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Key Facts about George Washington

George Washington – first American president, commander of the Continental Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, and farmer. Through these roles, Washington exemplified character and leadership.

Birth and Early Life

Birth Date
February 22, 1732
Birth Place
Pope's Creek, Virginia
Augustine Washington (1694-1743)
Mary Ball Washington (1708-1789)
Samuel Washington (1734-1781)
John Augustine Washington (1736-1787)
Charles Washington (1738-1799)

Butler Washington (1716-1716)
Lawrence Washington (1718-1752)
Augustine Washington Jr. (1720-1762)
Betty Washington Lewis (1733 - 1797)
Mildred Washington (1737-1740)

Jane Washington (1722-1734)
Formal Education

George Washington was born at Pope’s Creek in 1732.

Located in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Popes Creek Plantation (also known as Wakefield) was the birthplace of George Washington. Augustine Washington, his father, built the plantation house in the 1720s.

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George Washington began inheriting enslaved people when he was 11-years-old.

George Washington inherited ten enslaved people from his father's will. He would go on to inherit, purchase, rent, and gain control of at least 577 enslaved people by the end of his life.

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George Washington's first career was as a surveyor.

Washington first attempted measuring land near Mount Vernon in the 1740s. Then in 1748, when he was 16-years-old, he accompanied George William Fairfax on a surveying expedition through the western frontier of Virginia. The next year, Washington secured an appointment as county surveyor for the newly created frontier county of Culpeper.

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George Washington contracted smallpox while visiting Barbados.

In 1751, George Washington accompanied his older half-brother Lawrence Washington to the island of Barbados. This was the only time George Washington ever left the mainland of North America. On November 17, 1751, George Washington contracted smallpox. Fortunately, he recovered and became immune for the rest of his life. This would become crucial in the American Revolution during a smallpox epidemic.

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French and Indian War

May 28, 1754
February 10, 1763
Great Britain
France and Spain

George Washington led an attack that started a world war.

In 1754, Washington led a surprise attack upon a small French force at Jumonville Glen. His subsequent surrender to French forces at the Battle of Fort Necessity helped to spark the French and Indian War, which was part of the imperial conflict between Great Britain and France known as the Seven Years’ War.

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George Washington's first elected position was in the House of Burgesses.

The first time George Washington ran for public office, he lost. However, he won his second race and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1758 until 1776. 

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Marriage and Children

January 6, 1759
Martha Washington (1731-1802)
Years Married
Daniel Custis (1751–1754)
Frances Custis (1753–1757)
John "Jacky" Parke Custis (1754–1781)
Martha "Patsy" Parke Custis (1756–1773)
Elizabeth "Eliza" Parke Custis Law (1776–1831)
Martha Parke Custis Peter (1777–1854)
Eleanor "Nelly" Parke Custis Lewis (1779–1852)
George Washington "Washy" Parke Custis (1781–1857)

George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759.

Less than a year after the death of her first husband, several men, including a militia officer less than a year younger than herself, began courting Martha Dandridge Custis. George and Martha Washington were married on January 6, 1759. They, her two children, and several enslaved people moved to Washington's home, Mount Vernon, in early April 1759.

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George Washington did not have any biological children.

While George Washington was fond of children, he and Martha did not have any biological children together. When they married, Martha had two surviving children, John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis, from her previous marriage.

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George Washington was a religious man throughout his life.

George and Martha Washington were devoted members of the Anglican Church. Martha spent time daily in prayer and George served as a vestryman and churchwarden in his local parish.

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Mount Vernon

Granted to the Washington Family
Inherited by George Washington
Previously Known As
Little Hunting Creek plantation
Named After
British Navy Admiral Edward Vernon
Mansion Constructed
Major Expansions
late 1750s and 1770s
Mansion Square Footage
Last Private Owner
John Augustine Washington III
Purchased by the MVLA

Explore the Washingtons' Estate

George Washington designed the expansions of the mansion.

The original house at the core of the present-day Mansion was built for Washington’s father, Augustine Washington, and likely consisted of four rooms and a central passage on the first floor and a garret. During George Washington's life, he undertook two major expansion projects. Washington was away during most of the construction work so he had friends or family oversee the projects. The majority of the work was actually done by Washington’s enslaved labor force.

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Revolutionary War

April 19, 1775
September 3, 1783
Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army
General George Washington (Appointed in 1775)
Commander-in-Chief of the British Army
Major General William Howe (Appointed in 1776)
General Sir Henry Clinton (Appointed in 1778)
First Major Battle
Battles of Lexington and Concord (1775)
Last Major Battle
Siege of Yorktown (1781)
8 years
The United States, France, and Spain
Great Britain

George Washington was appointed as commander of the Continental Army in 1775.

Despite having little practical experience in managing large, conventional armies, Washington proved to be a capable and resilient leader of the American military forces during the Revolutionary War. While he lost more battles than he won, Washington employed a winning strategy that included victories at the Battle of Trenton in 1776 and Yorktown in 1781.

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The Winter Patriots: A Revolutionary War Tale

Explore one of the darkest moments of the American Revolution and how the Continental Army, under the command of General George Washington, was able to save the cause of independence through one brilliant military campaign.

Constitutional Convention

May 14, 1787
September 17, 1787
To amend the Articles of Confederation (1777)
Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
States Represented
Delegates Attended
Constitution Ratified
June 21, 1788

George Washington presided over the convention that drafted the Constitution.

By 1787, the union between the states was unraveling. To save the young nation, delegates from 12 states met in Philadelphia first to amend and then to created a new form of government.

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A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Making of the Constitution

Explore the many challenges facing the new nation and how our founding fathers created the United States Constitution.


April 30, 1789
March 4, 1797
Vice President
John Adams
Political Affiliation
Years Served
Presidential Residence
New York City, New York (April 1789 – August 1790)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (November 1790 - March 1797)

George Washington was unanimously elected President of the United States. Twice.

George Washington helped shape the office's future role and powers, as well as set both formal and informal precedents for future presidents. Washington believed that it was necessary to strike a delicate balance between making the presidency powerful enough to function effectively in a national government, while also avoiding any image of establishing a monarchy or dictatorship.

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First Term (1789-1792)

George Washington was inaugurated as the first United States president on April 30, 1789. He spent most of his first term defining the role of the executive branch and literally setting up the government.

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Second Term (1793-1797)

George Washington spent his second term working to preserving the new nation in the face of rebellion and foreign wars.

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December 14, 1799
Approximately 10PM
Acute bacterial epiglottitis
Attending Physician
Dr. James Craik
Resting Place
The Washington Family Tomb at Mount Vernon, Virginia

George Washington died from a throat infection.

Late in the evening on December 14, 1799, at Mount Vernon, George Washington passed away of a throat infection. Tobias Lear recorded Washington's final moments in his journal that night: "I am just going", he said. After uttering some instructions, he whispered finally, "Tis well." Four days later he was buried in the family vault at Mount Vernon.

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George Washington made provisions to free all of the enslaved people he directly owned in his will.

Washington’s attitude toward slavery gradually changed as he grew older and especially as he fought for liberty in the American Revolution. In his will, he arranged to free the enslaved individuals he directly owned upon his wife’s death. On January 1, 1801, Martha Washington fulfilled this aspect of Washington's will early and 123 people's enslavement ended. She may have feared for her safety in a situation where the freedom of so many depended on her death.

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