George Washington: The Father Of His Country Essay, Research Paper
George Washington: The Father of His Country George Washington was selected as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1775. During the revolutionary war he displayed great military skill as commander of the hastily trained and poorly equipped continental army, leading his troops to victory over a stronger enemy. For his great service to the action both during the Revolutionary war and during the early Republic, he has been called The Father of His Country . From 1759 to 1774, Washington managed his plantations (nearly 60,000 acres, including his wife s lands) and lived the life of a country gentleman. Through land speculation, he became one of the wealthiest men in Virginia and one of the largest landholders in the country. During this time Washington was also a member of the House of Burgesses, Virginia s legislature. Like many planters in Virginia he opposed British regulations and felt exploited by British merchants. Relations between the colonies and the mother country continued to deteriorate. After the British Crown dissolved the House of Burgesses in May, 1744, Washington and other legislatures met at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg. Washington was one of Virginians representatives at the First Continental Congress, in Philadelphia, in 1774. There he impressed his colleagues. The Congress petitioned the British Crown for redress of colonial grievances then adjourned. Preparations were undertaken to resist the British of necessary. Washington, who led the Militia of Fairfax County, was placed in command of other Virginia militia companies after the battles of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775, which marked the beginning of the American Revolution. On June 15, 1775, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia; Washington attended in his uniform, to demonstrate his belief that concerted military action by all the colonies was required. Congress unanimously elected him commanding general of the Continental Army. Washington took command of the army, composed of militia and volunteers, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on July 3, 1775, and spent several months training the ill-equipped and poorly disciplined troops. In March, 1776, he laid siege to the British garrison at Boston and forced General William Howe to evacuate his soldiers from the city. Washington then moved his forces to New York City in attempt to divide the northern and southern colonies. Washington s strategy for the war, necessitated by the constant by the constant lack of supplies, well-trained troops, and experienced officers, was to continually harass the British while avoiding major confrontations if possible. After the Continental Army suffered a series of defeats in the New York and Long Island area, Washington managed to retreat southward through new jersey. The prospects weren t very good, however, for Washington s forces, which numbered about 3,000 men. The British threat to Philadelphia was so great that the congress moved to Baltimore.
Crossing the Delaware in a blinding snowstorm on Christmas Eve, 1776,Washington, s troops surprised and overwhelmed a British force of Hessian mercenaries at Trenton. A second American victory at Princeton the following week caused the British to withdraw all along the Delaware. Washington then set up winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. In the summer of 1777, he anticipated a British attack on Philadelphia from New York, but the British by sea from the south. Washington rushed his 11,000 troops to meet them but was defeated by a superior force of 15,000 British soldiers at Brandywine Creek near Philadelphia on September 11, 1777.In October, Continental troops under General Horatio Gates forced the surrender of General John Burgoyne and some 5,000 British soldiers at Saratoga, New York. This victory was a turning point in the war because it convinced the French to side with the Americans. Gates success, however, caused Washington problems in congress, where people where questioning his leadership. His enemies in congress and in the military devised a plan in 1777 to have Gates replace him as Commander in Chief. The plot known as Conway Cabal failed because of Washington s overwhelming popularity. During the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge, Washington s men suffered from cold and hunger, but his closeness to his troops held the army together. At this time Washington received help from many European army officers who had volunteered to aid the Americans. In the spring of 1778, the American cause was further strengthened- King Louis XVI of France agreed to enter into formal alliance against the British. In June, 1778, the British evacuated Philadelphia. Washington and his army followed them to Monmouth, New Jersey. In the next battle to come, Washington s second in command, Major General Charles Lee, led the attack, but then ordered a retreat when the Continentals faltered. Washington rallied the troops and saved the day. The British retired to New York, where for the next two years Washington kept them sealed in. In the summer of 1781, France sent soldiers, a fleet, and financial aid. With the help of the French, Washington and his troops won an important victory over the British at Yorktown,Virginia, forcing the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his 8,000 men, on October 19, 1781. George Washington exclaimed, The work is done, and well done! The American victory had put an end to major offensive efforts by the British. However it took nearly two years for a peace treaty to be signed. During this period, Washington kept the army in control despite discontent caused by the failure of Congress to provide adequate compensation and some suggestions that the military seize the government and make George Washington king. After the treaty of Paris was signed in September , 1783, he resigned his commission and returned to Mount Vernon. He had refused pay for his services, submitting only a statement of his expenses.