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George Washington (1732-99), commander-in-chief of the American troops in the struggle of the colonies with England for independence and then the first president of the North American United States. The son of a wealthy colonist planter in Virginia, Washington received a very inadequate schooling, which he subsequently supplemented to a certain extent with reading; knowledge in mathematics he acquired, mainly self-taught. From 1748 Washington for three years served as a government surveyor, b. h., in border areas. Early assessing the future of the western lands, Washington since then engaged in land speculation.
From the spring of 1754 to the end of 1758, Britain took part with honors in military operations against the French and Indians. Participated in the British expedition against the French in Canada. After the war ended, he lived as a private man on the Mount Vernon estate. Washington's personal qualities brought him great popularity, and in 1774 he was elected to the National Convention, and in 1775, when the inevitability of war with England became clear, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the North American army. In this position,
Washington showed great administrative and organizational skills; he created an army, managed to reconcile the conflicting interests of the colonies, organized the supply of the army and, thus, greatly contributed to the final success of the war. At the end of it (in 1783) Washington transferred his powers to Congress and retired to Mount Vernon. With the entry into force of the Constitution of the North-American United States, Washington was unanimously elected president of the republic (1789). Washington tried to rely equally on federalists (later Republicans) and anti-federalists (future Democrats). In 1792, Washington was elected president for the second time, but did not agree to be elected for the third time. In 1798, in view of the threatening war with France, Washington again assumed the post of commander-in-chief of the troops and organized the army and the country's defense.
In foreign policy, Britain invariably strove to preserve the peace necessary for the new republic. Several cities are named after Washington. States, including the capital (see Washington, city); until now, the time Washington remains in the eyes of the Americans as a model of a statesman, although the "true" Washington did not correspond to the idealized image created by the historical legend.
- Lit.: Washington Papers (official and private), - Washington's Writings, ed. Sparks, 12 vis, Boston, 1837; the biography of Washington, attached to them, was revised by Guizot and translated into Russian (Essay on the Life of Washington, St. Petersburg, 1863).