Mt. Vernon on the Potomac River

February 22, 2001


Provided by: Columbia Association
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

Today would have been George Washington's 269th birthday. The photograph above shows a view of the Potomac River from the porch of George Washington's plantation, known as Mt. Vernon. Overlooking the Potomac River, about 12 miles down river of our Nation's Capital, Mt. Vernon was the home of our 1st president from 1759 until his death in 1799. One of the myths about George Washington was that he threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River. Though George was a big man for his time, 6'2", there's no way he threw anything across the Potomac from Mt. Vernon, much less a silver dollar. The silver dollar was not yet minted in the late 18th century, and the Potomac River at Mt. Vernon is nearly a mile wide. He may have chucked a flat stone across the much narrower upper Potomac River, which he surveyed in his youth.

George Washington was actually born on February 11, 1732. The Julian Calendar that was used at the time in colonial America was 11 days out of sync with the Gregorian Calendar, already in use throughout much of the world. In 1752, the Gregorian Calendar was adopted by the colonists, and Washington changed his birth date to the 22nd in an attempt to minimize confusion.

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