U.S. Presidents / George Washington

Image of President Washington

1732 - 1799

George Washington

The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people is sacredly obligatory upon all. Farewell Address


George Washington was born into a mildly prosperous Virginia farming family in 1732. After his father died when George was eleven, George's mother, Mary, a tough and driven woman, struggled to hold their home together with the help of her two sons from a previous marriage. Although he never received more than an elementary school education, young George displayed a gift for mathematics. This knack for numbers combined with his quiet confidence and ambition caught the attention of Lord Fairfax, head of one of the most powerful families in Virginia. While working for Lord Fairfax as a surveyor at the age of sixteen, the young Washington traveled deep into the American wilderness for weeks at a time.

Fast Facts

George Washington
Pope’s Creek, Virginia
The equivalent of an elementary school education
Soldier, Planter
“Father of His Country”
January 6, 1759, to Martha Dandridge Custis (1731–1802)
Family vault, Mount Vernon, Virginia
Stephen Knott

Chicago Style

Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “George Washington.” Accessed January 20, 2022. https://prod.millercenter.org/president/washington.

Professor of National Security Affairs

Stephen Knott

Professor Knott is a Professor in the National Security Decision Making Department at the United States Naval War College. Prior to joining the War College faculty, he served as project director for the Ronald Reagan and Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Projects at the Miller Center of Public Affairs.