discussed because of the funding concerns demonstrated during the Revolutionary War. Securing liberty for the people was also very important.

With the Constitution soon to be ratified, a strong Federal Government with authority to impose taxes was now possible. The funds generated through taxes would help solve money related concerns. New Hampshire’s vote accomplished the American Constitution being ratified on June 21, 1788.

First President of the United States of America

At Mount Vernon, George Washington would receive a request to serve the United States. By unanimous vote in February 4th, 1789 the Electoral College named George Washington as the first President of the United States of America. John Adams was the runner-up candidate and would serve as Vice President. George Washington remains till today as the only United States President unanimously elected. During his two terms as President he ran unopposed. Many celebrations and events supported the Presidential election, including parades and parties. In early 1789, George would leave his home in Mount Vernon and travel to the nation’s capital in New York City. During this time in history before being later relocated, the capital of the United States was located in New York.

At fifty-seven years of age, George Washington was destined to lead the nation as a new country of freedom and democracy. On April 30, 1789 in New York City, the nation’s first Presidential inauguration happened. A large crowd was gathered waiting to see George Washington. His appearance was grand as he stood tall with his dress sword at his side. The oath of office was administered by Robert Livingston. The oath was repeated by George with devotion and honesty, and he bowed to kiss the Bible. Robert Livingston said loudly and with great enthusiasm “It is done. Long live George Washington, President of the United States”.

While giving his first Inaugural Address, George Washington asked for God’s aid, and would decline any mention of receiving a salary for serving as President. The only request for personal funding was to have his expenses covered. George had a vision of the nation as needing to come together, without selfish forms of self interest or views demonstrating separatism. He made it point to describe in his own way an important need to establish truth and liberty.

The establishment of the Bill of Rights was meant to prepare amendments that would be applied to the Constitution of the United States of America. September 25th, 1789 was when congress forwarded to the state legislatures a number of purposed amendments to the Constitution. There were a total of twelve amendments to be considered, and numbers three through twelve would be approved for adoption in the Bill of Rights of the United States of America.

In the year 1789 the beginning of the French Revolution was starting to be seen. Between the years 1789-1799 this would all play out by the French implementing in their own way, a revolution that seems to have been inspired by the American Revolution. In a general sense, the French people were dissatisfied with the conditions of liberty they would live by and sought various remedies to related concerns. Although the American’s were grateful for the large support by the French during the American Revolution, this time America would for the most part let France work out it’s concerns on it’s own.

The United States capital was relocated from New York City to Philadelphia in 1790. Also in the year 1790, George Washington would sign the Assumption bill. This bill would allow for the debt of individual states to become Federal debt, as proposed by Alexander Hamilton.

Differences between political leaders while interpreting laws and governance would eventually lead to a trend in the United States to expand upon the model of the Federalist style parties. Alexander Hamilton was a leader in the Federalist Party. Thomas Jefferson was very active in the Republican Party. Both parties had shared beliefs in America, but differences would persist in political areas relating to various different topics like the financial system, and the national military.

The President was allowed to choose the US capital’s location near the Potomac River. George Washington was allowed to move forward on the plan for the new capitol by Congress passing a law in July, 1790. The law also called for three commissioners chosen by President Washington to oversee the development of this project. The commissioners wanted the new district to be called the Territory of Columbia and in September 1791 this one done. Later on the Territory of Columbia was to be known as the District of Columbia.

The Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton had many ideas for laws regarding finances and debt. To help supply much needed funds for managing national debt, President George Washington would give his approval for Hamilton’s idea to levy an excise tax on liquor, and would also sign the National Bank Charter. Some believe the law to impose the excise tax on liquor around this time in history gave rise to the Whiskey Rebellion.

At the American Presidential election held in 1792, George Washington was re-elected President of the United States for a second term. He also won again unanimously. George Washington made it clear, that when it came time later to choose a new President he would not be interested in a third term. By his refusal to run again for office, it set a unwritten precedent that a Untied States President would not be allowed to serve longer than two consecutive terms in office.

In 1793, George Washington would issue a proclamation of neutrality. Thomas Jefferson was frustrated and weary, he did not agree with the Presidents policy of neutrality. The proclamation of a neutral stand on the issue in Europe would relate to America preferring a policy of non involvement. The President believed that it was best to let Great Britain and France settle important matters involving dispute on there own. Edmond Charles Genet, on behalf of France was pushing controversial political views that George Washington thought may get the nation into more trouble. President George Washington requested that Genet be recalled by France.

