History : Dec 2015-Jan 2016
82 DECEMBER 2015/JANUARY 2016 and often overburdened Washington. Along with the wealth and social standing that Martha brought to the marriage, she also came with two young children, who Washing- ton cherished as his own. He settled easily into the life of a respected planter and enjoyed days spent with his family, improving the farm, fish- ing, hunting (particularly fox hunting), riding, feasting, dancing , and generally reveling in the style of the Virginia aristocracy. He no doubt as- sumed he would end his days at Mount Vernon as a British citizen. The Coming Revolution That, of course, was not to be. Like his fellow Virginians in the House of Burgesses, Wash- ington became increasingly disillusioned with George III and his colonial minions. At this time British America was composed of 13 disparate colonies ruled by 13 legislatures, each commit- ted to its own culture, economy, and often reli- gion.“Fire and water are not more heterogeneous than the different colonies of North America,” one British traveler had pronounced. Together, BRIDGEMAN/ACIL.RICCIARINI/PRISMA T HE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR in which Washington had fought was part of the larger Seven Years’ War that raged across Europe from 1756-1763. Subsequently Britain emerged with an empire greater than any the West had known since Rome. Its holdings in the New World, shown above, had more than doubled, but managing them proved an expensive business. To try and cover the costs, the British began to levy a series of taxes on the colonists that only added to the distress caused by a post-war bust in the econ- omy. As the decade progressed, the loyal Britons of America, Washington among them, began to question their commit- ment to Great Britain. By the mid-1770s, the unspeakable had become speakable—was it time, perhaps, to end that loyalty altogether and proclaim a respectful independence from the mother country? Those who increasingly thought this way may have hoped to reason with the Crown, but they found George III and his government reluctant to listen to its colonial citizens and even less willing to surrender territories to them. THE WINDS OF CHANGE A loving family man, Washington never had children of his own, though he happily adopted Martha’s son and daughter and would grow into a doting and devoted grandfather.