There have been over 40 presidents in the history of the United States. There have been 43 presidents to be exact. Of these 43 Presidents of the United States, there are only about 15 of whom the average American might know. However, the most famous of these Presidents are George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. These two amazing leaders of our country have shown the world what it really means to be a good example to those who follow them. They are men of honor and made this great nation a beautiful and free place to live. Their love for their country and the steps that they took to becoming amazing and passionate leaders are ideas that we, as citizens of the United States, should be aware of. The childhood, the steps they took to careers in politics, and the effort that they put forth to make this nation a better place are stories that need to be told.
The very first President of the United States was George Washington. Unlike Lincoln, Washington was a battle hardened general who had fought many battles for America. His passion from that battlefield carried over into his passion for making the country that he loved a better place. Washington’s life began in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on February 22, 1732. His father, Augustine Washington, was not actually his birth father. Augustine’s first wife died in 1729. He married Mary Ball in 1731 and this made George the oldest of his six siblings. In 1735, the family moved to a place called the Little Hunting Creek Plantation, which was later named Mount Vernon. Washington would return to this plantation later on in life to live and die in. They again moved in 1738 to a place called Ferry Farm, which was near Fredricksburgh, Virginia. This is where Washington spent most of his adolescent period of his life. Little is known of George’s educational life growing up as a boy and there is little known about his childhood for that matter. There are many stories that are just myths about his childhood. Some of them include a time that young Washington chopped down his father’s cherry tree and chose to tell his father the truth that he cut it down which fed the idea that Washington could not lie. Another story about the young George Washington was about he had thrown a silver dollar across the Potomac River. These stories are just myth, but it shows a reader that if someone makes up moral stokes about someone, especially a man of high power, that the person they are making the stories about must be a very moral person. This is exactly what young George Washington was. He was very kind, compassionate, and hard working. His father died when he was eleven years old and it is very plausible, that, because he was the oldest male still left in the house, he became the new “man of the house”. This is where he learned his character of hard work and responsibility.
At age 16, George Washington, wanted to join the British Navy, but his mother had issues with it so he decided not to follow that career path. Instead, he pursued the life of adventure with George William Fairfax as a surveyor in the wild land of the Virginian Frontier. He studied math and geometry to further his education. Washington then became one of the youngest surveyors in the country when he got a license to do so at seventeen years old in the new town of Culpeper. He was becoming the perfect example of a young man coming into adulthood. He worked hard, saved the money that he was earning, and then bought some land that had yet to be settled in the Virginian frontier. He was well on his way to being an upstanding citizen in Virginia until war struck, and it all started with George Washington and a mission that he began at 21 years old.
Mr. Robert Dinwiddie, who was the governor of Virginia at the time, gave the young George Washing a letter to take to the French troops that were beginning to make forts in the Northern half of Virginia, near the Ohio River. Dinwiddie saw this as hostile and charged the 21-year old, Washington, who was a major at that time in the British army. This mission started off the trials an tribulations that would accompany George Washington for the majority of his life. He had to fight through all of the elements the wild frontier can throw at a man. He went through the mountainous terrain in the winter season, as he had left on November 15. The man that he had embarked on the mission with suffered extreme frostbite while Washington suffered no lasting illness. Washington’s character showed on his long trek, as he made friends with some Indians and he treated them fairly. When George got his answer, he delivered it back to Dinwiddie. When the French refused to let go of the land, the French and Indian War began. Washington did a wonderful job of making friends with the Indians and soon the British army was adopting the ways of the Indian in the way that they fought. They began to use more stealth and more agility. The legend of George Washington continued on as he became a leader for many British regiments. In one battle, he had two horses shot out from under him, and he also had four bullet holes in his coat, yet he was unharmed. The men around him began to think of this brave man as invincible and they treated him with that respect that his legacy brought about. Just before the war ended, Washington was given charge of Virginia’s entire military establishment. He was charged with protecting a frontier that was some 350 miles. Peace soon ensued after the forts along the river were finally British owned. After the war, on January 6th, 1759, Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis. A woman who was just spirited and fighting as Washington himself. It was said that later on in his life, Martha would accompany him in the winter, during the Revolutionary War, she would come and stay with him in any sort of lodging he would be staying in. Together, they would entertain the officers and she would help out at any nursing station near by. Before they were long married, war struck again. The Revolutionary War began in June of 1775 and George Washington was chosen to take command of the entire Continental Army. He was an obvious choice as he was the bravest and most battle-smart of any officer in America. He wasn’t the most experienced of all the officers, however, so he had to learn many of his duties and strategies on the job. He is most known for keeping the American army “afloat” until he found out a way he could win the war. After the Revolutionary War, he had every intention to retire to his home in Mount Vernon. However, the matter of voting in a President was standing in his way. When he was voted unanimously by the electorate. This is the only time in history that this has ever happened. He proved to be one of the best administrators in the history of the American government and he surrounded himself with the best men. This is why he went down in history as one of the best presidents in the history of the United States.
