George Washington Biography

Growing Up George Washington

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in the British Colony of Virginia not far from the Potomac River. He grew up with a number of siblings, including five brothers and a sister that survived to adulthood. George's father, Augustine Washington, was a Virginia plantation owner and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.

We don't know a lot about George's childhood. He attended grade school, but wasn't afforded the opportunity to attend college. This lack of schooling would bother him in his later years because most of his colleagues graduated from schools of higher learning such as William & Mary. George was an athletic young man who inherited his height from his parents. He would eventually grow to a height of 6 foot 2 inches allowing him to tower over most of the men of his day.

George spent much of his childhood at Ferry Farm in Stafford County, Virginia where his family moved when he was six. He loved riding horses and became known as an excellent horseman. He also enjoyed playing card games and hunting foxes.

Big Brother

When George was eleven years old, his father suddenly passed away after catching ill while traveling in bad weather. Although George's older half-brother, Lawrence, inherited most of his father's estate, George inherited Ferry Farm, which must have been daunting at the age of eleven. Fortunately for George, his mother, Mary Ball Washington, took over the management of Ferry Farm. At the same time, Lawrence, by all accounts a kind and loving brother, took over the fatherly duties of raising George to be a colonial gentleman.

In 1751, Lawrence became sick with tuberculosis and traveled to Barbados in hopes that the climate would help him recover. George accompanied his brother only to be stricken with small pox during the stay. Fortunately, George survived the disease. This would later prove helpful during Revolutionary War as George was now immune to the deadly disease that killed so many soldiers.


When George was sixteen he took his first job working as a surveyor for William Fairfax, one of the wealthiest landholders in Virginia. Lawrence had wanted George to join the British Navy, but Mary Washington, still a power in the Washington household, refused to let her son join. George worked for Fairfax for a year and then became the official surveyor of Culpeper County.

Over the next several years George surveyed land at the edge of the frontier in western Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. George enjoyed his time in the wilderness; exploring new lands, meeting Indians, and sleeping under the stars. He completed nearly 200 surveys during his career as a surveyor.

Plantation Owner and Soldier

During his time as a surveyor, George learned a lot about how to assess and value land. He used his savings to purchase 2,300 acres of good land in the Shenandoah Valley. Together with the inheritance of Ferry Farm, George was becoming a significant landowner.

In the summer of 1752, George's brother Lawrence finally succumbed to Tuberculosis and died. George took over the management of Lawrence's estate at Mount Vernon and would later inherit the estate when Lawrence's widow passed away.

With Lawrence's passing, there was an opening in the Virginia militia. George decided to change careers and took a position as major in the militia. Initially, George was responsible for raising militia volunteers and managing the militia for the district of southern Virginia, but George was an ambitious young man and soon took over the more prestigious district of the Northern Neck. Washington was only twenty-one when he began what would become one the most legendary military careers in world history.

<<< Previous      Next >>>

George Washington Biography Contents
  1. Overview and Interesting Facts
  2. Growing Up George Washington
  3. French and Indian War
  4. Fort Duquesne
  5. Married Life and Mount Vernon
  6. The American Revolution Begins
  7. Commander in Chief
  8. Crossing the Delaware
  9. 1777 and Valley Forge
  10. Victory in the American Revolution
  11. End of the War, King Washington, and the Constitutional Convention
  12. First President of the United States
  13. The Presidency
  14. Leaving the Presidency, Retirement, and Death
  15. George Washington Quotes and Bibliography