In honor of George Washington’s birthday, here are 12 little-known facts you might not know about the original founding father.

  1. Washington was not actually born on February 22, 1732. His actual birthday was on February 11, 1731, but when the colonies switched to the Gregorian calendar (away from the Julian calendar), his birthday was moved back eleven days.
  2. Washington did not have wooden teeth. But he did had a wide variety of dentures during his life, including sets constructed from a number of materials including cow bone, hippopotamus ivory, human teeth, brass screws, lead, and gold metal wire.
  3. Washington never went to college. He had no formal education at all, but was very, very good at math. Before becoming president, he was a master surveyor — creating over 200 land surveys.
  4. Washington was an avid dog-lover. He kept and bred many hunting hounds at Mount Vernon (his estate). During his life, he had more than 30 foxhounds, three of which names were Drunkard, Tipler, and Tipsy.
  5. Washington’s political life was based on a Roman legend. He had a great admiration for the classical societies of the ancient world and was particularly fond of the Roman story of Cincinnatus — a man who may or may not have ever existed.
  6. Washington owned a whiskey distillery. And it was profitable, too. Located at Mount Vernon, at its peak it distilled over 12,000 gallons a year.
  7. Washington was one tough man (or extremely lucky). In the years leading up to his presidency, his life was peppered with a variety of ailments including diphtheria, pleurisy, tuberculosis, smallpox, dysentery, malaria, quinsy (tonsillitis), carbuncle and pneumonia.
  8. Washington never chopped down that cherry tree. It was a myth.
  9. Washington really wasn’t that good of a military leader. He lost more battles than any victorious general in modern history
  10. Washington didn’t like giving speeches. At 135 words, Washington’s second inaugural address was the shortest ever given by an incoming president.
  11. Washington loved to write letters. Estimates put the number of letters he wrote somewhere between 18,000 and 20,000. Just think about that — if you only wrote one letter a day, it would take you over 50 years to write that many.
  12. Washington did not have a middle name. But, as the father of our nation, he didn’t really need one.