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Presidents of the United States


First President of the United States


April 30, 1789 to March 3, 1797

(No. 101)


OBV. George Washington, President of the United
States, 1789. Bust of the President.
By Pierre Simon Duvivier.

REV. Peace and Friendship. Two hands clasped in token
of amity; on the cuff of the left wrist three stripes with
buttons, each button carrying the American eagle; the
other wrist is bare; above the hands, crossed, the pipe
of peace and the tomahawk.
By John Reich.


1732-Born on February 22, at "Wakefield." Westmoreland County, Va.; the son of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington.

Self-educated; principal studies were geometry and trigonometry, establishing a foundation for his occupation as a surveyor.

1718-Moved to Mount Vernon, the home of his halfbrother, Lawrence; helped survey the lands of Thomas, Lord Fairfax, in the Shenandoah. 1719-Was appointed public surveyor of Culpeper County, Va.; his income from this pursuit enabled him to purchase large tracts of land. 1751-Appointed adjutant-general by Governor Robert Dinwiddie, with the rank of major, with the mission of protecting the Southern District of Virginia against French and Indian attacks. This gave Washington experience in the exercise of military


strategy and tactics-a field in which he had a particular interest.

1752-After death of Lawrence Washington, he acquired Mount Vernon by inheritance.

1753-Carried ultimatum from Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia to the French, warning them against encroaching on English lands in the Ohio Valley. War followed.

1754 Commissioned lieutenant colonel by Governor Dinwiddie; his regiment was sent out to reinforce a British post on the forks of the Ohio River (site of today's modern city of Pittsburgh). This post, occupied and renamed Fort Duquesne by the French, was so firmly established that Washington took up his position at Great Meadows, Pa., naming his new post Fort Necessity. On May 28, he defeated a French scouting party; later Fort Necessity was put under 10 hours of siege by the main French forces and it was necessary to capitulate. Despite this defeat, on July 3, the expedition enhanced Washington's combat experience. 1755--As a colonel, joined the staff of General Braddock for an expedition of regular British troops against Fort Duquesne. The attack met with failure; Braddock was mortally wounded, and the command. passed to Washington. During this French and Indian onslaught, two horses were shot out from under Washington, and his coat showed four bullet holes.

Was appointed commander in chief of all the Virginia forces with the rank of colonel. For the following 3 years he had the responsibility for the defense of 350 miles of mountainous frontier, with a force of 300 troops, against French and Indian raids. The engagements, which averaged two a month, gave Washington considerable opportunity to develop his skill in conducting warfare over an extensive range of territory. 1758-He had the satisfaction this year of joining the British forces as they moved into the burning ruins of Fort Duquesne, abandoned by the French. Resigned his command and withdrew to Mount Vernon.

1759 Married Mrs. Martha (Dandridge) Custis on January 6, a Virginia widow.

Took his seat in the Virginia House of Burgesses, serving continuously with that body until 1774. 1765-Supported Virginians protesting against the Stamp

Act, which made mandatory the use of stamps on commercial and legal documents, newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, cards and dice; also supported the grievance against the British prohibition of colonial paper money. 1769-Drew up a Nonimportation Act, providing for the imposition of an embargo on various British articles. This act was ratified by the Virginia House of Burgesses.

1773-Was a delegate to the Williamsburg Convention which resolved that taxation and representation were inseparable. Was among the foremost advocates for colonial self-government. 1774 Was elected a Virginia delegate to the First

Continental Congress, which met in September. 1775 -Was a member of the Second Continental Congress beginning in May; served on the committee for drafting Army regulations and planning the defense of New York City.

Was elected commander in chief of the Continental
Army and took command on July 2, at Cambridge,

Although an American attempt to take Quebec and Montreal was not successful, it revealed Washington to be a brilliant tactician and a great soldier. 1776-On March 17, caused the British to evacuate Boston, for which he was awarded a medal by the Congress. (This medal is shown in the Army Series of Mint Medals.) The Continental Army was transferred to New York.

Was defeated on August 27, at the Battle of Long

On Christmas night, he crossed the Delaware and crushed the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton. 1777-Expelled the British from Princeton, on January 3.

The battles at Trenton and Princeton were decisive; had it not been for them, the impetus to carry on with the Revolutionary War might have died out. In these actions, as well as in other engagements undertaken, it was evident that Washington knew how and when to retreat and how and when to take the initiative.

Attempting to prevent British forces from reaching the Chesapeake Bay, Washington intercepted them at Brandywine Creek, Chester County, Pa., on September 11. Although defeated, this engagement prevented British forces from reaching Philadelphia for a period of 2 weeks.

Fought a gallant, but unsuccessful battle at Germantown on October 3-4. This action is believed to have damaged British morale and to have convinced the French of the determination of the Americans to persist in the War for Independence. 1777 With his troops, he endured the hardships of winter encampment at Valley Forge. 1778-By authority of the Congress, Washington was

given power to build a permanent army, one involving 3-year enlistments, or for the duration of the war; was given assistance by Baron von Steuben who undertook intensive troop training. In March the French entered into an alliance with the Americans.

On June 28, American forces overtook the British at Monmouth and held the field while the British retreated from Philadelphia to New York City. 1780-The treason of Benedict Arnold was a severe blow. 1781-Though Washington's preliminary plans were for a joint American-French attack against the Britishheld city of New York, he made the decision to utilize the French fleet under Admiral de Grasse, to attack Cornwallis at Yorktown. Bottled up and cut off from a sea escape by the French, Cornwallis surrendered on October 19.

After Yorktown, the American forces drew back to quarters at Newburgh, N.Y.

1783-Held the Army together until November 25, when the British evacuated New York City, and he led the American troops into the city.

On December 4, Washington said farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York City; on December 23, at Annapolis, he resigned his commission; and he returned to his home at Mount Vernon.

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