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George Washington
Gilbert Stuart Williamstown Portrait of George Washington.jpg
1st President of the United States
In office
April 30, 1789  – March 4, 1797
Vice President John Adams
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by John Adams
7th Senior Officer of the United States Army
In office
July 13, 1798 – December 14, 1799
President John Adams
Preceded by James Wilkinson
Succeeded by Alexander Hamilton
Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army
In office
June 14, 1775 – December 23, 1783
Appointed by Continental Congress
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Henry Knox as Senior Officer
Delegate to the Continental Congress
from Virginia
In office
May 10, 1775 – June 15, 1775
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Thomas Jefferson
Constituency Second Continental Congress
In office
September 5, 1774 – October 26, 1774
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Office abolished
Constituency First Continental Congress
Member of the
Virginia House of Burgesses
In office
May 18, 1761 – May 6, 1776
Preceded by Unknown
Succeeded by Office abolished
Constituency Fairfax County
In office
July 24, 1758 – May 18, 1761
Preceded by Thomas Swearingen
Succeeded by George Mercer
Constituency Frederick County
Personal details
Born (1732-02-22)February 22, 1732
Popes Creek, Colony of Virginia, British America
Died December 14, 1799(1799-12-14) (aged 67)
Mount Vernon, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Independent
Spouse(s)
Martha Dandridge (m. 1759)
Children John (adopted)
Patsy (adopted)
Parents Augustine Washington
Mary Ball Washington
Residence Mount Vernon
Awards Congressional Gold Medal
Thanks of Congress
Signature
Military service
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
 United States
Branch/service Kingdom of Great Britain Colonial forces
United States Continental Army
 United States Army
Years of service 1752–58 (Colonial forces)
1775–83 (Continental Army)
1798–99 (U.S. Army)
Rank Colonel (Colonial forces)
General and Commander-in-Chief (Continental Army)
US-O9 insignia.svg (United States Army)
WashingtonInsig1782.jpg General of the Armies (promoted posthumously in 1976 by an Act of Congress)
Commands Virginia Regiment
Continental Army
United States Army
Battles/wars

French and Indian War

  • Battle of Jumonville Glen
  • Battle of Fort Necessity
  • Braddock Expedition
  • Battle of the Monongahela
  • Forbes Expedition

American Revolutionary War

  • Boston campaign
  • New York and New Jersey campaign
  • Philadelphia campaign
  • Yorktown campaign
  • Northwest Indian War

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was the first President of the United States (1789–1797), the commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Early life

Washington's mother was Mary Ball and his father was Augustine Washington. They owned a plantation with slaves in Virginia.

Before the Revolutionary War

Washington became a farmer like his father. His plantation was called Mount Vernon. He also worked as a surveyor, measuring land. Washington always wanted to be a soldier and was active in the colonial militia of Virginia. He was sent several times to the "forks of the Ohio River", now called Pittsburgh. His job was to get rid of the French who were trying to take control of the Ohio River Valley.

He failed and many of his men were killed. The fight opened the French and Indian War, bringing Britain into the Seven Years' War. In 1758 he was elected to the Virginia legislature.

In 1759, Washington married a widow named Martha Custis. The marriage produced no children.

The Revolution

See also: American Revolutionary War
2011 GeorgeWashington OldNorth BostonMA 3156
Bust of Washington that Lafayette thought his best likeness

Washington was a delegate to the First Continental Congress, which was created by the Thirteen Colonies to respond to various laws passed by the British government. The Second Continental Congress chose him to be the commanding general of the Continental Army. Washington led the army from 1775 until the end of the war in 1783. After losing the big Battle of Long Island, and being chased across New Jersey, Washington led his troops back across the Delaware River on Christmas Day, 1776, in a surprise attack on Hessian mercenaries at the small Battle of Princeton and Trenton, New Jersey. The British had more troops and more supplies than Washington, however, Washington kept his troops together and won these small battles.

Overall, Washington did not win many battles, but he never let the British destroy his army. With the help of the French army and navy, Washington made a British army surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, as the final major battle of the Revolutionary War. The war officially ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

After the war

When the Revolutionary War ended, Washington was considered a national hero. He was offered a government position that would have been considered a dictatorship over the colonies, but in a surprising move, Washington refused, left the army, and returned to Mount Vernon. He wanted the colonies to have a strong government but did not wish to head that government, nor did he want the colonies to be run by a tyrant.

Washington was one of the men who said the country needed a new constitution. The Constitutional Convention met in 1787, with Washington presiding. The delegates wrote the Constitution of the United States, and all the states ratified it and joined the new government.

Gilbert Stuart, George Washington (Lansdowne portrait, 1796)
Lansdowne portrait of President George Washington

Presidency

In 1789, Washington was elected president without any competition, making him the first President of the United States. While Washington did not belong to any political party, he agreed with certain Federalist policies, such as the country should have a standing army and a national bank. He was re-elected to a second term. After his second term, Washington decided not to run for reelection, despite his popularity remaining high. His decision, to stop at 2 terms, set a precedent that every president followed until Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940.

In Washington's farewell address, he warned the country not to divide into political parties and not to get involved in wars outside of the United States. Washington's non-intervention foreign policy was supported by most Americans for over one hundred years. His advice to avoid political parties was completely ignored, as parties were already forming at the time of his speech.

Washington farmer
George Washington overseeing slaves during harvest time on his plantation

Retirement

Washington went back home to Mount Vernon (Virginia) after his second term ended in 1797. He died 2 years later, on December 14, 1799, in Mount Vernon, at the age of 67, from pneumonia.

Wealth

From his marriage, George Washington owned a substantial amount of farm land, where he grew tobacco, wheat, and vegetables. Washington also owned more than 100 slaves, who were freed upon his death. He did not have much money in cash and had to borrow money while he was president. At his death, Washington's estate was worth over $500,000.

Metal Teeth

It is a common misconception that George Washington had wooden teeth, as false teeth made from wood. He did, however, try many different ways to replace his teeth, including having teeth carved from elk's teeth or ivory. Ivory and bone both have hairline fractures in them, which normally cannot be seen, but started to darken due to Washington's use of wine. The darkened, thin fractures in the bone made the lines look like the grain in a piece of wood. George Washington's teeth started falling out when he was about 22 years old, and he had only one tooth left by the time he became president. It was difficult for him to talk or to eat. At one time, he had false teeth with a special hole so the one tooth he still had could poke through. He tried to keep them smelling clean by soaking them in wine, but instead they became mushy and black. In 1796, a dentist had to pull out George Washington's last tooth, and he kept his tooth in a gold locket attached to his watch chain. When the time came for the president to have his portrait painted, cotton was pushed under his lips to make him look as if he had teeth. The cotton made his mouth puff out, as is seen on the picture on the US $1 bill.

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