George Washington: The Early Years

George Washington: The Early Years

George Washington accomplished many fascinating things in his life.  In this article, we are going to look back at four important turning points in the General's life which helped him developed into America's most famous leader.

Missed Education

Washington’s father passed away when he was only 11 years old.  His older brother, Lawrence, became his guardian. 

Washington was from what we today would consider an upper middle-class family.  His older brothers had been educated in England.  Unfortunately, George would only receive a few years of formal education from tutors and at a local school.


Despite his lack of education, George was not a dumb boy.  He was a voracious reader and was guided by his smart, well connected older brother.

Washington received training as a surveyor and began working on land in western Virginia at age 17.  In the next three years, George would survey tens of thousands of acres of land.  The skills he developed in this career would later serve him well during the Revolutionary War.

Smallpox in Barbados

In 1751, the young George Washington left the future United States for the only time in his life.  His older brother Lawrence was sick with tuberculosis.  To recuperate, his doctor advised him to travel to Barbados for the fresh air.

George went to keep him company.  Unfortunately, Washington fell ill with smallpox.  Somehow, the strong young man survived the terrifying disease.  This had the benefit of immunizing him.  Later, he could walk confidently through the city of Philadelphia during outbreaks as well as speak to soldiers afflicted with the disease.

Major Virginia Militia

Soon after returning from Barbados, Lawrence passed away.  As he had been the Adjunct General of the Virginia Militia, there was a gaping hole to fill.  In this position, he commanded the entirety of the colony’s militia.

The Governor split this position into four different offices.  George was given one of them.  At only 21 years old, Washington was given the title of Major.

He would go on to serve in the as a leader in the French and Indian War with this title.  These experiences gave George Washington the qualities so admired, decades later, by the Continental Congress.


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