Guest Blog: 5 Fun Facts about George Washington
February 16, 2018
I so love writing—largely because I am able to share so much of the process with my two adult creative artist children—conceptualizing and researching especially. Because the turn-around on PEGGY had to be so quick to dovetail with the current curiosity with all things Hamilton, I relied on them to do huge swathes of research for me. Megan: 18th century literature, feminine (and feminist!) culture, societal expectations of women, patriot letter-writers like Angelica, and many things Schuyler. Peter: Benedict Arnold, spy-craft, Lafayette, and George Washington. More on theatre director extraordinaire Megan with her next blog. Today my son shares a quick-hit list of his favorite GW discoveries.
You can learn more about the ever-so-talented screenwriter Peter Malone Elliott at https://www.petermaloneelliott.com/ Or on the homepage for his short film ZIGGY’S WILL which was just accepted to the Festival de Cannes Short Film Corner and will premiere next month at the 2018 Manchester International Film Festival: https://www.facebook.com/ZiggysWillFilm/
The American Cincinnatus. Father of his Country. The American Fabius.
Good Ol' George.
Like many Americans I have had a lifelong fascination with George Washington. Okay, maybe not all Americans, just the geeky ones...but he's SO INTERESTING!
Anyhow, when my mom told me she was doing this book, I was thrilled—both for her, as
Peggy and the Schuylers are a wonderful subject for a book, and for me, as I knew that
meant I would be helping by researching Washington in some way or another!
Below are some of my favorite tidbits about Mr. Washington.
1. He was a spy!
During the Revolution, George was the leader of the Culper Spy Ring, a clandestine organization formed to gather intelligence on the British—in virtually any modes of espionage available to them. In the Ring, Washington was known as "Agent 711" and was the "author" of modes of intelligence that are still used today, such as dead drops,
code names, invisible ink, code-breaking, and code-creation. Washington and the Culper Ring were responsible for breaking some of the biggest secrets of the war, such as capturing Major John Andre, who was famously in cahoots with the traitorous Benedict Arnold.
For more information on the Culper Spy Ring, check out this link below, or the "Major Players" section of the PEGGY page on this website.
2. He loved to boogie!
Well, not quite. BUT, he did absolutely love dancing, and was known for his legendary skill on the dance floor. As shown in the scene of the Morristown Ball where he leads a countredanse with Peggy, Washington was quite at ease when he was dancing. Honestly, the soft-spoken Washington probably preferred it to most other social interactions, as he could speak through his movement and no one was plaguing him with military or political questions. He especially loved dancing with the vivacious Kitty Greene, wife of his colleague, General Nathanael Greene. I wonder how Martha felt about that!
For more information about Washington's cut-a- rug skills, check out this link: http://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-man-the-myth/athleticism/on-the-dance- floor/
3. He was a whisky kingpin!
After he retired from public life, George was convinced by James Anderson, one of the managers at Mount Vernon, to break into the whisky business. And that Washington did—he built a complete distillery just off Dogue Creek, about two miles away from Washington's main house at Mount Vernon. In the first year alone, Washington's distillery churned out nearly 11,000 gallons of both rye and corn whisky. Ever the practical man, Washington not only saw the distillery as a good source of income, but also as a good sustainer for livestock, as animals could eat the remaining cooked mash from the production stills.
For more information about Washington's whisky business, check out this link: http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/washingtons- distillery/
4. He was a dog-lover!
Like any person worth their salt, Washington had an affinity for four-legged friends. Even though he would routinely use them for foxhunting, he treated them as so much more than just hunting hounds. Every day he would personally examine their kennels to make sure they were up to snuff, and also to pet the dogs. Washington's pooches must have been in doggy-heaven—in addition to having the beautiful scenery to roam, they had a spring running through a kennel to give them fresh water. Not a bad set-up! Giving them names like Vulcan, Sweet Lips, and Drunkard, Washington's love for dogs ran deep, forever endearing him to his peers, historians, and saps like me. For more information about Washington the dog-lover, check out this link: http://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/biography/washington-stories/solider-statesman-dog-lover-george-washingtons-pups/
5. He could have been King!
After the success of the Revolution, Washington was essentially offered the chance to become king. Widely adored and admired, Washington absolutely could have been the first American monarch, and would have received near unanimous support. (Hamilton for one favored a king-like president!) But George wouldn't do it, refusing to do anything but extol the virtues and values of a Republic. In 1783, he formally resigned his position as military commander, and retired to Mount Vernon. When his country came calling again, this time to ask he serve as president, Washington did so, but resigned after two terms, setting the precedent only ever broken by FDR. Apparently, King George III, when informed that, after winning the Revolution, George would simply go back and resume his life as a farmer, said, "If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world."
For more information on Washington's refusal to become King, check out this link: https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/man-who-would-not-be-king