George Washington: Quick Facts
Birth Name: George Washington
Birth Date: 22 February 1732
Birth Place: Popes Creek, Virginia (British America)
Death: 14 December 1799 (Age 67); Mount Vernon, Virginia
Cause of Death: Epiglottitis; Hypovolemic Shock
Spouse(s): Martha Dandridge (Married in 1759)
Parents: Augustine Washington (1694-1743) and Mary Ball Washington (1708-1789)
Siblings: Lawrence, Augustine, Samuel, Elizabeth, John Augustine, and Charles Washington
Height: 6 Feet 2 Inches
Weight: 200 Pounds
Occupation: Farmer; Soldier; Statesman; First President of the United States of America
Fact #1: George Washington was a slave-owner at the tender age of 11. By the time he died in 1799, Washington had over 300 slaves at his home in Mount Vernon. Despite this fact, Washington became the only Founding Father to free his slaves; offering full manumission in his will.
Fact #2: In September 1746 – at the age of 14 – Washington attempted to join the Royal Navy, but was stopped by his mother, Mary, who disliked the idea from the start. Had Washington’s mother not prevented him from joining, the American Revolution may have ended much differently, as Washington may have never joined the colonial cause against British rule.
Fact #3: George Washington only travelled to a foreign country once in his lifetime. In 1751, he accompanied his brother Lawrence to the small island of Barbados. While there, Washington contracted smallpox. Because of his early exposure to the disease, Washington developed a lifelong immunity. This proved to be vastly important during the American Revolution, as each of the colonies experienced a smallpox epidemic; an epidemic that could have potentially proven fatal for the aging Washington at this time.
Fact #4: In 1754, Washington led a direct attack on French forces in Pennsylvania (also known as the Ohio country). Scholars credit this attack as the trigger for the Seven Years’ War between the French and British.
Fact #5: George Washington is the only President to have never resided in Washington D.C.. Instead, Washington received delegates and Congressional officials at a number of houses in New York and Philadelphia. However, Washington personally oversaw the construction plans for the future federal district.
Fact #6: Washington’s second inaugural address was the shortest in American history. His address was less than two minutes long, and contained only 135 words.
Fact #7: Washington never had any kids of his own. At the age of 26, Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, who was a widow with two children (Patsy and Jacky). Following their marriage, the couple never had children.
Fact #8: George Washington loved dogs. He often bred hound dogs on the side. Some of his most famous dogs included Truelove, Sweet Lips, and Tartar. Later on, Washington became known as the “Father of the American Foxhound.”
Fact #9: Washington suffered from numerous toothaches during his life. Finally, at the age of 57, Washington had each of his teeth pulled and replaced them with false, ivory teeth (not wooden).
Fact #10: In 1792, George Washington was made an honorary citizen of France due to his strong relations with French officers during the American Revolution.
Fact #11: George Washington possessed no formal education, due to his mother’s inability to cover college expenses for her son. However, at the age of 17, Washington was able to begin a promising career as a surveyor due to his affinity for mathematics. Washington continued (and excelled) at this job for nearly three years before finally joining the British Army.
Fact #12: Although more modern-day Presidents possess no military experience (nor has it ever been required), George Washington’s time in the military set a standard for American Presidents that lasted over two centuries. Nearly all American Presidents have served in the military at some capacity; a tradition that ended nearly a decade prior.
Fact #13: George Washington is the only American President to have been unanimously elected. During his second term in office, Washington received all of the electoral votes.
Fact #14: The story about George Washington cutting down a cherry tree in his youth is a myth. Following his death in 1799, biographer, Mason Locke Weems, invented the story as a means to garner greater attention to his book on the late President. The myth continues to resonate (falsely) in the minds of many Americans to this day.
"Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all."— George Washington
Quotes by Washington
Quote #1: “Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”
Quote #2: “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”
Quote #3: “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then the dumb and silent may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
Quote #4: “It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company.”
Quote #5: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”
Quote #6: “True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.”
Quote #7: “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience.”
Quote #8: “The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”
Quote #9: “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation.”
Quote #10: “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”
Were you surprised by any of the facts presented in this article?
To this day, George Washington remains one of the most important historical figures in American history. His actions (and legacy) have served crucial roles in American development over the last few centuries. Washington will continue to remain one of America’s greatest heroes for the foreseeable future. Without his contributions to the colonial cause, as well as his direct role in the foundation of American politics, the United States would be a far different country today.
Only time will tell what new facts and information can be gleaned about Washington’s life in the years to come.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Chernow, Ron. Washington: A Life. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2010.
Ellis, Joseph J. His Excellency: George Washington. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.
Flexner, James Thomas. Washington: The Indispensable Man. New York, NY: Back Bay Books, 1994.
Irving, Washington. George Washington: A Biography. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1994.
"George Washington." Wikipedia. August 14, 2018. Accessed August 14, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington.
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© 2018 Larry Slawson