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Fun Facts About George Washington: How Well Do You Know America's First President?

Image: Fun Facts About George Washington: How Well Do You Know America's First President? This portrait of George Washington is unfinished and was painted in 1796 by the American artist Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (Ivy Close Images/Landov)

By Morgan Chilson   |   Friday, 22 Aug 2014 06:07 PM

The stern-faced and white-wigged visage of President George Washington is well-known to schoolchildren and adults alike, but it’s probably safe to say not everyone knows these fun facts about the nation’s first president:

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• Washington never did, in fact, cut down a cherry tree and say “I cannot tell a lie.” According to the History Channel, this popular story was invented about 10 years after Washington’s death by a preacher and book seller, Parson Mason Weems. Weems published a book including the story, perhaps as a moral lesson.

• Washington died of a throat infection in 1799 just three years after he retired to Mount Vernon, his Virginia home.

• Washington was not a fan of the two-party political system that began developing at the end of his first term in office. “In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances,” the White House website said.

• Washington was 6 feet tall and weighed 200 pounds, leading Scholastic to call him one of the country’s biggest presidents.

• Washington did not wear wooden teeth, as the popular story goes. But he did have all of his teeth pulled in his late 50s because he had consistent problems with them, Scholastic said; he wore a set of ivory teeth.

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• Washington, who never had any children of his own but was step-father to a boy and a girl, loved the hound dogs he bred. Scholastic said he gave the dogs unusual names, like Tarter, True Love, and Sweet Lips.

Washington didn’t want to be paid to serve as president, according to biographer Carl Closs. Congress gave the Executive Branch an annual salary of $25,000, which paid staff, Cabinet members, and general expenses. He would sometimes spend his own money if that budget was exceeded.

• Closs also said Washington was strong and could crack walnuts between two fingers. In addition, he was widely recognized as one of the best horsemen in the country.

• Washington was the only one of the Founding Fathers to free his slaves, according to About.com.

• Washington's second inaugural address could teach a lot to today’s more long-winded politicians. It was just 135 words long.

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