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George Washington

Born into a modest Virginia gentry family, George Washington(1732-1799) emerged as the most important figure in America’s revolutionary struggle. His accomplishments were twofold: 1) he bravely led the Continental Army to its military victory over the British in the War for Independence, and 2) as the first president of the United States, he oversaw the establishment of a stable and respected federal government after the ratification of the Constitution.

Exceedingly ambitious as a youth, Washington entered the Virginia colonial militia as a major at the age of 21. He fought well in the French and Indian War (1754-1763) which began soon after he gained his commission. During this conflict, Washington learned a great deal about the craft of war – from fighting, to disciplining soldiers and officers, to inspiring unmotivated men. All of these traits would later serve him well when the American Revolution broke out.

Washington was appointed the Continental Army’s commander-in-chief by the Continental Congress in June 1775. The move was both political and military in nature. Congress wanted to avoid placing a New Englander in the top post and, therefore, settled upon the Virginian who had military experience as well as a reputation for integrity.

Although Washington lost a number of his initial engagements – most notably, the terrible defeat at the Battle of Long Island (August 1776) – he held the Continental Army together over many years despite terrible losses and great deprivations of food and supplies. He also possessed the ability to learn from his own mistakes. At the siege of Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781, Washington, the Continental Army, and their French allies captured a British army of General Lord Cornwallis. This victory ended the military portion of the Revolution. In December 1783, shortly after the Treaty of Paris was signed, Washington resigned from the army at the peak of his popularity.

From 1783 to 1787, Washington worked his plantation at Mount Vernon as a private citizen. Because of the political and economic problems brought about by the reestablishment of peace and the ineffectiveness of the Articles of Confederation, Washington reentered public life to attend and preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

After the Constitution’s ratification, Washington was twice unanimously elected President of the United States. In this capacity, Washington oversaw the creation of an enduring central government. Moreover, he established a number of lasting precedents for the office of the presidency, including the tradition of the nation’s chief executive serving only two terms in office. Without a doubt, George Washington was America’s “indispensable man” (as his biographer James Thomas Flexner called him).

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  • Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and the American Revolution by John Ferling

    Setting the World Ablaze is the story of the American Revolution and of the three Founders who played crucial roles in winning the War of Independence and creating a new nation: George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Braiding three…

  • Patriot Sage: George Washington and the American Political Tradition by Gary L Gregg and Matthew Spalding

    December 14, 1999 marked the 200th anniversary of the death of George Washington. This lavishly illustrated volume commemorates the life and legacy of America's Founding Father by bringing noteworthy scholars and authors together for a timely and topical consideration of…

  • The Meaning of Independence: John Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson by Edmund S. Morgan

    "Characterized by the author's customary subtlety and penetration... The Meaning of Independence represents an attempt to open up this complicated subject through separate portraits of John Adams, George Washing, and Thomas Jefferson." From the Journal of American History

  • An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America by Henry Wiencek

    Was George Washington a dedicated slaveholder and, like Thomas Jefferson, a father of slave children? Or was he a closeted abolitionist and moralist who abhorred the abuse of African-Americans? In An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation…

  • Washington: the Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner

    This is the one-volume condensed version of Flexner's massive biography of Washington.

  • George Washington: Man and Monument by Marcus Cunliffe

  • The Presidency of George Washington (American Presidency Series) by Forrest McDonald

    This volume is part of the highly-regarded American Presidency series, published by the University Press of Kansas. Includes index. Bibliography: p. 193-199.

  • Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History) by David Hackett Fischer

    Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia. Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts…

  • Life of George Washington by David Ramsay

    Summary from Archiving Early America: Published eight years after George Washington's death, David Ramsay's Life of George Washington achieved great popularity. A contemporary of Washington, historian Ramsay writes with the knowledge and insights one acquires only by being on the…

  • His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis

    As commander of the Continental army, George Washington united the American colonies, defeated the British army, and became the world's most famous man. But how much do Americans really know about their first president? Today, as Pulitzer Prize-winner Joseph J.…

  • The Glorious Cause: the American Revolution, 1763-1789 by Robert Middlekauff

    Middlekauff's excellent history of the American Revolution is an entry in the highly-regarded Oxford University Press's American History Series. For information concerning the following particular episodes: See Chapter 4, "The Stamp Act Crisis," pp. 70-93, for information about this crisis.…

  • George Washington: The Forge of Experience, 1732-1775 by James Thomas Flexner

    This is the first volume in Flexner's 4 vol. biography of George Washington.

  • George Washington in the American Revolution, 1775-1783 by James Thomas Flexner

    Volume 2 of Flexner's 4 volume biography of George Washington.

  • The Way of the Fox: American Strategy in the War for America, 1775-1783 by Dave Richard Palmer

    This excellent book argues that George Washington successfully and skillfully pursued a coherent strategy to outlast and defeat the British in America.

  • George Washington and the New Nation, 1783-1793 by James Thomas Flexner

    Volume 3 of Flexner's 4 volume biography of George Washington.

  • George Washington: Anguish and Farewell (1793-1799) by James Thomas Flexner

    This is the final volume in Flexner's 4 volume biography of George Washington.

  • Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation by Richard Norton Smith

    A dramatic portrait of George Washington's presidential years, Patriarch is a gripping story of politics and statecraft. Smith describes Washington's struggle to preside over the bitter feud between Jefferson and Hamilton--two brilliant members of his cabinet--while attempting to distinguish the…

  • General George Washington: A Military Life by Edward Lengel

    Publisher's Description: Much has been written in the past two centuries about George Washington the statesman and "father of his country." Less often discussed is Washington's military career, including his exploits as a young officer and his performance as the…

  • George Washington and American Independence by Curtis P. Nettels

    Curtis Nettels' volume asserts that George Washington was an early and powerful advocate of American independence long before his first public statement in favor of it in October 1775. In fact, as soon as war began, Washington had determined that…

  • George Washington's Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America by Robert F. Dalzell and Lee Baldwin Dalzell

    This book brings together--for the first time--the details of Washington's 45-year campaign to build and perfect Mount Vernon. Here we meet the planter/patriot who also loved building, a man passionately committed to impressing the stamp of his character and personal…

  • Washington's Partisan War, 1775-1783 by Mark V. Kwasny

    Publisher's Description: George Washington embraced a strategy that depended on the effectiveness of the militia. He also encouraged the use of the militia as partisans. This work looks at the history of regular units, state militia and politics at the…

  • The Age of Federalism by Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick

    Product Description: When Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office for the presidency in 1801, America had just passed through twelve critical years, years dominated by some of the towering figures of our history and by the challenge of having…

  • American Gospel : God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation by Jon Meacham

    The American Gospel–literally, the good news about America–is that religion shapes our public life without controlling it. In this vivid book, New York Times bestselling author Jon Meacham tells the human story of how the Founding Fathers viewed faith, and…

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  • The Writings of George Washington -- Online Edition ( University of Virginia )

    This is an online edition of the famous series of Washington's writings edited by John C. Fitzpatrick. The series totaled 38 volumes and was originally published between 1931-1944.

  • The Papers of George Washington ( University of Virginia )

    Summary: The Papers of George Washington, a grant-funded project, was established in 1969 at the University of Virginia, under the joint auspices of the University and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, to publish a comprehensive edition of…

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  • American Revolutionary War by Phil Hamilton

    The American victory in the Revolutionary War was one of the most stunning events of the eighteenth century. Although committed to the cause of independence, American patriots entered the conflict disorganized, ill-equipped and facing a formidable foe. Thus, the American…

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