Today is our first President, George Washington’s, birthday. He would be 284 years old today.
I grew up in a time when George Washington was celebrated. Teacher after teacher shared the story of his chopping down the cherry tree. He was the gold standard. He was a man of integrity, strength and moral conduct that shaped a nation of greatness.
Fun Facts about George Washington:
- He is the ONLY president to have been unanimously elected by the Electoral College.
- He is the ONLY president to have been inaugurated in two cities (New York City and Philadelphia).
- His second inaugural address is the shortest ever delivered at just 135 words in length.
- He formalized the holiday of Thanksgiving, designating November 26 as the national day of thanksgiving.
- He vetoed only two bills while President:
- The Apportionment Bill
- A bill for cutting the size and cost of the military.
- Five States joined the Union during his Presidency:
- North Carolina (1789)
- Rhode Island (1790)
- Vermont (1791)
- Kentucky (1792)
- Tennessee (1796)
The Unfinished George Washington Portrait
Gilbert Stuart painted the portrait of George Washington that many of us had hanging on the wall in our old school room, known as The Athenaeum Portrait. It is the portrait that is the basis for the dollar bill. Originally commissioned by George’s wife, Martha, along with a companion portrait of herself, George Washington passed away during the commission and the portrait of Martha was never started, and Stuart chose not to finish the portrait as he realized he could make $100 making copies of the portrait of George. He painted 138 copies.
George Washington Set the Precedent for President:
The first United States congress voted to pay him a salary of $25,000 a year, valued at about $340,000 in current us days. He was in financial troubles but still declined the payment. At the urging of congress, he accepted to not set the standard that the presidency was a position to be held only by the affluent and wealthy mean.
‘Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well-tried before you give them your confidence.’-George Washington
He was aware that everything he did set a precedent. He made sure nothing emulated European courts. He preferred “Mr. President” over more regal names.
As George Washington’s term was coming to a close, he wanted to limit all presidents to two terms. At the same time, the military wanted to install a kingship and name George “King of America”. He did not want this to happen, he was opposed to any type of monarchy.
And most notably, he held ‘republican’ values [not Republican party values per se]– he believed in a republic of free citizens, with a government based on consent and established to protect the rights of life, liberty, and property. From his republican values Washington derived his abhorrence of kingship, even for himself.
Take a moment to remember George Washington today. He was a great leader who served with integrity.