Monday, February 16, 2015

George Washington's Birthday.

Did you know that the name of the holiday we celebrate on the third Monday in February is George Washington's Birthday?  This in spite of the fact that George Washington's actual birthday is February 22.  In 1971, Congress, always acting in the people's best interest (tongue in cheek), passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act to give workers more three day weekends.  Yes, they really did that.  This act effected George Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Veteran's Day.

Now I enjoy a three day weekend as much as anyone else.  But when you have a holiday named George Washington's Birthday and we know that George Washington's birthday is February 22, does it really make sense to change it to the third Monday?  Almost seems dishonest.  Anyway, that's Congress.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Abraham Lincoln's birthday is February 12 and the third Monday in February is usually between February 12 and February 22.  Thus the holiday, George Washington's birthday, has morphed into something called President's day. But, let it be known, the federal holiday is still officially called George Washington's birthday.

There.  Got that off my chest. :-)

George Washington is rightly called the Father of Our Country as indeed he is.  I just finished reading his first inaugural address and I'm all teary eyed.  What an amazing man.  What an incredible leader.

 Mount Vernon

Views from Mount Vernon, George Washington's home

Much of what I am about to write about George Washington is from the Mount Vernon website and www.history. com. Mount Vernon is, of course, the home of George Washington and is a fascinating place to visit.  The Mount Vernon website provides a wealth of information about our first president.

Washington was a Virginia gentleman and a successful farmer and businessman.  He was one of the largest land holders in the U.S. at that time owning 8,000 acres at Mount Vernon and 50,000 acres elsewhere. He knew first hand the effect of British taxes on the colonists and supported independence from Great Britain very early on.  As a Virginia delegate to the First Continental Congress, Washington was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and eventually led it to victory.

Washington was a valiant commander in chief. states "George Washington exhibited great steadiness and courage in battle and was frequently near the front lines during his many battles.  At the Battle of Monongahela in 1755, Washington had two horses shot out from underneath him and his coat was pierced by four musket balls.  At Kip's Bay and the Battle of Princeton, Washington risked his own life when rushing to the front lines to rally his flagging troops."

In 1787 he was asked to attend the Constitutional Convention and was elected its president.  He was the first to sign the Constitution.

Washington did not want to be president.  He wanted to return to Mt. Vernon to his family and farming but instead bowed to public pressure.  He won the election very easily.  John Adams, who came in second, became vice president.  At that time there wasn't a popular vote for president.  Only the Electoral College voted for president.  George Washington was elected unanimously twice, the only U.S. president to ever have this distinction.  At the time the United States consisted of 11 states with a population of 4 million people. (Today the U.S. population is 318 million.)

Washington D.C. had not been built so Washington never lived in the White House, although he was very involved in its design as well as in the design of the U.S. Capital.  As president Washington lived in New York and Philadelphia.

According to the Mount Vernon website, at the age of 28, George Washington was 6 ft. 2 inches tall, weighed 174 pounds, and was known as energetic and an excellent dancer. "Dancing was an important part of the social fabric of 18th century life.  And as Washington's social stature began to rise, the number of balls, cotillions, parties, and dances he was invited to also rose considerably. Young Washington, blessed with an athletic frame, quickly came to love dancing and there are many accounts of his dancing throughout the night with an array of female guests."

Did he have wooden false teeth as some have said?  He did not, but he was plagued with many teeth problems and he did have dentures eventually. has some very interesting information about George Washington's teeth problems.  You will feel great sympathy for Washington and deep gratitude for modern dentistry.

Yes, he owned slaves, a topic the New York Times today, as we celebrate Washington's birthday, so tastelessly decided to detail in an op-ed piece.  But he did have some reservations about slavery and ultimately was the only slave owning president to provide for freedom for all of his slaves in his will.

Under President Washington, the United States became a country, not only by winning independence from England, but also by instituting many of the structures that are a part of the fabric of our country even today.  He signed the Judiciary Act of 1789, establishing a six member Supreme Court and the position of Attorney General, and authorizing the creation of a Department of Foreign Affairs (later to be called the State Department), and a Secretary of State.

He signed the Coinage Act of 1792 that established the dollar as our currency.

He authorized the construction of six frigates, the start of the U.S. Navy, with the Naval Act of 1794.

And Washington is said to have read the Bible and prayed every day, on his knees.  From Washington's first inaugural address:
Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.
In other words, from the very start, George Washington acknowledged that God had blessed the Unites States of America and that we ought to be piously and humbly grateful, not only for the formation of our country but for all the blessings that came about thereafter.

May God continue to provide for and bless these United States of America.

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