On Presidential Trivia

Which president was the first to visit all the states? 

Which president never actually lived in Washington DC? 

Which president is the only one to have been in charge of troops in the field in his capacity as commander-in-chief? 

Which slave-owning president (and more than 25% of all the presidents have been) was the only one to free the people he owned? 

Which president survived  diphtheria, tuberculosis, smallpox, malaria, dysentery, and pneumonia?

If you answered “George Washington” to these questions, you’re a winner!

Most people know that our first president set most of the precedents that successive holders of the Oval Office have followed (more or less). What is less known is that he made it a priority of his time as president to pay a visit to all the states in the new union. He felt that it was important for his new countrymen to see him in person. From Georgia to New Hampshire, Washington made visits to each state over the course of his first term.

And while he indeed laid the cornerstone of the new US Capitol building while wearing his Masonic apron, he actually never lived in the city that bears his name. The second president, John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved into the not-quite-completed White House in the waning days of Adams’ only term in office. Washington spend most of his time in office living in Philadelphia where the government was headquartered until the new city could be completed.

He also commanded the United States Army in the field as they put down an early attempt at rebellion against the infant Constitutional government. Western Pennsylvanian farmers rose up in protest against what they felt was an over-reaching federal government, and Washington led some 12,000 militiamen to put down this erstwhile rebellion. Not even Lincoln led Union troops in the field during the American Civil War.

Some may say that Washington did not set free the humans he had enslaved, but his will clearly stated that they would be freed on his wife’s death (Martha didn’t wait until her death; she freed the slaves at Mt. Vernon soon after George’s death). This is a technicality, because some presidents like Martin van Buren (he allowed his one slave to escape and did not pursue him) and U.S. Grant both had owned slaves, but they had none when they assumed the office.

Finally, it appears that it was extremely difficult to kill George Washington. He not only defeated these illnesses, but he also had two horses killed under him and had several bullet holes in his uniform (all in the same battle, by the way). Yet, it appears Washington died due to a cold. His physicians ended up treating his last illness by bleeding him, further weakening him, and he succumbed to what doctors could easily treat today.

One final bit of Washington trivia. When he was a militia officer for the colony of Virginia (as a British citizen), Washington led a group of militiamen and some native allies in an attack against a French encampment on the western part of the Virginia frontier. The killing of a French nobleman in this skirmish led to an international incident and the declaration of war between Britain and France. This was the Seven Years War, known in the Americas as the French and Indian War. Some of the costs of that war was to be paid for with taxes on products in the American colonies such as paper, stamps, and tea. The American reaction to these imposed taxes would lead to the American Revolution.

And it was all started by George Washington’s frontier excursion.

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