Impressive Facts About The Life Of George Washington
George Washington began his life as an English citizen and became the first President of the United States. Washington proved extremely ambitious, slowly rising through the ranks of the British and later Patriot armies.
The United States wouldn’t have existed without this man, and he is an essential figure in American history. Read on to learn some personal facts about George Washington that were left out of most history books.
He Was Actually A Redhead
Many assume that Washington’s dapper-looking hairstyle was a wig, but that isn’t the case. His hair was his own, grown long and tied back into a ponytail or queue.
Washington powdered his hair to make it appear white as was popular at the time. His natural hair color was actually red.
He Loved A Party
There are numerous accounts of Washington dancing late into the night at parties and balls, as well as his love for the theater, which he frequented regularly.
During a time when men and women were often separated, Washington was known to go out of his way to converse and interact with women.
He Organized Spying And Espionage
During the Revolutionary War, Washington organized spy networks to gain information from the other side while simultaneously misleading his enemies.
He sent secret agents across enemy lines, oftentimes supplying British officers with the wrong information to benefit his underlying motives.
Luck Was On His Side
While George Washington was an expert military tactician, he was almost killed in battle countless times.
At the battle of Braddock, Washington’s troops were caught in a crossfire between British and Native American soldiers. As a result, two horses were shot from under Washington, and his coat was pierced by four musket balls. Miraculously, he walked away unharmed.
He Believed In Westward Expansion
It is believed that he owned more than 50,000 acres in total. Long before the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, Washington maintained that they should be looking West.
He felt that acquiring more territory westward would help to benefit the new nation. He also believed that connecting the Ohio and Potomac rivers would help create a continental transportation system, linking the country together.
No One Will Ever Outrank Him In The US Military
In 1976, George Washington was posthumously named the highest rank in the United States military.
He was named the General of the Armies of the United States, and nobody will ever outrank him.
He Didn’t Have Wooden Teeth
A common misconception, George Washington never had wooden teeth.
Although he had many of his teeth removed and later replaced, his new teeth were a combination of carved animal bone, gold, and ivory, as well as purchased human teeth.
He Condemned The Boston Tea Party
George Washington condemned the Boston Tea Party. Washington was a firm believer in private property rights, so he saw the Boston Tea Party as nothing more than an act of vandalism.
He even believed that those involved should have personally compensated the British East India Company for all of the damages they had caused.
He Wasn’t A Devout Christian
While he attended church, Washington did not take communion and never went out of his way to claim that he was a Christian.
According to Barry Schwartz, “In the enlightened tradition of his day, he was a devout Deist—just as many of the clergymen who knew him suspected.”
A Volunteer President
George Washington is the first and only president to unanimously receive all of the electoral votes. He didn’t run but was voted into office by popular demand.
As president, he never accepted a salary and he even used his own money to help pay the salaries of cabinet members and other positions in the executive branch.
He Saved The American Revolution. Twice.
During the Revolutionary War, George Washington’s actions helped save the Colonial effort twice. After numerous defeats in New York and New Jersey in 1776, George Washington made the bold decision to cross the Delaware River.
This led him to win three key battles. Furthermore, in 1781, Washington decided to attack the British Army at Yorktown. His victory proved to be the decisive victory of the war.
He May Have Been Infertile
Strangely enough, George Washington never fathered any children himself.
In 2007, John K. Amory from the University of Washington School of Medicine proposed that Washington might have been infertile due to an infection caused by tuberculosis.
The First To Sign The United States Constitution
During the American Revolution, George Washington saw the issues with the Articles of Confederation. In 1787, Washington went to Philadelphia to attend the Constitutional Convention, where he was elected to preside over the Constitutional Convention.
Being president of the convention, he had the authority to write his name on the document first.
He Owned A Whiskey Distillery
George Washington established a whiskey distillery at his home at Mount Vernon in 1798, which proved successful.
At one point, Washington even wrote to his nephew, “Two hundred gallons of Whiskey will be ready this day for your call, and the sooner it is taken the better, as the demand for this article (in these parts) is brisk.”
He Was Named Commander-In-Chief After He Was President
In 1798, the United States was anxious about a possible French invasion. During that time, George Washington was named the commander-in-chief of the United States Military.
He only served as an advisor since he was relatively old by then. In a letter, he admitted that as commander-in-chief, he didn’t know much about what was going on with the military.
He Was Mostly Self-Educated
After Washington’s father died in 1743, there was little money left in the family for an 11-year-old George to be formally educated for long. So, Washington’s formal educated ended at age 15.
Mostly on his own, he studied warfare, agriculture, politics, and everything else that led him to become the hero of the United States that he is today.
He Was A Known Dog Lover
Washington owned many dogs in his lifetime. He bred Foxhounds for hunting and would keep around 30 dogs on his estate at any given time.
He was even given the title “Father of the American Foxhound.”
He Didn’t Have a Middle Name
The first president of the United States did not have a middle name.
