In 1743, on this day on Ferry Farm, King George County, Virginia, Augustine Washington died age forty-nine. His son George inherited the former Strother property and its slaves, but instead of joining the landed gentry and becoming a planter and slaveholder, he accepted Admiral Vernon's invitation to enroll in the Royal Navy.
This post is an article from the Midshipman George Washington thread.
Midshipman George Washington #1His Uncle Joseph Ball strongly disapproved of his nephew's career choice in a letter to his sister Mary dated 19th May 1747 he wrote ~
"I understand that you are advised and have some thoughts of putting your son George to sea. I think he had better be put apprentice to a tinker, for a common sailor before the mast has by no means the common liberty of the subject; for they will press him from a ship where he has fifty shillings a month and make him take twenty-three, and cut and slash and use him like a negro, or rather like a dog. And, as to any considerable preferment in the navy, it is not to be expected, as there are always so many gaping for it here who have interest, and he has none. And if he should get to be master of a Virginia ship, (which it is very difficult to do,) a planter that has three or four hundred acres of land and three or four slaves, if he be industrious, may live more comfortably, and leave his family in better bread, than such a master of a ship can .. He must not be too hasty to be rich, but go on gently and with patience, as things will naturally go. This method, without aiming at being a fine gentleman before his time, will carry a man more comfortably and surely through the world than going to sea, unless it be a great chance indeed. I pray God keep you and yours".
~ Your loving brother, Joseph Ball.
The rank of midshipman was procured for him on board a British ship of war, and his trunk and clothes were sent on board. But when he came to take leave of his mother, she wept bitterly, and told him she felt her heart would break if he left her (pictured). Mounting his horse, George rode to the ship intending to take his trunk ashore. But destiny intervened and instead he heard the "call of his sea", stepped on board to begin a glorious career in the Royal Navy.