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George Washington: Fun Facts About the First President of the United States

Updated on February 17, 2020
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Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about interesting things.

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George Washington didn't have a middle name like most people. His birthday is recorded as February 22, 1732. However, he was not born on that day. He was actually born on February 11, 1732. There is a good explanation for the two dates.

When the colonies changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, his birthday was moved 11 days forward to conform to the new calendar. All his life, he was 11 days older than documents indicated.

There is a long list of United States Presidents who followed Washington, but no one will ever rank higher than him in the United States military. After his death, he was posthumously awarded the highest-ranking United States officer of all time. A law was passed in 1976 that no one will ever outrank him.

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People might think Washington wore a wig, but his hair was real. His full head of heads looked white because his workers powdered it for him. Before he went gray, Washington had red hair. If you look closely at the photo above, you might be able to tell that it is not a wig.

Even though Washington had a healthy head full of hair, he was ill more than any other president. Throughout his life, he suffered from a long list of ailments which included but not limited to smallpox, tuberculosis, dysentery, malaria, diphtheria, tonsillitis, carbuncle, pneumonia and epiglottitis. He was also infertile which might have been caused by his smallpox. He helped raise Martha's two children from a previous marriage.

Even with all those illnesses, he did not die from any of them. His death may or may not have been a malpractice case. He died at the age of 67 on December 14, 1799. That was the same day he was treated with four rounds of bloodletting that removed 5 pints of blood from his body that was too much.

George Washington requested to be buried at home at Mount Vernon. His family honored his request even though Congress insisted that he should be buried in the Capitol.

Religion and Spirituality

Washington was baptized a few months after he was born. When he grew up, he became a devoted member of the Church of England. He served more than 20 years as a vestryman and churchwarden for two parishes in Virginia.

Most people described Washington as being a moral man. He read his Bible on a daily basis and prayed regularly. As the president of the country, he publicly encouraged the nation to pray also. He believed God watched over and protected him and his troops.

He took communion prior to the Revolutionary War, but he no longer did it after the war. His pastor James Abercrombie admonished him for not doing so.

Battles

George Washington is the only US President to have gone into battle while serving as the commander-in-chief. On September 19, 1794, Washington became the first and only sitting president to go on the battlefield. He led his troops on a nearly month-long march, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Something else that Washington did that is quite interesting is that before he fought against the British, he fought with the British. When he was just 21, he was sent to lead a British colonial force against the French in Ohio. He lost the battle, but his experience helped him fight against the British in the Seven Years War in North America. Washington lost most battles during his administration than he won.

Myths About George Washington

There are many myths surrounding George Washington. There 2-3 well-known myths that most people have heard.

Cherry Tree Story

Washington never chopped down a cherry tree. The story was made up by Mason Locke Weems, a broke itinerant parson, and bookseller who wrote a myth-filled biography of Washington called The Life of Washington. He admitted to making up the story to sell his book.

Teeth

A second well-known myth is that Washington had wooden teeth in his mouth. He had dental problems, and he started having his teeth pulled when he was 24 years old. By the time of his first inauguration, he had only one natural tooth left.

For the rest of Washington's life, he wore different sets of dentures. However, they were never made of wood. Instead, they were made of a variety of other materials including brass, ivory, assorted metals, horse teeth, other animal teeth, human teeth from slaves and dead people. Based on that list, wooden teeth don't sound too bad after all.

Slavery

Washington was against slavery even though by law he had up to 300 at one time. It is a myth that he designated all of his slaves to be freed in his will. He did leave it up to his wife to keep them after his death. She set them free because she was afraid to keep them without George being around.

Other Tidbits About George Washington

Dog Lover

It is not unusual for presidents to own dogs. Washington kept and bred more dogs than others. He is known as the "Father of the American Foxhound" because he owned more than 30 of them. Three of the hounds were named Drunkard, Tipler, and Tipsy.

A Whiskey Distillery

Washington owned a profitable whiskey distillery at Mount Vernon. It was equipped to distilled 12,000 gallons of whiskey in one year.

Job Before Presidency

Washington was a professional land surveyor before he became president. He conducted about 200 surveys. That skill was a great assess to him as a military leader.

Cash Flow Problem

Unlike the formula for salaries of US Presidents today, Washington received 2 percent of the total of the US budget. Before he received his initial check, he had a cash flow problem. He had to borrow money to attend his first inauguration.

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Money and Postage Stamps

George Washington's photo appears on the $1 bill. It is the first design that was produced and is the most popular bill in circulation. Nearly half of all the cash used on a daily basis is the one-dollar bill. The bills are so popular that they usually end up in most people's wallets. Washinton's photo also appears on the quarter-dollar coin.

Washington and Benjamin Franklin's images were on the first postage stamps issued in 1847. Since then, Washington's photo has appeared on more postage stamps than anyone else.

Did you learn something new about George Washington?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      16 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Tim, for more interesting things about George Washington. What you wrote was very informative.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 

      16 months ago from U.S.A.

      Hi, Margaret. Interesting article. Ive also read George Washington was a fan of ice cream. I've seen historical documents mentioning President Washington was a mason. But the most interesting story underscoring his religious beliefs tells of how just before the Battle of Valley Forge, Washington went into the woods to pray. This was a common practice of the commander of the colonial troops. A farmer passing by said the president prayed in a language totally unrecognizable, and he came out of the woods aglow with a light which startled the farmer. Wonderful article.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      17 months ago from Richmond, VA

      MsDora, thanks for reading and commenting on my fun facts about George Washington. I enjoy doing research and sharing tidbits with others. My intent now is to write fun facts about the other 44 US Presidents. Look forward to those upcoming articles.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      17 months ago from The Caribbean

      The facts are interesting and the presentation is excellent. Thank you.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing this interesting information. I enjoyed learning some new things about George Washington.

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