On this day in 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States. Now you might be expecting a lengthy article about the American Revolution and how proud we are of American independence, but you already know that story so why not read about a different story. Less well known than the American Revolutionary War is the war that came right before it, the French and Indian War. The French and Indian War is one of those historical events that not many people know much about because it does not make much of an appearance in American history textbooks. It was complicated and messy, the British were fighting the French who were fighting Native Americans who were fighting everybody, including each other.
One of the few things that remains consistent in tellings of the French and Indian War is that George Washington was involved, although at the time he was only a colonel. Washington led a small party of British soldiers allied with a small group of Native American soldiers. They came upon a French camp, shooting started, and that started the war. The story is, of course, more complicated than that but the full story is incredibly long. If you are interested in reading more about it you can do so here. An interesting historical aspect is that recently uncovered documents indicate that it may have been George Washington himself who fired the first shot in the war, killing the leader of the French troops, Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville. According to a Native American account, “Col. Washington begun himself and fired and then his people.” If these reports are true, this means that the future first President of the United States started a war by firing on enemy troops in the pouring rain, according to some accounts while they were trying to read peace terms.