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20 George Washington Facts

Updated on November 21, 2016
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Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

George Washington by Rembrandt Peale, De Young Museum (ca. 1850).  Washington was the first president of the United States, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and a Founding Father of the country.
George Washington by Rembrandt Peale, De Young Museum (ca. 1850). Washington was the first president of the United States, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and a Founding Father of the country. | Source

Probably the most important and influential figure from American history, George Washington was called the "father of his country", even when he was still alive.

He was the first president of the United States, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and a Founding Father of the country who also presided over the writing of the constitution.

Below are 20 George Washington facts.

1. George Washington was born near present-day Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

2. His parents, Augustine and Mary Ball Washington were moderately wealthy Virginian gentry. His father was a tobacco planter, who owned many slaves.

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.

— George Washington

3. He began school at the age of six. When he was 15, he left to become a surveyor. His father died when he was eleven, consequently, his mother wanted to send him to Appleby School in England (where his brothers were educated) but didn't have enough money to do so.

A Giant Amongst Men?

Washington towered above most of his contemporaries, standing six feet, two inches tall. He weighed around 200 pounds. He was one of the biggest US presidents.

4. Washington was appointed as a district adjutants (militia leader) in Virginia in February 1753, with the rank of major.

5. When he was 26, he married Martha Dandridge Custis, a wealthy widow. Custis already had two children. Washington never had any children of his own.

 Martha Dandridge Custis, Washington's wife and effectively the first First Lady of the United States (although the title of "First Lady" was not created until later).  Widowed at 25, Custis brought great wealth to her second marriage.
Martha Dandridge Custis, Washington's wife and effectively the first First Lady of the United States (although the title of "First Lady" was not created until later). Widowed at 25, Custis brought great wealth to her second marriage. | Source

Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.

— George Washington

6. Washington took part in the French and Indian War (1754-1763). Washington served as an aide to the British General, Edward Braddock. When Braddock was ambushed and killed by French forces during a battle, Washington rallied his troops, kept the unit together, and led them in an organized retreat.

General Edward Braddock.  Washington was serving as an aide to the British officer at the Battle of the Monongahela, when Braddock was mortally wounded by French troops with their Indian allies.
General Edward Braddock. Washington was serving as an aide to the British officer at the Battle of the Monongahela, when Braddock was mortally wounded by French troops with their Indian allies. | Source

7. Washington started losing his teeth in his twenties. Consequently, he ate a fairly soft and mushy diet. Some of his favorite dishes are said to include: cream of peanut soup, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut, and string beans with mushrooms.

Dentally Challenged?

Washington had lifelong teeth issues. He lost his first one aged 22 and by the time he was president, he only had one left.

He had several sets of dentures made - none of them made of wood, as some believe. The set he had when president were made from hippo and elephant ivory, held together with gold springs.

The toothache left him in constant pain, for which he took laudanum. Nobody is sure why his teeth were bad, but he was given mercury oxide medicine as a child, which maybe contributed.

8. In 1755 he was made Colonel of the Virginia Regiment and charged with defending its frontiers. With a 1,000 men under his command, Washington was known as a disciplinarian who believed strongly in training.

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.

— George Washington

9. From 1759 up until the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington managed his lands in the Mount Vernon area and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. As a planter, Washington felt that he was treated unfairly by British merchants and restricted by British regulations. He voiced his objections to British policies, and took a leading role in the growing colonial resistance protests.

10. In May 1775, he was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army at the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

Experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent an enemy from posting themselves than it is to dislodge them after they have got possession.

— George Washington
General Washington and Lafayette look over the troops at Valley Forge.  Washington was a disciplinarian who emphasized discipline and training.  His best trait, however, was his charismatic leadership.
General Washington and Lafayette look over the troops at Valley Forge. Washington was a disciplinarian who emphasized discipline and training. His best trait, however, was his charismatic leadership. | Source

11. Washington's tactics against the British were to harass them when possible and avoid direct confrontations. He would get his troops to gradually retreat and then suddenly attack.

12. Although the British army were superior in military terms and more experienced, and Washington lost many of his battles, he never surrendered his army during the war, and he relentlessly fought the British right through until the war was over.

War - An act of violence whose object is to constrain the enemy, to accomplish our will.

— George Washington

13. The Revolutionary War was fought over six grueling years.

14. After the war was won, Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief, stunning many European aristocrats who expected him to declare himself monarch.

Washington at the Signing of the United States Constitution, September 17, 1787, by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940.  Washington was persuaded to attend the constitutional convention in Philadelphia and oversaw the writing of the new constitution.
Washington at the Signing of the United States Constitution, September 17, 1787, by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940. Washington was persuaded to attend the constitutional convention in Philadelphia and oversaw the writing of the new constitution. | Source

15. Washington's desire was to retire back to Mount Vermont, but problems were developing with the Articles of Confederation. In 1787 he was persuaded to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

16. He was unanimously elected president of the Convention and oversaw the writing of the new constitution, which was ratified by all thirteen states.

I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.

— George Washington

17. The Electoral College elected Washington unanimously as the first president of the US in 1789. He is the only president in the history of America to be voted into office unanimously and achieved it again for his second term in office.

18. In 1793, following the French Revolution, a war broke out between Britain and France. Washington decided to be neutral and allow the US to become stronger.

George Washington and Washington DC

Although Washington was involved in the planning of the nation's new capital city that was named for him, he never resided there. During Washington's time, the capitals were New York City, followed by Philadelphia.

19. In 1796 Washington issued his Farewell Address, seen as one of the most important statements of republicanism. In it he he urged Americans against bitter political partisanship and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against involvement in European wars and long-term "entangling" alliances.

20. On Friday December 13th 1799, Washington awoke with a sore throat. He had spent the previous day inspecting his plantation on horseback in freezing conditions. His condition quickly deteriorated and at around 3am the following morning he awoke with difficulty breathing. Following the standard medical practices of the time, Washington underwent extensive bloodletting. He died at Mount Vernon at around 10 p.m. on Saturday December 14, 1799. He was aged 67. His final words were recorded as being: "'Tis well."

The Washington Monument.  The monument is made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss and is the world's tallest obelisk, standing 554 feet 7 and 11/32 inches high.  Construction of the monument began in 1848 and was finally completed in 1888.
The Washington Monument. The monument is made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss and is the world's tallest obelisk, standing 554 feet 7 and 11/32 inches high. Construction of the monument began in 1848 and was finally completed in 1888. | Source

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.

— George Washington

© 2015 Paul Goodman

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