Washington | Martha
| Mount Vernon | Military/Government
Charles Wilson Peale, 1772
Q: What was Washington's first official position?
A: On July 20, 1749, at the age of 17, George Washington became official
Surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia.
Q: What legislative positions did George Washington hold?
A: George Washington served as a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia,
1759–1774. Also, he was a member of the first and second Continental Congresses
in 1774 and 1775.
Q: How old was Washington when he became Commander in
Chief of the Continental Army?
A: Washington became Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1775,
at the age of 43.
Q: Did General Washington employ spies in his service?
A: Yes. The two best known were "Culper, Sr." and "Culper,
Q: Was George Washington ever wounded in battle?
A: Never, although he narrowly escaped bullets on various occasions. Among
these were at Braddock's Defeat where two horses were shot under him and
he had four bullets in his clothes; at the final skirmish of the Forbes
expedition, on November 12, 1758, where he rushed between two parties
of British who were firing at each other; at Kip's Bay skirmish on September
15, 1776, where he rashly exposed himself in an attempt to rally the militia;
at the battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777; and when making a reconnaissance
of the British after the landing at the Head of Elk on August 26, 1777.
Q: Is it true that George Washington always rode a white
horse during the War of the Revolution? Did he use the same horse throughout
the war? What was the name of the horse?
A: During the Revolutionary War Washington rode two horses at least though
there may have been others. His favorite mount, especially in time of
action, was Nelson, a sorrel. The other horse was named Blue Skin. The
latter horse seems to have been a light bluish gray, closely akin to white.
Q: When Washington was inaugurated as first President
of the United States, did he make his inaugural address from the balcony
of Federal Hall?
A: No. He took the oath of office from the balcony of Federal Hall, New
York City, was proclaimed President and then proceeded to the Senate Chamber.
There he made his address before the members of both Houses of Congress.
Q: Is it true that George Washington's Inaugural Address
is the shortest Inaugural Address in our history?
A: It is true of Washington's Second Inaugural Address which was only
135 words long and took less than two minutes to read. His First Inaugural
Address was some 2,000 words long.
Q: Who administered the oath of office at Washington's
A: No Chief Justice of the Supreme Court having been appointed, Robert
R. Livingston, Chancellor of New York, administered the oath of office.
Q: How long did it take George Washington to go from
Mount Vernon to New York to be inaugurated as the first President of the
A: Eight days: April 16–23, 1789.
Q: Did Washington receive a salary as Commander in Chief
of the Army?
A: Washington refused to accept any pay for his services. He kept a minute
expense account which was submitted to and paid by the government.
Q: Which political party elected George Washington President
of the United States?
A: Washington was not elected as a party candidate. He received the unanimous
vote of the Presidential electors at both elections, 1789 and 1793.
Q: How many bills did President Washington veto?
A: President Washington vetoed but two bills (both minor measures) during
his administration. Neither was passed over the veto.
Q: Did Washington ever occupy the White House as President?
A: No. John Adams was the first President to occupy the White House.
Q: Where did President and Mrs. Washington live in Philadelphia?
A: They occupied a comparatively small, red brick house at 190 High Street.
Q: Did Washington receive pay as President of the United
A: Washington was at first reluctant to accept payment for his services.
Later, however, he evidently agreed that it would not be a good precedent,
and would cause complications in accounts. Congress appropriated $25,000
a year for the President and Washington accepted this salary. It was the
largest salary in America for personal services at that time. It must
be pointed out, however, that the government did not provide a Presidential
mansion and that Washington had to maintain the expenses of his household
from this amount, and complained that it was scarcely adequate.
Q: Was Washington a signer of the Constitution?
A: As President of the Constitutional Convention, Washington was the first
signer of the document.
Q: Why did Washington not sign the Declaration of Independence?
A: Washington was not in Congress at the time. He was already in the field,
fighting for independence.
Q: Who was President Washington's chief political advisor?
A: Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, soon became President
Washington's chief political advisor.
Q: Is is true that the key to the French Bastille was
sent to Washington?
A: When the French Bastille was captured by the mob, Lafayette sent a
key of the notorious prison to Washington at Mount Vernon. The key is
still to be seen there.
Q: How was the site of the permanent capital city determined?
A: The selection of the Federal District [Washington, D.C.] was the result
of a political deal between Hamilton and Jefferson. Jefferson assisted
Hamilton in getting his Assumption Bill passed, in return for which Hamilton
swung enough northern votes to locate the Capital of the United States
on the Potomac River. George Washington was authorized by Congress to
select the site within certain limits on the Potomac. Washington designated
Major Charles Pierre L'Enfant to "prepare a plan of the city."
Q: Did Washington lay the cornerstone of the Capitol?
A: Yes. Washington laid the cornerstone on September 18, 1793.
Q: Did George Washington found the American Navy?
A: George Washington started the first American Navy by fitting out small
vessels during the siege of Boston. The crews for these vessels were made
up of Army officers and soldiers who knew something about the sea.
Q: Which President of the United States first issued
a Thanksgiving Proclamation?
A: George Washington issued the First Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
on October 3, 1789. Link to text.
Q: Where was Washington's Farewell Address delivered?
A: Washington never delivered his Farewell Address in public. It was dated
September 17, 1796, and transmitted to the people of the United States
through the medium of David Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser,
Philadelphia, in its last issue of September 19, 1796.
Washington | Martha | Mount Vernon | Military/Government
Questions and Answers taken from: History of the George
Washington Bicentennial Celebration, Volume II, Literature Series (Washington,
D.C.: George Washington Bicentennial Commission, 1932), 643-688. (unless