George Washington is in our lives almost every day. Unfortunately, for some, the dollar bill is just about the extent of their knowledge of him.
There was a lot of misinformation about him that has been, thankfully, corrected over the years. For example… we all know the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree is bogus, right? …Right? And that George didn’t really have wooden teeth? Everyone is aware of this, correct?
He did, however, have teeth problems. In fact, when George attended his first inauguration, he only had one tooth left in his head. Makes you wonder if he had problems with his ‘esses’ during the oath.
George stood 6’ 2” tall, which, as Donald Trump likes to say, was H-U-G-E by the standards of the day. In the 1700s, the average height for men was about 5’8”. Again, as "the Donald” would say, everybody was a “Little Marco ” back then.
Another fact we all seem to forget, or maybe we purposefully overlook, George Washington was a slave owner.
He sort of redeemed himself when he freed his slaves upon his deathbed. However, his wife Martha owned 90% of the slaves, so, the sad fact is not many slaves were actually freed.
Yes, that’s his real hair, not a wig.
It looks white because he powdered it.
He was paid a very handsome salary as president. In 1789, his presidential salary was 2 percent of the total U.S. budget. And yet, he still had major cash flow problems. He actually had to borrow money to attend his own inauguration. Either he was the world’s worst budgeter or the U.S. had a pathetically low GNP.
Imagine, if you will, the father of our country standing on the steps of the Federal Hall Building, under the protective umbrella of borrowed money, taking the oath of office with only one tooth in his head. That seems to me to be a very inauspicious start for a fledgling country.
He was not very religious. This is not to say he was an atheist. He wasn’t. But he certainly wasn’t the devout evangelical Christian we know and recognize today.
He fell in love with his best friend's wife. (Ouch!) This, of course, was pre-Martha days. A fact backed up by several steamy (for its day) love letters sent to Sally Fairfax, wife of George William Fairfax. But, alas, it didn’t work out for poor love sick George and he moved on. Who knows? Mr. Fairfax might have smelled a rat in the woodpile and put the kibosh on the developing tryst. Of course, that’s pure speculation on my part. But it would make a great plot line for a soap opera, wouldn’t it?
He lost more battles than any victorious general in modern history, according to Joseph J. Ellis, author of "His Excellency: George Washington." (Great book by the way.) Sort of gives credence to that old adage: “If at first you don’t succeed…" blah, blah, blah.
He loved dogs. Washington kept and bred many hunting hounds. In fact, he’s known as the "The Father of the American Foxhound.” He kept and hunted with more than 30 of them. According to his journals, three of his dogs were named Drunkard, Tippler, and Tipsy.
George Washington owned a whiskey distillery! He installed it at Mount Vernon in 1798. According to Julian Niemcewicz, a Polish visitor to the estate, George distilled 12,000 gallons a year.
Wait a minute! This explains why 3 of his dogs were named Drunkard, Tippler and Tipsy. They were George’s old drinking buddies! After a couple snorts of George’s hooch, I’d howl at foxes too! What am I talking about…? I do already.
George Washington didn’t have a middle name.
But, with a name like George Washington, who needs one, right?
Okay kids, it’s multiple choice quiz time.
If someone were to shoot a film about George Washington’s life, who would you cast to portray the father of our country?
We'll head out again down Route 51 and see where it leads next. Drive safe!