Our timelines will help you to better understand the milestone moments in the life of George Washington.

Key Moments in the Life of George Washington

1732
1799
George Washington is Born
Washington moves to Little Hunting Creek Plantation
Washington moves to Fredericksburg, Virginia
George Washington's Father Dies
Washington seeks to join the Royal Navy
Appointed public surveyor for Culpeper County
Sails to Barbados
Washington sent to the Ohio Valley
Washington surrenders to the French
The Battle of the Monongahela
Washington begins serving in the House of Burgesses
George and Martha Washington are Married
Trip to the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers
Washington's First Portrait
First Continental Congress
Washington takes command at Cambridge, MA
The Battle of Long Island
The Battle of Trenton
Washington's forces enter winter quarters at Valley Forge
Victory at Yorktown
Washington resigns his commission
President of the Potomac Company
Constitutional Convention
Washington elected 1st President
Washington inaugurated as 2nd President
The Whiskey Rebellion
Washington retires as president
Washington Dies

February 22, 1732

George Washington is Born

George Washington is born at Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County, Virginia

Washington moves to Little Hunting Creek Plantation

George Washington’s father moves his family to Little Hunting Creek Plantation, which will later be called Mount Vernon

Washington moves to Fredericksburg, Virginia

George Washington’s father moves his family to another of his properties, Ferry Farm, near Fredericksburg, Virginia

George Washington's Father Dies

George Washington’s father, Augustine Washington, dies

Washington seeks to join the Royal Navy

George Washington considers entering the British Navy, but his mother will not give permission for him to go

Appointed public surveyor for Culpeper County

George Washington receives an appointment as a public surveyor for Culpeper County, Virginia.

Sails to Barbados

George Washington sails to Barbados with his older half-brother, Lawrence Washington, who is ill with tuberculosis.  While there, George Washington contracts smallpox

Washington sent to the Ohio Valley

George Washington is sent into the Ohio Valley to take a message from the governor of Virginia to French military forces, demanding that they leave.

Washington surrenders to the French

George Washington is appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the Virginia militia; defeats the French and their Indian allies at Great Meadows.  He is involved in a skirmish, which results in the death of a French diplomat and starts the French and Indian War; surrenders Fort Necessity.  Is very sick and surrenders his commission; begins renting Mount Vernon from the widow of his half-brother, Lawrence Washington.

The Battle of the Monongahela

Washington serves as a volunteer aide-de-camp to General Braddock during a disastrous campaign against the French; becomes commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces.

Washington begins serving in the House of Burgesses

Washington begins his service in the Virginia House of Burgesses.  He will serve until 1775.

George and Martha Washington are Married

George Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis, a young widow with two small children

Trip to the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers

George Washington and a friend from the days of the French and Indian War go to see their western lands on the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers

Washington's First Portrait

In 1772, Annapolis artist Charles Willson Peale visited Mount Vernon where he recorded the first known likeness of George Washington.  Washington chose to be painted in his Virginia militia uniform from the French and Indian War with marching orders in his pocket, even though he had resigned from the military some 14 years prior. 

First Continental Congress

George Washington presides over the meeting, which produces the Fairfax Resolves, promoting a boycott of British goods and the right of self-government; is chosen by and represents Virginia as a delegate to the 1st Continental Congress in Philadelphia

Washington takes command at Cambridge, MA

George Washington is chosen as a delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress; while there, he is selected to command the Continental Army; goes immediately to take command of the army at Cambridge, Massachusetts; begins a siege of the city of Boston

The Battle of Long Island

Washington's Continental Army is defeated on the Brooklyn Heights by Lord William Howe's British and Hessian forces.  Washington and the remainder of his army escape during the night to Manhattan.

The Battle of Trenton

Washington's ragtag army crosses the icy Delaware River on Christmas night 1776.  On the morning of December 26, 1776 the Continental Army attacks the Hessian garrison at Trenton.  Washington's fast moving forces capture most of the 1,500 man garrison.

Washington's forces enter winter quarters at Valley Forge

After the lengthy 1777 campaign, Washington led his 11,000 man army to winter quarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  The hard winter and scant supplies greatly depleted his army through disease and cold.  During this challenging period Washington faced many serious political threats both inside and outside his army.

Victory at Yorktown

Washington and Gen. Rochambeau's French forces receive the surrender of Lord Charles Cornwallis' army at Yorktown - the last major battle of the American Revolution.

