George Washington: A Life

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 Ron Chernow’s book “George Washington: A Life” is not only about this important person’s life, but also about the rebel nature of the human being; and it is a fantastic portrait of the XVIIIth century. The most important thing about this book is that it doesn’t analyzes Washington as an american hero, but as a person, with his “dark side” included. As the book shows, he was a quite desastrous leader, very hypocrite and he wasn’t a good strategist at all. But he became a symbol, a hero, and the best way to understand this interesting character is to study his life.

George Washington was born in Westmoreland, Virginia, on February 22, 1732. George grew up in Colonial Virginia. His father, a landowner and planter, died when George was just 11 years old. Fortunately, George had an older brother named Lawrence who took good care of him. Lawrence helped to raise George and taught him how to be a gentleman. Lawrence made sure that he was educated in the basic subjects like reading and math. When George turned 16 he went to work as a surveyor, where he took measurements of new lands, mapping them out in detail. A few years later George became a leader with the Virginia militia and became involved in the start of the French and Indian War. At one point during the war, he narrowly escaped death when his horse was shot out from under him.

After the French and Indian War George settled down and married the widow Martha Dandridge Custis. He took over the estate of Mount Vernon after his brother Lawrence died and raised Martha’s two children from her former marriage. George and Martha never had kids of their own. George became a large landowner and was elected to the Virginian legislature. Soon George and his fellow landowners became upset with unfair treatment by their British rulers. They began to argue and fight for their rights. When the British refused they decided to go to war.

George was one of Virginia’s delegates at the First and Second Continental Congress. This was a group of representatives from each colony who decided to fight the British together. In May of 1775 they appointed Washington as general of the Continental Army. General Washington did not have an easy task. He had a ragtag army of colonial farmers to fight trained British soldiers. However, he managed to hold the army together even during tough times and losing battles. Over the course of six years George led the army to victory over the British. His victories include the famous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas and the final victory at Yorktown, Virginia. The British Army surrendered in Yorktown on October 17, 1781. The two terms that Washington served as president were peaceful times. During this time, George established many roles and traditions of the President of the United States that still stand today. He helped build and guide the formation of the actual US Government from the words of the Constitution. He formed the first presidential cabinet which included his friends Thomas Jefferson (Secretary of State) and Alexander Hamilton (Secretary of the Treasury).

George stepped down from the presidency after 8 years, or two terms. He felt it was important that the president not become powerful or rule too long, like a king. Since then only one president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, has served more than two terms. Just a few years after leaving the office of president, Washington caught a bad cold. He was soon very sick with a throat infection and died on December 14, 1799.

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One thought on “George Washington: A Life

  1. Quite interesting your post Josu. Is one of the historical facts that shows how the small one and the “weak” can defeat and pass over the big and strong one. 🙂

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