In 1715, at age twenty-one, Augustine took possession of his father's farm, including its slaves, and also took his place among those who were considered as "gentleman" farmers. Back then, this was a title worthy of respect because it indicated that such a man was someone who was not only well-educated but signified that he was refined and cultured in the proper way to behave in society.
In that same year, Augustine married Jane Butler who was the daughter of a gentleman farmer. Her father had died before she married, leaving her with 640 acres of land in Bridge Creek. When she married, Augustine became the proprietor of this land and two years later, he purchased more land in neighboring Pope's Creek, thereby enlarging his holdings. He also enlarged his family by having four children.
In the early Colonial days, farming was big business because the crops they raised were sold primarily to England. As such, farming could prove to be a very lucrative venture, if done right and Augustine intended to be successful at his trade. Like his father, he raised tobacco mainly because this crop was very much in demand by the English. In fact, for awhile, tobacco was so popular that it was used as a form of currency in America. However, overseeing a large farming operation is not an easy task, especially if there are multiple farms in different locations. To do this takes a lot of agricultural and managerial skills but Augustine was up to the challenge. Being young and energetic, he worked hard on his farms and produced a successful and profitable harvest.
But, Augustine's activities were not confined to farming. Being an Englishman also meant being a devout member of the Anglican Church but Augustine did more than just attend weekly worship services each Sunday. He became very active in his local church and entered the world of politics just like his father had done. In 1716, a year after taking possession of his father's farm, he became the Justice of the Peace of Westmoreland country and also served as its sheriff.
In 1725 another business opportunity presented itself and Augustine entered into an arrangement with the Principio Company of England to manufacture iron. This required a large amount of capital to start up the business and Augustine agreed to put up one-sixth of the money. But he couldn't run the business off of his farm land so he purchased more land on Accokeek Creek in Stafford county. Things were going very well for Augustine but then, in his fourth year of marriage, his wife, Jane, died.
While Augustine was busy with operating his farms and iron mill, it was Jane who had raised their four children but, with her now gone, Augustine needed someone to care for them. He soon found a twenty-three year old woman named Mary Ball who was such a wonderful mother that in 1731 Augustine married her.
In 1738 William Strother, of Fredericksburg, Virginia passed away. Having no children to bequeath his 263 acres of land to, it was put up for sale and Augustine purchased it, mainly because it was close to both his iron mill operation and his other property at Pope's Creek.
Augustine was doing very well for himself and was able to send his two oldest sons to England to get a formal education. One of those children was named Lawrence, after Augustine's father. In 1732 Augustine and Mary Washington had their first of six children and they named him George. He was a strong and bright child and he grew up working with his father on the family farm.
During his early life George was sent to school at a local church and later to a boarding school thirty miles from his home. He loved learning, especially anything that would help him to be a better farmer. That's because he greatly admired his father and wanted to be like him therefore he especially studied math so he could learn how to be a good accountant, which was necessary if he was going to be a successful gentleman farmer. He also studied agriculture, botany, geography and other skills needed for farming but he was not taught the classical subjects such as history, languages, and philosophy as most gentleman farmers had studied. That kind of education would come later as he got older.
However, in 1743 when George was eleven years old, his father died of "gout of the stomach". Augustine was only forty-nine years old. His wife, Mary, was now a widow who have two very large companies to manage and a large family to look after. Because of this, she didn't have the means to send George to school in England like he and his father had wanted because George was now needed to help his mother run the farms and take care of the children.
George was energetic and strong like his father and he worked hard but it was not a chore for him because he loved farming. He felt comfortable and "at home" on the farm but, since he came from an aristocratic background and the people who his family associated with were also from the upper class of society, George often felt inadequate in their presence because of his lack of education compared to his peers.
Although George was a farmer at heart, he also aspired to be more like his father. He wanted to feel comfortable in associating with other gentleman farmers and to participate in the politics of the day, as had his father, However, when his father died, the land had been inherited by Lawrence Washington, Jr., Augustine's oldest son. That meant that George had no natural inheritance coming to him. Therefore, he also had desires of buying land and increasing his wealth by turning it into productive farmland, just as his father had done.
At age sixteen he went to live with his older step-brother Lawrence whom he admired and looked up to. Lawrence was married to Ann Fairfax who was the daughter of Colonel William Fairfax, one the largest land holders in that part of Virginia. Ann came from an aristocratic family and was a charming and gracious woman which meant that while George lived there he found himself participating in a very cultured environment.
Although this is the kind of life that George had wanted for himself yet, because of his lack of education, he keenly felt very inadequate being around upper class people. Even so, from his associations with Lawrence, Ann, and others, he not only learned more about farming but he also learned to speak and behaved in a very polite and proper fashion.
Lawrence had inherited a 2,500 acre farm in northern Virginia known as Mount Vernon which was one of the finest estates in the area. While living there George was introduced to Lord Fairfax, who owned a half a million acres of land in the Shenandoah Valley. However, most of that land was uninhabited and Lord Fairfax was interested in having someone survey it for him.
George had excelled in math while at school and was well studied in geometry and trigonometry. He was also very good at taking measurements and in his knowledge of geography. During this time when he lived at Mount Vernon, George got to know Lord Fairfax who also came to know George and was impressed with this young lad's abilities. Because of this, Lord Fairfax offered George the job of surveying his land.
