George Washington

GW's George Mascot holding a basketball

George Washington


School: Law School


Office Phone: 202-994-1000
U Yard

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continental Congress as commander of the Continental Army, Washington led Patriot forces to victory in the American Revolutionary War and served as president of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which created and ratified the Constitution of the United States and the American federal government. Washington has been called the "Father of his Country" for his manifold leadership in the nation's founding.

George Washington, the first president of the United States, began his military career as a major and commander of a militia district in Virginia during the colonial period. In 1753, he was appointed as a special envoy to demand French forces vacate land claimed by the British, make peace with the Iroquois Confederacy, and gather further intelligence about the French forces. He delivered the British demand to vacate to the French commander, but the French refused to leave. The mission took 77 days to complete in difficult winter conditions, and his report was published in Virginia and London, achieving a measure of distinction.

In 1754, Washington was promoted to lieutenant colonel and second-in-command of the 300-strong Virginia Regiment, with orders to confront French forces at the Forks of the Ohio. His attack on a small French detachment, known as the Battle of Jumonville Glen, led to the French and Indian War, which later became part of the larger Seven Years' War. Washington later served as an aide to General Edward Braddock and rallied the survivors during a disastrous battle in which Braddock was killed. Washington's conduct under fire redeemed his reputation among his critics.

Washington had a reserved personality but had a strong presence. He was not a noted orator or debater but was taller than most of his contemporaries, weighed between 210-220 pounds, and was known for his great strength. He had grey-blue eyes, long reddish-brown hair, and wore his hair curled, powdered, and tied in a queue. Washington suffered from severe tooth decay and ultimately lost all his teeth except one, and he had several sets of false teeth made of metal, ivory, bone, animal teeth, and human teeth possibly obtained from slaves. He was an excellent equestrian, collected thoroughbreds, hunted game, and was an excellent dancer. He drank alcohol in moderation and was morally opposed to excessive drinking, smoking tobacco, gambling, and profanity.

Washington did not have the formal education his elder brothers received at Appleby Grammar School in England, but he did attend the Lower Church School in Hartfield. He learned mathematics, trigonometry, and land surveying and became a talented draftsman and map-maker. By early adulthood, he was writing with "considerable force" and "precision". In his pursuit of admiration, status, and power, his writing displayed little wit or humor.