This portrait of George Washington is from a bust by J. A. Houdon.
Born in Virginia, George Washington was dissuaded from a career at sea by his mother. Turning to land surveying, he was appointed to survey Lord Fairfax's lands in the Shenandoah Valley. With the beginning of the French and Indian War in 1753, Washington was dispatched by Virginia Gov. Dinwiddie to warn the French commander of Fort Le Boeuf against further encroachment against British territory.
On his way to establish a post at the "Forks of the Ohio," now Pittsburgh, Washington learned the French already had built a fort there and that the French were advancing on British holdings. He attempted to stave off the advance and was defeated, but allowed to remove his troops to Virginia as part of the surrender. Later he was part of Gen. Braddock's expedition that failed to move the French from Fort Duquesne, as well as Gen. John Forbes' successful campaign that resulted in Fort Duquesne becoming Fort Pitt. Washington left the military in 1758 and returned to Mount Vernon.
In 1759 he began a 15-year tenure in the Virginia legislature and married Martha Dandridge Custis. He was a delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congress, although he did not participate actively. In 1775 he was the group's unanimous choice as commander in chief of the Continental forces. His early military results in the Revolutionary War were mixed, with his joining French forces to overcome Gen. Cornwallis at Yorktown. One of his great strengths was his unquestioned integrity.
After the war he again returned to Mount Vernon. In 1787 he headed the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and unanimously was elected presiding officer. Two years later he unanimously was elected president. His presidency was replete with crises, including the feud between the factions led by Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Washington was reelected president in 1792, a year before the greatest crisis of his tenure.
Washington was dismayed by excesses in the French Revolution and unhappy with attempts by the French minister to the United States to interfere in American politics. Once again, in 1797 at the end of his second term as president (he refused a third term), George Washington returned to Mount Vernon. In his farewell address he warned the United States against permanent alliances abroad. Philatelic Information