You Never Forget Your First | Alexis Coe

Summary of: You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington
By: Alexis Coe


Dive into the untold stories of George Washington in ‘You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington’ by Alexis Coe. Through this summary, explore the often misrepresented or unknown aspects of Washington’s life. Discover how many famous stories about Washington are not true, learn about his impoverished childhood and ambitious rise, and understand how he overcame numerous challenges to become the revered figure he is today. This summary will shed light on the complexities of the man who would become the first president of the United States and forever shape the nation’s history.

The Truth about George Washington

George Washington’s life is the subject of countless biographies and legends, but when we dig deeper, we find that many of these stories are untrue. From his wooden teeth to the cherry tree incident, much of what we think we know about Washington is a myth. By re-examining history from different perspectives, we can see that Washington was a great man, but also flawed, just like us.

George Washington: From Poverty to Ambition

George Washington’s humble beginnings, his hard work, and military career shaped him into the ambitious leader he was.

George Washington’s story began not in 1732 but when he was 11 years old and his father, Augustine, passed away, leaving the family little in his will. The young family struggled, and George’s mother sold their farm to make ends meet. George had to mature quickly and dropped out of school to become a land surveyor at the age of 16. By 18, he earned enough to support his mother and five siblings and purchased acres of farmland.

Washington’s wealthy half-brother, Lawrence, and his elite military milieu, took a liking to him, and Lawrence’s death meant George could fill his position in the Virginia militia. Despite a mixed experience in the Caribbean due to catching smallpox, his military career took off. He gained a reputation for being a swashbuckler when his wartime diaries were published by the British, but it still did not pay the bills. His British superiors consistently undersupplied his command posts, and he realized that the British’s traditional ideas of European warfare were not feasible for American contexts.

From his experiences in the military, Washington learned that even the most ambitious colonist remained a second-class citizen under British rule. His poverty and military career shaped his ambition and life’s purpose.

Washington’s Rise to Wealth and Revolution

George Washington’s dissatisfaction with his financial and social status in the army pushed him towards marrying for wealth. After receiving support from his plantation friends, he met Martha and agreed to marry her after two meetings. In their married life, Washington became a wealthy planter and rising politician, but still faced the challenges of British trade monopoly and unfair treatment of colonists. A series of exploitative taxes and boycotts led to the Revolution, and Washington emerged as the natural choice to lead the army for glory.

Washington’s Secret to Victory

Despite losing more battles than any victorious general in modern history, George Washington defeated the British through propaganda campaigns and spy rings, which contributed significantly to the overall triumph. He ran excellent subterfuge operations that exposed British war crimes and published them in newspapers throughout the colonies. Washington also handled spies and double agents and outspied the British. However, his personal cost was grave, and the victory came at a considerable expense to his finances and family. Despite being a hero of the young nation, he couldn’t wait to go home, recover his finances and live out the remainder of his days in peace.

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