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Home > History > George Washington - the Surveyor

George Washington - the Surveyor

This page describes George Washington's role as a surveyor.

George Washington, the first President of the United States, is often remembered for his leadership in the American Revolution and his role in founding the nation. However, Washington's career as a surveyor is often overlooked. Washington was one of the most skilled surveyors of his time, and his expertise played an important role in his later political and military success.

Working Full-Time at Age 16!

Washington began his career as a surveyor at the age of 16, when he was sent by his half-brother Lawrence to survey lands in Virginia's Northern Neck. He quickly became known for his accuracy and speed, and by the age of 18, he was appointed as one of the official surveyors of Culpeper County, Virginia. In this role, he surveyed lands, plotted roads and boundaries, and helped to resolve disputes between landowners.

A Land Expert

Throughout his life, Washington continued to survey land, both for himself and for others. He used his surveying skills to acquire vast amounts of land, including thousands of acres in the Ohio River Valley, which he believed would be valuable in the future. His surveying work also allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the geography of the region, which would prove to be valuable during the Revolution.

During the War

During the Revolutionary War, Washington relied heavily on his surveying skills as he planned military campaigns and moved his troops. He was able to quickly assess the terrain and make decisions about where to position his troops, based on his knowledge of the area. In one particularly noteworthy instance, Washington used his surveying skills to outmaneuver the British army during the Battle of Monmouth in 1778.

Designing the City Named for Him

Washington's expertise as a surveyor also had a significant impact on the nation he helped to found. After the war, he used his surveying skills to plan the layout of the new federal city, Washington D.C. He worked closely with Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the city's original architect, to design the city's street plan, parks, and public spaces.


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