Some Little Known Facts and Trivia Concerning George Washington

Updated on February 6, 2018
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New World history is a rich field that is constantly being analyzed for new material. The complexity of these tales never fails to amaze me.

George Washington and The Cherry Tree

There is no credible evidence that George Washington actually cut down a cherry tree as a youth, as depicted in this painting by Grant Wood.
There is no credible evidence that George Washington actually cut down a cherry tree as a youth, as depicted in this painting by Grant Wood.

Who Was George Washington?

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 to a family of Virginia planters. As a young man, Washington joined the military and fought during the French and Indian War. This experience proved invaluable and lead to political office in Virginia, eventually placing Washington in Philadelphia for the Continental Congress.

Much is already known about how Washington became the leading general during the Revolutionary War, then first president of the new nation. Many in this country are also aware that after the war ended, Washington turned down an offer to be king and refused to serve a third term as president. The following are a few lesser known facts about one of our most endearing founding fathers, showing how complex and influential the man really was.

18th-century false teeth. For a while George Washington's false teeth were on display at the Smithsonian.
18th-century false teeth. For a while George Washington's false teeth were on display at the Smithsonian.

About Those Teeth

If you thought that George Washington wore wooden false teeth, you are incorrect. General Washington could afford a lot better than that, and their were some skilled craftsmen who could deliver a nice set of pearly whites.

According to the website Serious Eats, George had two sets of false teeth. One was made from cow's teeth, while the other consisted of his own teeth filled with hippopotamus ivory. With this information, we now know that 18th-century dentistry was a bit more advanced than we may have originally thought.

The first First Lady of the United States, Martha Washington.
The first First Lady of the United States, Martha Washington.

A Special Liaison With a Woman Named Patsy

Patsy was with George Washington at most of his winter encampments, including the bitterly cold Valley Forge. She often acted as a secretary for the general, and her presence boosted morale among the troops.

Don't be alarmed, though. Patsy was just a nickname for Martha Washington. It seems that everybody, including George himself, referred to Martha as Patsy.

Washington leading the volunteer militia in a march against the whiskey brewers.
Washington leading the volunteer militia in a march against the whiskey brewers.

President George Washington Leads Troops Into Battle

Throughout our 200+ year history, there has been only one Commander-in-Chief that has lead U.S. troops into a hostile situation. In 1794, George Washington lead a large, armed militia into western Maryland and Pennsylvania to quell an armed revolt by whiskey distillers and their supporters. The mission was moderately successful as no significant armed conflict developed, and over time the federal government was successful in collecting a liquor tax that many had vehemently opposed.

George Washington at age 40. Painting by Charles Wilson Peale.
George Washington at age 40. Painting by Charles Wilson Peale. | Source

Freeing His Slaves

In his old age, George Washington decreed that after the death of both himself and his wife, Martha, his slaves would be set free. Since the Washingtons owned as many as 128 slaves, this was no small matter. Once Washington died in 1799, the slaves were all set free within a year. Part of the reason for waiting until both he and Martha died was was that his wife was worried about a possible revolt if she lived a long life.

Oneidas Aid Washington at Valley Forge

When Washington and his troops were freezing to death at Valley Forge, they got some aid from an unexpected place: the Oneida Indian Nation of upstate New York. During the winter of 1777, two emissaries delivered 600 bushels of white corn, which helped the army survive.

During his years as president Washington tried to put forth an Indian policy that provided land to many Native nations, especially the Creeks. Unfortunately, Washington had little success because of pressure from settlers to expand westward.

A modern day photograph of the distillery building at Mount Vernon.
A modern day photograph of the distillery building at Mount Vernon.

There Was a Whiskey Still at Mount Vernon

Before the revolution, rum was the liquor of choice for the American colonies. A lot of rum was made in Colonial America, but the distilling process was dependent on molasses imported from the Caribbean.

After the war, clever entrepreneurs began to produce whiskey from locally grown rye, wheat and corn. One of the leaders of this movement was none other than George Washington. After his two terms as President, Washington returned to Mount Vernon, where he opened a distillery and began making rye whiskey. Washington died shortly thereafter, and the building was abandoned until the 21st century, when the building and still were restored and rye whiskey was made again.

The Washington Family Loved Egg Nog

The Washingtons did a lot of entertaining at Mount Vernon, which was located just a few miles downstream from our nation's capitol. Reportedly, one of the biggest treats was the yuletide eggnog, which was served in great abundance. In case you are interested, here is the recipe.

George Washington’s Eggnog Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brandy
  • 1 cup rye whiskey
  • 1 cup dark Jamaica rum
  • 1/2 cup cream sherry
  • 8 extra large eggs or 10 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Mix liquors first in a separate container. Separate yolks and whites into two large mixing bowls. Blanchir egg yolks (beat adding in sugar until the mixture turns a light yellow). Add liquor slowly to egg yolk mixture, continuing to beat (mixture will turn brown) until well incorporated. Add milk and cream simultaneously, slowly beating the mixture. Set aside.

Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into the alcohol mixture. Add nutmeg and cinnamon stick, and stir well to incorporate. Cover mixture in an airtight container.

Allow eggnog to cure undisturbed for several days (4-7) in the coldest part of the refrigerator, or outside in a very cold (below 40 degrees) place. The mixture will separate as it cures. This is OK. Just be sure to re-incorporate mixture before serving cold.

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    • harrynielsen profile image
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      Harry Nielsen 6 months ago from Durango, Colorado

      Near where I grew up in Maryland, there was a country route called Rolling Road. From what I remember, it was named Rolling Road because the slaves that worked on the nearby plantations had to roll the barrels of tobacco down the highway to get to the market. To my way of thinking it would be better to keep the name and the memory than to change the name.

    • Sharlee01 profile image

      Sharon Stajda 6 months ago from Shelby Township Michigan

      Knowing Washington had slaves makes me wonder if the far left will want to have all of his monument, statues, and portraits destroyed? I imagine not due to their innate ability and the right to have a double standard . I enjoyed your article, very informative.

    • harrynielsen profile image
      Author

      Harry Nielsen 6 months ago from Durango, Colorado

      Thanks. There are a ton of good stories out there, you just gotta find them.

    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 6 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Loved this article about George. I have researched many of the presidents and their families, but you taught me some things I didn't know about this president. Good job and I look forward to following you!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 months ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I have a copy of George Washington's account book of expenses during the Revolutionary War. He made a lot more money in reimbursements for expenses than he would have made on a salary. It is fun and interesting to read.

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