20 Interesting Facts About George Washington

We all are well aware about the fact that George Washington was the first President of America. He was unanimously elected President of the United States twice, and played an essential part in shaping the role and function of the President of the United States. But if you think you know everything about this great man, you might be in for some amazing surprises. Let’s unveil some of the interesting facts about George Washington.

mount rushmore national monument

1. Education (or Lack Thereof)

George Washington started out school when he was six years old but had to quit soon as his mother lacked funds for his education. He was largely self-taught in various disciplines and had about 8 years of formal schooling. At the age of 15 he became a surveyor.
Source: scholastic.com

2. Former friend turned foe

1819 Passage Of The DelawareBefore fighting against the British, Washington actually fought for the British. Surprised? Washington lead a British colonial force against the French in Ohio at the age of 21. Though he lost the battle, but on the flip side it helped spark the Seven Years War in North America.
Source: mentalfloss.com, image: wikimedia.org

3. Losingest Victorious

Retreat from long islandWho says that the no. of victories on the battlefield decides your military capabilities. Washington actually lost more battles than he ever won. But he still ranks as a great general as his greatness lay less in his talent at the battlefield, though he committed some major strategic blunders but still managed to hold his frayed army together for more than eight years and kept the flame of revolution alive. He was truly a great leader.
Source: mountvernon.org, image: wikimedia.org

4. Father of US military

George washington by charles peale polkWashington was a lieutenant general at the time of his death. Even today after centuries have passed nobody can outrank him. Washington had not only defeated the British, but also established a framework for American army. He was truly the father of the US military so the three-star rank which he held was not compatible with his achievements. Hence, a law was passed and Washington was designated the highest ranking U.S. officer of all time: General of the Armies of the United States.
Source: wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org

5. Only President to have participated in a battle while serving as a President


Well, if we don’t count Bill Pullman in Independence Day, Washington is the only President to have participated in a battle while serving as a President on September 19, 1794 when he led the militia on a month-long march west over the Allegheny Mountains to the town of Bedford.
Source: mentalfloss.com, image:

6. Strapped for cash

dollarWashington was oftentimes out of credit, his revenues being tied up in land holdings. He even had to borrow money when he decided to relocate to New York to become President. Despite his financial crunch he refused to accept salary as President. He had to cave in thinking, denying a salary would set a poor precedent.
Source: mountvernon.org

7. Washington was the only president inaugurated in two cities

Washington's Inauguration
Washington’s Inauguration

Washington’s first inauguration occurred in New York City on April 30, 1789 and the second inauguration was in Philadelphia on March 4, 1793. Washington’s second inaugural address is the shortest ever delivered in the history.
Source: history.com, image: wikimedia.org

8. As President

Robert Edge Pine, Portrait of George WashingtonWashington established the traditions for the social life of the president. He had signed the first copyright law. George Washington had also set tradition of a cabinet of advisers. There have been speculations that Washington had set the trend of adding “So help me God” on to the Presidential Oath of Office at his inauguration. Greeting the President as “Mr. President” was his idea. He also established the two-term tradition for the Presidency.
Source: wikipedia, image: wikimedia.org


9. Capital competition

Capitol, Washington, D.CGeorge Washington and Thomas Jefferson decided to have a contest for the architectural design of the Capitol building in which the winning designer would get a whopping $ 500. But after they didn’t like any of the 17 submitted designs so they ended up accepting a bid from a Scottish doctor named William Thornton that came in after the deadline. It was the first reality contest ever.
Source: quirkytravelguy.com

10. Sickest President

Not in a morbid or gross way (pardon me). All through his life, Washington complained of a laundry list of diseases like Diphtheria, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, tuberculosis, quinsy (tonsillitis), carbuncle, pneumonia, and epiglottitis- to name a few.
Source: mentalfloss.com

11. Might be infertile

paintingIt is a well-known fact that Washington was childless and though it’s sad, people actually took solace in the fact that Washington didn’t have any kids of his own, as Americans didn’t have to fear that he might establish a monarchial system. In 2007, a study proposed that Washington was childless because he might be infertile, reason being the infection caused by his tuberculosis. A study showed that Infection of the epididymis or testes frequently results in infertility in 20% of the individuals.
Source: mentalfloss.com, image: wikimedia.org

12. Letters


Washington was keen on writing letters. It is estimated that he penned around 18,000 to 20,000 letters. Going by the numbers, even if we write one letter everyday for 50- 55 years we still won’t stand a chance competing with Washington.
Source: mentalfloss.com

13. Canine Crush

foxhoundWashington was a dog lover and he used to keep hound dogs that he treated like members of the family. He named his dogs Tarter, True Love, Sweet Lips, Drunkard, Tipler and Tipsy. (Quiet unusual, I must say) Washington is also known as the “Father of the American Foxhound.” He himself bred 30 Foxhound’s.
Source: mountvernon.org

14. Falling for best friend’s wife

Sally Fairfax
Sally Fairfax

Several letters show that before Washington married Martha, he was in love with Sally Fairfax, who was the wife of his friend, George William Fairfax.
Source: mentalfloss.com, image: wikimedia.org

15. Moonshiner

distillery barrelsWashington is nicknamed as moonshiner. Well the story behind is that he was a licensed distiller and had made a style of whiskey “moonshine”. He installed a distillery at Mount Vernon in 1798 and it was profitable. It is estimated that it distilled 12,000 gallons a year.
Source: biography.com

16. George growing hemp?

cannabisShocking right? But it wasn’t that big a deal in those times. Most farmers grew hemp as a cash crop which was used to make rope, paper, and other products. The hemp wasn’t smoked for pleasure. Washington was actually quite an agricultural innovator; and used to grow corn and wheat along with the hemp. The credit of introducing the concept of crop rotation also goes to him.
Source: mountvernon.org

17. Teeth story


It is a well known fact that George Washington had false teeth and the legend says his dentures were made of wood. But lemme tell you what they were actually made of. They were made out of carved animal bone and human teeth. The disheartening fact is that he bought the teeth out of the mouths of his enslaved workers. Well, he was a slave owner, and wasn’t required or expected—to pay a slave for a tooth at all!
Source: biography.com, image: mountvernon.org

18. Washington was the richest president ever

GW paintingWashington was listed as the wealthiest president of all time by the research on website Wall Street 24/7 in 2010. Though he had some debt problems during his lifetime he had significant land holdings and about 800 slaves. These assets would have been worth more than $500 million today.
Source: 247wallst.com, image: wikimedia.org

19. He did beat Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte

In a poll conducted by the Great Britain in 2012, General Washington was voted as the greatest military enemy to face the British–beating even Napoleon and German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Though it was posthumously but it still counts, right?
Source: usnews.com

20. Freed slaves

eorge Washington as FarmerOut of the 9 US Presidents who held slaves, George Washington stood out as the only one who freed all the slaves who were under his personal control.
Source: history.com, image: wikimedia.org