Who were George Washington's parents

Father of the nation

Already during his lifetime he became a legend, after his death the myth finally took hold of him: George Washington, first President of the United States of America. Behind the glorifying stories there is a man with great achievements, but also some mistakes.

He was not a military genius; his officer career began with an embarrassing defeat. Nor was he a political thought leader; he made no proposals for the constitution of the United States. His presidency was marked by controversy. Nevertheless, the Americans count George Washington among their greatest presidents. Not without good reason: As the commander of the revolutionary Continental Army and later as the first President of the United States, he shaped the political culture and reality of the country like no other. Even among contemporaries like Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, he stood out - also physically thanks to his tall stature. To this day, Washington is considered the father of the nation in the USA.

A lot of hero worship and historical distortion crept into the memory of Washington, some stories are probably the invention of the early Washington biographer Mason Weems. Even today, guides at Mount Vernon, the Washington estate, like to falsely tell the general was offered the crown of America but turned it down. But even without such fables, historical facts justify Washington’s central position in the self-image of the United States.

Like most of the Founding Fathers, Washington came from a generation already rooted in America. He was born in 1732 in Virginia, the oldest British colony in North America, and found this country to be his home. His parents, Augustine and Mary Ball Washington, were middle-class landowners. Since the father died early, his older half-brother Lawrence became the guardian and surrogate father. Washington received most of its schooling at home. He was denied training in England, but among other things he learned the trade of a land surveyor. This became his first public office at the age of 17, which earned him some success as a land speculator and was useful for his military career as well.

There was another art that Washington mastered early on: building and maintaining influential relationships. In 1753, when he was only 22 years old, Governor Dinwiddie appointed him lieutenant colonel in the militia. At that time a war was brewing with France for supremacy over the Ohio region west of the Appalachians. Washington soon received an order to drive the French out of Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh). It failed miserably: After an initially successful attack on a small French contingent, his unit holed up in Fort Necessity - a hastily assembled palisade - and was forced to surrender shortly afterwards by superior French troops.

The skirmish had far-reaching consequences because it was one of the triggers for the Seven Years War (in which all of the major European powers were involved, with England and Prussia on the one hand, France, Austria and Russia on the other, and which was also fought in North America). In this war Washington achieved success and fame: he organized the orderly withdrawal of British troops in the chaos that broke out when its commander, General Braddock, fell in battle. Washington was also there in 1758, when the British finally captured Fort Duquesne. However, he was denied a promotion to officer in the regular British Army. So he took with him military experience from the war, but also the frustration of the contemptuous treatment of the British troops with the "colonialists" ...

Literature Joseph J. Ellis, His Excellency George Washington. A biography. Munich 2005. Franz Herre, George Washington. President at the cradle of a world power. Gernsbach 2007.

Internet http://www.gwpapers.virginia.edu The University of Virginia website has many original English writings from Washington, as well as images and information on various aspects of Washington's life.

Dr. Markus Hünemörder

May 29, 2008

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