1753 In February George Washington (age 20) accepted a commission as a major in the Virginia Militia. Governor Dinwiddie received word that the French were building forts in the Ohio valley, which was part of Virginia’s Charter territory. Major Washington traveled over 1,000 miles each way (from October to Jan.1754) to deliver/receive a letter to/from the French commander.
1754 Governor Dinwiddie placed Colonel Washington as head of an advanced guard to protect a new fortification where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers merged into the Ohio (now Pittsburgh, PA). The French captured the Fort before Washington arrived and renamed it Fort Duquesne. Washington’s promised reinforcements never came, so he built Fort Necessity a few miles from Fort Duquesne. The French put Fort Necessity under siege. Surrender terms were generous. The French allowed the Americans to return home with their arms if they would surrender the Fort. George Washington returned to Virginia a hero.
1755 General Braddock with more than 2,000 men marched toward Fort Duquesne by forging a road through the forest. Just a few miles from the Fort, the French and Indians ambushed them. The mounted British officers including General Braddock were shot down within minutes and George Washington assumed command. The big Virginian had two horses shot out from under him and miraculously was unharmed as a bullet rushed through his hat and three more passed through his coat. Washington again returned as a hero.
1758 The British sent 6,000 men against Fort Duquesne. The French abandoned the Fort and left it burning rather than engage the British.
1765 To pay the cost of the French and Indian War (and other wars fought by the British), Parliament passed the Stamp Act. This act required government purchased stamps to be placed on legal documents, newspapers and other articles that were sold or distributed in the colonies. Up to this time they had voted their own taxes in response to specific requirements by the Crown.
1766 After an outpour of resentment from the colonists and British merchants, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act.
1767 Parliament passed the Townsend Act, which imposed taxes on various imports to the colonies.
1769 The Virginia House of Burgesses voted to call upon the king for a redress of grievances. Lord Botetourt, the royal governor of Virginia, dissolved the assembly for their impertinence. The Burgesses adjourned to Raleigh Tavern, and proposed a voluntary association of Virginia citizens to boycott all British taxed articles.
1770 The Boston Massacre occurred. The king sent British troops to occupy the city. In March a snowball fight erupted into a roar of gunfire that left five Americans dead and several other wounded. In April Parliament repealed most of the Townsend Act but left taxes on tea.
1773 The colonist purchased most of their tea on the black market from the Dutch. In December the British cracked down trying to force compliance. On December 16 the Boston Tea Party occurred.
1774 Parliament reacted by putting Boston under Martial Law.
1774 The Virginia House of Burgesses voted to set aside “The first day of June … as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, devoutly to implore the divine interposition for averting the heavy calamity which threatens destruction to our civil rights and the evils of civil war.” Lord Dunmore reacted by again dissolving the legislative body. The Burgesses moved down the street to Raleigh Tavern. There they adopted a paper urging all American colonies to appoint delegates “to meet in general congress, at such place annually as shall be thought most convenient…”
1774 In September, the first Continental Congress met at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia. Washington was a delegate from Virginia.
1774 On April 19, the British designed a secret plan to disarm the militia by removing the guns from Concord Armory. The plan leaked to the citizens from all walks of life. They picked up their own weapons. When the British came to seize the guns, the Battle of Lexington and Concord erupted. The battle left 70 British dead and 170 wounded. Massachusetts was committed to war.
1775 Patrick Henry made his famous quote “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Washington and Henry were elected delegates to the next Continental Congress.
1775 During the second Continental Congress, George Washington accepted a commission as General of the Continental Army on June 16. He agreed to serve without a salary but asked that Congress pay his expenses.
1775 The patriots surrounded Boston with fortifications. On June 17 the British challenged the patriots at the Battle of Bunker Hill. On July 2, 1775 Washington arrived in Boston and assumed command of the 14,500 citizen army. He took over an army without discipline and supplies. In addition enlistments were to end in December. He had a constant need to recruit and train new soldiers. Washington wrote: “If I shall be able to rise superior to these and many other difficulties which might be enumerated, I shall most religiously believe that the finger of Providence [God] is in it.”
1775 Washington wrote in his general orders: “they were defending the cause of virtue and [of] mankind. Divine Providence would not permit them to fail.”
1775 In November General Knox was given the task of removing the captured British cannons from Ft. Ticonderoga. About 60 of the best cannons were transported with great difficulty over two-foot snows, laboriously making their way over hills, swamps and rivers.
1776 Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense” spread like wildfire among the colonies. Here is one of the best reasons he gave for separation: “Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America, is a strong and natural proof, that the authority of one, over the other, was never the design of Heaven. Time likewise at which the continent was discovered adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was peopled increases the force of it. The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in the future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.”
1776 General Knox delivered 60 cannons on March 2, 1776. Fortifications for the cannons were made secretly during the night. Washington planned what would have been a disastrous assault on Boston. A great storm appeared that canceled the attack. After the storm the British left the city for the safety of their ships. Note: The British General Cornwallis was hampered from retreating from Yorktown in 1781 by a great storm that blew their small boats back to shore. Cornwallis said that it appeared that even God was on George Washington’s side.
1776 The Third Congress signed the Declaration of Independence based on the knowledge that: “ all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness … And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
1781 In Washington’s General orders, the day after Cornwallis’ surrendered, he “earnestly” recommended that all troops not on duty attend “divine service,” and that they do so “ with that seriousness of deportment and gratitude of heart which the recognition of such reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demands of us”. Congress was of a like mind: after receiving news of Washington’s momentous victory, the body went en masse to a Lutheran church in Philadelphia for a service of thanksgiving.