As I’ve said before, regardless who we are, we all think we know more than we actually do and that’s because our short-term memories tend to send only very high level information to be stored in our long term memories. Thus we have notions that we know what a penny looks like and yet when asked to recall the 8 critical features of a penny, most of us can recall on average only 4 critical features.

So yesterday I decided to confront my own belief system by asking for a retrieval of information that I had stored regarding “George Washington”.

repost from iflizwerequeen

Searching My Own Belief System for Information About George Washington

I ask my brain:  OK, what do you know about George Washington?

and this is what I retrieved from my long-term memory.

-In second grade, Mrs. McClellen told us on February 22 that George Washington was our first president and that he chopped down a cherry tree, but when questioned by his father, he said “I cannot tell a lie.  I did it.”  I also remember coloring cherries that day. [I remember somewhere along the way later in life hearing that the cherry tree was a myth.]

-He wore wooden dentures [although recently I recall reading that this was not true.]

-He was the general in charge of the Revolutionary War [I remember reading some where in the past couple of years that he charged the government for a lot of unnecessary stuff like fancy wine etc.]

-I associate him with Valley Forge and the cold winter and crossing the Delaware, although I don’t remember the significance of that.

-He was our first president.

-I remember recently reading that George Washington’s wealth if translated into today money would be $500 million thus making him the richest  plutocrat of all.



I don’t remember when or where he was born.


New data to stuff in my George Washington file

Facts I didn’t know but learned today from WIKI about Washington:

He was born Feb 22, 1732 in the colony of Virginia, Westmoreland County .  Washington was born into the provincial gentry of a wealthy, well connected family who owned tobacco plantations that used slave labor. He was home schooled by his father and older brother, but both died young, and he became attached to the powerful Fairfax clan, who promoted his career as a surveyor and soldier. Upon his father’s death Washington inherited Ferry Farm and upon his brother’s death he inherited Mt. Vernon.

Washington married the wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Curtis that greatly increased his property holdings and social standing and made him one of the wealthiest men n Virginia. He acquired one-third of the 18,000 acre Custis estate upon his marriage worth approximately $100,000 and managed the remainder on behalf of Martha’s children.  He frequently bought additional land and was granted land in what is now West Virginia as bounty for is service in the French and Indian War.  By 1775 he had doubled the size of Mt Vernon to 6,500 acres and increased his slave population to more than 100 persons.

Washington was a true plutocrat who lived an aristocratic lifestyle–fox hunting was a favorite leisure activity.  Patsy Custis’s death in 1773 from epilepsy enabled Washington to pay off his British creditors since half of her inheritance passed to him/  From 1768  to 1775, he invited some 2000 guests to his Mount Vernon estate, mostly those he considered “people of rank”. As for people not of high social status, his advice was to “treat them civilly” but “keep them at a proper distance, for they will grow upon familiarity, in proportion as you sink in authority,

The anecdote about the cherry tree was first reported by biographer Parson Weems, who after Washington’s death interviewed people who knew him as a child. The Weems version was very widely reprinted throughout the 19th century, for example in McGuffey Readers. Moralistic adults wanted children to learn moral lessons from the past from history. Joseph Rodman in 1904 noted that Weems plagiarized other Washington tales from published fiction set in England. No one has found an alternative source for the cherry tree story, thus Weems’ credibility is questioned.

He died in 1799 at the age of 67

He had no children.

Washington was extremely tall: 6 feet 2 inches.

Oh and the Crossing of the Delaware? That was important because it restored the morale of the American troops and re-established  Washington’s leadership as a General.  The Americans crossed the Delaware and took 900 English soldiers prisoners.  At the time, the Americans were in retreat and were badly in need of food and supplies.  By crossing the Delaware they turned the tables on the British.

Liz Berry

Liz Berry