Fun Facts Friday: Washington – A Life

April 22, 2011

It was announced this week that Ron Chernow’s most excellent biography of George Washington, aptly named “Washington: A Life” (book review) won the Pulitzer Prize. I think the prize is well deserved, Mr. Chernow has the ability to bring historical figures to life and his books read like novels.

Here are a few interesting facts I learned from “Washington: A Life” and from our family trip to Washington’s estate in Mt. Vernon, Virginia.

Factual Friday: Washington – A Life

1) In the French and Indian War, while fighting in the British Army, Washington got hit with four bullets in his coat and hat and had two horses shot from underneath him. Washington remained unscathed which started his bullet proof reputation.

2) George Washington always regretted not having a college education.

3) Washington’s home, Mt. Vernon may look like it’s build out of stone, but it’s actually wood with sand thrown on the white paint.

4) George Washington loved animals. Over his life he had over 30 dogs and when the Revolutionary War was over, he retired his horse Nelson and forbade anyone from using him for farm work.

5) Martha Washington spent half of the Revolutionary War with her husband and used her time to fixed uniforms and help boost moral.

6) George Washington lost more battles than he won. His greatest accomplishment as a general was keeping a rag-tag army intact for eight years.

7) George Washington never had wooden teeth. His dentures were made out of ivory and fitted with human teeth. They can be seen today at Mt. Vernon’s museum. His dentures never fitted him properly which might explain his love of strawberry ice-cream.

8) Washington was the first, and only, commander-in-chief to lead an army in battle. It happened in 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion.

9) Washington’s mother had a very rocky relationship with her son. Mary Washington asked the Virginia legislature for help, pleading poverty, which implied that her son, probably the richest man in the state, has been neglecting her (which was not true).

Mary Ball Washington by Robert Edge Pine circa 1786
Almost looks like George in drag.

10) George and Martha Washington were childless which actually helped his career because Americans didn’t have to worry about him establishing a monarchical hereditary succession (meaning his son won’t automatically become president after him).

11) George Washington introduced the mule into America.

Zohar – Man of la Book

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  • RyanApril 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I enjoyed reading this book so I’m glad to hear of him winning the Pulitzer Prize for it.

  • Carin S.April 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    sounds cool! I am reading JOhn Adams right now. I loe that Washington is the one who said the president’s title, instead of being “Your Eminence” or something like that should just be “Mr. President.” Also he set a good precedent with only serving 2 terms.

  • Jill ElizabethApril 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I like Factual Friday! I used to live near Mt. Vernon – it is a gorgeous estate and not at all hard to imagine why Washington wanted to retire there and be left alone! I haven’t read any of the Chernow biographies – several have been on my “to read” list for a while now (most notably Alexander Hamilton), and now I’m going to have to add Washington’s as well!

  • litandlifeApril 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I really liked this book a lot. It both increased my appreciation of what Washington accomplished and took him down more than a peg or two because of the contradictions in his personality. So well researched and written.

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