Tuesday, January 15, 2008

#1 - George Washington, 1789-1797

George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. When he was sworn into office in 1789, there was a good chance that the event might never have taken place. For during the French and Indian War, Lt. Colonel Washington was nearly killed at the Battle of the Monongahela in Pennsylvania. General Edward Braddock, under whom Washington served, was killed in that battle. Washington had two horses shot out from under him and four bullet holes in his jacket after the battle.

Washington had been born into a family of landed gentry and pursued interests in both surveying and the military. After his brush with death in Pennsylvania, Washington returned home to Virginia to marry the widow, Martha Dandridge Custis.

Shortly after the convening of the Second Continental Congress, Washington was called upon to serve as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. Taking command in July 1775, he led the colonials against the armies of the British empire for the next six years. The Continentals were defeated at nearly every turn, forced to withdraw from Boston, New York and elsewhere. Washington was very successful in using guerrilla tactics, something the British were completely unprepared to defend against, best exemplified by the crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Eve, 1776. With that, Washington likely saved Philadelphia from being taken by the British and with it the American government. When French forces arrived to assist Washington and the Americans, the tide turned and Washington forced a surrender of the British forces under Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.

During his presidency, Washington set about setting the precedents for the United States government. He watched as partisanship quickly enveloped his administration and, weary and longing to return to Mount Vernon, he ignored pleas to serve a third term and retired in 1796, publishing a Farewell Address. His retirement lasted barely three years, when Washington died of a throat infection in December 1799.

The Facts:
  • born February 22, 1732, Westmoreland County, Virginia
  • April 14, 1789 - Washington accepts the presidency
  • April 30, 1789 - Washington is inaugurated on the steps of Federal Hall in New York City
  • died December 14, 1799, Mount Vernon, Virginia
  • George Washington is the only president to be elected unanimously (in the electoral college).
  • He is the only president to be inaugurated in two capitals (New York and Philadelphia) as well as the only president to not reside in Washington, DC
  • Washington refused the presidential salary of $25,000
  • The "Father of Our Country" had no children of his own
  • Washington granted freedom to his slaves at Mount Vernon upon his death


Lana Gramlich said...

Interesting, but nothing on the mythological wooden teeth? ;)

ADR said...

This promises to be a great feature. I would rank Washington high on the list for many reasons. But I would be remiss if I did not point out that Washington College remains the only college in the nation (and the 10th oldest) that got Washington's express written consent to be named after him. That and fifty guineas. Not an insubstantial sum back in the day.

Anonymous said...

adr - so, Washington sold his naming rights? That's funny!


Archivalist said...

Nothing about Washington's distillery?

Nothing about the Washington Generals?

I, for one, am looking forward to Chester A. Arthur.

Brave Astronaut said...

As I said at the outset, this will be a work in progress. Things will get missed and that is where you, dear reader come in. That being said:

Lana - here's some more about the teeth. Surprisingly, not all that wooden.

ADR - you should address that with the nice folks at Wikipedia.

DD - When you put it that way, that is one of the funniest things I have read.

Archivalist - I'm sure you're wishing there was going to be an entry for "Blaine from Maine."

I already know one who is looking forward to Mr. Fillmore and another who can't wait for Mr. Buchanan. But everyone should be jumping on their favorites. Figure it out - mark those calendars (ooh! it's Franklin Pierce's week!)

Lana Gramlich said...

Lead? Woah!

Unknown said...

Are you going to do the Millard Fillmore tour when you go to Western NY this spring? You really should. You could also take in the site of the T. Roosevelt inauguration.

Lana Gramlich said...

I was going to say, I believe Fillmore's buried at Forest Lawn Cemetary in or near Buffalo, NY. The link is to my pix of the cemetary, although it's so large I never did find Fillmore's grave.
(Gads, Blogger's comments are being VERY hit or miss today! 3rd times the charm, hopefully...)

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to Harding - supposedly a relative, and the worst president in our short history.

Could you find one good thing to say about him, please?

Also, re: naming rights - in my city and at my alma mater, new buildings are no longer named after an influential professor, civic leader (except, for all you archivists - our new city library is named after a former mayor who was instrumental in getting it built), dean, or university president. They are named after the guy with the deepest pockets. So sad.

Shouldn't AT&T Bricktown Ballpark have been named after Johnny Bench, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Mercer, Warren Spahn, Jim Thorpe - all from our state? Well?

(sorry so long)


Anonymous said...

In what ways are obama and washington similar?
Is it that they both enjoy barack's crossing or a leisurely game of euchre?

Anonymous said...

Oral history has it, that George Washington had a black son from a slave, Venus Ford. The son's name was West Ford. It was from oral history by Linda Allen Bryant.