George Washington
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Mount Vernon, Virginia July 2003 4th Visited

George Washington commanded the
American forces in the Revolutionary War,
presided over the 1787 Constitutional
Convention, and served as the first U.S.
President. Heralded as the "Father of His
Country," he is interred at Mount Vernon,
his slave plantation along the Potomac River.

After his funeral on December 18, 1799, the
first president was laid to rest inside the
deteriorating family vault on his estate. His
last will and testament stipulated that a new
tomb be constructed close by. Washington
and his relatives were removed to the
second tomb after it was completed in 1831.

Washington's tomb was the fourth
presidential interment site I visited
but the first at which my picture
was taken. I was eight years old
on that unbearably hot and humid
mid-summer day.

During my second visit to Mount Vernon in
2015, I had the honor of participating in a
wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite.
These events are held twice daily, and thus
   I was one of only two visitors out of the
thousands of tourists at the plantation that
day to enter the typically-locked tomb.

* Fast Facts * *

- First Lady: Martha Dandridge Custis Washington

  - Spouse: Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (m. 1759-1799)

- Political Party: Unaffiliated

- Term: 1789-1797

- Vice President: John Adams

- Born: February 22, 1732

- Died: December 14, 1799

- Age: 67

- Cause of Death: Quinsy

- Last Words: "'Tis well."

- Cemetery: George Washington's Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, Virginia
- GPS Coordinates: 38°42'24.6"N 77°05'19.5"W

* Background on George Washington * *

* I cannot tell a lie: some of the most oft-repeated details about George Washington's life are factually incorrect. Contrary to popular belief, the Virginian did not chop down his father's beloved cherry tree as a youth. That story is folklore attributed to him by Mason Locke Weems, who wrote the fictitious tale for The Life of Washington, published after the general's death. Likewise, Weems is believed to have fabricated the account of Washington kneeling in prayer at the Valley Forge military encampment during the American Revolution. Rumors also persist that Washington wore wooden false teeth. While it is true that he used dentures, none of the apparatuses were comprised of wood. Washington owned sets made of lead, animal teeth, hippopotamus ivory, and possibly the teeth of enslaved African Americans.

* Washington was the only president elected unanimously; he received a vote from each member of the electoral college in both the election of 1788-1789 and the election of 1792. Washington was not affiliated with any of the emerging political parties during either of these contests, but he exhibited behavior that aligned with the Federalist desire for a strong central government. In 1791 Congress levied an excise tax on domestically-produced whiskey, which upset frontier residents who used the beverage as currency. Western Pennsylvania was particularly recalcitrant and threatened tax collectors. Incidents occurred sporadically over the next few years, but it all came to a head in 1794. When word reached Washington that a tax officer's house was burned, he took action. The president appointed a peace commission to negotiate with the rebels, but no agreement was reached. In a show of force, Washington's administration invoked the Militia Act of 1792 to raise twelve thousand troops to quell the uprising. The president personally reviewed the unit, which was led into insurgent territory by General "Light-Horse Harry" Lee, governor of Virginia. The Whiskey Rebellion was easily extinguished. Federalists felt Washington's actions demonstrated the Federal Government's authoritative power and applauded him, while Democratic-Republicans viewed the use of militia as overreach.

* Washington set several presidential precedents, including organizing a cabinet and amending the oath of office to conclude with the phrase, "So help me, God." No precedent, however, was more remarkable than his decision to refrain from seeking a third term as chief executive. Washington was so popular that he could have remained head of the United States for life like a monarch, yet by 1796 he felt the time had come for him to retire to Mount Vernon. That September, his farewell address to the public was printed in Claypoole's American Daily Advertiser. The letter, which was composed with the aid of adviser Alexander Hamilton, warned of the "danger of [political] parties" and urged the U.S. "to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." His vice president, Federalist John Adams, won the next election and was sworn into office on March 4, 1797 in a peaceful transition of power. Subsequent commanders-in-chief adhered to the two term standard set by Washington until 1880, when former President Ulysses S. Grant unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for a third term. Only Franklin D. Roosevelt served more than two terms, dying during his fourth in 1945. The Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution now imposes a term limit.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

"8 Facts About the Death of George Washington." Accessed March 17, 2019.

Etter, William M. "False Teeth." Accessed March 18, 2019.

Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler. Washington's Circle: The Creation of the President. New York: Random House, 2015.

The Presidents. "Washington to Monroe (1789-1825)." History Channel, 2005.

"US Presidents Freemasons." Grand Lodge of Virginia. Accessed July 4, 2019.

Uva, Katie. "Parson Weems." Accessed March 18, 2019.

Washington, George. "Washington's Farewell Address to the People of the United States." Rev. December 2017.


"Whiskey Rebellion." Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed March 18, 2019.

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