"Father of our country"... first President of the United States of America... farmer... surveyor... soldier. Learn a little George Washington history, some fun facts about George Washington, the truth about George Washington's false teeth and see some George Washington pictures here.
There are many myths about him, and many interesting George Washington facts that you may not know about this fascinating man.
Some of the myths about George Washington are that he chopped down a cherry tree as a boy, that he wore false teeth made of wood, and that he threw a silver dollar across the Potomac. While these are interesting and fun stories, there is little proof (if any) that they are true. This page is intended to give you some George Washington facts that I think are just as interesting (or more so) as the myths about our first President.
Fun Fact: Some of George
Washington’s favorite foods
were string beans with mushrooms,
cream of peanut soup,
and mashed sweet potatoes with coconut.
George Washington's False Teeth were most likely made of Ivory or metal, not wood. According to the Mount Vernon website, he had one set of teeth that included a cow's tooth, and one of his own teeth and others made of hippopotamus ivory, metal and springs. At the time of his 2nd inaugural address, Washington had only one real tooth left, and his dentures were very painful and distorted his mouth. Because of this, he gave the shortest inaugural address of all time... it was only 135 words long. This speech took only 90 seconds to deliver, and Washington gave it on Monday, March 4, 1793 in Philadelphia.
I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate. When the occasion proper
for it shall arrive, I shall endeavor to express the high sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence
which has been reposed in me by the people of united America.
Previous to the execution of any official act of the President the
Constitution requires an oath of office. This oath I am now
about to take, and in your presence: That if it shall be found during my administration of the Government I have in any instance
violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the
upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony."
George Washington and the cherry tree legend comes from a book published shortly after his death, by Parson Mason Locke Weems. There is no evidence that Washington actually chopped down a cherry tree as a youth. While it made for a great story about his honesty, the cherry tree story is not a George Washington fact... it is a fun myth.
Once again, this is not a George Washington fact. First of all, there were no silver dollars during Washington's youth. And the Potomac River is over a mile wide. According to Washington's step-grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, he did throw a piece of slate about the size and shape of a dollar across the Rappahanock River near Fredericksburg, VA. Near Washington's boyhood home, the Rappahanock River is only 250 feet across - a distance that is more likely for him to be able to throw a stone across, even though he was not particularly athletic.
Fun Fact: George Washington was
He often kept "ice-boxes" full of ice cream for his
friends and family to enjoy, and had two ice cream
freezers installed at Mount Vernon.
Many George Washington facts are fascinating, even without the myths mentioned above. Below are some more George Washington facts...
George Washington was born in Virginia on February 11, 1731, according to the Julian calendar, which was the calendar used at that time. In 1752, the Gregorian calendar was adopted by the British, and using that calendar, his birthday fell on February 22, 1732. (how confusing that must have been!)
George Washington Facts - Where was George Washington born?
George Washington was the first son of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington. He was born on his family's estate in Westmoreland County, Virginia (now known as Wakefield).
George Washington Facts - What was George Washington's childhood like?
George Washington had two half brothers and one half sister from his father's first marriage, and was the oldest child of Augustine Washington and his second wife, Mary Ball. His half brothers were Lawrence and Augustine, Jr., and he had a half sister named Jane.
He had three brothers - Samuel, John Augustine, and Charles, and one sister - Betty. Another sister - Mildred - died in infancy.
As a child and young man, George Washington suffered from many illnesses - malaria, smallpox, pleurisy, and dysentery. His face was permanently scared by smallpox.
In 1735, Augustine Washington moved his family to their new home near the Potomac River, now known as Mount Vernon. It was originally called Little Hunting Creek Plantation. In 1738 they moved again to Ferry Farm, a plantation on the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, VA. This is where Washington spent much of his youth.
Augustine Washington died when George was only eleven. He left most of his property to his first two sons, George's older half brothers. As the eldest son of Mary Ball Washington, Washington helped his mother run the Rappahannock River plantation. This is where he learned how to work hard and manage a plantation efficiently, as there was apparently little money left to his mother.
Washington's education ended when he was around the age of 15. Little is known about his education, but he did excel in mathematics and learned how to survey. He did not attend college.
Young George spent a great deal of time with his half brother Lawrence, at Mount Vernon. Lawrence helped him with his studies and social graces, and introduced him to society. Even though he lacked extensive formal education, he eventually amassed a large library and subscribed to several newspapers.
George Washington became a surveyor, and joined an expedition to survey western Virginia in 1748. Invited by the Fairfax family on the expedition, they later helped him secure a spot as a county surveyor before he was 17.
In 1752, George Washington's brother Lawrence died, and Washington inherited Mount Vernon. He also began his military career by inheriting Lawrence's place in the Virginia militia.
George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis on January 6, 1759. Martha was the young widow of one of the richest men in the area. He was 27 years old. Although he was still a young man, he retired to Mt. Vernon, expecting to lead a quiet life with his new bride. How wrong he was! Most of his most notable experiences were yet ahead of him.
George Washington spent much of the next 15 years on his plantation, enjoying being a farmer. He was also involved in politics - elected to the House of Burgesses in 1758 and in 1774, he was chosen as one of seven Virginia representatives to the Continental Congress.
During his military career, Washington was shot at several times, but remained unharmed. In 1755, during the French and Indian War, he fought in a battle on the banks of the Monongahela river (near present day Pittsburgh, PA). After the battle, Washington wrote this letter to his brother...
In early December of 1799, George Washington was caught in nasty weather while he was out riding on his estate. He developed an illness, and died two days later on December 14, 1799, around 10:00 p.m. His wife Martha was at his side. His funeral was held at Mt. Vernon four days later, and he was buried in the family vault on his beloved plantation.
George Washington was 67 years old when he died in 1789. He had been retired for less than three years at the time of his death. The entire nation mourned his death.
The video below features a clip from the miniseries "John Adams " showing George Washington taking his first oath of office. Notice how soft he speaks - just one example of how historically accurate this miniseries is. His teeth hurt so much at that time that he spoke very quietly and carefully.
To read George Washington's Farewell Address to the nation, click here.
Click to see more George Washington Pictures.
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