Chapter I. When Washington was a Boy
When George Washington was a boy
there was no United States. The land
was here, just as it is now, stretching from the Atlantic
Ocean to the
Pacific - but nearly all of it was wild and unknown.
Between the Atlantic Ocean and the Alleghany
Mountains there were
thirteen colonies, or great settlements. The most of the people
lived in these colonies were English people, or the children
people - and so the King of England made their laws and appointed
The newest of the colonies was Georgia, which was settled
the year after
George Washington was born.
The oldest colony was Virginia, which had been settled one
twenty-five years. It was also the richest colony, and more
living in it than in any other.
There were only two or three towns in Virginia at that time,
were quite small.
Most of the people lived on farms or on big plantations, where
raised whatever they needed to eat. They also raised tobacco,
sent to England to be sold.
The farms, or plantations, were often far
apart, with stretches of thick
woods between them. Nearly every one was close to a river,
or some other
large body of water - for there are many rivers in Virginia.
There were no roads, such as we have nowadays, but only paths
the woods. When people wanted to travel from place to place,
they had to
go on foot, or on horseback, or in small boats.
A few of the rich men who lived on the
big plantations had coaches - and
now and then they would drive out in grand style behind four
horses, with a fine array of servants and outriders following
they could not drive far where there were no roads, and we
understand how they got any pleasure out of it.
Nearly all the work on the plantations was done by slaves.
been bringing negroes from Africa for more than a hundred years,
nearly half the people in Virginia were blacks.
Very often, also, poor white men from England
were sold as slaves for a
few years in order to pay for their passage across the ocean.
freedom was given to them they continued to work at whatever
find to do - or they cleared small farms in the woods for themselves,
went farther to the west and became woodsmen and hunters.
There was but very little money in Virginia at that time,
there was not much use for it. For what could be done with
there were no shops worth speaking of, and no stores, and nothing
The common people raised flax and wool,
and wove their own cloth - and
they made their own tools and furniture. The rich people did
the same -
but for their better or finer goods they sent to England.
For you must know that in all this country
there were no great mills for
spinning and weaving as there are now - there were no factories
kind - there were no foundries where iron could be melted and
all kinds of useful and beautiful things.
When George Washington was a boy the world was not much like
it is now.