Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday George Washington

This week, on Monday, February 20th, we celebrated President’s Day in honor of Presidents Lincoln and Washington. Actually, George Washington’s birthday is February 22, and I thought it would be appropriate to wish him a happy birthday today.

When I was a schoolgirl, many years ago, I remember learning that: (1) George Washington couldn’t tell a lie, he really did cut down that cherry tree. (2) George Washington had large wooden false teeth. That was my picture of the first President of the United States, when I was a little girl.

Today, of course, I doubt he even had a cherry tree to cut down, and as for that great big wooden tooth smile, I am pretty sure that wasn’t true. If you know differently please let me know.

I did some research this week and found some true facts I would like to pass on to you:

This great man was born in 1732 in Virginia, of moderately well off parents. His father died when George was eleven, and because of his father’s death he was not able to go to England to Appleby School, as his older brothers had done. Instead he had a variety of tutors and also spent some time at an Anglican school.  He received the equivalent of an elementary school education. At age 15, his mother, upon learning how hard it would be on him, kept him from receiving an appointment in the Royal Navy.  At 17 he was appointed as the official surveyor for Culpepper County in Virginia.

Upon his father’s death his half-brother, Lawrence became, his surrogate father and role model, and continued in that role until his death. Washington acquired his home at Mt. Vernon when Lawrence died. 

George Washington was six feet tall and a born leader of men. He gained recognition and military leadership skills during the French and Indian War. He later became a colonel of the Virginia Regiment and Commander in Chief of the forces raised in defense of the Virginia frontier. He married Martha Custis in 1759 and never had children of his own, although he raised Martha’s two children from her previous marriage.

From 1768 to 1775, George Washington was a leader in the social elite in Virginia. For people not of his social status his advice was to, “treat them civilly, but keep them at a proper distance.”

In 1769, he became more politically active. Then, of course, came the American Revolution in 1775, and we all know his brave role and leadership in the war. George Washington became President of the United States in 1789 and served two terms. Washington died in 1797.

On my first trip to Washington D.C., I travelled down the Potomac River and saw his historic home, Mount Vernon. It was a beautiful sight and I soon forgot about the cherry tree and the wooden teeth. 

Looking for more information about George Washington and President’s Day? Then you’ll want to read: