Five Fun Facts About George Washington

I share the same birthday as George Washington, so even as a child I enjoyed learning unusual facts about our first president. Funny to think of this stiff icon as an athlete, a great dancer and a superb horseman—but he was all three. Here is some...
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I share the same birthday as George Washington, so even as a child I enjoyed learning unusual facts about our first president. Funny to think of this stiff icon as an athlete, a great dancer and a superb horseman—but he was all three. Here is some...
Engraving of George Washington. (Image: Stock Montage/Getty Images)

Engraving of George Washington. (Image: Stock Montage/Getty Images)

I share the same birthday as George Washington, so even as a child I enjoyed learning unusual facts about our first president. Funny to think of this stiff icon as an athlete, a great dancer and a superb horseman—but he was all three. Here is some more information that may be new to you:

1. George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, before the Virginia colonies switched from the "Old Style" Julian calendar to the "New Style" Gregorian calendar, which is the one we use today. When the government finally adopted the New Style, all dates were moved back 11 days. Thus Washington's actual birth date became February 11th. Washington preferred the 2-22 of the old calendar, however, so his birthday has been celebrated on that day ever since. 

 2. Most of us know that George Washington had false teeth. But, contrary to legend, his dentures were not made of wood—they were made out of a combination of carved animal bone and human teeth that he bought out of the mouths of his enslaved workers. (The records of these purchases still exist.) The fact is appalling to us today, but remember that, as a slave owner, Washington would not be required—or necessarily expected—to pay a slave for a tooth at all! 

 3. Washington's favorite breakfast was hoecakes—simple pancakes made with cornmeal—served with butter and honey. Usually fried in butter in a stove-top pan, hoecakes can also be cooked over a fire on the flat back of a hoe, hence their unusual name. 

 4. His friends called him "General"—even his wife, Martha (at least in public). We don't know what she called him privately, though, because she burned their letters after her beloved husband died. 

 5. Washington was one of the most successful liquor distributors in the new nation. He built a state-of-the-art distillery at Mt. Vernon, where he made rye whiskey, apple brandy and peach brandy. The distillery has been restored in recent years, and is now open to visitors.