English Across the Curriculum

The American President

George Washington - America's First President

George Washington is best known as America's first president. But he was much more than that. He fought against and defeated the British army in the War of Independence (1775 - 1783) and he helped to write the American constitution.

As a boy, Washington had an exciting life. He worked on his parents' plantation and learned how to plant tobacco and grow crops. He also loved to explore the wilderness, hunt for food and sleep in the open.

At an early age Washington became a surveyor and helped new settlers buy land. When he grew older he became a soldier and fought with the British against the French and the Indians.

When Great Britain started to collect more and more taxes from the settlers war broke out between the American colonists and British soldiers. George Washington became commander of the American army.

Washington had many problems during the war. The British had more soldiers and weapons. Winters were cold and long. Many soldiers left him and his troops didn't have enough clothes.

When Washington surprised the British army at Yorktown, Virginia almost 8,000 British soldiers gave up. The British king started to lose interest in the colonies and in 1783 the war ended. Washington and his soldiers had won America's independence.

In the following years George Washington and many other leaders helped to write a constitution for the new country. In 1789 , Washington was elected as the country's first president. Nobody was against him. He didn't want a second term but his friends convinced him that he was the best person for his country. In 1797, at the age of 65, Washington went back home to his farm. He died on December 14, 1799.

No other American has become more famous than George Washington. The nation's capitol was named after him. Many towns, streets, lakes and parks have his name. Even a state is called Washington. His portrait is on stamps and the one dollar bill.

George Washington - America's first president
Source : Portrait by Gilbert Stuart, Public Domain

British surrender at Yorktown

The British surrender at Yorktown
Image : John Trumbull, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons