George Washington Timeline
How It All Went Down
Birth of George Washington
George Washington is born to Augustine Washington, a prosperous planter, and Mary Ball, his second wife.
Death of Washington's Father
Augustine Washington, George's father, dies suddenly of a stomach disorder. George's older half brothers Lawrence and Augustine Jr. inherit most of his property.
Thanks to the patronage of his brother's friend, Thomas Fairfax, Washington begins working as a surveyor in the Shenandoah Valley.
Washington accompanies his tubercular brother Lawrence to Barbados on a rest cure. While there, he is exposed to smallpox. The experience leaves him immune to the disease but probably contributes to making him unable to have children.
Death of Brother Lawrence
The death of Washington's beloved half brother Lawrence creates a vacancy in the Virginia militia, to which Washington is appointed.
Mission into Ohio Country
Second in Command of Virginia Forces
Responding to increasing tensions with French and Indian neighbors, the Virginia assembly creates a colony-wide force and commissions Washington its second in command.
Washington Starts French & Indian War
En route to defending a strategic point, Washington and his forces encounter and slaughter a small detachment of French forces, including their commander, the noble Monsieur Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville. The Battle of Jumonville Glen, as it came to be known, is generally considered the first encounter of the French and Indian War.
Resignation from Virginia Command
After the Virginia Assembly declines to vote new taxes for the upkeep of its colony-wide forces, Washington resigns his commission rather than accept a demotion to serve in a smaller company.
Aide-de-Camp to British General Braddock
Washington joins British general Edward Braddock's staff as a volunteer aide-de-camp.
Battle of the Monongahela
After a disastrous defeat at the Monongahela River that will cost Braddock his life, Washington rallies the British troops for an organized and protected retreat. Washington will emerge from the "Massacre at Monongahela" with a reputation for bravery under fire.
Colonel of Virginia Regiment
The Virginia Assembly, concerned about the escalating violence, reconstitutes its military force. Washington is commissioned a full colonel and given command of the Virginia Regiment.
Attack on Fort Duquesne
Washington leads several hundred colonial troops as part of a victorious British attack on Fort Duquesne. The victory effectively marks the cessation of hostilities around Virginia for the remainder of the French & Indian War.
Resignation from Virginia Regiment
Washington abruptly resigns his commission as colonel and quits the Virginia Regiment.
Marriage to Martha Washington
Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis and becomes, overnight, one of the richest men in the colonies. He will assume the care of Martha's two children, John Parke, known as Jacky (dies in 1781), and Martha, known as Patsy.
Virginia House of Burgesses
Reflecting his new status as a leading man in the community, Washington is elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses. He will become increasingly radical over the course of his fifteen-year service in the House.
Inheritance of Mount Vernon
Washington inherits Mount Vernon following the death of Lawrence's widow.
British Reject Land Grant Proposal
The British government rejects a proposal by Washington and other Virginia gentry for a land grant to settle parts of the Ohio Country. Five years later, they will accept an almost identical proposal, submitted this time by a group of British noblemen.
British regulars fire on Boston civilians, killing five. The Boston Massacre greatly exacerbates tensions between Britain and the colonies.
Death of Stepdaughter Patsy
Patsy, Martha Washington's only daughter, dies after suffering an epileptic fit. She is only seventeen years old.
Boston Tea Party
In protest against the newly passed taxes on tea, Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty, disguised as Indians, raid the British ships docked in Boston harbor and dump their cargo of tea into the Charles River in an act that will become known as the Boston Tea Party.
The British Parliament responds to the Boston Tea Party by closing Boston Harbor, stripping away many of Massachusetts' self-governing powers and providing de facto immunity to British soldiers. Washington finds the so-called "Intolerable Acts," well, intolerable.
Call for Continental Congress
The House of Burgesses, meeting without the authorization of the royal governor, calls for a continent-wide congress to coordinate the colonial response to British injustices.
Washington works with his friend George Mason to formulate the "Fairfax Resolves," which strike an aggressive, anti-British tone.
First Continental Congress
Washington attends the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia as a delegate from Virginia. He provisions himself with military supplies from the great port city before returning home in October.
Battles of Lexington and Concord
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia. Washington attends in full military uniform.
Commander in Chief
At the instigation of John Adams, Washington is appointed commander in chief of the armed forces of the United Colonies.
Battle of Bunker Hill
Colonial militia fight the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston, inflicting heavy losses on the British.
Washington Takes Command
Washington takes command of colonial forces resisting the British occupation of Boston on the banks of the Charles River, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Reading of Declaration of Independence
Washington, now in New York, orders that the newly published Declaration of Independence be read aloud to the troops.
Crossing the Delaware
After a series of defeats around New York, Washington scores a surprise victory against the British in a daring attack at Trenton. He will follow it up with another spectacular victory at Princeton a week later.
Battle of Saratoga
Washington famously sets up winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Due to lack of funding and poor organization, the Continental army is in tatters.
Benedict Arnold Changes Sides
General Benedict Arnold, commander of West Point and one of the Continental army's most distinguished veterans, defects to the British.
Articles of Confederation
Maryland's ratification of the Articles of Confederation makes them the governing document of the new United States of America.
Victory at Yorktown
Death of Stepson Jacky
Jacky, Martha Washington's only son, succumbs to a fever while serving in his stepfather's army.
Washington delivers his famous Newburgh Address, quieting mutinous officers.
Official End of Revolutionary War
Washington Resigns His Commission
Washington tenders his resignation as commander in chief to the Congress of the Confederation, meeting in Annapolis.
The outbreak of Shays's Rebellion convinces Washington that the new government needs to do more to consolidate the Union.
Constitution Takes Effect
New Hampshire becomes the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, making it the new law of the land.
Secretary of the Congress Charles Thomson informs Washington that he has just been elected president of the United States.
Washington is inaugurated the nation's first president in the temporary capital of New York City.
Beginning of French Revolution
French revolutionaries storm the Bastille prison in Paris, marking the start of the French Revolution. The Marquis de Lafayette, Washington's close friend, will be an important player in the ongoing Revolution.
Hamilton Assumes Debts
Washington backs Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's plan for the national assumption of state debts.
Beginnings of Washington, DC
Congress instructs Washington to select the location of the permanent capital on the banks of the Potomac River, all but within sight of Washington's Mount Vernon estate. He will spend the next years of his life planning the city that will bear his name.
Jefferson vs. Hamilton
Federalists backing Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Republicans backing Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson begin to clash over the chartering of a national bank. Washington sides with Hamilton.
Reelection to Second Term
Resignation of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson resigns from his post as Secretary of State, marking the official rise of a Republican opposition to Washington's Federalist policies.
Treaty of San Lorenzo
The Treaty of San Lorenzo, signed with Spain, opens the Mississippi River to American navigation, spurring westward expansion.
Washington signs Jay's Treaty with England, negotiated over the course of the previous year. It avoids war with Britain and protects American commercial interests, but is incredibly unpopular among Republicans.
Washington publishes his "Farewell Address" in Philadelphia's American Daily Advertiser.
John Adams Inaugurated Second President
John Adams is inaugurated as the second president of the United States.
Washington Assumes Military Command
Worsening relations with France convince Washington to accept nominal command of American military forces. He is commissioned lieutenant general, the rank he will officially hold until his death.
Washington drafts his will. In it, he frees all his slaves upon Martha's death.
Death of George Washington
Sick with a throat infection he acquired riding in the rain (and made worse by medical treatment), Washington dies at Mount Vernon. His wife and personal slave are by his side.