George Washington was born in 1732 in the colony of Virginia into a wealthy, well connected family that owned tobacco plantations using slave labor. Washington’s experience in the military, leadership of the Patriot cause in Virginia, and his political base in the largest colony caused the Second Continental Congress in 1775 to name him commander-in-chief of the Continental Army to fight the British in the American Revolution. George Washington was able to force the British out of Boston in 1776, but was set back in defeat and nearly captured later that year when he lost New York City. He and his army crossed the Delaware River in the middle of winter and defeated the British in two battles and retook New Jersey. This strategy allowed Revolutionary forces to capture two major British armies at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. George Washington negotiated with Congress, governors, and French allies, and was able to hold together a tenuous army and a fragile nation amid the threats of disintegration and invasion. After the States’ victory was finalized in 1783, Washington resigned from the head of the Army instead of seizing power, and returned to his plantation at Mount Vernon; this caused his enemy King George III to call him “the greatest character of the age”.
Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention that drafted the United States Constitution in 1787. He had been dissatisfied with the weaknesses of Articles of Confederation that had caused a constant impediment to the war effort. George Washington became President of the United States in 1789.