Fun Facts about George Washington
Photograph by ‘GDJ‘ (2020) , pixabay
From the common myth about wooden teeth to a supposed fake birthday, this article has everything you need to know about George Washington and his life in 1700’s America.
Welcome to Facts and Fun About American Giant George Washington
George Washington was – and still is – a very famous president of the United States. In fact, he was the first president of the United States. And, if anyone has watched the Hamilton musical (highly recommended) you may have seen that George Washington created a stage for every single other Presidential candidate to come thereafter.
In this article, we wanted to explore the life lived and legacy left of this much-appraised American ‘hero’. There’s going to be shocking facts of the President, fun facts about George Washington, unknown truths behind George Washington’s teeth and some quotes to be spoken through those very gnashers.
So, without further ado, let’s get started with facts and fun about the American giant George Washington.
The Early Life of George Washington
George Washington isn’t only famous for his time in office. In fact, a lot of the fun facts about George Washington are about his home life and time before becoming the first President of America. Did you know he was a sickly person with many siblings?
1. George Washington’s Birthday Isn’t the Date We All Think It Is.
It is, and it isn’t. One of the most interesting of the George Washington fun facts is the confusion about his birth date. George Washington was born, as his family would know it, on February 11th, 1731. This is because Americans would use the Julian calendar.
However, in 1752, Western cultures adopted the Gregorian calendar. With this, George’s birthday was technically moved a year and 11 days later to February 22nd, 1732. Since then, Washington’s birthday has been celebrated on the 3rd Monday of every February as a federal holiday.
2. Unfortunately, George Washington Suffered a Plethora of Ailments
Known for being at the forefront of the battlefield, George Washington was also fighting his own battles at home. Of course, George Washington’s teeth were an indicator of his hygiene and all throughout his life, Washington was a sickly person, contracting a total of 9 deadly diseases before dying of a throat infection.
In total, George Washington contracted and battled; Diphtheria, Tuberculosis, Smallpox, Dysentery, Malaria, Quinsy, Carbuncle, Pneumonia and then the ultimate infection that caused his death, Epiglottitis. Source: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/george-washingtons-medical-chart
3. George Washington was Actually Born 5th Out of his 9 Brothers and Sisters
George Washington was born, as we know, on February 11th of 1731 to his parents Augustine and Mary-Ball Washington. However, before him, came three half-brothers and a half-sister. But it doesn’t stop there; after having George, Augustine and Mary-Ball had a further three boys and two girls in their family. In total, they were a family of 12!
In order of appearance: Butler (1716), Lawrence (1718), Augustine Jr. (1720), Jane (1722), George (1731), Betty (1733), Samuel (1734), John Augustine (1736), Mildred (1737), Charles (1738).
4. The Great American President had No Formal Education
While his years in education were taken well, the refine-spoken George Washington actually stopped his formal learning at the age of 15. From there, he was home-tutored by his mother and half-brother Lawrence. Lawrence, in particular, would go on to teach him how to become a ‘proper’ Virginian man using philosophy, trigonometry, literature, music, arts, ethics and more. Other than this, he completed religious studies with his local church in Sexton.
So, this ultimate guide to George Washington has unearthed the interesting fun facts about George Washington that show the first POTUS did not have a degree but was still highly educated.
5. Washington Became a Slave Owner at the Young Age of 11
In keeping with the times and location of his life, George Washington grew up on his father’s plantation in Virginia. And, as any other wealthy gentleman would have at the time, they owned slaves.
However, when George was just 11 years old, he was willed the ownership of 10 enslaved individuals. This was because his father had died in 1743. Then, by the time of his marriage to Martha Custis in 1759, he had acquired around 8 more slaves.
The Ultimate Guide to George Washington and His Family
Washington’s life consisted of more than his upbringing and his life in office as the president. George was married by the age of 26 and his wife has some interesting George Washington fun facts of her own.
6. Washington Didn’t Have Any Children of His Own
Although Washington married young, in fact he married at 26, he did not go on to have any of his own children with his wife.
While it is not one of the happiest of George Washington fun facts, it is speculated that because of his contraction of Smallpox, he had become sterile. However, as Martha Curtis entered the marriage with two of her original four children, it is also thought that he didn’t feel the need for them.
7. George’s Wife, Martha Granted the Freedom of George’s Slaves
Slavery and George Washington is a strange mix, despite being pro-slavery as was his time, he declared that 123 slaves that he owned outright, would gain their freedom upon the death of his wife Martha. Yet, this generated the thought that the slaves could revolt to murder Martha early.
In 1801, just over a year after the death of the Father of His Country, this fear became too much for Martha and her family. So, Martha provided the liberty to all of George’s owned slaves early. But, this did leave over 200 more individuals who were still enslaved under the Curtis name. After this, the association between slavery and George Washington was tarnished.
Facts About the Face of a Mountain
Many out there will already know that as George Washington was the first President of America, he has monuments and dedications scattered across the States. With, of course, the most popular being etched into the side of Mount Rushmore. However, there more fun facts about George Washington, his face and his practices as POTUS that might shock you.
