George Washington was born in Westmoreland county, Va., on a farm, later known as Wakefield, or Ferry Farm, on Feb. 11, 1731, Old Style (Feb. 22, 1732, New Style).
His first American ancestor, John Washington, came to Virginia from England in 1657.
This immigrant's descendants remained in the colony and gained a respected place in society. Farming, land buying,
trading, milling, and the iron industry were means by which the family rose in the world.
George's father, Augustine, had four children by his first wife and six by his second wife, Mary Ball, George's mother.
From 1727 to 1735, Augustine lived at Wakefield,
on the Potomac River between Popes Creek and Bridges Creek, about 50 miles (80 km) inland and close to the frontier.
Of George's early life little is known. His formal education was slight.
He soon revealed a skill in mathematics and surveying so marked as to suggest a gift for practical affairs akin to youthful genius in the arts.
Men, plantation life, and the haunts of river, field, and forest were his principal teachers.
From 1735 to 1738, Augustine lived at "Little Hunting Creek" (later Mount Vernon).
In 1738 he moved to Ferry Farm opposite Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River.
Augustine died when George was 11, leaving several farms.
Lawrence, George's half brother, inherited Mount Vernon, where he built the central part of the now famous mansion.
Another half brother, Augustine, received Wakefield.
Ferry Farm went to George's mother, and it would pass to George after her death.
These farms bounded the world George knew as a boy.
He lived and visited at each. Ambitious to gain wealth and eminence,
mainly by acquiring land, he was obliged to depend chiefly on his own efforts.
His mother once thought of a career for him in the British Navy
but was evidently deterred by a report from her brother in England that an obscure colonial youth could not expect more at Britain's hands than a job as a common sailor.
George's youthful model was Lawrence, a cultivated gentleman, whom he accompanied on a trip to Barbados, West Indies, in 1751.
Here George was stricken with smallpox, which left lasting marks on his face.
When but 15, George was competent as a field surveyor.
In 1748 he went as an assistant on a surveying party sent to the Shenandoah Valley by Thomas, 6th Baron Fairfax,
a neighbor of Lawrence and owner of vast tracts of land in northern Virginia.
A year later George secured a commission as surveyor of Culpeper county.
In 1752 he became the manager of a sizable estate when he inherited Mount Vernon on the death of Lawrence.
George's early experiences had taught him the ways of living in the wilderness,
had deepened his appreciation of the natural beauty of Virginia, had fostered his interest in the Great West,
and had afforded opportunities for acquiring land.
The days of his youth had revealed a striving nature.
Strength and vigor heightened his enjoyment of activities out of doors.
Quick to profit by mistakes, he was otherwise deliberate in thought.
Not a fluent talker,
he aspired to gain practical knowledge, to acquire agreeable manners, and to excel in his undertakings.