Washington resigns his commission

George Washington resigns his military commission in Annapolis, Maryland - affirming his belief in civilian control of the military.  He returns home to Mount Vernon on Christmas day.

President of the Potomac Company

George Washington is president of the Potomac Company, seeking to improve transportation on that river

Constitutional Convention

George Washington is chosen to preside over the Constitutional Convention; He signs the new Constitution

Washington elected 1st President

George Washington is unanimously elected 1st president of the United States; travels to New York for his inauguration on April 30th

Washington inaugurated as 2nd President

George Washington is again unanimously elected to serve a second term as president of the United States

The Whiskey Rebellion

The Whiskey Rebellion breaks out in western Pennsylvania; Washington leads troops to the area to quell this revolt against paying taxes to the federal government

Washington retires as president

George Washington retires as president; leaves Philadelphia to return to Mount Vernon

Washington Dies

George Washington dies at Mount Vernon of a severe throat infection; body is placed in the old family vault at Mount Vernon

George Washington and the French & Indian War

1745
1758
Ohio Land Company Established
French Fort Building in the Ohio
Dinwiddie orders Washington to deliver an ultimatum
Washington hires Christopher Gist as a guide
Washington reaches Fort LeBouef
Washington returns to Williamsburg, Virginia
Washington promoted to Lt. Colonel
Surprise attack at Jumonville Glen
Washington surrenders at Fort Necessity
Braddock's March
The Battle of the Monongahela
Washington is promoted to colonel
Gen. Forbes' British forces capture Fort Duquesne
Washington resigns his commission

1745

Ohio Land Company Established

The House of Burgesses grants 1/3 of a million acres in the Ohio Valley to the Ohio Land Company, a land speculation company made up of Northern Neck planters, including Lawrence Washington, George Washington’s older brother.

French Fort Building in the Ohio

The Marquis de Duquesne oversees the development of a series of French forts built in the Ohio at key strategic locations.

Dinwiddie orders Washington to deliver an ultimatum

Dinwiddie selects Washington as his emissary to the French forts. Washington leaves Williamsburg October 31, 1753

Washington hires Christopher Gist as a guide

Washington hires Christopher Gist as a guide at the Ohio company fort on Wills Creek.  Also hires four men as porters. 

Washington reaches Fort LeBouef

Washington meets with Captain Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre at Fort LeBouef and presents Dinwiddie’s letter ordering the French to leave the region.

Washington returns to Williamsburg, Virginia

Washington’s party leaves Fort LeBouef with St. Pierre’s response on December 16, 1753.  St. Pierre says he will forward the letter to Duquesne.  Washington and Gist embark on a dramatic journey back to Williamsburg.

Washington promoted to Lt. Colonel

Washington is promoted from major to Lt. Colonel and placed second in command.  He is authorized to raise 200 men.  His mission is to drive the French out of the Ohio Valley. 

Surprise attack at Jumonville Glen

Washington and Tanacharison attack a party of French soldiers led by Joseph Coulon de Villiers, Sieur de Jumonville.  The Indians kill the wounded including Jumonville.  The surviving French claim to be on a diplomatic mission.

Washington surrenders at Fort Necessity

At 11 a.m. the French forces surrounding Washington's position attack Fort Necessity under Captain Louis Coulon de Villiers, Jumonville’s older brother. By 8 pm.  The French offer terms.  Washington and the other officers decide to surrender

Braddock's March

Gen. Edward Braddock and a large force of British regulars set out from Alexandria, Virginia for the long march to Fort Duquesne.  Washington volunteers as Braddock’s aide d’camp.

The Battle of the Monongahela

Braddocks' British forces, nearing their target of Fort Duquesne, are surprised and routed by a force of French and allied Native Americans.  Braddock is mortally wounded.  Washington steps in to help rally the remaining forces that subsequently retreat.

Washington is promoted to colonel

The Virginia House of Burgesses appropriates £50,000 for frontier defense.  Washington is promoted to a full colonel and is authorized to recruit 1,500 men.

Gen. Forbes' British forces capture Fort Duquesne

The French blow up and abandon Fort Duquesne.  British general John Forbes takes possession of the ground and begins building a new fort to be named Fort Pitt.  Washington and his Virginians take part in the successful campaign.

Washington resigns his commission

Washington resigns his commission in Williamsburg and returns to Mount Vernon.  On January 6, 1759 he marries Martha Dandridge Custis.

