Dear Kid,

He’s the Father of Our Country, the man with the cherry tree fetish, and on February 4, 1789, all 69 members of Congress cast their ballots to elect George Washington the first president of these United States.

George Washington

Perhaps not the most flattering angle…

Which clearly means we should discuss G.W. himself.

Not the stuff you learned in grade school, because you learned that already.

And not the stuff you learned in high school, because you’ve forgotten that already and why bring it up again?

No, I’m talking about the interesting stuff.

For example: Unlike many others at the time, G.W. did not wear a wig; he powdered his hair. Lots of people did that. Thank heavens we just poison ourselves with hairspray now and leave the talc in the past.

George’s favorite breakfast (the most important meal of the day) was hoecakes. Cornmeal pancakes that could be fried on the back of a hoe. No, I have no plans to try the farm implement style of cooking any time soon. He was also partial to cream of peanut soup, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut, and string beans with mushrooms.

All those veggies did not make him a healthy puppy. He suffered from diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, tonsillitis, carbuncle, pneumonia, (and for all I know carsickness). Not only was he sick a good amount of the time, he had crazy dental problems (go floss). He had false teeth (you knew that) but they were not made of wood (cherry or otherwise). They were made of gold, ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth. Lovely.

G.W. raised and bred hunting dogs and he loved those pups. He treated them like family (duh) and gave them names like Drunkard, True Love, Sweet Lips, and Tipsy.

Did I mention he owned a distillery? He made rye whiskey, apple brandy, and peach whiskey. And he made a lot of it. The whiskey was more like moonshine, but he had a license and paid taxes so he was a legal distiller.

While George started school when he was six, he had to drop out when he was 15 because of family financial issues. He was mostly self-taught and was so good at mathematics that he became a paid surveyor at 16 years old. NOTE: Unless you plan to become a general and then the first president of our country, you need more education than that.

Washington wrote more than 20,000 letters. Think about how much effort you put into a small thank you note and you’ll begin to realize the magnitude of his writing.

George was big man, about 6’2” and 200 pounds (you can do the conversion over to metric if you like). He was so strong he could crush a walnut between his thumb and forefinger and he was widely acknowledged as the best horseman in the 13 Colonies.

George may (or may not) have died from bloodletting when he was ill. That day they took 5 pints of blood (and if you think that seems like a lot, you’re quite correct). Washington wanted to be buried at Mount Vernon (and he was) despite the hullabaloo from Congress (they wanted to bury him under a statue in the Capitol.

George lost more battle than he won, but was considered a Most Excellent General partly because of his ability to hold a not-so-well-to-do army together for so long. In 1976, George Washington was named General of the Armies of the United States, a rank so high no one in the US will ever outrank him. Makes you wonder who gets the coffee in heaven.

And about the cherry tree? That story was made up after George was dead.

Now you know.

Love, Mom