Middle names were not common practice until the early 19th century, and of the first 20 presidents of the United States, only five of them had middle names.
He’s The Only Sitting President That Has Gone Into Battle
George Washington was the only President of the United States to ride into battle while serving as president.
While we have had countless presidents who started their careers in the military, none have actively fought in a war as acting President of the United States.
He Had French Citizenship
After establishing a friendly personal and political relationship with France during the Revolutionary War, in 1792, Washington was made an honorary citizen of France.
However, during the French Revolution, Washington and others who had been made honorary citizens began to distance themselves with the country.
A President Of Firsts
During his two terms, George Washington established many presidential traditions that are still common practice today. He was the first to say, “So help me God,” at the end of the Presidential Oath of Office.
He also came up with the idea to refer to the chief officer and “Mr. President” as well. He also established the two-term limit for any president and issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation.
His Birthday Isn’t What We Think
Surprisingly, Washington was born on February 11, 1731, not February 22, 1732, which is what we’ve been led to believe. When Washington was born, England was still going by the Julian calendar, established by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.
Yet, in 1752, England changed to the Gregorian calendar and has followed it ever since.
Washington Penned a Lot of Letters
The most famous paper George Washington penned was the Constitution of the United States, but he penned tens of thousands of letters during his lifetime.
His estate estimates that he penned between 18,000 and 20,000 letters, and they’ve collected 297 volumes of them.
He Didn’t Always Own Mount Vernon
Washington’s elder sibling was given the family’s estate. Washington’s father, Augustine, built Mount Vernon initially as a modest property.
When he died, Washington’s elder half-brother took ownership, and Washington leased some space from him. He took proper ownership of the estate in 1761.
He Gave The Shortest Inaugural Address In History
The second time George Washington was unanimously elected President of the United States on March 4, 1793, he stood at the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia to address the American people.
His speech only consisted of 135 words and lasted just ten minutes long, making it the shortest inaugural address in U.S. history.
The Truth About The Cherry Tree
Mason Locke was one of the first authors to write a biography of Washington. He published The Life of Washington in the year 1800, and it instantly became a bestseller.
In the book, however, Locke fabricated a story about Washington damaging a cherry tree of his father’s when he was young.
He Made Mules Popular
Washington was very passionate about mules. While many plantation owners believed horses were best suited to farm labor, Washington studied agriculture and concluded it was mules instead.
He believed mules were stronger and had more endurance than a horse. They also consumed 1/3 less food than horses, required less water, and cost less to maintain than horses.
Washington Grew Up On A Farm In Fredricksburg, Virginia
Washington and his family lived on a farm in Fredricksburg, Virginia, when he was a boy. His parents purchased a 280-acre farm with some dwellings already on the land. They rented the adjoining 300 acres and grew tobacco, corn, and wheat on Ferry Farm.
Five years later, his father passed away and left the Ferry Farm to Washington, who sold it.
He Handwrote the 110 Rules of Civility
When George Washington was a boy, it was common for people to write out the 110 Rules of Civility– social etiquette rules that one should follow when in company.
At fourteen years old, young George took part in this activity. The rules include being respectful, loyal, and polite.
He Loved Fox Hunting
Often in the fall and winter seasons, Washington would jump on his horse and take his foxhound dogs to hunt in the fields, streams, and woods on his Mount Vernon property.
Washington loved to jump his horses over the fallen logs and through the streams.
He Didn’t Kill The Foxes
Washington detailed each of his days spent hunting in his journal. He included that he never killed the foxes.
His dogs would chase the foxes across many acres, pin them in a corner, and then leave peacefully and head back to the estate. He didn’t feel the need to kill them because he just enjoyed the hunt.
The British Army Demoted Him
Washington was distraught when he was given the news that the British Army had demoted him.
He went from the position of lieutenant colonel to captain, leading only ten Virginians.
He Found Companionship In Hunting
From the time he was young, Washington documented that he liked the companionship that came along with his hunting pals.
Washington often went fox hunting with Lord Dunmore, the Governor of Virginia, and William Lee, who was an enslaved worker and a skilled rider. Washington would spend hours with these men, hunting foxes around the acreage of Mount Vernon.
He Was Upset About The Pay Of Virginian Soldiers
During the French and Indian War, Washington served in the British Army, where he grew frustrated that the British soldiers were getting paid double that of the soldiers from Virginia.
He respectfully voiced his opinion and requested that they get equally paid for their equal work.
He Led Military Intelligence Operations
During the Revolutionary War, Washington led military intelligence efforts. Utilizing code names, ciphers, book codes, and other techniques, American troops were able to communicate vital information across enemy lines.
Washington put just as much effort into spreading misinformation. He became quite skilled at it.
He Was One Of The First To Use Invisible Ink
Washington got the idea to pass along letters that would appear as blank pages until a certain chemical was poured on the paper.
He enlisted James Jay to help him create the chemical and special ink. Correspondence was regularly intercepted by the opposing side, so this new method would prove to be very helpful for Washington and the troops to pass messages along safely.