Humanities › History & Culture 10 Facts About George Washington Share Flipboard Email Print MPI / Getty Images History & Culture American History U.S. Presidents Basics Important Historical Figures Key Events Native American History American Revolution America Moves Westward The Gilded Age Crimes & Disasters The Most Important Inventions of the Industrial Revolution African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Martin Kelly History Expert M.A., History, University of Florida B.A., History, University of Florida Martin Kelly, M.A., is a history teacher and curriculum developer. He is the author of "The Everything American Presidents Book" and "Colonial Life: Government." our editorial process Martin Kelly Updated August 15, 2019 George Washington was a crucial figure in the founding of America. As the first President of the United States, he served from April 30, 1789, to March 3, 1797. 01 of 10 Washington the Surveyor Kean Collection / Getty Images Washington did not attend college. However, because he had an affinity for math, he started his career in 1749 as a surveyor for the newly established Culpepper County in Virginia at the age of 17. A surveyor was one of the most important jobs for the new colonies: He was the one who mapped out the resources available in sections and set boundary lines for future potential ownership. He spent three years at this job before joining the British military, but he continued surveying throughout his life, eventually surveying an estimated total of 60,000 acres in 200 different surveys. 02 of 10 Military Action in the French and Indian War Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images In 1754, at the age of 21, Washington led the skirmish at Jumonville Glen, and at the Battle of Great Meadows, after which he surrendered to the French at Fort Necessity. It was the only time he surrendered to an enemy in battle. The losses contributed to the start of the French and Indian War, which took place from 1756 to 1763. During the war, Washington became aide-de-camp to General Edward Braddock. Braddock was killed during the war, and Washington was recognized for keeping calm and holding the unit together. 03 of 10 Commander of the Continental Army Hulton Archive / Getty Images Washington was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. While he had military experience as part of the British army, he had never led a large army in the field. He led a group of soldiers against a far superior army to victory resulting in independence. In addition, Washington showed great foresight in inoculating his soldiers against smallpox. Although a president's military service is not a requirement for the job, Washington set a standard. 04 of 10 President of the Constitutional Convention GraphicaArtis / Getty Images The Constitutional Convention met in 1787 to deal with the weaknesses that had become apparent in the Articles of Confederation. Washington was reluctant to go: He was pessimistic about the future of a republic without a ruling elite, and at the age of 55 and after his extensive military career, he was ready to retire. James Madison Sr., the father of the future U.S. 4th president, and General Henry Knox convinced Washington to go, and at the meeting, Washington was named the president of the Convention and presided over the writing of the U.S. Constitution. 05 of 10 The Only Unanimously Elected President MPI / Getty Images As a national hero and the favorite son of Virginia, the largest and most populous state at the time, and with experience in both war and diplomacy, George Washington was the obvious choice for the first president. He is the only president in the history of the American presidency to be unanimously elected to the office. He also received all the electoral votes when he ran for his second term in office. James Monroe was the only other president who came close, with only one electoral vote against him in 1820. 06 of 10 Asserted Federal Authority During the Whiskey Rebellion Metropolitan Museum of Art / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain In 1794, Washington met his first real challenge to federal authority head-on with the Whiskey Rebellion. The Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton suggested that some of the debt incurred during the American Revolution might be recouped by instituting a tax on distilled liquors. Pennsylvania farmers absolutely refused to pay taxes on whiskey and other goods—distilled spirits were one of the few goods they could produce for shipping. Despite an attempt by Washington to end things peacefully, protests became violent in 1794, and Washington sent in federal troops to put down the rebellion and ensure compliance. 07 of 10 Was a Proponent of Neutrality DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI / Getty Images President Washington was a massive proponent of neutrality in foreign affairs. In 1793, he declared through the Proclamation of Neutrality that the US would be impartial towards powers currently at war with each other. Further, when Washington retired in 1796, he presented a Farewell Address in which he warned against getting the United States involved in foreign entanglements. There were some who disagreed with Washington's stance, as they felt that America should owe loyalty to France for their aid during the Revolution. However, Washington's warning became part of the American foreign policy and political landscape. 08 of 10 Set Many Presidential Precedents Tetra Images / Getty Images Washington himself realized that he would be setting many precedents. He even stated that "I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent." Some of Washington's significant precedents include the appointment of cabinet secretaries without approval from Congress and retirement from the presidency after only two terms in office. Only Franklin D. Roosevelt served more than two terms before the passage of the 22nd amendment to the Constitution. 09 of 10 Fathered No Children Though Had Two Stepchildren Stock Montage / Getty Images George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis. She was a widow who had two children from her previous marriage. Washington raised these two, John Parke and Martha Parke, as his own. George and Martha never had children together. 10 of 10 Called Mount Vernon Home Ben Clark / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 Washington called Mount Vernon home from the age of 16 when he lived there with his brother Lawrence. He was later able to purchase the home from his brother's widow. He loved his home and spent as much time as possible there over the years before retiring to the land. At one time, one of the largest whiskey distilleries was located at Mount Vernon.