Tiger Times

Our founding fraud

America’s father or faker?

Photo by Victoria Van

Photo by Victoria Van

Story by Maddie Anderson, staff writer

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Our founding father, George Washington, served as the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and was co-creator of the Constitution. Popularly known as the “father of the country,” he was, and continues to be, seen as the architect of the US. But how much do we really know about our founding father?

Beginning at a young age, Washington had a reputation for being an upstanding and honest man, most notably demonstrated in the legend of the cherry tree. According to the story, when he was 6-years-old, Washington received a hatchet with which he damaged his father’s cherry tree. When confronted, young Washington answered, “I cannot lie … I did cut it down with my hatchet.”

Well, as it was later revealed after Washington’s death, this story of honesty was anything but honest. Fabricated by Washington’s biographer, Mason Locke Weems, the story was meant to present the perfect facade of the ultimate American. Weems seemed to know what the public wanted from their hero, and he delivered.

Aside from the cherry tree myth, Washington’s wooden teeth are probably the most widely-known legend about him. Records from 1784 actually show that at least nine of his teeth were pulled from slaves, not made of wood. To compensate for the teeth, he paid the slaves 122 shilling, one-third of the price that he should have.

His honesty and morality from his childhood followed him into office, or so it seemed. Though claiming to take the high road of temperance, he did exactly the opposite during his first campaign. In 1758, when he ran for a seat in the House of Burgesses, he did so with the help of alcohol. With nearly 150 gallons of rum running through the veins of voters, it is no wonder he won by a landslide.

After being elected to office, his deceit continued. George Washington was probably the richest president in history. His wife, Martha, inherited a massive 8,000 acre farm when her first husband died. It was on this land run by 300 slaves that Washington made his fortune.

Records from 1784 actually show that at least nine of his teeth were pulled from slaves, not made of wood. To compensate for the teeth, he paid the slaves 122 shilling, one-third of the price that he should have.”

— Anderson

His plantation was not the only interaction he had with slaves. As he was forced to live in Pennsylvania, the first state to ban slavery, his fortune was threatened by a lack of a compulsory workforce. By 1788, transporting slaves in and out of Pennsylvania or holding them for longer than six months was illegal. Washington, however, would not let his income be decided by the well-being of slaves. He rotated his slaves every six months, thus hiding his illegal and immoral slave trade from the public.

Although the accounts regarding Washington’s behavior toward his slaves vary, most recognize the severity in which he dealt with them. Washington frequently used harsh punishments against his enslaved populations, including whipping and brutal work assignments. He would also sell slaves to other buyers, effectively driving families apart, possibly forever.

Even in death, Washington defied expectations. Having a fear of being buried alive, he believed that the blood of lambs had magical abilities and could bring him back to life. A trusted friend and physician, William Thornton, was instructed to inject Washington’s dead body with lamb’s blood, after which he would perform a tracheotomy, thus allowing him to push air into his lungs. This process was to bring Washington back to life. Shockingly — it didn’t work.

So, next time you place Washington on that pedestal draped in the American flag, remember that he was not just our father, but a founding fraud. Through lies and secrets, he managed to deceive the American public, even to this day. Washington will forever be remembered as our founding father, yet neglected as our biggest fraud.

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About the Contributors
Maddie Anderson, opinion editor
Maddie is a second-year Tiger Times staff member at Texas High and opinion section editor. She often overthinks, takes things way too seriously, and is thus always on the verge of a breakdown. Maddie is excited for a caffeine-dependent, stress-induced and sleep-deprived junior year. When she’s not doodling on herself or friends, she is at...
Victoria Van, entertainment editor
Victoria is the co-entertainment editor of the Tiger Times newspaper and is absolutely loving it. She can’t help but correct any grammar mistakes she sees on a story, down to adding a single comma. She plans on going far, far away from home to pursue medical school while still not knowing what the future possesses....
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