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George Washington (1732-99) was commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83) and served two terms as the first U.S. president, from 1789 to 1797. The son of a prosperous planter, Washington was raised in colonial Virginia. As a young man, he worked as a surveyor then fought in the French and Indian War (1754-63). During the American Revolution, he led the colonial forces to victory over the British and became a national hero. In 1787, he was elected president of the convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution. Two years later, Washington became America’s first president. Realizing that the way he handled the job would impact how future presidents approached the position, he handed down a legacy of strength, integrity and national purpose. Less than three years after leaving office, he died at his Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon, at age 67.
George Washington did not attend college. Washington was known as an energetic and excellent dancer. Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759. Washington did not have children of his own. Washington was the first to sign the Constitution
John Adams (1735-1826) was a leader of the American Revolution, and served as the second U.S. president from 1797 to 1801. The Massachusetts-born, Harvard-educated Adams began his career as a lawyer. Intelligent, patriotic, opinionated and blunt, Adams became a critic of Great Britain’s authority in colonial America and viewed the British imposition of high taxes and tariffs as a tool of oppression. During the 1770s, he was a delegate to the Continental Congress. In the 1780s, Adams served as a diplomat in Europe and helped negotiate the Treaty of Paris (1783), which officially ended the American Revolutionary War (1775-83). From 1789 to 1797, Adams was America’s first vice president. He then served a term as the nation’s second president. He was defeated for another term by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).
Adams was the first lawyer-president. He was the only president of the first five U.S. presidents not to be a slaveholder. He was the first president to live in the White House, he moved in before it was finished. Adams was not a popular president, his independent mind led to political isolation, unwilling to compromise he faced opposition from his own cabinet. His son John Quincy became the 6th President.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, was a leading figure in America’s early development. During the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), Jefferson served in the Virginia legislature and the Continental Congress and was governor of Virginia. He later served as U.S. minister to France and U.S. secretary of state, and was vice president under John Adams (1735-1826). Jefferson, who thought the national government should have a limited role in citizens’ lives, was elected president in 1800. During his two terms in office (1801-1809), the U.S. purchased the Louisiana Territory and Lewis and Clark explored the vast new acquisition. Although Jefferson promoted individual liberty, he was also a slaveowner. After leaving office, he retired to his Virginia plantation, Monticello, and helped found the University of Virginia.
He had thousands of books and loved reading almost anything even if it was written in Latin. He helped create the human Bill of Rights to add to the Constitution of the United States. He loved to gaze and examine stars, planets, and comets. Thomas and Martha had 6 children, 1 boy and 5 girls, but only 2 girls, Mary and Martha, lived to be adults.