George WashingtonGeorge Washington is infamously known for his role as general of the Revolutionary War and for being the first president of the United States. Here are the top 10 interesting facts about George Washington. They reveal his efforts to ease international tensions and address the global issues of his time.

Top 10 Interesting Facts About George Washington

  1. He Believed in Neutrality – Much of Washington’s presidency was spent dealing with the ongoing tensions between Great Britain and France. Washington’s strategy for addressing this issue was to appear neutral. Washington tried not to take a side in this feud. Instead, he focused on the importance of strengthening U.S. foreign relations. Washington sent John Jay to Great Britain, which resulted in The Jay Treaty of 1794. The treaty strengthened trade relations with Great Britain and cleared the U.S. of war debts.
  2. He Wanted Humane Treatment for Prisoners –Washington set the standard for treatment of U.S. prisoners. In the Battle of New York, Washington witnessed British troops slaughter captured American soldiers. At the Battle of Trenton, where U.S. forces captured Hessian mercenaries, Washington had the chance to punish them in the same manner. Instead, he ordered his soldiers to treat the Hessians humanely. U.S. troops risked their lives to safely escort these prisoners across the Delaware River.
  3. He was Health Conscious – Washington was always very health-conscious. The deadliest disease of Washington’s time was smallpox, an illness that Washington found deadlier than “the Sword of the enemy.” When he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, he had all new soldiers inoculated for smallpox.
  4. He Played a Big Role in Establishing the Government – Part of Washington’s role as the nation’s first president was unifying the country. Washington acted swiftly and established the first United States Cabinet to advise him. He also played an integral part in the implementation of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, which guarantees rights to the American people.
  5. He Hated Slavery –Washington was firmly against the slave trade and put an end to the practice at Mt. Vernon. The former president then tried to ease the burden on his slaves by selling off mass parcels of land and change crops to diminish his need for intense human labor. Washington received little interest in his land, but he was finally able to legally release his slaves upon his death and the death of his wife.
  6. He Valued Religious Freedom – Washington did not want people to be persecuted against on the basis of faith and was a firm believer in religious freedom. America was to be a sanctuary for all people of all religious backgrounds. Washington fought for this belief, and helped establish freedom of religion during his presidency.
  7. He Supported Immigration – Washington was a staunch supporter of immigration. He believed that “America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges.” Washington passed the Naturalization Act of 1790. This law welcomed people of “good character” to immigrate into the U.S.
  8. He Lived by a Strict Code of Morality – George Washington was admired for his unfailing sense of morality. As General of U.S. forces, Washington pushed his men to be not only good soldiers but also good men. Washington’s most infamous moral act is perhaps when he refused to serve a third term as president because he believed no man should hold too much power.
  9. He Addressed Hostile Relations with Native Americans – After the American Revolution, many Native Americans still held resentment towards the U.S. Washington sought to address this resentment by signing the Treaty of Greenville. This treaty put an end to the ongoing Indian Wars. The treaty granted two-thirds of the territory from the Ohio River and Lake Erie to the U.S. In exchange, Native Americans received utensils, clothing and animals.
  10. He Eased Tensions with Spain – In early America, there were ongoing problems between Spain and the U.S. due to the Spanish occupation of New Orleans. Spain denied the U.S. access to the Mississippi River in an attempt to thwart trade. To resolve this issue, Washington signed Pinckney’s Treaty. The treaty allowed for the U.S. to sail ships on the Mississippi and for duty-free transport.

Why These Facts About George Washington Are Important

These facts reveal that, although known for being the face of the American Revolution, Washington was also an advocate of diplomacy. He spent the majority of his presidency trying to find diplomatic solutions to international conflicts. They also display his concerns with basic human issues such as morality, religious freedom and health. Washington spent his entire life trying to promote the importance of these issues, yet his efforts are often unheard of. These top 10 interesting facts about George Washington are important because they shed light onto the incredible efforts of America’s first president to fight for the causes he believed in.

Gabriella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr