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Before They Were Famous – Contest Details 

Mercury One has teamed up with Glenn Beck to hold a series of contests for high school students to compete for the best essays on the topic of famous figures before they were famous. As these stories are seldom told, we wanted to feature young American students who are willing to explore these figures’ untold beginnings and show their relevance today.

If a teacher would like to nominate their class in grades 9-12 for participation, email with “NOMINATION” in the subject line and a detailed explanation about why they would like their class to be considered.

This scholarship will be funded through the sale of themed t-shirts for each contest. If you would like to help these exceptional students receive the largest scholarship possible, you are encouraged to buy one of these t-shirts.

To cast your vote for your favorite essay, scroll down to the bottom of this page to download and read the essays. Then, you’ll be ready to vote! Good luck to the students participating – we’re rooting for you!

George Washington the Farmer 

On February 22, 1732, the first President of the United States was born at his family’s plantation on Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County, which sat in the British colony of Virginia. The eldest of six children, George spent much of his time working at the very plantation he was born at, Ferry Farm. This was what presumably laid the foundation for his lifelong appreciation for land and farming.

After Washington’s father died when he was only 11 years-old, it’s very likely that he helped his mother manage the plantation. For the next four years or so, it is believed that Washington finished his formal schooling career. Although not much is known about this period of his life, it’s likely that he was taught at home by private tutors or attended private schools because of his family’s high-class status.

Before he got to realize his love for farming, Washington started his career as a surveyor. Very successful in this field, Washington had always shown an affinity for mathematics. His adventures through the wilderness of Virginia earned him just enough money to begin acquiring his own land, which really became the love of his life.

In what ended up being a tragedy, yet also a great success, Washington made his only trip outside of America in 1751 with his older half-brother, Lawrence, who was suffering from tuberculosis and hoped that a warmer climate would cure him. Shortly after arriving in Barbados, George contracted smallpox, which left him with permanent facial scaring. In 1752, Lawrence, who had served as George’s mentor, died, leaving his large estate to George. So, at the ripe age of only 20, Washington became the head of one of Virginia’s most prominent estates, Mount Vernon.

When he arrived home in December 1752, Washington was made commander of the Virginia militia even though he had no previous military experience. After a successful military career, he resigned and returned to Mount Vernon where he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.

During these years and various years into his political career, Washington expanded Mount Vernon from 2,000 acres into an 8,000-acre property with five different farms. He grew a variety of crops, bred mules and maintained fruit orchards and a successful fishery.

All in all, George Washington is known most for his historic presidency, but little do many know, his farming career was one of his most proud accomplishments, and a profession he felt was one of the most honorable.

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