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Encounters 7, A Love Story

February 6, 2017

Refused a Virginia commission by the British government, George Washington realized he could not pursue a military career. His Mount Vernon property had not flourished while he was away with his regiment, and needed his attention if he was to become a gentleman farmer. Suffering from dysentery, he was lonely and depressed in his sparsely furnished house. In 1758 he headed for Williamsburg to consult a doctor. While there he probably heard the talk of the town. Martha Custis, a lovely wealthy young widow was available, and she had many suitors.

George had always had a soft spot for the ladies. His current love was probably the wife of his neighbor, George William Fairfax. Sally Fairfax encouraged the flirtation, but did not entertain thoughts of a more serious relationship. Dangling hopelessly, George had no reason to put away thoughts of marriage and a family.

Only 26, Martha was slim but buxom, pretty with a radiant smile. She had matured with love and loss, but possessed a charm that made a man dream of the comforts of a wife, home, and family. Managing the Custis wealth with business acumen and freedom, she need not marry at all if she did not wish to do so.

A little younger than Martha, George was a fine specimen, a magnificent horseman, tall at six feet two inches, with reddish brown hair and blue gray eyes. Some say she fell in love with him immediately when he arrived at her home to pay his respect to the widow, but she took time to know him better. She found him honorable, kind, and he loved her children. She had enough money for both of them.

George made necessary improvements on his house. He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, and his business trips to Williamsburg gave him the opportunity to know the widow better before proposing marriage. If Sally Fairfax teased him about his wealthy widow, he withdrew pleasantly. If Martha knew about Sally, she was confident of her own charms and never mentioned it. She was marrying the man she had grown to love.

George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis on January 6, 1759 at White House in a simple ceremony. The guests thought George was extremely fortunate to marry the agreeable lovely widow. The couple stayed comfortably at her estate with her children during the winter, tucked away in the country in the snow and cold, beginning a partnership they expected to carry them through life together as colonial Virginia planters.

They could not know about their place in the developing annals of American history.

to be contd.





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