By JR Owens “Spider”
George Washington led a colonial army over the mighty British nation and became our first president, but surprisingly enough, Washington was born an underdog. His story tells us how far determination and being in the right place at the right time can take us.
The, so called, “Father” of our country was born the youngest of three children. At age eleven, when Washington’s father died, most of the estate went to the older sons. Washington did not receive an education like that of his brothers, and one could have thought he would accomplish the least of the three.
Washington had little hope of becoming more than a small time land owner and farmer. Nevertheless, by the age of 16 he had learned surveying skills, which were a valuable asset at a time when England sought to expand their territory westward.
Although he did not have the same opportunities of his brothers, Washington worked hard. He modeled himself after people he admired. He took fencing and dancing lessons and honed those skills. He was also a rugged individual and outdoors-man. Washington only needed a break to send him on his way into the pages of history, and that break came after the third war between France and England had ended.
France sent soldiers westward into the Ohio Country to build fortresses along the river. If the French succeeded in staking claim to the Ohio River Valley, they would effectively hem in the English settlers between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. The settlers could not expand westward and could not expand to the south because the Spanish had settled Florida. Something must be done to ensure the expansion of the British Empire in North America.
Robert Dinwiddie, a crown appointed governor of Virginia, would send Washington, who had no military experience, to the Ohio Valley to fight the French over their claim on the territory.
Dinwiddie was looking for someone to carry a message to the French, he needed a volunteer, and Washington lined up to go. Washington led six other men to meet with the French. The meetings were cordial, but the French maintained the Ohio Valley was theirs by right of discovery.
When Washington returned to Virginia, Dinwiddie awarded him a second in command with the Virginia Regiment. A short time later, Washington’s commander died in an accident and Washington became the commander of the poorly trained regiment.
Washington went on to wage a successful campaign against the French in the Ohio River Valley. George Washington, the third son, the poorest son, the son with the least education and opportunity, had been in the right place at the right time. He tasted his first military victory.