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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Man or Myth?

In his preface to His Excellency: George Washington, our 2007 All Fairfax Reads selection, author Joseph J. Ellis reminisces about growing up in Alexandria, VA in the shadow of Mt. Vernon.

He remembers a tour of Washington’s estate as a school child in which he was told that George’s wooden teeth were a myth: “my first encounter with the notion that you could not always trust what you read in history books.”

To Ellis, Washington seemed a bit like the “man in the moon,” a regular feature of the landscape, but inaccessible. His face is on our money; his name on many monuments and avenues, but who exactly was he?

When a newly catalogued version of the papers of George Washington became available at the University of Virginia, Ellis decided to look more closely at the man who had become a national icon. His Excellency is the result.

How much do you really know about our first president? See if you can guess which facts below are true or false.

1. George Washington chopped down a cherry tree. TRUE/FALSE

2. George Washington once threw a silver dollar across the Potomac. TRUE/FALSE

3. George Washington wore a wig. TRUE/FALSE

4. George and Martha Washington had two children. TRUE/FALSE

5. George Washington introduced the mule to America. TRUE/FALSE

6. George Washington declined the opportunity to be king. TRUE/FALSE

Answers next week, or see the link above. In the meantime, check out His Exellency!

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