George Washington

Ladies and Gentlemen!
The moment you’ve been waiting for
The pride of Mount Vernon
George Washington!
-Right Hand Man, from the hit musical Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda

Last month, I realized that I know very little about most of our presidents. Heck, I can’t even name them all in order. So, to remedy that situation, I started a Presidential Book Challenge for myself. The goal is just to read one book about each of our presidents, in order.

Since George Washington was first, I chose Washington: A Life by renowned biographer Ron Chernow, the man who wrote the book on Alexander Hamilton that inspired the musical.

I will preface this by saying that this book is not for everyone. It’s over 800 pages, and goes into immense detail. About halfway through I actually regretted picking such a monster book because it was tiring just to carry around and hold while reading.

But, I slogged through it, and I learned a lot. For each of these Presidential books, I’m going to highlight 5 things I learned (so you have some motivation to read the book yourself 😉

So, without further delay, here are 5 things I learned about George Washington:

  1. He was a very sickly person, surrounded by sickly people. His wife’s daughter was epileptic, his brother died of consumption, his mother was sick with breast cancer and he suffered from malaria, smallpox, dysentery, and others.  It’s a wonder he made it as long as he did.
  2. He really liked music, and believed that it was so important to troop morale that he hired bands for each division and made them practice long hours until they played to his satisfaction. (Bonus fact: He also really liked theatre, and his favorite play was Cato.)
  3. He never went to college, and often was bitter toward his colleagues (such as Hamilton), who did.
  4. He and his mother really did not get along.
  5. His wife, Martha, spent a considerable amount of time on the battlefield with George. While they didn’t have a particularly romantic relationship, she was very supportive of all his endeavors.

This list could go on and on, since I have 800 pages worth of information in my brain, but these are the ones that fascinated me most. Since he was our first president who oversaw the birth of our nation, government, financial systems, and more, I felt that it was important to start this Presidential journey with a book that really covered those foundation tasks.

Chernow is a very, very thorough biographer, but his writing style isn’t too dry or academic. If you’re interested in learning everything there is to know about George Washington, I recommend this book. If you just want a high level overview, read another one.

See you next time when I’ve covered the Adams administration!

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2 thoughts on “George Washington

  1. I really like the premise of this reading challenge. There are definitely a lot of misconceptions or assumptions made about Washington that are most likely remedied in this book (like his almost embarrassing early military career during the French and Indian war that led to his growth as a commander). I look forward to your next entry and thanks for the great review!

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    1. Thanks for your nice comment! It definitely opened my eyes to how much we have inflated Washington’s reputation over the years.

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