Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — George Washington by James A. Between , when he was commissioned as a major of Virginia militia, and , when the Second Continental Congress named him Commander-in-Chief of all colonial military forces, George Washington rose from anonymity as a minor landowner and surveyor to become America's first national hero. With little military training he led the thirteen fledgling colonies through six y Between , when he was commissioned as a major of Virginia militia, and , when the Second Continental Congress named him Commander-in-Chief of all colonial military forces, George Washington rose from anonymity as a minor landowner and surveyor to become America's first national hero.
With little military training he led the thirteen fledgling colonies through six years of grueling war against formidable British forces, steered the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, and served two terms as the first president of the United States. His accomplishments were so stunning and he was so revered that by the end of the war some of his generals urged him to install himself as king, an idea he looked upon with "abhorrence," calling the very thought "painful.
In this revealing book, James Crutchfield writes of Washington as an enigmatic man-"No more elusive personality exists in history" as an eminent Harvard historian observed. His outward commonness concealed a quick, analytic mind, capable of learning from mistakes, gauging his successes not on winning battles but on the effect his decisions would have on the future of his country. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title.
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Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jul 22, Andrea rated it liked it Shelves: biography. In this well-researched book for youth Washington is described as being "composed, dignified, majestic and a splendid horseman. I was disappointed that the author didn't recount the battle of Trenton with enough detail to show how miraculous the victory was in light of the circumstances. Virginia society was highly stratified and deferential but far from static. To move upward in it, one needed patrons, and for a time Washington had them in his brother and in the Fairfaxes.
The first tangible fruit of his connections came in , when George William Fairfax, son of the lord, took him on a surveying expedition in the Shenandoah Valley wilderness. Washington was immediately enamored of the western frontier as well as of surveying. He studied surveying, became licensed, and at the age of seventeen began a career as a surveyor. At eighteen he made the first of what would be many purchases of western lands—1, acres. In Washington accompanied Lawrence, who was gravely ill, on a trip to the West Indies. George contracted smallpox while on the islands but survived with an immunity that would stand him in good stead during his military career.
Meanwhile, a concatenation of forces was about to propel the aspiring gentleman onto a larger stage. The colonial governor appointed George to a post that Lawrence had held, that of adjutant commander of a militia district with the rank of major. The appointment was for the southern district, far from home, but in short order Washington was able to arrange for command of the Northern Neck District, which included the northwest.
This was a propitious time and place for a twenty-year-old with no military training to be appointed to such a position, for international conflict was brewing. Large numbers of speculators were casting hungry eyes on trans-Allegheny lands, and the French were moving into the area and seeking alliances with the Six Nations so as to monopolize the lucrative fur trade. A report reached Virginia lieutenant governor Robert Dinwiddie that a sizable French force was preparing to build fortifications at the forks of the Ohio River, an area claimed by several colonies and the British Crown. Washington volunteered to investigate, and Dinwiddie sent him to warn French officials off the premises and to firm relations with the local Indians.
Accompanied by the frontiersman Christopher Gist and four bearers, Washington set out late in November He met with a mixed reception from the Indians and found one detachment of French. There the officer told him he would have to call on the French governor at Montreal. Washington refused, whereupon the officer accepted the letter but rejected its contents.
On the return to Virginia, Washington and his party were forced to abandon their horses; they braved fierce cold, survived an attack by a treacherous guide, and arrived home in mid-January.
Who was known as “First in war, First in peace, First in the hearts of his countrymen”?
The trip was scarcely a success, but it taught Washington much about field survival and earned him favor in the colonial capital, Williamsburg. The favor was such that Dinwiddie named Washington, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, to lead a detachment of militia into the Ohio River valley to defend an English fort being built there. Other troops and a senior officer were scheduled to follow, but few troops arrived, and the officer died after being thrown from his horse.
Washington, pretty much on his own, was greeted by bad news: the French had captured the fort naming it Fort Duquesne , they numbered more than a thousand, and most of the Indians had decided to support them. Rather than retreat, Washington built a small fort Fort Necessity about forty miles away and determined to attack any French forces he encountered.
On 28 May , with a band of forty militiamen and a handful of Indians, Washington met a French and Indian party about the same size and destroyed it.
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Receiving word that the French were sending soldiers and Indians to face his somewhat enlarged force of about , Washington was determined to hold Fort Necessity. After a few hours of ferocious fire on 3 July, during which Washington lost a third of his men, a driving rain flooded the fort and made surrender inevitable. In Virginia and much of the rest of America, however, Washington was hailed as a hero who had led his inexperienced little band in a gallant stand. Though a seasoned commander might have acted with greater prudence, none could have displayed more definitely the essential qualities of leadership than Washington.
A number of personal attributes contributed to making him a natural leader.
Henry Lee III
Washington had a commanding physical appearance. He was more than six feet three inches tall, weighed about pounds, and had broad shoulders, an erect bearing, and an alert, intelligent mien. He was magnificent astride a horse. He was utterly devoid of fear. Perhaps most important he had an aura of invincibility. During his long military career he was fired on at close range, bullets repeatedly tore his clothes, horses were shot from under him, but he was not once wounded. He was, in sum, a leader others would follow.
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As full-scale war between Britain and France neared, Washington was eager to participate but appalled to learn that the British government had ordered that no colonials could hold a rank higher than captain. The Braddock expedition to regain control of the forks of the Ohio River started in the spring of and reached a point ten miles from Fort Duquesne early in July. Washington warned the general that the Frenchmen would not fight in orderly fashion, as they did in Europe, and urged that the British attack Indian-style, as bands of individuals.
Most of the British officers, Braddock included, died; Washington managed to lead the survivors to safety.
Three years of frustration followed. Moreover, a vexing wrangle concerning rank arose. Washington and Dinwiddie protested and were referred to Governor William Shirley of Massachusetts, who had been appointed acting commander of the British forces in America. Washington wrote Shirley, maintaining that giving preferential treatment to regular army officers denied him the full rights of English subjects.
Receiving no favorable reply, Washington went to Boston on horseback in February to plead his case. Throughout and Washington continued his efforts at frontier defense—gaining valuable administrative experience and learning to despise the militias as much as he despised the supercilious British. The British rescinded the policy of discrimination against American officers, and Washington was able, without feeling demeaned, to join his regiment with the 7, regulars under General John Forbes.
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They were sent to lay siege to Fort Duquesne. When the British encamped near the fort on 24 November, they learned that the French had burned the fort and disappeared down the river. The campaign was ended. Six weeks after the destruction of Duquesne, Washington was married and plunged again into his quest to become a wealthy planter. He grew wheat, erected a lumber mill and a brickyard, and engaged his skilled slaves in a variety of crafts.
Meanwhile, as befitted his station, he entertained lavishly more than 2, guests in a six-year period , served in the colonial assembly from until the Revolution, and also served as a county justice and vestryman in his parish. As the strains between Britain and the colonies developed, Washington regarded British policies from a personal, not an ideological, point of view, and his attitude wavered accordingly.
He thought the Stamp Act unconstitutional but, since it scarcely affected him, not worth the resistance it inspired.