On the other hand, he was born into the bottom of this group. His father had been a mediocre businessperson who, though he owned some land and slaves, had little power or influence. His mother had been an orphan who did not marry until age twenty-five, which at that time was considered old. George's only reasonable hope for becoming powerful or wealthy was to get an education in England among the upper class. When his father died this hoped was crushed.

Were it not for the success of his half-brother Lawrence, George would probably have remained a nobody. Lawrence had served in the British Navy and was a member of the House of Burgesses. He was also married to Anne Fairfax, daughter of the powerful Fairfax family. Lawrence introduced George to the Fairfaxes, who were impressed with the young man and accepted him into their circle. The Fairfaxes helped George get a commission in the Virginia militia. Without their help this probably wouldn't have happened. Between Lawrence and the Fairfax family, George was well connected.

Given his social background and his father's unfortunate death, Washington's rise at such a young age is remarkable. While still a teenager he held the important job of surveyor; before he was twenty he commanded a regiment. Without the help of powerful friends he couldn't have achieved this, but were it not for his own intelligence, ambition, and strength of character, he would never have made these friends. Therefore, we can safely say that George Washington was privileged to some extent, but also was an extraordinary young man.

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