A major member of President George Washington’s cabinet was Thomas Jefferson. The President appointed Thomas Jefferson the Secretary of State in 1789, but on Dec. 31, 1793 Jefferson resigned his post. Thomas Jefferson was well known not to get along well with Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury. Both were also members of two different early political parties and had differences involving politics that seemed rather irreconcilable. Jefferson played a major role in the implementation of many important things including the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, and also had firm beliefs about governmental policy.

In 1794 was the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion. The law to impose an excise tax on whiskey and other liquor was approved by President George Washington in 1791. After the American Revolutionary War the last thing people were looking for in a free country was to suffer from tax again. The tax was important and necessary for the nation to have funding. There were few ways at the time to create revenue; therefore this new tax would be a great help. The Whiskey Rebellion was blamed for various troubles in Pennsylvania. George Washington requested help from the militia to enforce the federal policy regarding liquor tax, and he would continue not to tolerate any unreasonable actions of protest.

John Jay who was Secretary for Foreign Affairs was requested to look into issues such as secure trade with the French West Indies. Even though the United States of America was now on good terms with Britain, there were still smaller issues to be ironed out not completely solved by the treaty of Paris signed in 1783. Jay's treaty was signed in London on November 19, 1794 to address these various issues. Although not entirely having a direct effect on most political issue’s in question, Jay’s Treaty was seen as successful to a point because tensions between countries were eased over time and forgotten to some degree.

Following Thomas Jefferson’s resignation as Secretary of State, Dec. 31, 1793, other resignations and adjustments also occurred as the years went on during George Washington’s back to back terms as President of the United States. Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury would also end up leaving Washington’s cabinet. Compared to other Presidential terms, we can draw some conclusions. Replacement of cabinet members is perfectly normal. Since the President and his cabinet need to all work together toward a common goal and purpose, personnel adjustment is needed sometimes for fine tuning the system.

Spain and the United States signed Pinckney's Treaty on October 27, 1795 in Madrid. Uncertainty about boundary issues between Spain and the United States was causing tensions with the two countries. It soon became necessary to try and define area boundaries with greater detail. Pinckney's Treaty offered answers, and helped places like Western Florida and others. Most issues relating to government were also addressed by the treaty. Pinckney's Treaty was additionally known as the Treaty of Madrid or the Treaty of San Lorenzo.

The United States Presidential election of 1796 was the first contested American presidential election. John Adams was elected President of the United States. He would become the third President of the United States. Although he did not win his place in office unanimously like George Washington did, he certainly was a great man the nation was proud to have served as President.

George Washington publishes his Farewell Address

September 19, 1796. George Washington publishes his Farewell Address after serving two terms in office as the President of the United States. An original draft was first written in1792 with assistance by James Madison. Originally George only planned to serve one term in office as President so he prepared his Farewell Address in part some years ago. Updated with help by Alexander Hamilton, George Washington’s Farewell Address was completed and ready for distribution by publishes and newspapers. The Farewell Address was a detailed goodbye from the First President of the United States. The truth and wisdom shared in the document would touch on important subjects from unity and sectionalism to his closing thoughts. With many topics in between, it offered the country a very fortunate opportunity to have valuable information to be passed on from the prior President to the new President, and the American people.

George Washington retires home to Mount Vernon in1797. For almost two years he would rest and get back to the activities he loved to do in his free time. Only a year later, a new undeclared naval war with France would begin in 1798. The Quasi-War with France had started. George Washington is appointed commander of provisional army. He was always ready to battle for his country and protect the freedom of the people.

This time he would again come to aid and support another worthy cause, but George was now approaching his late sixties in age and would not be able to sustain his health much longer. George Washington died December 14th, 1799 at Mount Vernon, Virginia, United States at the age of 67. After his death, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in . . . an everlasting remembrance”. Many kind words can be said about George Washington, but enough can never be expressed from ones own heart in their sincere appreciation for such a phenomenal man.

George Washington - general summary: Facts timeline

Early years

1732 - George Washington: Born February 22, 1732

Learning through experience

1748 - George Washington at sixteen years old accompanied George Fairfax for one month surveying Lord Thomas Fairfax’s land.

1749 - He was appointed county surveyor.

Growing up quickly

1751 - Journey to Barbados with Lawrence.

1752 - Lawrence Washington dies.

Military career

1752 - George Washington commissioned a major in the Virginia militia.

1753 - Governor Robert Dinwiddie gave George a historic assignment to deliver a message to the French at Fort Le Boeuf in the Ohio Valley.

1754 - George delivers message from French back to Governor Robert Dinwiddie.

French and Indian war

1754 - French and Indian war begins.

