Ask an average American to describe George Washington and you might hear such things as; “our first President”,”he never told a lie” or “he chopped down a cherry tree”. Still others may say that “his face is on our money”or “we’ve named cities and schools after him”. In reality, American history has been shallow in covering the years of George Washington’s life. We often think of Washington as America’s “very first” President. In reality he was the first under the Constitution but not the first to run the emerging country. There were in fact 16 men who came before Washington who ran the business affairs under the First and Second Continental Congresses and then under the ill fated Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation were the former colonies first real successful attempt to organize government since The Plan Of Albany. But the Articles did not go far enough. The term of President under the Articles was one year. The first three Presidents under those Articles were Samuel Huntington of Connecticut, Thomas McKean of Delaware and John Hanson.Neither Huntington or McKean, for different reasons, completed a full one year term. But the next man John Hanson who was chosen President on November 5, 1781 was the first to complete the full one year and thus became America’s first President. It was to Hanson we attribute the creation of the “Great Seal of the President” that is still in use today. Hanson was the first to issue calls for all foreign troops such as the English, French and Hessian’s to leave the country after the Revolution. Hanson was an anti-Federalist who opposed the drafting of the Constitution that was being discussed. Hanson would die two years after he left his one year in office and never know that George Washington would become President or that The Articles of Confederation would be ditched by the former colonies now states.
WHO WAS GEORGE WASHINGTON?
Prior to 1751 there is no evidence that 19 year old George Washington had any real interest in the military. His life revolved around reading, keeping diaries, agriculture and land surveying.
We celebrate Washingtons birthday on February 22 but he was really born on February 11, 1732 near Bridges Creek, Va. Why the discrepancy of dates? It was because February 11 came from the Julian or Old Style calendar that was in use in 1732. In 1752 (20 years later) the New Style or Gregorian calendar was adopted by England, Ireland and the colonies and it moved the date.
Washington was not given a middle name by his parents.
He had 5 living brothers, Lawrence, Augustine, Samuel, John Augustine and Charles. Lawrence and Augustine were half brothers. He had one living sister named Betty. There were 3 additional siblings, a half brother and half sister and a full sister who died very young. It was not uncommon for children to die young or mothers to die in childbirth in the 1700’s when there was a lack of the modern day drugs and procedures we use for births in the 21st century.
There are historical discrepancies about just how many brothers and sisters Washington really had because so little was ever written about them except for one, Lawrence.
Washington idolized his half brother Lawrence who was about 10 years older.
George was not his fathers “chosen son”. That distinction was given to his brother Lawrence who was sent to England to study while George was home schooled. When Lawrence returned from military action at Cartegna, Columbia with tuberculosis it was George who volunteered to accompany him to the island of Barbados. There it was considered to be a haven for the “sick”. English doctors traveled regularily back and forth to England. It was in Barbados upon arrival when George contracted smallpox.The “pox” would scar his face and some say probably made him sterile for the rest of his life. After recovering he was given a tour of England’s defences at “The Garrison”.It was probably the spark that caused Washington to start thinking about his own military service. George Washingtons brush with death from smallpox in Barbados made him immune to the disease in the French and Indian Wars as a member of the British Colonial Forces and in the American Revolution as General of the Continental Army.
Washington would escape death again by being shot at in the French and Indian Wars and the Revolutionary War. He would die of a thoat infection in December 1799 at Mount Vernon in Virginia.
IN GEORGE WASHINGTONS TIME is a book written especially for middle and high school students who want to explore more about the life and times of President George Washington.This book discusses his family life, trip to Barbados and around the colonies, the Continental Congresses, the Presidents who came before him under the articles of Confederation, his Presidency and his untimely death in 1799 from a throat infection. There are many obscure tidbits about Americas first President under the Constitution that are written.
Further information about this book is available by emailing <email@example.com> or writing P.O. Box 70335, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33307.
Publication is expected in 2011. Retail price of this 60 page book will be about $12.00 US. Middle and high school students and teachers will receive a 25% discount on the first advanced printing. Please notify the author at the above email address if you wish to be added to the first printing mailing list.
Michael Olesko is a middle and high school social studies teacher in Broward County Florida and is available for presentations or lectures on George Washington anywhere in the world.