George Washington never actively sought to be Commander-in-Chief or President. However, when the circumstances required, and the time was right, he stepped up and took command.
He never shied away from a fight. However, he did not immediately want to fight the British. It was only after what he considered British violations of human rights that he took action and became an active part in the War for Independence in America and later the leader of the armed forces.
10 Interesting facts about George Washington
George Washington was a practical leader, and this showed in his ability to manage the affairs of his estate and to conduct business as the 1st President of the United States.
He served two terms as President, and returned to life as an ordinary citizen, showing humility. Or, perhaps he simply wanted to get back to Mount Vernon, where he always took an active role, often working right alongside his farmhands.
1. George Washington Became an Official Surveyor When He Was 17 Years Old
When we start examining George Washington facts, we often begin by looking at his ancestry to see how long his family lived in the Americas. George Washington was of British descent, and his family arrived in the colonies in 1657.
His great-grandfather John Washington moved the family from England to the Colony of Virginia in what was then the British Colonies in America.
His family started with moderate resources but, as he grew up, became a prosperous and prominent family in Virginia. Washington spent much of his time as a youth working on farms and, by the time he was a teenager, he had mastered growing tobacco, raising livestock, and surveying property.
He was not poor as a youth; however, he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. When Washington was 11 years old, his father died, leaving George’s half-brother to become the head of the family estate.
Washington’s half-brother, Lawrence, gave him a good upbringing and also increased the prominence and prosperity of the Washington family and their holdings.
By the time he was 17, Washington was appointed as an official surveyor in Culpeper County. He continued in this role for 2 years. It was this experience that enabled him to put the lessons of his youth into practice and gave him the resourcefulness to make the transition into adulthood.
2. George Washington Was Only 20 When He Took over a 1,000 Acre Estate
Sadly, Lawrence, Washington’s older half-brother who raised him, died from tuberculosis. Even more saddening, Lawrence’s baby daughter died 2 months later. George Washington was left in charge of the family estate, which consisted of over 1,000 acres. He was only 20 years old.
George Washington remained dedicated throughout his life to his family’s holdings in Virginia, which came to be known as Mount Vernon. He would continue to uphold farming as a respectable way of earning a living, and slowly increased the holdings of Mount Vernon to 8,000 acres.
3. Washington Told the French to Back off in 1753 and He Meant It
He had a natural talent for leadership. He deftly managed his family’s large estate at just 20 years old. Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor appointed Washington as a major in the Virginia militia in recognition of his leadership abilities.
A short time later, Washington would be ordered to deliver a message that would change his life, as well as the course of history in the Americas.
On Halloween, October 31, 1753, the Lieutenant Governor, Robert Dinwiddie, sent Washington to deliver a message to French troops at Fort LeBoeuf. Washington asked the French troops to leave the land they occupied in what is now Pennsylvania.
The land was claimed by Britain. In short, Washington told them to “back off” and “get out”. The French said “no”, and Washington rode quickly back to Virginia.
Dinwiddie gave Washington troops and told him to set up a post. He commanded his small force against the French at Fort Duquesne and killed 10 troops, including the commander of the Fort. Washington was directly involved in starting the French and Indian War. He was 21 years old.
4. In 1767 Washington Opposed Violations of Human Rights by the British
During the French and Indian War, Washington was named as an honorary officer in the British Army. After suffering some defeats, he proved himself as a military leader in the French and Indian War.
However, even after the Stamp Act of 1865, Washington did not take an active role in the uprisings in the British Colonies. By 1767, however, Washington’s opinions had changed.
Washington saw the actions of the British as violating the fundamental rights of citizens in the British Colonies. After all, his family had emigrated from England in 1657. He could claim direct ancestry on British soil. He became more vocal about his opposition to the British at this time.
First, George Washington tried economic sanctions, proposing that Virginia boycott all British goods until the various Acts imposed by the British were repealed. By 1774, there was still no change, and Washington chaired a meeting calling for the Continental Congress, and advocating force as the last means of resistance against the British.
5. On June 15 1775, Washington Became Commander-in-Chief
Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War.
He didn’t actively seek the role of Commander-in-Chief, but was fully prepared to take charge when the time was right.
There were a lot of reasons for choosing Washington as the commander of the armed forces. Up until this time, the resistance to British rule had been primarily focused in the New England colonies.
Washington was chosen partly because he was from a Southern colony and it was important to unify colonial efforts against the British.
6. Washington Lost 2,800 Men in the Battle for New York City in 1776
It’s 1776, and the American War for Independence is raging. Despite all of his experience and natural leadership, George Washington is not ready to face the British army. It’s impossible to think of any person who would have been prepared to face the world’s most powerful army with the comparatively few resources the colonies had at the time.
Washington suffered major defeats at the hands of the British, including in New York City where he lost 2,800 men. He wasn’t ready to fight the British Army at first. The defeats must have taught him the remaining lessons he needed to know.
Using guerilla warfare tactics, George Washington changed his strategy and attacked British mercenaries by surprise after crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Night in 1776. He continued to use this approach until the British surrendered.
7. Washington Did Not Want to Become the 1st President in 1789
George Washington became an increasingly adept leader throughout the War for Independence in the Americas. He learned military strategy, and also the importance of political strategy in war. Washington, with the help of Ben Franklin, received aid from their previous enemies, the French. This proved crucial to winning the war.
After the war, Washington wanted to return to Mount Vernon and work on his estate. His estate had suffered throughout the War for Independence. Washington was able to bring it back to prosperity with the help of a grant from the new United States Congress.
Washington was hesitant to return to public service. However, he saw that the fragile experiment in democracy was not holding together the way it should. After Shay’s Rebellion, he knew it was time to take action.
8. George Washington Was the Only President to Be Unanimously Elected
Despite Washington’s desire to return to civilian life, the young United States needed his leadership skills. In 1786, he didn’t make a big show or a large public speech, but he lobbied hard for a new constitution to be put in place.
There was a lot of resistance to the new constitution in the United States. Without Washington’s political efforts, it’s unlikely the new constitution would have passed. The measure was so close that it was only approved by 1 vote in Washington’s home state of Virginia!
George Washington would probably have liked to retire at this point, after returning again to public service and seeing that the new constitution passed. However, the United States needed his leadership once more. At 57 years old, George Washington was elected by unanimous electoral vote as the first President of the United States of America.
He no longer had his Commander-in-Chief powers. The newly formed United States did not want a President to have political and military power. It was only during the Civil War that Abraham Lincoln would become the first person to be both President and Commander-in-Chief at the same time.
9. Washington Did Not Want to Be Paid to Be President
After restoring Mount Vernon to prosperity, Washington did not want to receive the $25,000 per year salary that was paid by Congress for being President of the United States. He wanted to show his dedication was to the role, and not the financial compensation.
However, it was important that the office of the President could be occupied by anyone, whether they were rich or poor. For this reason, there needed to be a salary. Always a sensible person, Washington agreed to accept the salary for this reason.
10. George Washington Would Have Made a Great CEO
George Washington put all this experience to work and set the tone for the Presidency as a practical President. He put together a great cabinet, including Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. He never acted rashly, and always took the council of his cabinet into consideration when making decisions.
He was an able financial administrator as well. He introduced several measures that reduced the debt of the United States. There was an uprising after a tax was imposed on liquor, which Washington put down personally.
He may have been President, but he was still George Washington and was never one to shy away from a fight when he believed he was in the right.
Read about more US Presidents in my articles on interesting facts about jfk, interesting facts about Hilary Clinton and interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln.