Following Up…(to ‘Someone Else’s Misfortune’)

“Since thou wast precious in my sight…will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” (Isaiah 43:4)

It has been previously mentioned that our young George, at the age of twenty, had been appointed to the position of Adjutant General of the Virginia militia. What hasn’t been mentioned is that his brother Lawrence had originally been scheduled for that appointment. Lawrence’s death turned to pivotal opportunity for the future commander-in-chief.

Not only did his brother’s death leave that crucial position open, Washington’s securing of that post depended in large part upon influential connections that existed in his life because of his relationship with his deceased brother. Lawrence’s father-in-law, William Fairfax, was land agent over some five million acres, (belonging to his cousin Lord Fairfax) and thus part of the wealthiest, most powerful family in the colonies. William viewed George as a son, as well, maintaining family ties even after Lawrence’s death. When George decided to seek the post of Adjutant, he had no prior military training to recommend him for the job. So Fairfax exerted his considerable social and political weight to tilt the scales in George Washington’s favor.

Thirdly, and perhaps from some perspectives not that important…I still find it interesting that George Washington came into possession of Mount Vernon as a result (once again) of Lawrence’s death. Originally, Lawrence had inherited that homestead, but when his widow remarried, George was able to rent the property from her. Eventually, as history reveals, he became its master.


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