The Second Continental Congress voted unanimously to put George Washington in charge of the Continental Army in 1775. Washington was only 43 years old at the time, a gentleman planter and local Virginian politician. He had not served in the military for over 20 years and his military service records was not particularly distinguished. What qualified Washington for the supreme confidence the young American rebels placed in him?
George Washington entered the working world in his teens as an enthusiastic young surveyor. He especially enjoyed working on the frontier in western Virginia, mapping the unsettled lands controlled by his neighbor, William Fairfax. Washington’s brother, Lawrence, also happened to be married to Fairfax’s daughter. When George was 19, Lawrence died of tuberculosis and Fairfax took it upon himself to give George a leg up on life.  He urged Governor Robert Dinwiddie to appoint Washington as an adjutant in the Virginia militia, a position of varied responsibilities, mostly teaching the rowdy underclasses how to be soldiers.
At that time in 1753 the French and English were jostling for position to exploit the western lands of America beyond the Appalachian Mountains. When Dinwiddie got word that the French were building forts at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela rivers (modern day Pittsburgh) he sent his 20-year old aide on an expedition with a letter informing the French of the British claims in the region. The French thanked Washington for coming, put him up for three days and sent him back to the Virginia capital of Williamsburg with a notice that they planned on staying.