George Washington (22 February 1732 – 14 December 1799) was soldier, farmer and statesman, and served as the first President of the United States under the U.S. Constitution. Since the late 1780s, Washington has been referred to as the "Father of His Country" by compatriots. He was commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and presided over the 1787 Constitutional Convention. As a leading Patriot, Washington was among the nation's Founding Fathers.
Washington was born to a moderately prosperous family of slaveholders in colonial Virginia and had early opportunities in education which he used to advantage. He learned mathematics and quickly launched a successful career as a surveyor and land investor; as a result, he eventually acquired over 70,000 acres of land. He joined the Virginia militia at age 20, fought in the French and Indian War, and rose to the rank of colonel. The Second Continental Congress made him commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1775. Washington's strategy and command of the army combined with a French alliance to defeat the British, who surrendered after the Siege of Yorktown. He also waged war against the Iroquois nation, a British ally. His devotion to American Republicanism impelled him to decline further power after victory, and he resigned as commander-in-chief in 1783. He was unanimously chosen to lead the Constitutional Convention in 1787 which devised the new Federal government.
Washington was also unanimously elected as President by the Electoral College in the first two national elections. He oversaw the implementation and promotion of a strong, well-financed national government; he also suppressed a rebellion. He remained impartial in the fierce rivalry between two cabinet secretaries, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, though he adopted Hamilton's plans to pay federal and state debts, create a national bank, establish the seat of government and implement a tax system. When the French Revolution plunged Europe into war, Washington assumed a policy of neutrality to protect American ships—although the Jay Treaty of 1795 created an alliance with Great Britain. He set precedents still in use today, such as the Cabinet system, the inaugural address, the title "Mr. President" and a two-term limit. In his Farewell Address he gave a primer on civic virtue, warning of partisanship, sectionalism and involvement in foreign wars.
After inheriting African slaves at age eleven, Washington engaged and prospered in the slave trade most of his life but eventually became troubled with its practice; in his 1799 will he bestowed freedom on all his slaves. Washington is noted by historians for his religious toleration; his personal religion, and devotion to Freemasonry, have been debated. Upon his death, he was famously eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen". Scholarly and public polling ranks him among the top three Presidents in history, and he is honored by countless monuments, public works, place names, stamps and currency.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "George Washington" as of 06 Aug 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.