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Ten Common Misconceptions About George Washington

Here is an excerpt from an article about the first President of the United States from the George Washington/Mount Vernon website.

Some of the most commonly known “facts” about George Washington are simply not true. Go beyond the mythology and find out how much you don’t know about the man.

The first three of ten remarkably durable misconceptions:

1. George Washington’s dentures were made out of wood

One of the most enduring myths about George Washington is that his dentures were made of wood. It’s quite possible that some of his dentures, particularly after they had been stained, took on a wooden complexion, but wood was never used in the construction of any of his dental fittings.

See Washington’s false teeth in the collection at Mount Vernon – the only remaining full-set in existence. (MVLA)

Throughout his life Washington employed numerous full and partial dentures that were constructed of materials including human, and probably cow and horse teeth, ivory (possibly elephant), lead-tin alloy, copper alloy (possibly brass), and silver alloy.

2. A young Washington demonstrated his honest character after coming clean about chopping down his father’s cherry tree

Ironically, this iconic story about the value of honesty was invented by one of Washington’s first biographers, an itinerant minister and bookseller named Mason Locke Weems. His cherry tree myth is the most well-known and longest enduring legend about George Washington.

“Father, I Can Not Tell a Lie: I Cut the Tree,” engraving by John C. McRae, 1867.

In the original story, when Washington was six years old he received a hatchet as a gift and damaged his father’s cherry tree. When his father discovered what he had done, he became angry and confronted him. Young George bravely said, “I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet.” Washington’s father embraced him and rejoiced that his son’s honesty was worth more than a thousand trees.

3. George Washington wore a white wig, as it was the popular style of his time

Even though wigs were fashionable, George Washington kept his own hair. He kept his hair long and tied back in a queue, or ponytail.

Although he didn’t wear a wig, George Washington did powder his hair, giving it the iconic white color seen in famous portraits. Powdering ones hair was another custom of the time.

As a young man, George Washington was actually a redhead!

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

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