What I learned:
Born this day in 1732.
Chopped down a cherry tree and confessed. Turned out he didn’t. Chop it down or confess.
Was a land surveyor. Tried to imagine what that job entailed. Lots of time in the woods, lots of time using mysterious instruments, lots of notebook work.
Fought in the French and Indian War. I can picture this, but lately I think of how bad the bugs and food and toilet realities must have been and how you never see that in the movies.
An important man of Virginia. Leader of the Continental Army. Lost battles around New York. Surprised the Hessians at Trenton. Soldiers walking bloody barefoot in the snow, dozens dying the night before the battle from exposure.
Then Valley Forge. Cold and hungry for two winters.
Yorktown. Washington won after all.
Back to Virginia. Wife: Martha. Owned slaves. Not sure he talked about them.
Then to New York to become president. Sworn in at Federal Hall, looking right down Broad Street from Wall. Thanked god at length.
Didn’t want to be king. “Call me ‘Mr. President.’ ”
Two terms. Valedictory: “Avoid foreign entanglements.”
Back home to Mount Vernon. Low doorways. Bad teeth. Caught cold and died. 1799.