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Home > History > Analyzing Primary Sources - George Washington's Letter to Phillis Wheatley

Analyzing Primary Sources - George Washington's Letter to Phillis Wheatley

This activity requires students to analyze a letter from Washington to Phillis Wheatley and to complete short answer questions about it.

George Washington by Gilbert Stuart

 

George Washington

Early Years

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, although he grew up near Fredericksburg. In his childhood and adolescence, he studied math and surveying. When he was 16, he went to live with his brother Lawrence in Mount Vernon. George was scarred with Smallpox before the age of 20, but inherited his brother's land (including Mt. Vernon) when he died in 1752.

French and Indian War

Washington's military career began in 1753, when he was sent into Ohio country during the French and Indian War to protect British interests in the area. In 1754, he battled the French and was forced to surrender Fort Necessity (near present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). He continued as an officer in Ohio country, and served under the British general Edward Braddock when their army was ambushed by the French in 1755. Once again, Washington tasted defeat after their surrender of Fort Duquesne to French forces. Luckily for the future United States, the French agreed to release him rather than keep him as a prisoner. He helped take Fort Duquesne back in 1758.

Commander of Continental Army

Washington was married to Martha Custis in 1759. He managed the family and estate until he took command of Virginia troops just before the American Revolution. He was made commander of the Continental Army on June 15, 1775. Washington, however, would struggle with a rag-tag army of volunteers and militia men. His armies were constantly low on supplies and food, and often times marched to battle without shoes. They were routed in a series of battles in and around New York City in 1776 and forced to retreat into Pennsylvania where he planned a strategic ambush. On Christmas night 1776, Washington and his men crossed the Delaware River and captured a band of 800-900 Hessian soldiers. Hessians were fearsome German mercenaries hired by the British as soldiers. The event came to be known as "Washington's Crossing" and was successful in raising the morale of the entire army. The dramatic ambush would be called The Battle of Trenton. Throughout the war, Washington campaigned the Continental Congress tirelessly for food, supplies, and clothing for his soldiers, and managed to keep the Continental Army together in spite of dire circumstances and incredible odds against him.

Washington's Crossing - Leutze

Iconic Painting of Washington's Crossing

Yorktown

Washington proved himself an excellent leader, and won several other decisive battles during the Revolution. In 1781, he helped to formulate the plan that eventually resulted in the defeat of the British army at Yorktown, Virginia and the British surrender.

First President

As an advocate of a federal government, Washington became chairman of the Constitutional Convention and helped in getting the Constitution ratified. In 1789, he was inaugurated as America's first president after refusing to be coronated as king. Washington was re-elected for a second term in 1792, but refused a third term.

Death and Legacy

On December 14, 1799, seventeen days before the new century, Washington died of acute laryngitis or epiglottitis. Today, George Washington is probably the most honored individual in American history. Numerous cities, towns, highways, monuments, and parks bear his name. The capital of the United States is named after him. He was honored on the first American postage stamp, as well as on the quarter and one dollar bill. He even has a state named after him - Washington, although he never set foot there.

United States Quarter
 

United States Presidents

 1. George Washington  16. Abraham Lincoln  32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
 2. John Adams  17. Andrew Johnson  33. Harry S. Truman
 3. Thomas Jefferson  18. Ulysses S. Grant  34. Dwight D. Eisenhower 
 4. James Madison  19. Rutherford B. Hayes  35. John F. Kennedy
 5. James Monroe  20. James A. Garfield  36. Lyndon B. Johnson
 6. John Quincy Adams  21. Chester A. Arthur  37. Richard Nixon
 7. Andrew Jackson  22/24. Grover Cleveland  38. Gerald R. Ford
 8. Martin Van Buren  23. Benjamin Harrison  39. Jimmy Carter
 9. William Henry Harrison  25. William McKinley  40. Ronald Reagan
10. John Tyler  26. Theodore Roosevelt  41. George H.W. Bush
11. James K. Polk  27. William Howard Taft  42. Bill Clinton
12. Zachary Taylor  28. Woodrow Wilson  43. George W. Bush
13. Millard Fillmore  29. Warren G. Harding  44. Barack Obama
14. Franklin Pierce  30. Calvin Coolidge  45. Donald J. Trump
15. James Buchanan  31. Herbert Hoover  

George Washington Articles and Activities

George Washington Online Activities and Games

  • George Washington Reading Comprehension - his resource includes a historical passage and four multiple choice questions. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text.
  • Freemasons Reading Comprehension - This resource includes a reading passage and seven multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback.
  • Continental Army Reading Comprehension - This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text.
  • Battle of Trenton Reading Comprehension - This resource includes a historical passage and ten multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text.
  • Winter at Valley Forge Reading Comprehension - This resource includes a historical passage and ten multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text.
  • Battle of Monmouth Courthouse Reading Comprehension - This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text.
  • Siege of Yorktown Reading Comprehension - This resource includes a historical passage and ten multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback. In addition, when you click the "listen" button, you can hear the passage while it highlights the text.
  • Conway Cabal Reading Comprehension - This resource includes a historical passage and seven multiple choice questions. It gives immediate feedback.
  • George Washington Cloze Reading - This contextual vocabulary exercise requires students to insert the vocabulary words from the word bank that complete the paragraph.
  • Glamour Legends - Game - This fun game allows students to dress up George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Tubman, or Christopher Columbus in more modern, or more primitive clothes.
  • Currency Mismatch - Game - This is a wildly fun game that requires students to drag and drop the correct presidential faces to their correct dollar bills. The game is timed and makes for awesome friendly competitions within a classroom.
  • Presidential Mismatch - Game - Students must rearrange the presidential chart so that the presidents are in the correct order in which they served. The number of presidents used in the game is customizable. The timer allows for friendly competitions. Students who enjoy history will love this game!
  • Who is Your Founding Fathers? Game - In this innovative game, students determine the "Founding Father" by evaluating the accomplishments of Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton on a significance scale of 1-10. As students evaluate each accomplishment, the "father" responsible for the accomplishment moves forward. For example, if a statement such as "How significant is it that this person wrote the Declaration Independence?" appears, and the student judges it "9," Thomas Jefferson would move forward nine steps.
  • History Jigsaws - Washington's Crossing - This awesome jigsaw allows students to make their own jigsaw pieces, or, allow the program to auto-cut pieces.
  • Founding Fathers Power Point Presentation - This power point presentation explains everything you need to know about the Founding Fathers. Includes Washington, Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison.

George Washington Printable Activities

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