The other great American President that is being discussed is Abraham Lincoln. While Lincoln did not have the military resume that Washington, he had the power of speech and wisdom that not only presented great points, but also backed them up. Lincoln was born in a small log cabin in Kentucky on February 12, 1809. His parents’ names were Thomas and Nancy Lincoln. Thomas was a poor farmer and when Lincoln was five, he moved the family to another town in Kentucky. It was here that Lincoln started his education in a tiny one-room schoolhouse with his sister Sarah. Abraham was forced to work at a young age since his father was working by himself. When he was eight or nine, his aunt, uncle, and cousin moved in with the Lincoln family. However, that next year, they all died along with Lincoln’s mother. This started off a series of bouts in depression that Abraham held with himself often. Thomas Lincoln remarried again, however, and Abraham got along with her very much. Abe’s life was dominated by work up until he was 17 years old. The work that he did during the day to help his father left little to no time to do schoolwork. However, Lincoln did find time to read some schoolbooks by the fireside at night. His work that he did as a child and young man would carry into his adult life as he worked hard in any job that he did. This gained the respect of the people that he worked for and for those he also worked with.
When Lincoln was 21 years old, his family moved again, this time to Illinois. When they arrived there, Abe helped his father build a log cabin. After that, he got a job to haul goods on a flat boat. He then decided to go out on his own and live in the town of New Salem, Illinois. He was very eager to begin a new life and he worked hard to do so. He began to make a name for himself as he was tall and lanky. He had many jobs including store clerk, mill hand, partner in a general store that failed, postmaster, and surveyor. The general store was where he earned his nickname as “Honest Abe”. His partner had drank away all of the incoming funds for the store and this put both men into a large amount of debt because the store went bankrupt. Instead of just paying his half and letting his drunk partner go to jail, Lincoln payed for all of the debts and earned his title. Soon, Lincoln became ambitious and ran for legislature. The Black Hawk War began in the middle of his campaigning, however, and he became a scout for the local militia. He never saw any action as a soldier, but his stint in the war prevented him from winning his campaign for legislature as he did not have enough time to make himself known to the public.
Abraham Lincoln then decided to become a lawyer. He gained his license after being tutored well by a lawyer named John Stuart. With his help, Lincoln became one of the most popular lawyers in the whole state of Illinois. He wanted more than to be a good lawyer. He had a desire to end slavery. This desire would push him for many years and that is what made him one of the best presidents that have ever served America. When he had a desire to do something, he made sure to follow that with all of his heart. This desire is what made him a fantastic military leader. Lincoln decided to run for Congress but realized that he was going to lose the race that he was running for, so he decided to throw his support to fellow Whig Party member, Lyman Trumbull. Lincoln became discouraged with the political business and went back to being a lawyer. This happen another time as well, before Abe finally made it into Congress. He then put his ambitions higher, with the though of becoming the Republican candidate for the President of the United States. As a senator on his way to becoming the president, Lincoln made many speeches in debase against the Democratic Party. Some of these included debates with ex-senator Douglas. The famous “a house divided.” speech was also given during his campaign. He pushed the “equal rights” movements very hard in his debates and this won over many a crowd. Abraham Lincoln finally won the Presidential Election in 1864. Lincoln’s winning in this election made people down south very uncomfortable. They not only felt that their slavery rights would be stripped away from them with the powerful man who opposed the issue, but they also felt like they might lose the merchandise that came along with the help of slavery. This pushed seven southern states to secede from the Union. This might have been one of the hardest issues for any President to have to deal with. Lincoln had to fight over the thought of going to war with his own country. He decided to go to war. His reputation as an aggressive leader spread all over the nation. He pushed his generals to fight had and with a purpose of winning the war as quickly as possible. This stemmed from his desire to accomplish what he started.
On January 1, 1863, Abraham declared that slavery was abolished. This, by far, what cemented the great man one of the best Presidents of the United States. He fought hard for what was right until the very end and he paid the price for it. A man named John Wilkes Booth, who was a part of a Confederate conspiracy to kidnap Lincoln felt that this man needed to be stopped in the “corruption” that he was beginning. He shot President Lincoln on April 14, just five days after the South surrendered. This great man was struck down by evil. However, his life inspires those who seek to make a difference in any field that they enter into.
Today, many people don’t even know half of the presidents that have served the Untied States. This is a scary idea because if one forgets about the history of their own nation, then they all forget the evil that has transpired within it. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln fought to keep this evil from sinking its teeth into the freedom that makes America a great nation. Their lives should be an example to all, and we should never forget their stories.
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