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First Father Facts

I thought it might be enlightening to dig up little-known facts about the man we call the father of our country. You will find documentation at the end of this post.

  • Did you know there is no historical evidence that Washington chopped down his father’s cherry tree?

It was invented by author Mason Weems in 1806, seven years after Washington’s death.

  • Did you know Washington was most embarrassed about his bad teeth and his lack of education compared to his compatriots?

Dentures were bulky and embarrassing in his day, which probably caused him to be more introverted than he might have been.

As for formal education, he rubbed shoulders with Jefferson and Adams, both intellectual giants. By contrast, the humble Washington didn’t have opportunity to pursue higher education, due to his father’s death when George was eleven years old. Instead, he studied surveying—which, incidentally, was God’s way of preparing him for his future work—leading the Continental Army. He knew the land better than anyone, having surveyed it earlier.

  • Did you know Washington was taller than the average man?

Early historian Jared Sparks credited our first president at six feet three inches tall. A military observer noted, “It is not difficult to distinguish him from all others, his personal appearance is truly noble and majestic being tall and well proportioned.”

  • Are you aware that Washington encouraged his troops to attend church?

Said one observer in the army, “His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness that has set in and… to practice the Christian virtues.”

Likewise, Washington forbade his officers to swear. On July 4, 1775, he issued the following order: “The General most earnestly requires and expects a due observance of those articles of war, established for the Government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing and drunkenness.”

  • Did you know Washington was the only President elected unanimously?

After ratifying the Constitution, the first business for our new nation was electing a leader. Washington “by no effort of his own, in a manner against his wishes, by the unanimous vote of a grateful country” accepted the charge. It happened again his second term.

  • Are you aware Washington added the words “So help me God” to the Presidential oath of office?

Those four words were not in the original oath. After speaking them, he leaned over and kissed the open Bible, used for the oath of office.

  • Did you know Washington was elected a vestryman at local churches?

A vestryman served as an officer who made sure the poor, the widows and orphans of the church were cared for, as well as making major decisions about the church.

  • And last, did you know Washington was unwittingly killed by his doctors?

We must remember the practice of medicine was limited in his day. Washington’s fatal illness began after he rode on horseback during a cold rain. He developed a fever, sore throat, and cough, as well as trouble breathing.

His family called a doctor. Physicians were trained in those days that many illnesses were caused by “bad blood.” They were trained to draw blood from the ill person to help them recover. Washington was “letted” of blood several times, and given a toxic substance called Calomel, a kind of mercury chloride. In addition, more physicians were called and applied hot irons to Washington’s throat. He was given emetic tartar, resulting in a horrible case of diarrhea.

A modern doctor has estimated Washington lost nearly 40% of his blood during the ordeal. After enduring painful, weakening treatment, the great man slipped away to his eternal reward, the father of the greatest nation on earth.

For those unfamiliar with the Wallbuilders' website above, the name is a reference to the Biblical account of Nehemiah. This leader of the ancient Jewish people inspired his fellow nationals to rebuild the demolished wall around Jerusalem in just 52 days. The name Wallbuilders was chosen decades before anyone in our country thought about a wall around our southern border.

This worthy group has a vast library of historical documents and carefully cites each article and book they publish.

What about you? Did you learn anything you didn't know? You can join the conversation below.


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