George Washington, the first president of the US, was born on 22 February 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, where his father, Augustine, was a leading planter in the area. Augustine’s first wife died in 1729, leaving him two sons, Lawrence and Augustine, Jr., and a daughter, Jane. Augustine, Sr. soon married Mary Ball and had six children, George being the eldest. Washington’s mother was wealthy in her own right, and by all accounts, a demanding, self-centered and formidable woman. In addition to inheriting her strong health and disposition to endure great hardships, George most likely inherited her temper, which he struggled his whole life to control.
By 1738, the family had moved to a plantation near Fredericksburg, Virginia where George spent much of his youth. However, this period remains the least documented and understood part of his life. Many of the widely accepted fables of George’s youthful physical strength, honesty, and piety stem from Washington’s first biographer, “Parson” Weems.
The education of a son of a wealthy planter normally included (as it did his older half-brothers) English grammar and arithmetic. Adolescent years would have included instruction in geometry, geography, booking keeping and surveying, culminating in a year or two studying abroad in England. Unfortunately, when George reached the age of eleven, his father died, and George’s formal education ended. From what little we do know of his education, Washington excelled in mathematics and surveying. As George grew into his teens, he found it increasingly difficult to tolerate his domineering mother, so he spent most of his time away from home by actively pursuing the study of surveying or spending a large part of his time with his step-brothers, especially Lawrence.