True or False…
George Washington was born in England in 1732?
FALSE – Although technically he was born a subject of the King on “English” soil, George was born on his father’s farm on Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County in the English colony of Virginia in 1732. The site is now the George Washington Birthplace National Monument.
George Washington wore a white wig?
FALSE – As an adult, Washington did not wear a wig, as was the fashion at the time and even though contemporary portraits make it seem that he did. He chose to pull his hair back in a queue and powdered his hair white to make it look like he was wearing a wig. Based on the number of wig curlers excavated archaeologically at Ferry Farm, we do suspect that he and his brothers wore wigs as boys. Read more about wigs and wig curlers.
George Washington was the only President not to reside in the White House?
TRUE – The Federal government did not move from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. until 1800 when John Adams was the President. Washington did pick the location of the President’s House and approved the architectural design by Irish-born James Hoban.
Washington visited only one other country during his lifetime?
TRUE – In September of 1751 at the age of 19 he traveled to Barbados with his step-brother Lawrence, who was ill with tuberculosis and advised to spend the winter in a warmer climate. George only stayed until December, but it was during this time that he contracted smallpox. This trip was the only time Washington ever traveled outside the borders of what would become the United States. Read “Three Military Adventures that Inspired George Washington” to learn more.
George Washington chopped down his father’s cherry tree?
FALSE – This story was written by Mason Locke Weems in the first biography of Washington’s life to encourage readers to emulate what Weems, a parson, saw as admirable qualities (truthfulness and physical strength) expected from a great and patriotic leader.
George Washington signed the Declaration of Independence?
FALSE – Washington was in New York City on July 4, 1776, anticipating and preparing for an attack by the British army. On July 9th, he assembled his troops to listen to a reading of the proclamation from the Continental Congress which declared independence from Great Britain.
George threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River as a young man?
FALSE – The earliest version of this legend claims that George threw a piece of slate the size of a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River when he lived at Ferry Farm. Over the years, it somehow became an actual silver dollar (dollars did not exist when George was a boy nor would he have wasted one by throwing it) and got moved north to the Potomac at Mount Vernon. Although the Rappahannock at Ferry Farm was wider in George’s day, a few baseball players have achieved the feat. Read “George Washington, Baseball Player?” to learn more.
George Washington’s first job was as a surveyor?
TRUE – George learned how to survey as a teenager and was hired in 1748 at the young age of sixteen to survey land in western Virginia. The following year he was appointed surveyor for Culpeper County. Surveying was his main occupation until 1752 when he was commissioned as a district adjutant for the Virginia militia by Governor Dinwiddie. Washington made a survey of Ferry Farm in 1771 titled “the fields where my mother lives.” Read more about “George’s First Job.“
George Washington did not have a middle name?
George Washington uttered the famous words “Give me liberty or give me death!”?
FALSE – this quote is attributed to Patrick Henry from a speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775 at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. George Washington was a delegate in attendance at this convention when a resolution was approved to supply troops from the Virginia militia to the Continental Army.
George Washington was the first person to sign the Constitution in Philadelphia?
TRUE – On September 17, 1787, Washington signed the document as both “President” of the Constitutional Convention and as a delegate from Virginia.
George Washington was tall and had reddish brown hair?
TRUE – George was 6’2” and, yes, he was a ginger!
George Washington’s false teeth were made of wood?
FALSE – His dentures or false teeth were not made of wood, as is commonly supposed. One of his denture sets (he had many throughout his life) on display at Mount Vernon is made of human, cow and horse teeth held together in a lead frame with wires. When Washington was inaugurated as President in 1789, he had only one real tooth remaining in his mouth! Read more about “George’s Troublesome Teeth.”
George Washington’s Secretary of Treasurer was Alexander Hamilton?
TRUE – And he was in the room where it happened, the room where it happened, the room where it happened!
When Washington became the first President of the United States, our federal government was based at its current location of Washington, DC?
FALSE – When Washington was inaugurated President in 1789, New York City was the seat of the government. In 1790, it was moved to Philadelphia. Ten years later in 1800, it moved to the purposely-built city of Washington where it has remained ever since.
Washington once had his clothes were robbed by two women while he swam in the Rappahannock River?
TRUE – The women, Ann Carrol and Mary McDaniel, were arrested and tried in court. Charges against Ann Carrol were dismissed when she gave evidence for the prosecution. Mary McDaniel was found guilty and punished with “fifteen lashes on her bare back” at the whipping post. Read “‘Not Having Been Wett All Over at Once, for 28 Years Past’: Bathing in Early America” to learn more about this incident.
As a boy, George Washington helped run the ferry service that ran between his family’s property (now called Ferry Farm) and the town of Fredericksburg?
FALSE – Though located riverside on the Washington farm, the ferry was not actually owned by the Washington family. The moniker “Ferry Farm” was not ever applied to Washington’s boyhood home until the late 19th century. To the Washington family, it was called the Home Farm.
Ferry Farm, the boyhood home of George Washington in Stafford County, VA, was actually owned by George, not his mother?
TRUE – Eleven-year-old George inherited the farm upon his father Augustine’s death in 1743. As he was not of age yet, his mother Mary decided to manage the farm for him until he turned 21. In the end, Mary lived at and managed the farm until 1772, when George sold the property and moved her into a new home across the river in Fredericksburg.
Co-Field Director, Archaeology Lab Assistant