George Washington in the American Revolution

1775
1783
George Washington is appointed by Congress as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army
Washington takes command at Cambridge, MA
Washington commences the bombardment of British positions in and around Boston
The Battle of Long Island
Battle of White Plains
The Battle of Trenton
The Battle of Brandywine
The Battle of Germantown
Washington Arrives at Valley Forge
The Battle of Monmouth
Winter Encampment at Morristown
Washington and Rochambeau's armies begin their march to Virginia
Victory at Yorktown
Washington Delivers the Newburgh Address
Washington surrenders his commission to Congress

June 15, 1775

George Washington is appointed by Congress as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army

Attending the Second Continental Congress in military uniform, George Washington was appointed as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army by his fellow congressmen.

Washington takes command at Cambridge, MA

After his appointment as Commander-in-Chief in Philadelphia, Washington traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts to take command of the newly formed Continental Army positioned around Boston.

Washington commences the bombardment of British positions in and around Boston

With the arrival of heavy guns from Fort Ticonderoga, Washington made the bold decision to place these artillery pieces upon Dorchester Heights.  From this lofty position Washington could target the British ships in Boston harbor.  British attempts to deny the American's this position failed and the British forces departed Boston on March 17, 1776.

The Battle of Long Island

A British amphibious assault upon the American positions atop Brooklyn Heights led to a signal British victory.  Facing the prospect of a total defeat, Washington was able to save his remaining forces by shuttling them across the East River to Manhattan.

Battle of White Plains

William Howe's regulars attacked and defeated Washington's Continental Army at White Plains as part of the 1776 New York Campaign.

The Battle of Trenton

After crossing the icy Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776, Washington led his forces in an attack upon the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey.  Washington's lightning attack surprised the Hessians and led to the capture of almost two-thirds of the 1,500 man force - at the cost of zero American combat casualties.  This victory greatly bolstered the sagging morale of the Continental Army.

The Battle of Brandywine

George Washington and the Continental Army are defeated by General Howe's force marching north.  Howe was able to successfully flank the American forces holding positions across the Brandywine Creek near Chadds Ford.

The Battle of Germantown

Despite losing yet another battle to Gen. William Howe, Washington and his French allies were impressed with the vigor and determination shown by the Americans at the Battle of Germantown.

Washington Arrives at Valley Forge

Upon the conclusion of the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign, Washington led his poorly fed and weary army to winter quarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Washington's army was ravaged by disease, cold, and sickness during its time in Valley Forge.  Washington repeatedly asked Congress and other local magistrates for support of his wasting army.  During the time at Valley Forge, the Continental Army did receive improved field training from Baron Friedrich von Steuben.

The Battle of Monmouth

Seeking to strike the British army as it made its way north from Philadelphia, Washington's Continental Army attacked the British forces under the command of Sir Henry Clinton and Charles Cornwallis near Monmouth Courthouse, New Jersey.  

Winter Encampment at Morristown

While Valley Forge is more famous, the winter that Washington's army confronted in its winter quarters at Jockey Hollow, near Morristown, New Jersey, was the coldest in recent memory.  It was here at Morristown that the Continental Army was nearly starved out of existence.  The constant lack of food and the never-ending hard winter led to the mutiny of several Continental regiments.  Washington declared that the army could "perish for want of food."

Washington and Rochambeau's armies begin their march to Virginia

After deciding to take advantage of the arrival of the French West Indies fleet off the coast of Virginia and the precarious position of Lord Conwallis' army, Washington and Rochambeau agreed to march their armies south in a bold attempt to attack the isolated British garrison.

Victory at Yorktown

After almost a month since the start of the American and French siege of Yorktown, Lord Cornwallis agrees to surrender his British and Hessian forces to Gen. Washington.  This total victory over the British is the final major military action upon the continent.

Washington Delivers the Newburgh Address

Aware of the growing dissatisfaction within his officer corps stationed near Newburgh, New York, Washington deftly confronted a group of officers planning to march on Congress.  Asking to speak to the officers during their gathering at the "Temple", Washington's plea for patience and continued loyalty won over the conspirators and defused a potential military coup.

Washington surrenders his commission to Congress

With the war now at an end, General George Washington surrendered his commission to Congress in Annapolis, Maryland.  Washington's actions reaffirmed his core belief that the military was subordinate to civilian rule - a central principle of the new United States.

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