Thursday, August 11, 2005

i was wrong

I thought the following snippet that was included in One-Night Stands with American History was very cool, but it turns out I was wrong, since there was more to it than I thought:

One day he [George Washington's father] went into the garden, and prepared a little bed of finely pulverized earth, on which he wrote George's name at full, in large letters--then strewing in plenty of cabbage seed, he covered them up, and smoothed all over nicely with the roller.--This bed he purposely prepared close along side of a gooseberry walk, which happening at this time to be well hung with ripe fruit, he knew would be honoured with George's visits pretty regularly every day. Not many mornings had passed away before in came George, with eyes wild rolling, and his little cheeks ready to burst with great news.

" O Pa! come here! come here!"
" What's the matter, my son ? what's the matter ?"
"O come here, I tell you, Pa: come here! and I'll shew you such a sight as you never saw in all your life time."

The old gentleman suspecting what George would be at, gave him his hand, which he seized with great eagerness, and tugging him along through the garden, led him point blank to the bed whereon was inscribed, in large letters, and in all the freshness of newly sprung plants, the full name of


" There Pa? " said George, quite in an ecstacy of astonishment, " did you ever see such a sight in all your life time? "

" Why it seems like a curious affair, sure enough, George ! "

" But, Pa, who did make it there ? who did make it there ? "

" It grew there by chance, I suppose, my son."

"By chance, Pa! O no! no! it never did grow there by chance, Pa. Indeed that it never did! "

" High! why not, my son? "

" Why, Pa, did you ever see anybody's name in a plant bed before? "

"Well, but George, such a thing might happen, though you never saw it before."

" Yes, Pa; but I did never see the little plants grow up so as to make one single letter of my name before. Now, how could they grow up so as to make all the letters of my name! and then standing; one after another, to spell my name so exactly!--and all so neat and even too, at top and bottom! ! O Pa, you must not say chance did all this. Indeed somebody did it; and I dare say now, Pa, you did it just to scare me, because I am your little boy."

His father smiled; and said, "Well George, you have guessed right. I indeed did it; but not to scare you, my son; but to learn you a great thing which I wish you to understand. I want, my son, to introduce you to your true Father."

[text copied & pasted from, which is the text of Mason L. Weems' 1818 The Life of George Washington]

I was initially thinking that the story meant that Nature was George's true father, which I know doesn't really make logical sense, but I guess the obvious didn't occur to me right away. When I found the website that had the story, though, there was more to Weems' account of the story:

" High, Pa, an't you my true father, that has loved me, and been so good to me always? "

" Yes George, I am your father, as the world calls it: and I love you very dearly too. But yet with all my love for you, George, I am but a poor good-for-nothing sort of a father in comparison of one you have."

"Aye ! I know, well enough whom you mean, Pa. You mean God Almighty; don't you?"

" Yes, my son, I mean him indeed. He is your true Father, George."

Ugh so yeah, the truth comes out. And it goes on, but it's the same stupid stuff. I know, I should have caught that it was a God reference way earlier, but I didn't. So I'm slow, so sue me.

But I don't think good old Ethan would have approved.

George, as it happens, wasn't the first President of the United States, anyway:

The first president of the United States was not George Washington. In 1781, Maryland finally signed the Articles of Confederation, and the union among the thirteen states became an actuality. John Hanson, the man who signed for Maryland, was immediately elected president of the assembly. His formal title was "President of the United States in Congress Assembled."

Even George Washington himself addressed Hanson as "President of the United States." When Washington won his great victory at Yorktown, Hanson sent the general a letter of congratulation. Washington reciprocated at once, addressing his letter to the "President of the United States."

So, that's that. I'm gonna take off for now, and go get some more knitting done, maybe watch a movie. Have a good night!

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