0
Votes

History: George Washington Started a World War

— Few individuals in history can be said to have caused a world war; however, George Washington could lay claim to being one of them. In 1753 the French alliance with Indian tribes in the Ohio region had become a serious threat to the British colonies, especially Virginia.

Celebrating George Washington

Saturday/Feb. 15

George Washington’s Birthday Celebration. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Mount Vernon Estate, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway. There will be a hoecake judging contest and samples given out while supplies last, enjoy a dancing demonstration, stories, and more. Everything is included in admission $18/adult; $9/children age 6-11; children under 5 are free. Visit www.mountvernon.org/ for more.

Sunday/Feb. 16

George Washington’s Birthday Celebration. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Mount Vernon Estate, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway. There will be a hoecake judging contest and samples given out while supplies last, enjoy a dancing demonstration, stories, and more. Everything is included in admission $18/adult; $9/children age 6-11; children under 5 are free. Visit www.mountvernon.org/ for more.

Revolutionary War Re-enactment. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Fort Ward Park. Historic camp and tactical demonstrations throughout the day including a Revolutionary War skirmish between the Redcoats and the Colonial Army. Free. Visit www.VisitAlexandr... for more.

Walk with Washington. 2 p.m. at Ramsay House Visitors Center, 221 King St. Tour some of the sites associated with George Washington. Free. 703-746-3301.

Monday/Feb. 17

George Washington Birthday Parade. 1-3 p.m. in Old Town Alexandria. This year's parade grand marshal is Pamela Cressey, the first city archaeologist of Alexandria. Free.

Royal Governor Robert Dinwiddie, under orders from England, sent a letter to the French commander of the region, ordering him to leave the territory. He assigned the task of delivering the missive to militia Major George Washington. This sensitive mission was fraught with danger. It was critical not only that the letter reach the French commander, but also that Washington return with a full report of his observations and assessment of the situation. Washington succeeded in making the delivery and reported the French commander's rejection of the British demand. He also delivered detailed maps of the region and intelligence on the extent of the French occupation of the region. He urged Dinwiddie to build a fort at the confluence of the Ohio and Allegheny rivers. Within days, the governor sent a force to build the fort. Thus he unwittingly took the first step toward an all out war.

In 1754, Dinwiddie appointed Washington a lieutenant colonel and sent him with 160 men to reinforce the colonial post at what is now Pittsburgh, Pa. Before Washington could get there, it was occupied by the French who renamed it Fort Duquesne. Washington moved within about 40 miles of the French position and built a defensive position which he called Fort Necessity. From this base, he attacked a reconnoitering French force, killing 10 French soldiers, including their commander, and capturing 21 prisoners with a loss of only one of his own men. It was his first trial by battle.

Retaliating for this incident, the French descended on Fort Necessity in full force. After an all-day fight, Washington surrendered to their superior numbers. Unfortunately for Washington, he could not speak or read French and his interpreter's supposed ability was very limited. Thus the French were able to insert language into the surrender agreement that included a confession that Washington deliberately attacked a peace delegation and killed the emissary. This charge was untrue, but the surrender document had George Washington's signature on it. Washington was permitted to lead his men back to Virginia where his efforts were deemed valiant and courageous. The press in both London and Paris portrayed Washington as a hero despite his surrender.

Almost two years later, the French used Washington's 1754 attack as grounds for a declaration of war on the British and to drum up popular support for their action. Americans refer to the ensuing conflict as the French and Indian War, but Europeans call it the Seven Years War. It became a world war encompassing North America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Contributors: These articles were prepared by the George Washington Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution (www.gwsar.org), who will be a participant in the George Washington Birthday Parade and events on Feb. 17. See www.washingtonbirthday.net.