Portrait Of A President
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George Washington was commander in chief of the Continental army during the American Revolution and first president of the United States (1789-97).
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim tribute to patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness—these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. . . .  Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.”
George Washington
Born Feb. 22, 1732, George Washington, the eldest son of Augustine Washington and Mary Ball Washington.

By 1753 the growing rivalry between the British and French over control of the Ohio Valley, soon to erupt into the French and Indian War (1754-63), created new opportunities for the ambitious young Washington.  He was dispatched (October 1753) by Gov. Robert Dinwiddie on a fruitless mission to warn the French commander at Fort Le Boeuf against further encroachment on territory claimed by Britain. Washington's diary account of the dangers and difficulties of his journey, published at Williamsburg on his return, may have helped win him his ensuing promotion to lieutenant colonel.  Although only 22 years of age and lacking experience, he learned quickly, meeting the problems of recruitment, supply, and desertions with a combination of brashness and native ability that earned him the respect of his superiors.

In July of 1775 Washington took command of the troops surrounding British-occupied Boston, devoting the next few months to training the undisciplined 14,000-man army and trying to secure urgently needed powder and other supplies. 
Early in March 1776, using cannon brought down from Ticonderoga by Henry Knox, Washington occupied Dorchester Heights, effectively commanding the city and forcing the British to evacuate on March 17.

Colonial morale at an all tune low, was briefly revived by the capture of Trenton, N.J., a brilliantly conceived attack in which Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776 and surprised the predominantly Hessian garrison. Advancing to Princeton, N.J., he routed the British there on Jan. 3, 1777, but in September and October 1777 he suffered serious reverses in Pennsylvania--at Brandywine and Germantown.
After holding his bedraggled and dispirited army together during the difficult winter at Valley Forge, Washington learned that France had recognized American independence.  With the aid of the Prussian Baron von Steuben and the French marquis de LaFayette, he concentrated on turning the army into a viable fighting force, and by spring he was ready to take the field again.  In June 1778 he attacked the British near Monmouth Courthouse, N.J defeating them and starting us on the road to establishing Americas place in the global community.

In May 1787, Washington headed the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and was unanimously elected presiding officer. His presence lent prestige to the proceedings, and although he made few direct contributions, he generally supported the advocates of a strong central government. After the new Constitution was submitted to the states for ratification and became legally operative, he was unanimously elected president (1789).

In March 1797 as George Washington left office, the country's financial system was well established; the Indian threat east of the Mississippi had been largely eliminated; and Jay's Treaty and Pinckney's Treaty (1795) with Spain had enlarged U.S. territory and removed serious diplomatic difficulties.  Washington refused to run for a third term and, after a masterly Farewell Address in which he warned the United States against permanent alliances abroad, he went home to Mount Vernon.  He was succeeded by his vice-president, Federalist John Adams.

He spent his last years in happy retirement at Mount Vernon where he died at his estate on Dec. 14, 1799.

George Washington
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