Misconceptions about First President George Washington

by Shirley Williams
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When we talk about the mythic America figures, the pack is lead by George Washington. The first president of the US and Commander- in- chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He has been revered as the “Father of the Nation.” Most of his stories we know today have been passing down from generation to generation that involves his childhood, his career in the military, and his appearance falls in the category of fiction rather than fact.

Here is a list of 5 misconceptions about George Washington:

  • Chopping down a cherry tree
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This is the most famous story about George Washington’s childhood. He received a small ax from his father, and for trial, he used it on the cherry tree. The reason for chopping down the tree he confessed, earned a hug and praise from his father. This story was evident about how honest Washington was since his childhood.

But in reality, there is no evidence of this story’s existence. Washington’s father passed away when he was 11, and the story was invented by one of Washington’s first biographer, Mason Locke Weems. Even if the story was factually incorrect, it seemed to have earned him great success as he was successful in convincing readers and showed them the private side of Washington.

  • His visit to Betsy Ross in 1776 and asking her to sew the first American flag

As per the story, it was in 1776, and Betsy was sitting in her upholstery shop when the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army came in with three more members and asked Ross to sew a new flag for the rebellious colonies. After having a look at the design, Betsy suggested to stars with five points and not six. She made a sample flag that got approval as the new flag of the US.

In the 19th century, this version of the event gained widespread popularity. All thanks to Betsy’s descendants who made this claim. Although Betsy did indeed make flags during the Revolutionary War, no historical confirmation exists yet. Many scholars agree that it is a fictional story instead of being a fact.

  • He had teeth of wood

This is also one of the most famous legends next to the cherry tree. It was George Washington’s wooden teeth. It was evident that he suffered from dental problems his entire life. It is said that by the time he became president in 1789, he had only one natural tooth remaining. He got it pulled in 1796. Dentures affected Washington’s appearance, as we see in portraits and his public speaking. People believed these dentures to be made of wood, but in reality, they were not.

  • Living in White House

As per the reports, Washington, after elected as the president, resided first in a New York mansion facing the East River. It was at 1 Cherry Street and owned by Samuel Osgood, the first postmaster general of the US. Then in 1790, Washington moved his household to another residence and in a more convenient location. But there hasn’t been an instance which could prove that Washington lived in the White House. In fact, under his reign, D.C. wasn’t even the capital.

  • Wearing a white wig

George Washington’s hair was often mistaken to be a wig. It ought to be one of the most popular styles of his time, but he kept his own hair. He kept them long and tied back in a ponytail or queue. He didn’t wear a wig, but he did powder his hair to give them an iconic white color, as we can see in his portraits. Powdering hair was a custom back then. So this myth is also false.

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