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Transcript of George Washington
George Washington fought in the French and Indian War from 1756 to 1763. In 1755, he was the senior aide to General Edward Braddock on the Monongahela Expedition, which was intended to remove the French from the Ohio Country. Braddock was injured in the battle and, after suffering numerous casualties, the British army fled in disarray until Washington rounded them up to an organized retreat.
Washington's bravery and composure di not go unrecognized. He was rewarded by the governor of Virginia, and was promoted to "Colonel of the Virginia Regiment..." He seemed to have a knack for command, and it helped that people listened to him even when in a state of disarray. This is part of what made him so effective in his later roles.
In 1759, George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, who later became Martha Washington, and together they moved to Mount Vernon, Virginia. This marriage greatly increased Washington's wealth and property, giving him a 6,000 acre estate worth about $100,000. This made him one of the richest men in Virginia, greatly increasing his social standing and public recognition.
In 1765, the Stamp Act became the first direct tax on the colonies. Washington opposed this act, and when demonstrations against the Townshend Acts began in 1767, he took a leading role in the growing colonial resistance, again using his leadership skills and charisma to rally the citizens. In 1769, Washington proposed a Virginia boycott of English goods until the acts in question were repealed. When the "Intolerable Acts" were passed in 1774, Washington regarded them as "An invasion of our rights and privileges."
George Washington's great-grandfather, John Washington, immigrated from Sulgrave, England in 1657. George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland, Virginia, in what was then British America. He was born to his parents Augustine Washington and Mary Ball Washington. Augustine Washington owned a slave-driven tobacco plantation on which George was born. Only six of his nine siblings reached maturity, with the other three dying at or before age twelve. Augustine Washington died when George was only 11 years old.
After numerous battles with the Indians on the Frontier, Washington returned to Virginia and did not return to the military until the Revolution. Washington had always hoped for commission in the British Army, but his father's early death had made this difficult, and he never achieved this goal. However, during his early military career in the French and Indian War, Washington received significant public exposure, as well as important tactical, strategic, and leadership skills. He also gained excellent political skills in his dealings with the British.
Washington's father, Augustine Washington.
By Nathaniel Lata
A portrait of General Braddock's death.
A portrait of a young George Washington as he may have appeared when fighting in the French and Indian War.
Wright, Robert K., Jr., and Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. "Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution." Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution. Library of Congress, 6 Apr. 1987. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
Wildman, Franklin B. "George Washington: The Commander In Chief." Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, Apr. 1966. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
Feldstein, Mark, PhD. "George Washington." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, Mar. 2014. Web. 25 Oct. 2014.
United States. National Park Service. "History: George Washington: Commander-in-Chief." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, Nov. 2005. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
Washington, George. "Farewell Address of George Washington." N.p., 19 Sept. 1796. Web. 26 Oct. 2014
History.com Staff. "George Washington." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
An American newspaper's reaction to the Stamp Act.
Entering the Revolution
After the April 1775 battles of Concord and Lexington, the colonies went to war. Washington showed that he was ready by showing up at the second continental congress (to which he was a Virginia delegate) in a military uniform. Thanks to his military and leadership experience, as well as his reputation as being very patriotic, Washington was the leading contender for the position of commander-in-chief. Washington was not adamant about getting or not getting the position, but there was no real competition. On July 3, 1775, in Lexington, Massachusetts, he took command of his poorly trained troops and entered the Revolutionary War.
Washington was able to find fairly skilled officers for the war, such as Alexander Hamilton, Daniel Morgan, and Nathanael Greene. A tactic that won Washington several important battles such as the ones at Boston and Saratoga (1776 and 1777) was trapping and outnumbering the British when they were a distance from their base. Another important strategy Washington employed was using the terrain. Although the British soldiers were more skilled in many military tactics, the Americans knew the lay of the land much better. Washington knew this, and was able to use it to his advantage.
Washington Crossing the Delaware
, a famous painting by Emanuel Leutze in 1851.
A drawing of Washington taking control of the Continental Army in 1775.
Face of the Revolution
To the colonists, especially the ones who were fighting in the war, George Washington was the embodiment of their resistance against the king. Throughout the war, he tried to keep an army in the field at all times, a tactic which eventually paid off. His huge personal and political image (as well as his superb political skills) he had built up over the years kept all who were involved with the war on the American side, including the French, united and facing a common objective.
A painting of Washington and General Lafayette surveying troops at Valley Forge.
Making a Statement
After the war had been won, Washington voluntarily vacated his commission and dispersed his army. By doing this, rather than declaring himself king/leader, he established the value of "civilian supremacy," even in military matters. In many other revolutions throughout history, whoever had been in command of the army would take over the new country, sometimes becoming a dictator or monarch just as bad as the one they had been fighting against. By not doing this, and instead going by a democratic election, Washington greatly impacted the future of our country and others throughout the rest of history.
A painting of Washington resigning his commission.
A portrait of Martha Washington in 1757.
After winning the war, Washington retired to Mt. Vernon. This retirement did not last long, however. In 1787, he was convinced to attend the Constitutional Convention and was unanimously elected president of the convention. He took little part in the debate, but did vote yea or nay on some articles. The delegates had confidence in Washington being elected president, and they designed the position with him in mind, intending for him to define it better when he was elected.
A painting of Washington at the signing of the Constitution.
"A selfless public servant"
Washington became the first and only unanimously elected president in 1788, and was sworn into office in April of 1799. His vice president was John Adams, who came in a not-so-close second. Congress decided to pay Washington a salary of $25,000 a year, but (despite being beset with money troubles at the time) he declined it, wanting to maintain his image as "a selfless public servant." During the presidency, he once again used the excellent leadership skills he had acquired over the course of his lifetime. As was intended, Washington did much to define his position for the future. He did things such as inventing many of the procedures, like having a Cabinet and messages to Congress, that became part of the American tradition and have been in place ever since.
A portrait of Washington in office.
Washington did not originally want to serve a second term, but was convinced that it would be the best for the country. When he was asked to serve a third term, however, he refused. This established the customary (but not legal) tradition of two terms, which only became law after President Roosevelt was elected four times, more than a century and a half later. Washington did not consider himself a member of any party at first, and originally hoped that they would never be formed. His top two advisers, however, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, established the basis of two parties, the Federalist party and the Jeffersonian Republicans, respectively, parties which disagreed on how powerful the federal government should be relative to the states. Washington was well aware that everything he did set a precedent for the future of the United States, and was careful to distance the newly formed American system from the European royal courts.
A portrait of Washington in 1796 by Rembrandt Peale.
Washington issued his farewell address in 1796 after declining to serve a third term. It is considered to be one of the most influential statements in the history of this country. He wrote it mainly on his own, with some help from Alexander Hamilton. In it, he gave advice on things such as the value of national union, the importance of the Constitution and Rule of Law, and the proper virtues of a people. He also stressed the importance of morality in a united people.
He said: "The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations."
Washington's Farewell Address.
Death and Legacy
Washington died on December 14, 1799 (aged 67) in his home at Mount Vernon. At the time of his death he owned about 300 slaves, but had become opposed to slavery shortly before that time and had left in his will for all of them to be freed. Today, his face appears on the dollar bill and the quarter, and thousands of communities (including our capitol), schools, and even people, are dubbed in his name. George Washington left one of the most enduring and influential legacies in the history of our country, and even in the entire world.
Washington's death bed.