  • George Washington attacks French near Fort Duquesne.
  • July 3, a large French force attacked the British and forced George Washington to surrender.
  • Experiences battle difficulty at Fort Necessity.
  • George Washington comes under criticism regarding his strategic performance, resigned his commission at the end of the year.

1755 - George Washington serves under General Edward Braddock.

  • General Edward Braddock killed in battle.
  • George Washington was appointed Colonel and Commander in Chief of Militia.
  • For more than two years George Washington and his men defend the colonies more than 300 miles of frontier land.

1758 - General John Forbes and his British troops were ordered to attack Fort Duquesne.

  • French leave the Ohio Valley.
  • George Washington was elected to the House of Burgesses.
  • Resigns his commission and settles down.

Public life after serving in military

1759 - January 6, George Washington married the widow Martha Dandridge Custis.

1761 - George Washington inherits Mount Vernon.

America’s Revolutionary movement

1763 - Treaty of Paris signed on February 10th. End of French and Indian war in North America.

1765 - The Stamp Act.

1767 - The Townshend Acts.

1768 - Massachusetts Circular Letter

  • George Washington becomes a justice of Fairfax County and served from 1768 to 1774.

1769 - The House of Burgesses is dissolved.

1770 - The Boston Massacre

  • Secures the Ohio Valley land for veterans of French and Indian war.

1773 - Boston Tea Party.

1774 - The Intolerable Acts.

  • The first Continental Congress, George Washington is delegate to the first Continental Congress.

1775 - Beginnings of the American Revolution.

  • Battle of Lexington and Concord.
  • George Washington is delegate to the Second Continental Congress and elected Commander in Chief of the Army.
  • Bunker Hill.
  • The Olive Branch Petition.

The Revolutionary War

1776 - Siege of Boston. British evacuate Boston.

  • Declaration of Independence.
  • Revolutionaries loose New York in battles of Long Island and White Plains.
  • Delaware River crossing
  • George Washington retreats through New Jersey and takes Trenton. Battle of Trenton.

1777 - George Washington takes Princeton.

  • George Washington defeated at Brandywine Creek.
  • British Major General Howe captured Philadelphia on Sept. 26th.
  • George Washington defeated at Germantown.
  • Burgoyne surrenders at Saratoga.
  • Articles of Confederation were adopted.
  • Harsh Winter at Valley Forge. December 1777-1778
  • Conway coalition exposed.

1778 - Franco-American alliance.

  • The British Parliament forms a Peace Commission.
  • Major General Howe was replaced in his position of command.
  • George Washington victorious at the Battle of Monmouth.
  • British turn their main focus toward an offensive in the Southern colonies under General Cornwallis.

1779 - The towns of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va. were attacked with fire by troops in the British Navy.

  • Spain enters the war with Britain on June 16th.
  • In Connecticut, both Fairfield and Norwalk are burned by British loyalists.
  • Harsh Winter expected in Morristown, New Jersey.

1780 - British forces take Charleston, the Battle of Charleston.

  • Benedict Arnold at WestPoint.

1781 - Articles of Confederation ratified. < March 1, 1781

  • George Washington receives surrender of Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown.

The end of the Revolutionary War – A new American beginning

1783 - Treaty of Paris signed September 3 ended the American Revolutionary War.

  • George Washington bids farewell to his officers and resigns commission.

1787 - Constitutional Convention.

  • Establishment of the United States Constitution.
  • George Washington was elected President of the Constitutional Convention.

1788 - Ratification of Constitution.

First President of the United States of America

1789 - George Washington was elected President of United States. Term as President, 1789-1796

  • Establishment of the United States Bill of Rights.
  • French Revolution. 1789-1799

1790 - Capital relocated to Philadelphia.

  • George Washington signs the Assumption bill.
  • Beginning of rival political parties.

1791 - The District of Columbia is established.

  • George Washington signs National Bank charter and approves excise tax.

1792 - George Washington was re-elected president of the United States for a second term.

1793 - George Washington issues Neutrality Proclamation and demands recall of Genet.

  • Thomas Jefferson resigns as Secretary of State.

1794 - The suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion.

  • Jay's treaty signed in London.

1795 - George Washington reorganizes his Presidential cabinet.

  • George Hamilton resigns from Cabinet.
  • Pinckney's Treaty signed in Madrid.

1796 - John Adams elected President of the United States.

George Washington publishes his Farewell Address

1797 - George Washington retires to Mount Vernon.

1798 - Undeclared naval war with France begins.

  • George Washington is appointed commander of provisional army.

1799 - George Washington died from sickness at Mount Vernon, Virginia on December 14th.

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