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George Washington Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

The Continental Congress decided to honor Washington's status as a national institution by suspending the postage requirement for all letters sent to or by him. Although Washington appreciated the gesture, he became so overwhelmed by correspondence that he had to hire assistants.15

At the start of Washington's first term, John Adams ignited a lively debate over the president's proper title. Adams suggested the president should be addressed as "His Elective Majesty." Washington was partial to "His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of Their Liberties." The House of Representatives thought the whole thing ridiculous, and the simple "Mr. President" stuck.16

On his deathbed, Washington instructed his secretary to wait two days before burying him, just to make sure he was really dead. Apparently, Washington wanted to avoid being buried alive, a fate he believed had befallen a number of historical persons.17

The Marquis de Lafayette, Washington's close friend, sent Washington the key to the Bastille prison after it was stormed on 14 July 1789. That event had marked the start of the French Revolution. The key still hangs in Mount Vernon.18

Upon Benjamin Franklin's death in 1790, Washington inherited his walking stick. "If it were a scepter," Franklin wrote in his will, "he has merited it, and would become it."19

Washington remains the only president of the United States elected by a unanimous vote of the Electoral College.20

Washington's so-called "Farewell Address" wasn't really an address at all: it was never delivered orally. It first appeared in the Philadelphia American Daily Advertiser the day after Washington's departure for Mount Vernon.21

In 1976, as part of the United States' bicentennial celebrations, George Washington was posthumously promoted to the rank of "General of the Armies of the United States of America." The Congressional act promoting him further specified that no other army officer would ever be able to outrank him.22

Parson Weems' fanciful biography notwithstanding, Washington never did chop down that cherry tree. Nor, for that matter, were his false teeth made of wood. He owned a number of different sets, mostly made of metal and ivory.23

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