The work that George did for Lord Fairfax was so good that by age twenty-one, Lord Fairfax recommended and helped George become the official surveyor of Culpepper county. However, George also did surveying for Frederick and Augusta counties as well. Then, from the money he earned, over time he was able to purchase 1500 acres of land for himself.
In 1751 Lawrence came down with tuberculosis. Thinking that a warmer climate would help him, Lawrence went to Barbados seeking a cure for his illness and George went with him to help and care for his oldest and beloved brother. However, the change in climate didn't help and when the two men came back to Virginia, Lawrence died shortly thereafter in July of 1752.
In his will Lawrence left his younger brother, George, his Mount Vernon estate. More than that, Lawrence also held the office of an adjutant general of the colony. Before he died, Lawrence recommended that George replace him in that position and later, in 1753, George joined the British army and became an officer where he served with distinction, eventually rising to the rank of Colonel. Later, he would become a delegate to the Virginia House of Burgess, then a delegate to the Continental Congress, then Commander-in-Chief of the Continental army, then the president of the Constitutional Convention, and finally, the first President of the United States.
But all of this didn't happen by accident. From the time he was just a young boy, George Washington studied hard to become the best he could be. Because he didn't have a formal education and yet wanted to be on equal terms with the better class of society, he taught himself by becoming an avid reader and learned all he could. But, more than this, he was also a keen observer of human nature and learned from what he saw as much as from what he read.
At the age of sixteen, he wrote a list of rules on how to behave in civilized company. He entitled this list: Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. There were 105 rules he developed and they covered such things as how to properly speak, sit, stand, and eat in the company of others. George committed himself to living by these rules of gentlemanly behavior and because of that, George Washington became one of the most respected and honored men throughout all the thirteen colonies. Today, we too would become better people if we followed some of those rules that Washington observed. Here are just a few of them:
Every action done in company of others should be done with some sign of respect to those who are present.
Do not show anything to a friend that may frighten him.
When in the presence of others, do not hum to yourself nor drum your fingers or feet.
If you cough, sneeze, sigh, or yawn, don't do it loudly. Instead, do it privately. When speaking, do not yawn but put your handkerchief or hand in front of your face and turn your face away.
Do not sleep when others are talking. Do not sit when others are standing. Do not speak when you should be silent. Do not keep walking when others stop.
Do not take off your clothes in the presence of others and neither should you go to your bedroom half dressed.
Whether at work or at play, don't speak louder than normal.
Don't turn your back on others, especially when they or you are speaking. Don't jostle the table or desk that someone is using to read or write on. Don't lean upon anyone.
Keep your nails clean and short, also your hands and teeth clean yet without showing any great concern for them.
Let your countenance be pleasant but, in serious matters, be somewhat grave.
Do not complain or make fun of someone because of the infirmities that nature has given them. Neither should you take delight in putting anyone down
Do not be glad at the misfortune of others, even if they are your enemy.
Don't laugh too loud or too much in public.
Avoid all unnecessary compliments and all signs of ceremonial affection unless they are require. In that case they must be carried out.
If anyone comes to talk with you while you are sitting, stand up even if that person is inferior to you.
When you visit someone who is sick, don't pretend to be a doctor if you don't know what you're talking about.
When writing or speaking to someone always address them by their title.
Don't argue with your superiors and always submit your judgment to others with humility.
Don't try to teach someone who is your equal how to do something they already know. It makes you sound arrogant.
Don't behave in a happy manner when you are in front of someone who is sick or is in pain because that will only make them feel worse.
When a man doesn't succeed at something when he had done all he can, don't blame him.
Take all criticism with thankfulness whenever or wherever it is given but then, at a convenient time and place answer him who gave you the criticism.
Never use language that is reproachful, neither curse or revile others.
Don't be quick to believe unconfirmed reports that disparage anyone.
Associate yourself with men of good character if you esteem your own reputation because it is better to be alone than in bad company.
Let all of your conversations be without malice or envy because it is a sign of a commendable character. And in all cases of speaking passionately, let reason govern your thinking.
Never express anything that is unbecoming nor act against the rules of morality.
Do not urge your friends to reveal a secret.
Do not speak words that will injure another, neither make fun of or scoff at anyone, even when they give you a reason to do so.
Don't be forward (presumptuous, brash, arrogant). Instead, be friendly and courteous. Be the first to salute, to hear, and to answer and do not be quiet when it is time to speak
Do not detract or take away credit from others and never be excessive when commanding others.
Think before you speak and do not wrongly pronounce your words, neither speak too harshly but, instead, be orderly and speak distinctly.
Be attentive when someone is speaking and don't disturb others. If someone should hesitate in trying to find the right words to say, do not help him or prompt him unless he asks you to do so. Don't interrupt him or answer him until he is through talking.
Don't relate news if you don't know if it is true.
Don't undertake a task that you know you cannot perform. Be careful to keep your promise.
When disputing with someone, don't be so desirous of overcoming your opponent that you don't give them the liberty of delivering their opinion. Submit yourself to the majority opinion, especially if they have the right to decide the matter.
Don't say anything against someone who is not present because that is being unjust.
Don't let yourself become angry at the dinner table no matter what happens, and if you have a reason to be angry, don't show it. Instead, put on a cheerful countenance, especially if there are strangers present. Humor makes one dish of meat a feast.
When you speak of God or His attributes, let your speech be serious and with reverence. Honor and obey your natural parents, even if they are poor.
Let your recreations be manful, not sinful.
Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called your conscience.