George Washington was bo rn on February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland County, in eastern Virginia. In three crucial ways he shaped our nation. First, he led American forces during the fight for independence. Second, he presided over the writing of our Constitution. Third, he served as our first president.
At times, it was Washington’s character alone that seemed to hold the fledgling United States together. He became a symbol of what Americans were struggling for, risking his life and fortune to lead his countrymen to liberty.
During one battle of the Revolution, at Monmouth in New Jersey, the American troops were in confused flight and on the verge of destruction when General Washington appeared on the field. Soldiers stopped in their tracks and stared as the tall, blue-coated figure spurred his horse up and down the line, halting the retreat. The young Marquis de Lafayette remembered the sight for the rest of his life, how Washington rode “all along the lines amid the shouts of the soldiers, cheering them by his voice and example and restoring to our standard the fortunes of the fight. I thought then, as now, that never had I beheld so superb a man.”
The general turned his army around. The fighting raged until sundown, and that night the British took the chance to slip away. Washington’s very presence had stopped a rout and turned the tide of battle.
It was not the only time. Again and again, Americans turned to Washington. He was, as biographer James Flexner called him, the “indispensable man” of the American founding. Without George Washington, there may never have been a United States.