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George Washington's Life As Seen In Vintage Postcards

Updated on January 26, 2015

Vintage Postcards Depicting George Washington, Our First President

Washington's Birthday, having been an American holiday for many years, inspired some amazing imagery and patriotic artwork. Vintage postcards designed for Washington's Birthday include iconic elements such as Washington's unique profile, his tricorn hat, cherries, a hatchet, the flag, and Washington's horse.

Since greetings and postcards are not generally sent for Washington's Birthday anymore it is interesting to take a look back at these beautiful works.

With the postcard images representing different stages in Washington's life, we can take a walk through the postcards to learn about the man known as the "father of his country".

Vintage George Washington Postcards

Before 1971, George Washington's Birthday, February 22nd, was its own federal holiday. Lincoln has his own holiday, too (February 12th). President Nixon changed all that by merging the two into Presidents' Day which falls on the third Monday of February, and celebrates all of our country's leaders. Alas, the February holiday would not again fall on Washington's birthday, since the latest it can occur is the 21st.

Washington's Childhood

The Story of Wshington Chopping Down the Cherry Tree - I Cannot Tell A Lie

George Washington was born February 22, 1732, the son of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington, in Virginia. George's father died when he was eleven years old, after which George looked to his half-brother Lawrence as the male influence in his life. It was Lawrence who taught him social graces, tutored him, and helped to introduce him into society.

George Washington as a Surveyor
George Washington as a Surveyor | Source

George Washington As A Surveyor

George Washington became Official Surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia, on July 20, 1749, at the age of 17. This was his first official position.

As commander of the Army and as President, Washington benefited from his extensive knowledge of maps.

"The want of accurate Maps of the Country which has hitherto been the Scene of War, has been a great disadvantage to me. I have in vain endeavored to procure them and have been obliged to make shift, with such sketches as I could trace from my own Observations..."

Postcard: Washington Taking Command of the Army

Postcard: Washington Taking Command of the Army
Postcard: Washington Taking Command of the Army

George Washington's Horse

Washington Taking Control of the Army

In many of these vintage postcards, you'll notice Washington being depicted with his loyal steed. You'll, also, probably remember that old joke "What color was Washington's white horse?".

Washington actually had several horses, but a few favorites. His favorite steed in a time of battle was Nelson, a sorrel who stood strong even around the gunfire. Another of his favorites was Blueskin, which was a light bluish gray color.

Blueskin was the offspring of a stallion named Ranger which belonged to the Sultan of Moroco and came to America on what was planned to be stop on its planned destination, England. While exercising on land, Ranger became injured and did not continue his journey. George Washington admired some horses he saw in Boston, and was informed they were the offspring of Ranger. He then went on to buy one of those horses, purchasing Ranger. Learn more about Ranger's interesting story.

Washington had another horse in which he favored, his prize Arabian, Magnolia . In 1788, Washington traded agnolia to Light Horse Harry Lee for 5,000 acres of land in the Kentucky territory. Magnolia must have been quite a horse! Learn more about Magnolia.

George Washington and Martha Curtis - The First President & The First "First Lady"

George Washington and Martha Curtis

On January 6, 1759, Washington married Martha Dandridge Curtis. She was a wealthy widow with one son and one daughter, Jackie and Patsy. Though uneducated, as most women of the time, Martha was smart, gracious, loyal, and experienced in running a plantation.

She did all she could to make sure her husband and her family were happy. Though she may not have always been 100% pleased with the how the Presidency had affected her life, she was understanding and tried to be positive, once writing "I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."

Mt. Vernon

Mt. Vernon

Mt. Vernon was a tobacco plantation that his father had owned. George lived there for a few years during his childhood, but mostly lived at Ferry Farm, a plantation on the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Upon his death, George Washington's father left Mt. Vernon (then still called Little Hunting Creek Plantation), to George's older half-brother Lawrence Washington. George leased the property from Lawrence's widow a few years after his death, and then fully inherited it after she and her child died.

The American Flag - Washington's Role in The First American Flag

George Washington's Birthday Vintage Postcards

Certainly everyone knows that it was Betsy Ross who sewed the first flag for the United States, but not everyone is aware of the circumstances that led to her being the one to do this.

Betsy Ross knew George Washington. Her pew at the Christ Church in Philadelphia was near to that of George and Martha Washington's. She knew Washington personally, had him over to her home as a guest, and had even done some embroidery work for him on ruffles for his shirts and cuffs.

In late May 1776, Betsy Ross was visited by Washington, and two others, Robert Morris, one of the wealthiest citizens in the colonies, and George Ross, the uncle of her late husband, at which point she was asked to create a new flag. The Grand Union flag needed to be replaced as it featured the Union Jack in the top left corner, and they did not want the flying of this flag to be confused with a flag of surrender. This small committee brought with them a drawing of the flag they wanted sewn. Betsy is said to have suggested a few changes to the flag, such as making it a rectangle (and not a square), and changing the six pointed stars in the drawing to five pointed stars instead.

Learn more about Betsy Ross and the history of the US flag.

Washington's Inauguration as President

George Washington

Very little new artwork is created that celebrate George Washington, new artwork featuring Washington often do so to represent money (as he is featured on the quarter and the dollar), or to represent the country or the founding of the country. Rarely is his image used to represent him as a person.

In Memory of the Birthday of Washington
In Memory of the Birthday of Washington

Quotes By President George Washington

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.

George Washington and Flag
George Washington and Flag

George Washington and Slavery

Being born into a society that included slavery, and having slave owning parents, George Washington considered slavery to be a normal and moral practice. At age 11, when his father died, George inherited 10 slaves.

