The Journal That First Made George Washington Famous
You know those people who seem destined for great things, and everybody predicts from early on that they’re going places? George Washington was one of them. From early on, he stood out – both literally, as he was quite big and tall by his era’s standards, and because he had a presence that commanded attention. Decades before he commanded the Patriot forces in the American Revolution, a young Washington had made a name for himself, both in the Colonies and in Britain. His first brush with fame began in 1753, when Virginia’s governor sent Washington, then a twenty-one-year-old militia major, as a special envoy to demand that the French evacuate land claimed by Britain on the Ohio River. Washington was also ordered to negotiate peace with the Iroquois Confederacy, and to gather whatever intelligence he could about the French.
After a 900-mile and nearly three-months-long journey, Washington returned with the French commander’s refusal to depart. The governor had him write a report, titled The Journal of Major George Washington, which was then published to alert all to the dangers of French encroachment. That publication made the young Washington famous both in the Colonies, and among the political elites in Britain. Shortly thereafter, Washington returned to the Ohio River, this time as second in command of a Virginia regiment. Near today’s Pittsburgh, he led a force of militia and Native allies, that surprised, slaughtered, and scalped about 50 French soldiers. That sparked what eventually became the Seven Years War’ – arguably history’s first global conflict. It drew in all of Europe’s great powers, and was fought in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.