George Washington Biography

“The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation.”

– George Washington

George Washington (1732–1799) is often thought of as the ‘Father of the Nation’ his face is widely displayed on coins and statues throughout the United States.

George Washington

George Washington was born in 1732 in Virginia. His family were wealthy and they owned many slaves who worked on the plantations. As a planter, he felt constrained by British regulations and taxes and this proved one factor in encouraging him to fight the British in the later Wars of Independence. As well as working as a planter, Washington was interested in military matters and exploring the Western territories. In May 1775, his military experiences was used as delegates voted Washington to be head of the US continental Army.

“Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a Freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

– General Orders, Headquarters, New York (2 July 1776).

The War of Independence was to last six years; especially in the beginning, Washington had to deal with ill trained and poorly equipped soldiers. In the early days of the war he adopted a strategy of harassing the British but avoiding them in full scale war. It was not until 1781 when, with the help of French forces, Washington was able to defeat the British at Yorktown.

After independence, the difficulties faced by the emerging republic encouraged Washington to stand for public office. By a large majority, Washington was elected the first President of America.

Washington served as first US President from (1789-1797). Towards the end of his term, he grew weary of politics, in particular he didn’t like the factionalization of politics into different parties. In some respects, Washington preferred the ideal of strong central government. Although he fought the British, he appreciated the strength of a unified political body. However, Washington was keen to avoid the pomp and ceremony associated with Monarchs. He preferred to use the address of Mr. President.

George Washington was widely considered to be an able administrator and exemplary Gentleman. Washington died three years after retirement at his beloved Mount Vernon.

Although he never publicly spoke against slavery, he did leave provisions in his will to free his slaves on his death and after the death of his wife.


Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of George Washington”, Oxford, Updated: 8th January, 2017.

Washington – A Life

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