George Washington was born February 22, 1732.
The meeting of joint commissioners for Virginia and Maryland at Mount Vernon to work out a code for use of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River (Washington had long been a proponent of canalizing the latter to create a water route to the interior), led to the Annapolis Convention of 1786, called to discuss regulation of interstate commerce. In 1787 Washington was chosen as a Virginia delegate to the Philadelphia Convention that was to revise the Articles of Confederation. Against his wishes Washington was elected presiding officer. The resulting Federal constitution that was adopted in September 1787 did not bear much of his handiwork, but it breathed the spirit of his strong nationalism, and his reputation was tied to its success. Not very surprisingly, Washington was elected president after it was ratified and became the first executive officer to serve under the new government. The same rigorous sense of duty that saw him through the Revolutionary War compelled the fifty-seven-year-old Washington to take the presidential oath of office on 30 April 1789 in the new federal capital of New York City. Dignity, common sense, political acumen gained from twenty years experience, and a keen judgment of men’s characters and abilities were his chief assets in dealing with the new Senate and House of Representatives, establishing general precedent, and making appointments. He had a difficult time in finding qualified individuals to serve in the new federal judiciary, but the heads of the executive departments of war, state, and the Treasury, were men of talent, integrity, and even brilliance. The president supported Treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton’s fiscal program of federal assumption of state war debts and the creation of a national bank, both of which chiefly benefited the monied classes, as the only viable way for the United States to restore its national credit and assume its proper rank among the nations. Even before the end of Washington’s first administration, opposition coalesced around secretary of state Thomas Jefferson and his friend congressman James Madison. These Virginia gentlemen favored a states’ rights view of strict interpretation of the Constitution, domestic policies favoring the landed interests, and a foreign policy aligned more closely to France than Britain.
All of these and more are prevalent in George Washington’s life.
This man is George Washington, the United States first president.
The success of this assignment increased my desire to own a set of the Marshall biography volumes, a foundational work in both George Washington biography and U. S. historiography. Marshall wrote the books at the behest of Bushrod Washington, George’s nephew and Marshall’s U.S. Supreme Court colleague. Bushrod made available the vast collection of his uncle’s papers in his possession and encouraged Marshall to write on a scale commensurate with the achievements of its towering subject. While Marshall can be chided for borrowing heavily from other sources (in that period’s customary manner), his volumes captured the nationalist spirit that animated contemporary Federalists and unflinchingly positioned George Washington as the crucial figure in the founding of the United States.2
This was the beginning of George Washington Carver’s life....
Although Lawrence at that time possessed two of the great prerequisites of rising Virginia gentlemen-an inherited estate and impressive marriage connections-George enjoyed something more important in the long run: an impressive physique and the blessing of good health. Washington survived a case of smallpox while in the West Indies, thus acquiring immunity to the disease that claimed the lives of many colonial Americans, but his brother died in 1752 after returning from the Caribbean, probably of tuberculosis. Lawrence’s infant daughter, to whom he originally bequeathed Mount Vernon, died before reaching her majority, and in 1754 Washington leased the estate from Lawrence’s widow, Ann Fairfax Washington, who held a life title to it.