POTUS Fact 1: The First President of the United States

George Washington (February 22, 1732—December 14, 1799) was an American statesman and soldier who served as the first President of the United States (1789—1797) and was one of the Founding Fathers of the country. He is popularly considered the driving force behind the nation’s establishment and came to be known as the “father of the country,” both during his lifetime and to this day.

Image of First President of the United States, George Washington
George Washington (1732-1799), 1st President of the United States (1789-1797)/Mount Vernon.

At the age of 17, Washington, qualified as a surveyor, completed his first survey in less than two days (plotting a 400-acre parcel of land) and was well on his way to a promising career. By 1752, Washington completed close to 200 surveys on numerous properties totaling more than 60,000 acres. He continued to survey at different times throughout his life and as late as 1799.

On January 6, 1759, Washington married a wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis, then 28 years old. Surviving letters suggest that he may have been in love at the time with Sally Fairfax, the wife of a friend. Nevertheless, George and Martha made a compatible marriage, because Martha was intelligent, gracious, and experienced in managing a planter’s estate. George and Martha never had any children together; his earlier bout with smallpox in 1751 may have made him sterile.

Washington had a brewery company which produced 1000 gallons of whiskey per month. He also exported tobacco.

If Washington and his contemporaries had lost the American Revolution (1775—1783) they would have had their properties confiscated and would have been executed on a scaffold by the British.

At his death in 1799, George Washington had only one of his natural teeth left. The rest were wooden teeth, teeth bought from black slaves and teeth of dead soldiers acquired from the battle-field.

As a General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, Washington refused to accept the salary and this earned him a reputation as a “noble and disinterested” commanding officer.

In 1787, Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention which devised a new form of federal government for the United States. Washington was widely admired for his strong leadership qualities and was unanimously elected President by the Electoral College in the first two national elections in 1789 and 1792. He remains the only president to receive the totality of electoral votes.

Image of Martha Washington, First Lady of the United States of America
Martha Dandridge Washington (1731-1802), First Lady of the United States (1789-1797)/Biography

John Adams received the next highest vote total and was elected vice president. Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789, taking the first presidential oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City.

He was aware that everything which he did set a precedent, and he attended carefully to the pomp and ceremony of office, making sure that the titles and trappings were suitably republican and never emulated European royal courts. To that end, he preferred the title “Mr. President” to the more majestic names proposed by the Senate.

He oversaw the creation of a strong, well-financed national government that maintained neutrality in the French Revolutionary Wars, suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion and won wide acceptance amongst Americans. Washington’s incumbency established many precedents still in use today, such as the cabinet system, the inaugural address, and the title Mr. President. His retirement from office after two terms established a tradition that lasted until 1940 and was later made law by the 22nd Amendment.

Washington wanted a strong centre that would bind the original 13 states together but majority of Americans did not agree with him and America has a weak centre even till today.

Scholarly and public polling consistently ranks him among the top three presidents in American history. He has been depicted and remembered in monuments, public works, currency, and other dedications to the present day.

After reluctantly serving a second term, Washington refused to run for a third, establishing the tradition of a maximum of two terms for a president which was solidified by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

‘Associate yourself with men of good quality……for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.’- George Washington (1732-1799), 1st President of the United States (1789-1797).

Washington remains the only president without a political party and the only one never to have lived in the White House.

Washington had red hair but powdered it to be white. He was 6ft 2in tall and he had over 100 slaves. He wrote in his will for them to be freed after his and his wife’s death. However, after Washington’s death and fearing the slaves would kill her, Martha freed them a year after Washington died in 1800.

Washington’s Birthday is a federal holiday in the United States.

In 1976, during the United States Bicentennial year, George Washington was posthumously appointed to the grade of General of the Armies of the United States on January 19, 1976, with an effective appointment date of July 4, 1976. This restored his position as the highest-ranking military officer in U.S. history.

The nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. was named after him. Washington remains the only President who has a state in the U.S. named after him; the state of Washington.

Washington has appeared on many postage issues, more than all other presidents combined.

At his death in 1799, George Washington had only one of his natural teeth left. The rest were wooden teeth, teeth bought from black slaves and teeth of dead soldiers acquired from the battle-field.

Washington died at his Mount Vernon home around 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 14, 1799 from an ailment believed to be cancer of the throat. He was 67. Napoleon Bonaparte ordered 10 days of mourning in France and Britain’s entire Royal Navy lowered its flags at half-mast.

His last words were, “Tis well.”




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