” George Washington was a raw and ambitious 21 year old when he was first sent to the Ohio Valley to confront the growing French presence in the region. His actions sparked the French & Indian War – a conflict that would test the mettle of this rising young Virginian.
1. Virginia’s governor sent 21-year old Maj. George Washington to deliver an ultimatum to the French
Control of the expansive Ohio Valley region, especially near the joining of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers (modern day Pittsburgh), was of great interest to both the British and their French rivals. Rivers like the Ohio, which connected to the Mississippi, were essential transit corridors for goods produced in this fertile region.
Concerned by reports of French expansion into the Ohio Valley, Virginia Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie sent 21-year-old Major George Washington of the Virginia Regiment on a mission to confront the French forces. Washington was to deliver a message from the governor demanding that the French leave the region and halt their harassment of English traders. Washington departed Williamsburg, Virginia in October 1753 and made his way into the rugged trans- Appalachian region with Jacob Van Braam, a family friend and French speaker, and Christopher Gist, an Ohio company trader and guide. On December 11, 1753, amidst a raging snowstorm, Washington arrived and was politely received by Captain Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre at Fort LeBoeuf. After reviewing Dinwiddie’s letter, Legardeur de Saint-Pierre calmly wrote a reply stating that the French king’s claim to the Ohio Valley was “incontestable.”
Washington’s return to Virginia during the winter of 1753 was a perilous one, but the group safely returned to Williamsburg after traveling almost 900 miles in two and a half winter months.”
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