For Washington, the pursuit of knowledge was a life-long passion.

Unlike many of his contemporaries in the Continental Congress, Washington never attended college or received a formal education.  His two older brothers, Lawrence and Augustine Washington, Jr., attended Appleby Grammar School in England. However, when Washington was just 11 years old, his father, Augustine Washington, passed away, leaving the family limited funds for education. Private tutors and possibly a local school in Fredericksburg provided the young man with the only formal instruction he would receive.

To augment his studies, George Washington, begin to teach himself through reading and experimentation.  In his early life, three major influences drove Washington's path of self-betterment.  

Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.


George Washington - State of the Union Address, January 8, 1790

King's College

King's College

While George Washington never attended college, Washington did send his stepson, John (“Jackie”) Parke Custis to King's College in New York, known today as Colombia University.

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Washington's Library

Washington was self-taught and gained most of his education through his collection of books. He was interested in a wide variety of subjects from politics to agriculture, and biographies to military affairs.

At the time of his death, George Washington had more than 1,200 titles in his library.  Many of those books are preserved today at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. 

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Be like Washington and continue your own pursuit for knowledge.

Take Note!

Explore our digitized exhibit on Washington's personal library and the books that formed his life-long education.

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