He maintained this mindset until the war, during which he worked closely alongside slaves and saw many try to enlist in the army. He also came to understand that fighting for liberty while maintaining slavery was flawed. Though some other patriots had this same view, they felt that to take an abolitionist stand publicly at this point would prevent them from uniting as a group against England.

Upon his marriage to Martha, Washington was put in charge of 153 "dowery" slaves. Though he was put in charge of them, he did not own them, and could not legally sell or trade, or free them.

By 1778, Washington stopped selling or trading his slaves in order to prevent families from being broken. He wrote in letters that he wished to be done with slavery himself. He did not, sell or trade his slaves, though, as they had interwed with the dowery slaves, and he did not wish to break up their families.

Upon his death, however, Washington did free all of his slaves - 123 to be precise.

Sadly, sending greetings for Washington's Birthday, or even for Presidents' Day, is not a common practice these days. I think the patriotic artwork is wonderful, and I'd love it if people did sent patriotic greetings. Presidents' Day seems to have become simply a day off of work. With the exception students, there seems to be no celebration in this holiday at all. So, this year, I encourage you to do something for Presidents' Day. Read a biography of a president, send a patriotic card to a friend, tack up a red white and blue ribbon on your mailbox - something.

What will YOU do for Presidents' day this year?

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    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      I like the vintage postcards. They are tiny piece of art one could observe for hours and still find another detail, not noticed before! :)

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 5 years ago

      Interesting to see there was such interest in Washington-themed greeting cards. And it is a nice thought to spend some time on President's Day thinking about the better among our leaders and what has resulted.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Spent President's Day taking care of our American Mammoth Jackstock, a breed of Ass started by our friend General Washington! Oh, he never did cut down a Cherry tree, by the way...we can thank Parson Mason Locke Weems for that myth from his biography of GW written in 1800, the year after GW's death......

    • juliannegentile profile image

      Julianne Gentile 5 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, US

      I saw this on the homepage. Very nice! I used to own a business to business greeting card company and sending greetings on President's Day and other less common occasions is a more common practice with businesses that want to keep in touch with their clientele. Anyway, I really enjoyed this lovely and informative lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice tribute to Washington ... *blessed!*

    • profile image

      Oosquid 5 years ago

      A very entertaining and informative lens. Now I know a little about George Washington.

    • sittonbull profile image

      sittonbull 5 years ago

      Good stuff... Wish George was still around!

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      awesome lens....

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      awesome lens....

    • profile image

      Joan4 5 years ago

      The George Washington post cards are beautiful! Happy President's Day!

    • wheresthekarma profile image

      wheresthekarma 5 years ago

      Really cute idea for a lens!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I goofed off for President's Day! I took a walk and found 8 pennies (7 U.S., 1 Canadian) with that wonderful president, Lincoln!

    • profile image

      CatherineMezensky 5 years ago

      What a great lens! A very creative way to present a bio.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      Great idea --- what a beautiful collection of images. Perhaps one day George Washington will have his own holiday again. Until then, Happy President's Day.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very nicely done. Lovely postcards to look at.

    • Herman IV profile image

      Herman IV 5 years ago

      This is a great lens. Love the way that you give his biography through postcards. The cards themselves are wonderful. I love how you tied this all together!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Nice lens

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      Nice lens

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Wow, such an interesting biography. I did not know his father died and he looked up to his older stepbrother.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Enjoyed the vintage postcards! Also learned a bit more about Washington. Thanks!

    • JeremiahStanghini profile image

      JeremiahStanghini 6 years ago

      What a clever way to illustrate GW's life. :-)

      With Love and Gratitude,

      Jeremiah

    • kimbesa2 profile image

      kimbesa 6 years ago from USA

      Love those vintage postcards, and this is a new vein to me. Most of mine are real photo, or more common holidays like Easter. Thanks! Lensrolling onto my Halloween postcards lens and **angel blessed**!

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 6 years ago

      What a nice way to learn about Washington's life. I like the idea of observing Presidents' Day by reading a biography of one of them. There are so many good ones to choose from.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens on the life of George Washington. You are right - we should remember Presidents' Day and celebrate.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 6 years ago

      Fabulous idea for a lens. Well done.

    • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image

      ChemKnitsBlog2 6 years ago

      Another wonderful addition to the jenga stack. I will be celebrating my Uncle's birthday :)

    • Brookelorren LM profile image

      Brookelorren LM 6 years ago

      These are great! I don't think that I've seen any of these before. I just gave this angel blessings :-).

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      My youngest child is studying Washington for President's Day. I'm sure he will enjoy looking at these awesome postcards. Thanks! =D

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 6 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Wow, these vintage postcards of Washington are wonderful. What a great job! I learned a lot about George Washington.

    • profile image

      LOLteez 6 years ago

      Great information about our first President. Lensrolled to Funny T-shirts for Presidents' Day.

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 6 years ago

      Very interesting! I didn't know his views on slavery and that is good to know! Happy President's Day to everyone!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Beautifully done! I love old postcards but wouldn't have thought to combine it with a biographical lens like this.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

      This guide to George Washington via vintage postcards is helpful to those of us who don't know much about US history. I enjoyed the artwork too.

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Reading a president's biography sounds like an excellent idea. This is a great topic you picked and a beautiful lens.

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 6 years ago

      What a wonderful lens. Such beautiful postcards. So February 21st is Presidents day huh? I'll bet that's why Canada instituted a new statutory holiday on that same day - and called it "Family Day".

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 6 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      These are wonderful old postcards. A lovely compilation

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      This was wonderful, and I agree the artwork is gorgeous. Well done on completing thie Jenga challenge and keeping the stack going!

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      This lens is a great addition to the Virtual Jenga. Beautiful and very informative lens.

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