From Virginia ("a large family and inadequate means") Washington was to become the commander of the colonial forces during the American Revolution and the first president of the United States. Washington was able to use surveying instruments and was a woodsman. Early in his career, Washington volunteered to Governor Dinwiddle of Virginia, to travel through the wilderness of that area we now know as southwestern Pennsylvania; and was sent, during the winter of 1753-54, on a mission to the French forts which had been established south of Lake Erie with a message that the area was not that of the French and that they should remove themselves (regardless to say, the French replied that the English were mistaken as to who owned what in North America). The following year Washington was sent back into the area of the French forts and was involved in a shoot out, which, it is believed, first started the English/French War in American; Washington hastily retreated and built a very rough fort, there, in Pennsylvania, "Fort Necessity"; he was defeated by the French. Washington was next to serve on the personal staff of Braddock and saved the van of Braddock's army in 1755.
In 1759, he married a rich widow, Martha Custis (1732-1802) and the combined estate made Washington a rich and influential man. He lived on a farm known as Mount Vernon. "He kept open house entertained liberally, led the hunting, and farmed successfully." Washington, as community leaders did in those days, obtained a seat in the assembly of Virginia, the House of Burgesses. Washington's, great role in history, however, was to come with the American Revolution. At first, as the disagreements between the mother country and the colonies heated up, Washington favoured peaceful measures; he soon saw, however, that the aims and objectives of the English colonists could only be met by force of arms.
"He was neither a writer nor an orator, but in rude common sense and in the management of affairs he excelled. ... He had remarkable powers as a strategist and tactician, but was pre-eminent as a leader of men. It was this dignified, well-dressed gentleman who took command of the New England farmers and mechanics assembled at Cambridge in the summer of 1775. It seems scarcely credible that these half-disciplined, half-armed men should beat a thoroughly disciplined and well-equipped British army, at Boston, and forced their evacuation in 1776." (Chambers.)With the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, the war with England came to an end; and Washington retired to Mount Vernon. Washington's finest moment came, when, notwithstanding his great power and following, he willingly yielded to the democratic assembly at the end of the war, and, in laying down his sword, recognized the supremacy of the people; that a man should not seize the opportunity and take the country as his own, one to be dictated to out of "organizational necessity," was an event rare in history. Washington was to preside over the convention of 1787 and was to continue on as the first president of the new republic. He retired from the presidency in 1797 and died (childless) at Mount Vernon in 1799.