1700s |

George Washington Passes - 12/14/1799

On this day in 1799, one of the founding fathers of United States of America and the first president George Washington dies at the age of 67 in his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Born in 1732 to a family of planters who owned tobacco plantations and slaves, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, George Washington had his first direct military experience as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when on behalf of Virginia governor, he led a small crusade against the French in the Ohio River valley. In 1756, during the French and Indian War, Washington took control of the defenses of the western Virginian frontiers. When the war's battleground moved somewhere else, he resigned from his military post, went back to his family's business and won a seat at Virginia's House of Burgesses.

The next two decades saw Washington openly opposed the ever-increasing British taxation and oppression of the American settlements. He was selected to represent Virginia at the Continental Congress in 1774, and after the American Revolution crises began in 1775, Washington was chosen as the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. However, some members of the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, arguing that there were men that are more competent and suitable for the position, but he was eventually selected because of his leadership roles as a Virginian who played a key role in uniting the Southern colonies.

With his unprepared and poorly equipped civilian army, General Washington led an effective war that the defeated the British forces in America while urging the French army to join forces with the colonists. On October 19, 1781, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis' surrendered the British army at Yorktown, Virginia.

When the war ended, Washington returned to his estate at Mount Vernon but returned in 1787 when he was called back into politics to chair the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Unknowingly to him, the drafters of the constitution had created the office of the president with his name in mind, and in February 1789, Washington was unanimously chosen as the president of the United States of America.

Washington strived to unite the country and protect the interests of the new republic at home and abroad. He said of his administration, "Here I am, walking a new path. There is hardly any piece of my actions, which may not from this point forward be use as a point of reference." He effectively implemented the executive power, and made good use of great minds for example, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in his cabinet and did not use the presidency to cause tyranny. He won a reelection in 1792 and later rejected a third term bid.

He finally retired in 1797 at his estate in Virginia. Two years later, Washington died of acute laryngitis. His longtime friend Henry Lee gave an acclaimed tribute to the father of the United States: "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his people."

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Mark Hinderberg

Writer

Retired History Professor at Vanderbilt University. Love taking a portal through time and sharing my knowledge with anyone else who loves reading about history. It is my passion and my greatest hobby.