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Our First President George Washington

By Ruth Browning

Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on February 22, 1732. He married the wealthy and attractive widow Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759 and adopted her two small children. His marriage was apparently a happy one although he and Martha had no children of their own. He stood 6 feet 2 inches, a big man for his day and time. His favorite sports were fishing and riding. His favorite foods were fish and ice cream. His false teeth were not made of wood, as many think, but, according to the Mount Vernon official site, his dentures were “made of cow’s teeth, and elephant ivory set in a lead base with springs that allowed him to open and close his mouth.” This does sound most uncomfortable!He retired to his Mount Vernon plantation in 1783 at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. However, he only stayed there for a few years because he became so concerned with the many weaknesses of the new nation under the Articles of Confederation that he took part in, and presided over, the Constitutional Convention that drafted the new constitution in 1787. George Washington is called “the father of his country” because of his crucial part in the creating and leading of the United States in its beginning days. He officially became President on April 6 which is when the electoral votes were counted and he was certified as winner. He took the oath of office while standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City on April 30, 1789 and served until John Adams became President on March 4, 1797. Because of Washington’s popularity, he could have been elected to a third term, but, realizing that he would establish many precedents for Presidents to come, he chose not to run for a third term. Washington was so cash poor, even though he was land rich, that he had to borrow money so he could get to his first presidential inauguration on April 30, 1789. The population of the United States when he became President was 3,929,214. There were 13 stars on the flag when he took office but 16 when he retired to his home at Mount Vernon. He enjoyed less than three years of retirement before dying from a throat infection on December 14, 1799. During Washington’s funeral oration, Henry Lee called him “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

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