George Washington, who was born on February 22, 1732 in Virginia to a tobacco farmer, is memorialized on dozens of U.S. and international postage stamps. In public school, I learned that Washington never told a lie, exampled by his famous “confession” to his father that he had cut down a cherry tree. Yet this tale was fabricated after his death to make him appear perfect, but Washington was not perfect. For instance, he owned hundreds of slaves when he was a farmer. Although it was the norm at the time for farmers to use slaves to work their land, it wasn’t until late in his life that Washington gave any serious thought to how wrong this was. However, he is notable for his importance in the course of American history. He first became famous for his bravery when Washington published a journal of his dangerous adventures when he was sent to deliver a message to the French to abandon forts they built near the Ohio River Valley. He was a member of the militia which consisted of part-time soldiers who were not part of the regular army. Of course, the French did not comply, but Washington’s journal was inspiring to readers. Washington would later serve alongside the British army at the Ohio River Valley where they would fight against the French troops and hostile Indians in what became known as the French and Indian War.
After the war, Washington lived in Mount Vernon, Virginia with his new bride Martha and her two children from a previous marriage. There, he peacefully would work as a farmer for 15 years. During this time, there was serious thought about the colonists wanting their independence from England. In particular, colonists did not like their hard earned American dollars being taxed for British advantages. There was a protest in Boston against tax placed on tea, where rebels disguised as Indians tossed the tea off the import ship into the water, refusing to pay the tax. At 43 years old, Washington was asked to lead the brand new Continental Army in helping to fight against the British in what would become the War of Independence. Since most of the battles were fought in the north, conditions were often cold, snowy and wet. Food was scarce. Disease was rampant. However, the long struggling war was eventually won by the Americans partly due to Washington’s organization of surprise attacks against the British. It was at the Battle of Yorktown in Virginia where the British finally surrendered. It took another two years for a treaty to be agreed upon by both parties and signed.
Washington was elected as the first President of the United States. He was sworn in at the temporary capitol in New York City. He helped plan for a new capital entitled Washington, D.C., which would capture his namesake. By the time his second term ended eight years later, he chose to leave office, stating that he felt two terms was long enough to serve as president. He lived his remaining life peacefully in Mount Vernon and died on December 14, 1799 at the age of 67 from a bad throat infection.