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To fully study the life of George Washington it is important to also understand the world that he lived in.

When Washington was just a Boy


  • At the age of eleven, George Washington inherited ten slaves from his father. 
  • Daniel Boone was learning to hunt in the backwoods
  • John Hancock was practicing penmanship in the Boston Latin School
  • John Adams was a Massachusetts farmer boy
  • Benjamin Franklin was a printer in Philadelphia and was conducting experiments with electricity
  • Vitus Bering, while exploring for Russia, crossed the strait from Asia to what would become present-day Alaska
  • Junipero Serra, who would later found California, arrived in Mexico from Spain
  • James Watt, who would later invent the steam engine, was an apprentice in his father's shop
  • James Cook, who would later discover Australia, was setting sail for the first time
  • German princess Catherine "The Great" went to Russia
  • Johann Sebastian Bach died in 1750
  • Maria Theresa became the queen of Austria and mother of many children
  • Louis XV was king of France
  • Voltaire was writing against injustice
  • Frederick "The Great" became king of Prussia
  • George II, though German-born, was King of England
  • George III was just a boy
  • Chien Lung, in 1736, began his sixty-year reign as Emperor of China

When Washington was a Soldier


  • James Wolfe captured Quebec and England claimed Canada
  • William Pitt gained an Empire for England by winning the war against France
  • British Major General Robert Clive won power for England in India
  • Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa, fought in vain to save his country for his people
  • The Spinning Jenny was being thought out by James Hargreaves
  • Pompeii had been discovered and was being unearthed
  • Washington married Mrs. Martha Custis in 1759
  • Thomas Jefferson was just sixteen
  • Elizabeth of Russia, Maria Theresa, and Madame de Pompadour, the three most powerful women in Europe, plotted revenge on Frederick II
  • Frederick II uncovered the plot that would begin the Seven Years War
  • Voltaire was writing against war and hatred
  • Goethe, the great German poet, was a schoolboy
  • Catherine II was crowned Empress of Russia in 1761
  • Ch'ien Lung forbade "barbarian" traders from Europe to enter China
  • George III was crowned King of England in 1760

When Washington was a Farmer


  • George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759 and more than doubled the number of enslaved people under his control through "dower slaves" that Martha brought to the marriage. 
  • James Cook landed in Australia in 1770 and claimed it for England
  • James Watt invented the steam engine in 1769
  • Junipero Serra established the first Spanish mission in California in 1769
  • The element oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley
  • Daniel Boone lead pioneers westward over the mountains into Kentucky
  • Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769
  • Marquis de Lafayette was just a boy
  • Mozart "the wonder boy" was giving concerts in Europe
  • Francisco de Goya was learning to paint 
  • Alexander Hamilton was just a boy living in the West Indies
  • Louis XVI became the King of France in 1774
  • Poland was torn into pieces by Frederick "The Great" of Prussia, Maria Theresa of Austria, and Catherine II of Russia
  • Marie Antoinette was sent by her mother, Maria Theresa, to marry Louis XVI
  • Samuel Adams stirred up Massachusetts
  • George III taxed his American colonies into Rebellion
  • William Pitt upheld the colonies as Edmund Burke pleaded on their behalf
  • Patrick Henry earned acclaim as the orator of Virginia
  • Benjamin Franklin was in England until 1775 as a representative for the colonies
  • The first shots of the Revolution were fired at Lexington on April 19, 1775
  • Benjamin West was court painter and friend of George III 

When Washington was Commander


  • Thomas Paine riled up the colonies to declare independence
  • Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence
  • Pierre Beaumarchais sent secret supplies to America from France
  • Betsy Ross of Philadelphia was busy making the new flag
  • After signing the Declaration, Benjamin Franklin went to make friends for America in France and arranged a treaty with France in 1778
  • Lafayette served without pay in the American army
  • General John Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga in 1777
  • Louis XVI was forced by his ministers to join America against England
  • John Adams went to Holland to borrow money
  • Spain declared war on England and laid siege to Gibraltar
  • James Cook, looking for a northwest passage, was killed by natives in Hawaii
  • Catherine II opposed England with a League of Armed Neutrality 
  • John Paul Jones raised the Stars and Stripes for the first time on an American man-of-war
  • Simon Bolivar, who would play a key role in Latin America's struggle for independence from Spain, was born July 24, 1783
  • George Rogers Clark won forts in the northwest and gave America claim to the territory
  • Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown in 1781
  • Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Henry Laurens, and John Adams signed the Treaty of Paris with England in 1783

When Washington was a Citizen


  • Canada was settled by Loyalists from the United States 
  • Man's first voyage into the air was made in a balloon after test flights taken by a rooster, a sheep, and duck
  • Pierre Beaumarchais defied the King with his play "The Marriage of Figaro"
  • Australia received its first shipload of English settlers
  • Thomas Jefferson went to Paris to arrange trade deals with the newly formed United States
  • Benjamin Franklin bade farewell to France and returned to America
  • John Adams, accompanied by Abigail, went to England to represent the United States
  • In France, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's ideas of simplicity became popular
  • Marie Antoinette played a peasant at Hameau de la Reine while the real peasants were starving
  • Frederick II of Prussia died alone in 1786
  • Catherine II was called "The Great"
  • Joseph II was named Emperor of Austria after his mother Maria Theresa died in 1780
  • The Constitution of the United States was written in 1787
    • James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution," did most of the writing and also recorded the meetings
    • James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton wrote articles on the Constitution, known as The Federalist Papers, and persuaded the states to ratify it

When Washington was President


  • Vermont, Tennessee, and Kentucky became states
  • Thomas Jefferson was the first Secretary of State
  • John Adams was Vice President and would later serve as President
  • Alexander Hamilton served as the first Secretary of the Treasury 
  • Dr. Edward Jenner discovered a new way to prevent smallpox by vaccinating patients with cowpox
  • Washington laid the cornerstone for the new United States Capitol
  • The cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney
  • Robert Fulton drew his first idea for a steamboat and wrote James Watt about an engine
  • The Rosetta Stone, the key to Egypt's hieroglyphs, was unearthed
  • Emperor Ch'ien Lung received England's first ambassador to China and replied to George III
  • The fall of the Bastille opened the French Revolution on July 14, 1789
  • Lafayette headed the National Guard and proposed the new colors of France
  • Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, defended the rights of both the people and the King of France
  • Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were beheaded in 1793
  • The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 and the Slave Trade Act of 1794 were passed by the United States Congress.
  • Jean-Paul Marat, Georges Jacques Danton, and Maximilien Robespierre were leaders in "The Reign of Terror"
  • Thousands were put to death with the guillotine
  • Napoleon Bonaparte was made the French general against Italy and came into power
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