10 Cool Facts About George Washington

  1. According to observers, Washington had bright blue eyes and hair that was either red (early in his life) or brown (during the Revolution). And contrary to popular belief, GW never wore a wig.

  2. George Washington was measured just after death. In a time when the average height of a man was about five feet, six inches, GW was determined to be six feet, three-and-a-half inches tall. Even today he would be about the size of a basketball point guard or football lineman; during his lifetime, his presence demanded attention and respect.

  3. In 1751, Washington contracted smallpox in the Caribbean. He was very sick for 24 days and would bear the scars from smallpox on his face (resembling acne scars) for the rest of his life.

  4. Washington did not go to college; many people failed to take him seriously because of this fact. However, he was truly a man of letters, composing more than 20,000 correspondences in his lifetime.

  5. Although you wouldn't think of it from the portraits or statues, George Washington had a very hot temper, especially early in life. He worked hard through the Revolution to control that temper, and only lost it on rare occasions--at least in public.

  6. During his career, Washington was a busy guy around the fourth of July. He lost the first major battle he ever fought, at Fort Necessity, and surrendered on July 4, 1754. And he took command of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775, a year and a day before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  1. Although slavery was an accepted practice in most of the world in the 18th century, and certainly in Virginia and the rest of the south, GW became the first famous American to free his slaves--he did it in his will, stating not only that his slaves be freed upon Martha's death, but that they be cared for and educated so they could lead productive lives.

  2. In addition to being the most innovative farmer in the colonies, GW also oversaw a thriving commercial fishing operation on the Potomac, and he introduced the mule (a cross between a donkey and horse) to America.

  3. Washington led the world's most civilized and successful revolution against an established government. At its conclusion, there was a movement to make him king of America, and he rejected the idea. He served as president only reluctantly. He knew it was a no-win position to be in, and he was right. Imagine the pressure placed on the first-time leader of a new country! However, he created the idea of what a U.S. president should be, along with the traditions that we all take for granted today. The dignity of the office, its code of conduct, and the respect we all want to have for the President of the United States are all thanks to the unique character of the flesh-and-blood George Washington.

  4. The rotunda of the U.S. Capitol was originally designed as the final resting place for George Washington. If you walk into the rotunda today, you can see that the remains of GW were to serve as a guiding influence at the focal point of the nation. However, today he and Martha are entombed side by side at Mount Vernon.

Excerpted from the George Washington's First War Teacher's Guide.





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