As I pondered what to put on this month’s cover, an issue dedicated to men, one man came to mind: George Washington. As you go about your everyday activities, to the grocery store, gas station or shopping, we are reminded of the legacy of George Washington, “Father of His Country” with his face on the dollar bill, the quarter, hundreds of schools and the name of our nation’s capital.
I could write the history that we were taught in elementary school, but thought the little-known facts would be more of a witty and merry read. Enjoy!
- Washington was born February 22, 1732, before the colonies switched to the “New Style” Gregorian calendar. When the government adopted the “New Style” calendar, all dates were moved back 11 days, moving his birthday to February 11. However, Washington preferred the February 22 of the old calendar.
- When Washington took office, the United States consisted of only 11 states, and the population was approximately 4 million people.
- He didn’t have a middle name.
- His hair was real, not a wig, and he powdered it to look white.
- He had to borrow money to attend his own first inauguration.
- He was a habitual letter writer. Best estimates put the number of letters he penned to be between 18,000 to 20,000. It would take you 55 years to write that many letters if you wrote one letter a day.
- He was a dog lover. He is also known as the “Father of the American Foxhound” keeping more than 30 of the dogs. Three of the hounds were said to be named Drunkard, Tipler and Tipsy.
- He was lucky in battle, but his coat wasn’t. In 1755, during a crossfire between the British and Native American soldiers, two horses were shot from under Washington, his coat was pierced by four musket balls—none hit his body.
- He was one of the most successful liquor distributors. Built at Mount Vernon in 1798, the state-of-the-art distillery produced 12,000 gallons a year of rye whiskey, apple and peach brandy. In 1799, Washington wrote to his nephew, “Two hundred gallons of whiskey will be ready this day for your call, and the sooner it is taken, the better, as the demand for this article (in these parts) is brisk.”
- In 1796, after two terms, Washington retired to Mount Vernon. To this day, his farewell address is read each February in the U. S. Senate to commemorate Washington’s birthday.
- George Washington died on December 14, 1797, at the age of 67. He was entombed at Mount Vernon, and not until 1960 was Mount Vernon designated a national historic landmark.