George Washington’s Childhood
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. Washington’s father died when he was eleven years old when he was raised by his half-brother Lawrence. Lawrence taught George how to survey land, and his adjoining neighbors had George survey their vast land holdings. This gave George a practical skill of surveying, allowed him to learn resourcefulness and endurance, toughened his body and mind, and gave him the opportunity to learn the countryside which would be useful in the coming days of conflict.
“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” ~George Washington [L]
At fourteen years of age, George transcribed a set of 110 moral precepts, or Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, based on a set of rules composed by Jesuits from France in 1595. Washington tried to live by these moral precepts during his lifetime. He took what was a call to walk in decent behavior which centered on common courtesy to individuals and applied it to a nation. Washington desired to live for the good of all which encompassed self-respect and the gift of respect for others.1
After Lawrence died, George Washington inherited Mount Vernon at twenty years of age. He desired to be a good steward of the land and develop its resources which he did for the next twenty years. Washington despised slavery but was unwilling to sell slaves and separate families though his growing (through birth) slave population was a huge financial strain after he discontinued tobacco cultivation. [Note: Washington freed all of his slaves in his will.]
Union, Justice, Peace, Community
George Washington believed there were four pillars essential for the establishment of the United States as an independent nation with a national character built on liberty. He shared his vision of how America could succeed or fail in his “Circular to the States” when he retired as General of the Continental Army in 1783.
- A sacred regard for public justice.
- Indissoluble union of the states under one federal head
- The adoption of a proper peace establishment.
- The prevalence of a friendly disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies and to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.2
“I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.” ~George Washington [L]
“Religion and morality are the essential pillars of society.” ~George Washington, 1797
Washington – A Great Leader
Washington went from being the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army which “transformed an inexperienced militia into a capable force that ultimately defeated the mightiest military power in the world.” ~Anirudh.
Later, Washington was unanimously elected and served two terms as the first President of the United States from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797.
“Real men despise battle, but will never run from it.” ~George Washington
“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” ~George Washington [L]
Religious Freedom For All
George Washington assured religious liberty for all religions. He went past religious toleration to the establishment of religious freedom for all people. America did not have a state-supported religion like other governments in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. America was actually the beacon of light and hope for those persecuted in other lands.
“During the Great Awakening in the 1740s, there was a growing tolerance of minority religions in some regions of the colonies.” ~Religious Freedom, Mount Vernon
“There were seven articles in the new Constitution, and only one included religion. The last line of Article VI read, ‘No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”3 This was to counteract what had previously been done by the British where its citizenry had to swear under oath that they belonged to the Anglican Church.
Washington helped pass the Bill of Rights to ensure religious freedom for all. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion in two clauses. The Establishment Clause prohibits the government from passing any laws that establish or prefer a specific religion. The Free Exercise Clause prohibits the government from interfering with a person’s practice of their religion.
Washington’s Farewell Address
Washington’s original Farewell Address draft was prepared by James Madison in 1792, then Alexander Hamilton helped Washington prepare his official Farewell Address in 1796. It was first published in the American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796. Washington encourages Americans to work with “joint counsels, and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes” while refusing “regional interests over the interests of the nation” and not enter into “foreign disputes in order to maintain national unity and stability.” ~ Anirudh
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion, and morality are indispensable supports. They are the essential pillars of society.” ~George Washington, Farewell Address, 17964
Washington A Gentleman Farmer
Washington returned to Mount Vernon which had suffered much in his absence. He sought to restore his land through crop cultivation, development, and good stewardship practices. George Washington died at his home, Mount Vernon, on December 14, 1799.
My collection of writings for Writing Together for 31 Days Writing Challenges – Strength with Dignity
1 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior. Published by Foundations Magazine. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from Printable Version – Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior – Foundations Magazine
2 George Washington’s Vision for America. Published by History YouTube February 14, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from George Washington’s Vision For America | History – YouTube
3 Constitution of the United States of America, Article VI Debts, Supremacy, Oaths, Religious Tests, https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/articles/article-vi.
4 Beliles, Mark A. and Stephen K. McDowell. America’s Providential History. Published by the Providence Foundation, 1989, pg 179.
Anirudh. 10 Major Accomplishments of George Washington. Published by Learnodo-Newtonic on August 6, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from 10 Major Accomplishments of George Washington | Learnodo Newtonic (learnodo-newtonic.com)
Liles, Maryn. Celebrate Presidents Day with 125 Quotes from George Washington. Printed by Parade on February 20, 2023. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from 125 George Washington Quotes Still Famous Today – Parade: Entertainment, Recipes, Health, Life, Holidays