George Washington Biography
The American Revolution Begins
Although George Washington had been a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses since 1758, he had been a fairly quiet and loyal subject. He saw it has his duty to support the crown and his fellow colonists with service in the House. However, things began to change for George, and many other colonists, with the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765.
In order to pay for the French and Indian War, the British Parliament passed laws that directly taxed the American colonies. One of the first of these laws was the Stamp Act of 1765. This new tax angered many colonists including George Washington. It wasn't necessarily being taxed that made them angry (they already paid taxes to the local government), it was that they were being "taxed without representation." The colonists felt that, because they were not allowed representatives in the British Parliament, the British Parliament had no right to tax them.
Although Washington voiced his concerns about British taxation, it was the passage of the Townsend Acts in 1767 that caused him to become politically active. He strongly opposed the Townsend Acts as well as the British government's harsh crackdown on protests in Boston. In 1969, Washington presented legislation to the Virginia House of Burgesses that would stop the importation of British goods until the taxes were removed.
Over the next few years, tensions continued to mount between the colonists and the British government. When the British passed the Intolerable Acts in response to the Boston Tea Party, the colonists were ready to rebel. In 1774, Washington participated in a committee which presented the "Fairfax Resolves" outlining the concerns of the colonists with British rule. He then travelled to Williamsburg to attend the Virginia Convention during which he was elected as a delegate to represent Virginia at the Continental Congress.
First Continental Congress
The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from September 5 to October 26, 1774. Delegates from twelve of the thirteen American colonies attended. Washington remained quiet and mostly observed the other speakers during the event. During the meetings, the Congress agreed to a united boycott against British goods. They also condemned the Intolerable Acts and demanded that they be repealed by the British government. Washington voted in favor of the actions and then returned to Virginia where he began to help organize the local militias in the event that fighting broke out between the colonies and the British.
Second Continental Congress
In April of 1775, fighting broke out in Massachusetts at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Washington headed back to Philadelphia to meet with the Second Continental Congress to discuss war with Britain. While attending the meetings, Washington wore his military uniform to show the seriousness of the affair. He had little to say.
As discussions moved to appointing a Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Washington made it clear that he did not want the command. However, he was the perfect choice. As John Adams put it "I had but one gentleman in my mind for that important command." Washington was selected for many reasons: his military experience from the French and Indian War, his calm and steady demeanor, his wealth (which made him immune to bribes), and that he was from Virginia (many felt that someone from the south was needed to unite the colonies). In addition, he looked and acted like a military leader. He was tall, strong, and confident. He was just what the rebellion needed.
On June 19, 1775 Washington accepted the commission of the Second Continental Congress as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. During his acceptance speech he said "I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with...." Washington had his doubts that an inexperienced militia could successfully battle the trained British army, but he believed strongly in his cause and was determined to perform his command with integrity and honor. To show that he was personally devoted to his men and the cause, Washington refused to accept a salary for his position.
George Washington Biography Contents
- Overview and Interesting Facts
- Growing Up George Washington
- French and Indian War
- Fort Duquesne
- Married Life and Mount Vernon
- The American Revolution Begins
- Commander in Chief
- Crossing the Delaware
- 1777 and Valley Forge
- Victory in the American Revolution
- End of the War, King Washington, and the Constitutional Convention
- First President of the United States
- The Presidency
- Leaving the Presidency, Retirement, and Death
- George Washington Quotes and Bibliography