FACTS AND MYTHS ABOUT GEORGE WASHINGTON

Today (Monday, February 22) is George Washington’s birthday. 

Did George Washington have wooden teeth? 

He had false teeth, but they were not made of wood. As a matter of fact, the materials used in his false teeth were probably more uncomfortable than wood. In one set of teeth, his dentist, Dr. John Greenwood, used a cow’s tooth, one of Washington’s teeth, hippopotamus ivory, metal and springs. They fit poorly and distorted the shape of his mouth. 

Did George Washington chop down a cherry tree? 

Probably not. The story was invented by Parson Mason Weems who wrote a biography of George Washington shortly after Washington’s death. Since so little is known about Washington’s childhood, Weems invented several anecdotes about Washington’s early life to illustrate the origins of the heroic qualities Washington exhibited as an adult. 

Did George Washington wear a wig? 

No. Even though wigs were fashionable, Washington kept his own hair, which he wore long and tied back in a queue, or ponytail. He did, however, powder his hair as was the custom of the time. 

Is George Washington buried under the U.S. Capitol? 

No, although Congress built a vault under the Capitol building for this purpose. In his will, Washington specified that he wished to be buried at Mount Vernon and that a new tomb should be constructed. His heirs honored his wish, and the vault at the U.S. Capitol remains empty to this day. 

Other than General, what job did George Washington’s hold before he was president? 

Farmer. Washington, who believed that America should become a “granary to the world”, sought to improve many aspects of farming. His advanced crop rotations, use of fertilizers, experimentation with crops, and innovative farm equipment made him one of the “pioneers” of modern agriculture. 

Did George Washington free his slaves? 

Yes. In his will, he freed those slaves belonging to him (about 124) and his estate paid for the care of former Mount Vernon slaves for decades after his death. At least nine early presidents owned slaves, but only one – Washington – freed all of his slaves. 

Did George Washington live in the White House? 

No. George Washington was the only U.S. President who did not live in the White House, which was not completed until after his death. During his two terms as president, the capital of the United States was located first in New York and then in Philadelphia. George Washington played a large role, however, in the development of the new Federal City named after him, and in overseeing the design of both the Capitol Building and the White House.

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2 Comments

  1. Justin, Didnt want to tell you..but my hair is grey, not because Im old, but because I powder it…

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