8. Despite Popular Stories, George Washington Did Not Have Wooden Teeth
One of the most talked-of fun facts about George Washington is that he had wooden teeth. And, while we cannot tell you where this myth originated, we can confirm George Washington’s teeth were not made of wood.
In fact, in this ultimate guide to George Washington, we can tell you that he had multiple dentures by the age of 50. Despite using toothbrushes and tooth powders, the American President needed teeth pulling from the age of 24 and had to begin wearing dentures from then.
9. George Washington Did Not Act Out His Duties in the Whitehouse
It might be hard to imagine, but when George Washington became president, the White House didn’t exist. This guide for George Washington fun facts has discovered that Washington took the oath of presidency in the Federal Hall of New York city, the capital at the time.
However, he still lived at his plantation with his wife when not called to duty. In fact, he initially turned down a $25,000 grant from congress, but eventually took the money to prove that not just wealthy men could take office.
10. The Father of His Country Would Buy the Teeth of Slaves
You know we told you that his teeth were not made of wood? Well, the world of slavery and George Washington takes another morbid turn as he made a deal with a dentist to buy cheap teeth from slaves for use in his dentures.
However, it is not all vile George Washington fun facts, George did have other dentures made out of ivory rather than real human teeth. He did also use other human teeth at full-price, but it can be confirmed that he bought at least 9 cut-priced teeth from slaves for the use in dentures.
11. Washington’s Face Represents the Birth of the United States
The artist behind the famous American landmark of Mount Rushmore is called Gutzon Borglum. And, Borglum says that he chose Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Jefferson for their significant and positive impacts on the US.
Among other fun facts about George Washington, Borglum said he chose Washington because he represents the birth of the United States. With this in mind, Gutzon Borglum also made the decision to carve Washington’s figure to be the most prominent.
Some More Fun Facts About George Washington and his Presidency of America
There is so much more to George Washington and his life that has not seen the spotlight yet. But, now is the time. The ultimate guide to George Washington simply wouldn’t be the same without mentioning his time serving for his country (and others!). As well as this, we’ll be debunking some nuisance myths other than George Washington’s teeth, and thinking about how the White House came to be.
12. He Never Did Chop Down that Cherry Tree in the Stories
As the story goes, at the age of 6, young George was given a hatchet and would chop at everything. Including his father’s cherry tree. However, when confronted, George said; ‘I cannot tell a lie’ and owned up to the incident. To which Augustine replied that his honesty was worth a thousand trees.
While it is a lovely story of trust, honesty and integrity, it is simply that. Ten years after his death, a biographer named Parson Weems (known for adapting history) wrote several George Washington fun facts in a book including this one. However, there is no credible evidence and it has since been taken as fable by many historians.
13. Mr. President Chose the Location of the New Capital and Place for the White House
Although POTUS did not serve his presidency in the White House, it might be one of the interesting George Washington fun facts to know that he was aware of it. In fact, he chose the new location for the capital city and the grounds for the White House’s location. Hence; Washington D.C.
Originally, the White House was named the President’s House and didn’t see its first tenants until 1st November 1800. After it’s completion, John Adams and his family moved into the President’s House nearing the end of his first and only term as POTUS.
14. Washington Had a Distinguished Career in the Military
One of the reasons Washington was a highly pedestalled President was due to his service in the military. From fighting with the British Colonists to becoming a general in the new American Army, his commitment to the New World was one of the courageous ventures that gained him his respect.
From 1752 to 1758, Washington served with the British to fight against the French and the Natives. From 1775 to 1783, he served in the War of Independence against the British as a Major General. Finally, he fought from 1798 to 1800 as the Lieutenant General in the Quasi War against the French Navy. Source: http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~cjd327/military.html
15. No Officer in the US Army Will Ever Outrank Lieutenant General George Washington
President George Washington held many titles throughout his life. Including Lieutenant George Washington. After being a Major General in the revolutionary war, he was given the promotion that entitled him to three stars (the maximum at the time). However, officers since then that have gained 4 or 5 stars have outranked him.
So, in 1976, president Gerald Ford signed a resolution that would give Washington the highest ever ranking of “General of the Armies”. Adding to the final fun facts about George Washington; Ford also made sure that nobody in the US army could outrank Washington.
George Washington’s Famous Quotes and Lines of History
As one of the most looked-to figures of American History, and as Americas first ‘POTUS’, there are some truly heartfelt and wise quotes that were said by George Washington. While he may not have always made the right decisions for Americans or their slaves, his presence in Federal Hall paved the way for the modern diverse and accepting society we know today. So, with that, we simply couldn’t forget about some of his most famous quotes that George Washington addressed to his military and state:
Click here for our full collection of George Washington quotes!
Drawing the Ultimate George Washington Fact File to a Close
And, there we have the ultimate fact file about George Washington, his practice, his life and his state. Tell us which facts you found the most interesting and which you found the most shocking of them all.
While some stories may paint an immaculate leader and others can show a less-than-kind president, it was his story with the Founding Fathers of America that led us here today.
For more incredible facts about big names and faces, check out the rest of our articles such as; “All You Need to Know About Marylin Monroe” and “The Ultimate Beyoncé Fact File to Satisfy Your Inner Super-Fan”.