February 22, 1732: Washington’s Birthday… (psssst, it’s the wrong day)
In honor of Washington’s birthday, I’ve collected a few details about George you may not have known.
First off, he was not born on February 22, 1732. He was actually born on February 11, 1731. When the colonies switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar his birthday was moved eleven days.
GW had a Crush on Canines
During the battle of Germantown the Continental army was getting beaten against the strong British advance. Some of Washington’s soldiers found a small dog on the front lines. When they discovered the dog was wearing a collar indicating it belonged to the British General Howe, they immediately brought it to Washington.
Remarkably, instead of using the dog in some way to his army’s advantage, he cleaned and fed the hungry animal and ordered a cease-fire. He then saw that the dog was returned to its owner with this note:
“General Washington’s compliments to General Howe. General Washington does himself the pleasure to return to him a dog, which accidentally fell into his hands, and, by the inscription on the collar, appears to belong to General Howe.”
The British Commander called the incident, “an honorable act of a gentleman”. Howe seemed to dampen his harsh pursuit of the Continental Army. His soldiers continued to win battles but he showed restraint in crushing Washington’s army despite having opportunities to do so. When The Crown gave him an order to “show little compassion to the rebels,” Howe resigned his position.
Washington bred hound dogs that he treated like members of the family. He loved naming his dogs which attests to his love for his four legged friends. Here are a few:
Countess, Doxey, Droner, Dublin, Dutchess, Forrester, Hearkwell, Jupiter, Lady, Mopsey, Music, Pluto, Ragman, Ringwood, Rober, Rockwood, Rover, Searcher, Shingas, Singer, Sweetlips, Truelove, Venus and Vulcan.
The Big Guy
Washington was a big man at six feet, two inches tall and 200 pounds, he was one of our biggest presidents.
Lack of Education
Washington started school when he was six and left school at 15. He was largely self-taught in various disciplines and was so good at math, he became a paid surveyor at age 16!
Some of Washington’s favorite foods were:
Cream of peanut soup, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut, and string beans with mushrooms.
Washington’s favorite breakfast was hoecakes – simple pancakes made with cornmeal, served with butter and honey.
A Sickly Guy
He was one of our sickest presidents in history. Through-out his life he suffered many ailments including: diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, quinsy (tonsillitis), carbuncle, pneumonia, and epiglottitis.
Toothaches bothered him for years. At age 57 he had all his teeth pulled and wore dentures. Contrary to legend his dentures were not made of wood. They were made of carved animal bone and human teeth.
That was his real hair, not a wig. It looked white because he powdered it.
He may have died from medical malpractice.
On the day of his death he went through four rounds of bloodletting.
From the New York Times:
On Washington’s fateful day, Albin Rawlins, one of his overseers and a bloodletter, was summoned. Washington bared his arm. The overseer had brought his lancet and made an incision. Washington said, ”Don’t be afraid.” That day, Rawlins drew 12 ounces of blood, then 18 ounces, another 18 ounces and a final 32 ounces into a porcelain bleeding bowl.
Greeting the President as “Mr. President” was his idea.
He was so strong that he could crack walnut shells between his thumb and forefinger.
Washington owned a whiskey distillery.
He installed a distillery at Mount Vernon in 1798 and made aproxitmaly 12,000 gallons of liquor a year. George was one of the most successful distributors in the country. His state of the art distillery also made rye whiskey, apple brandy and peach brandy. The distillery has been restored and is now open to the public.