Before the Presidency
Born in 1732, into a Virginia planter family, George
Washington learned the morals, manners, and knowledge
required of an 18th century Virginia gentleman. He
pursued two related interests: military arts and western
16, Washington helped survey the Shenandoah lands
for Thomas, Lord Fairfax (an English Baron who lived
near Washington's half-brother Lawrence and owned
vast parts of Virginia farmland). Working for Fairfax,
a young Washington learned much about surveying land.
These skills helped him later manage his large Mount
Vernon estate and acquire additional valuable land.
Washington was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in
the Virginia militia in 1754. He fought the first
battles of what became the French and Indian War.
This conflict came about because Britain and France
both strove to occupy the upper Ohio Valley. As an
aide to General Edward Braddock, Washington escaped
injury when four bullets ripped through his coat.
He also had two horses shot out from under him. His
experiences in the French and Indian War taught him
the skills to be a great military leader; skills he
would later need in the fight for independence from
1759 to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington
managed his lands around Mount Vernon. He also served
in the Virginia House of Burgesses for 16 years. The
House of Burgesses was the governing body in the colonies
before the Revolution. By 1774, Washington, along
with other Virginia burgesses, was opposed to the
excessive taxes the British imposed on the colonists.
The burgesses proposed a continental congress be held
to take the place of the Virginia assembly, which
was under the direction of the British-appointed Governor.
Washington was appointed chairman of this meeting
that resulted in the forming of the First Continental
Congress. It was created to show a united front when
expressing their upset with the new laws created by
the British Parliament that affected the colonies.
his fellow planters, Washington felt the British merchants
were taking advantage of the colonists. He disliked
the British regulations. As the quarrel with England
grew, he firmly voiced his objections to Britain's
more about George Washington:
Before the Presidency
Did You Know?
Life After the Presidency