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George Washington, born 275 years ago

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Date published: 2/19/2007


Providence allowed Washington to focus on his profession of gentleman farmer at the estate he inherited from his brother, Mount Vernon, for only 16 years. With tensions with England mounting, Washington was called to service in 1775, this time as commander of the Continental Army. With great military acumen, courage, and dogged determination, Washington led his ragtag band through six years of war until the British Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, supposedly to the tune "The World Turned Upside Down."

Washington was a hero. But in a remarkable display of character, the man who could easily have been king resigned his commission before Congress assembled in Annapolis. However, his retirement to Mount Vernon was short-lived. With the Articles of Confederation failing, he joined the effort to forge a new "energetic constitution." Once it was ratified, the Electoral College unanimously chose Washington to be the first president of the United States, the only president to be so honored.

Washington hated partisan politics, believed in education, and declared that "of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports." Humble to the end, in his farewell address he declared: "I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend."

Struck down by illness after being caught in freezing rain and sleet he said, "I die hard, but I am not afraid to go."

Few nations can look back on a founder of such great character. Fredericksburg can say he was one of our own.

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