A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.


George Washington

22 February 1732 - 14 December 1799

George Washington was born in Virginia to the planter aristocracy. He worked as a surveyor and then obtained a commission as an officer in the Virginia militia. Sent to secure the Virginia frontier in 1754, he initiated conflict with French units, which eventually developed into the French and Indian War. The war made him well-known in the colonies and developed his disaffection for Britain. In 1774, as delegate to the Continental Congress, he supported resistance. In 1775, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Continental forces and took command in Boston, driving out the British in spring 1776. Moving the army to New York, Washington suffered a series of defeats, but eventually achieved a decisive victory at Yorktown in 1781. He later served as president of the Constitutional Convention and as the first President of the United States. After two terms, he retired to his plantation, Mount Vernon.