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Washington George 1732-99 commander in chief of the Continental army during the American Revolution and later the first president of the United States He symbolized qualities of discipline aristocratic duty military orthodoxy and persistence in adversity that his contemporaries particularly valued as marks of mature political leadership Washington was born on February 22 1732 in Westmoreland County Virginia the eldest son of Augustine Washington a Virginia planter and Mary Ball Washington Although Washington had little or no formal schooling his early notebooks indicate that he read in geography military history agriculture deportment and composition and that he showed some aptitude in surveying and simple mathematics In later life he developed a style of speech and writing that although not always polished was marked by clarity and force Tall strong and fond of action he was a superb horseman and enjoyed the robust sports and social occasions of the Virginia planter society At the age of 16 he was invited to join a party to survey lands owned by the Fairfax family to which he was related by marriage west of the Blue Ridge Mountains His journey led him to take a lifelong interest in the development of western lands In the summer of 1749 he was appointed official surveyor for Culpeper C ounty and during the next two years he made many surveys for landowners on the Virginia frontier In 1753 he was appointed adjutant of one of the districts into which Virginia was divided with the rank of major Washington played an important role in the struggles preceding the outbreak of the French and Indian War He was chosen by Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie of Virginia to deliver an ultimatum calling on French forces to cease their encroachment in the Ohio River valley The young messenger was also instructed to observe the strength of French forces the location of their forts and the routes by which they might be reinforced from Canada After successfully
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