I have dreaded writing this post since I started this blog. I hate hate hate to admit that Washington was not cryogenically frozen so that one day he may return and save us all. (I may be getting my Disney and Jesus myths messed up..oh well) But alas, alack, my main man did kick it. But not before he did some stuff! that mattered! and as we all wish, he was bad-ass to the bitter end!
For Washington to physically move out of the Presidency he had to take care of some serious baggage. I mean this very literally. During his 8 years of presidency, most of the furniture that Congress purchased for his Presidential residence had been worn to bits. Washington did the very noble thing of purchasing his own damn furniture to make up for the shitty ones that Congress gave him. But when the time came to move, that little jackass John Adams wouldn’t buy the furniture from Washington because it was “too fancy.” Oh really? “Too fancy” for the damn PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES? I sincerely hope that my time with Adams changes my opinion of him, because at this point in time I just think he’s a whining little bitch.
Washington was all like, “ok dude, you don’t have to buy it, but i’m going to leave it here for now.” and under his breath was all, “and then you better break something so you have to buy it. ” (just kidding, Washington never said anything under his breath.) Actually, this is what Washington said about leaving,
“On one side, I am called upon to remember the parrot; on the other, to remember the dog. For my own part, I should not pine if they were both forgot.”
So here’s something you didn’t know! Washington hated animals! (again, not true) But I doubt PETA would have asked Washington to pose sexily in the nude to prevent fur-trapping.
If Washington thought that things were messed up in the Capitol, he was no where near ready for the shit storm that was Mount Vernon. During his time in office he left the handling of everything to an old Scottish dude named James Anderson. Now, Anderson had some good ideas. Namely, making whiskey! But he also totally sucked at his main job, which was to keep the farms running and the house from falling apart. When Washington got home, the floor in his banquet hall was actually caving in, and his fields didn’t grow enough of anything to make money. George was totally pissed, but being the gentleman that he was, allowed Anderson to stay on at the same wage, but with less responsibilities. Washington himself took over trying to get things back to how they should be. He never really got Mount Vernon back to fighting shape. I mean let’s face it, he may have been great, but he was no Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby.
Thankfully, George was able to live very well off of all the land purchases he had made out west in his youth. In fact, my dude made some serious bank by selling tracts of land in western Pennsylvania to speculators. And also because he refused to do anything on credit, unlike some of his contemporaires. Some of these guys(i’m looking at you, Robert Morris) borrowed money on assets that had themselves been bought through loans. Sounds familiar right? cough real estate market 2007 cough cough. But Washington was having none of that. He did everything the way men do it, in cash.
Oh so you think Washington just farmed and chilled for the remainder of his years? False. Because Adams got himself into a right little problem most call the XYZ affair. I’m sure I’ll discuss this in depthwith Adams, so all you really need to know is that the French totally pissed off America by ignoring our official delegation to them and then asking for a bribe! WhA???? we do not bribe people here in America! we beat the shit out of them until they do what we want! which is what Adams started to prepare the country to do. He and Congress set out an order that the military be augmentedby 10,000 men, and then, wait for it, he asked Washington to resume his position as commander in chief. At 67. And you know Washington did? He manned up. He accepted his position and was prepared to go to war again. Except we didn’t go to war with France. Thankfully things blew over. Instead they got totally screwed by their own leaders and we ended up buying Louisiana from them! Nice guys finish first.
This was not the only time in his retirement that Washington was asked to come back into the public spotlight. Nope, when it came time for the next presidential election, some Federalist bros wrote Washington to pretty please run for the presidency again, since I guess Adams pissed everyone off enough that he probably wasn’t going to be re-elected. Washington thankfully declined, because he thought he would most definitely kick it during those four years in office. and in fact, he did.
Washington was out for a his usual ride around his grounds on December 12, 1799. It started to rain and snow while he was out. And then, he set another presidential precedent. He died from what was basically a cold. When Washington came back from his ride, his secratary Lear, was all, “hey dude you look pretty wet.” and washington was all, “no i’m fine bro. tis but a flesh wound. “
But he slowly got worse through the night and into the next day. Of course he didn’t make much of a big deal about it. He just slowly lost his ability to talk easily and started convulsing! All the while saying things like, “I don’t need medicine.” Manly. Martha, being the woman that she was asked that the overseer who took care of the slaves medical needs come take care of Washington while a proper doctor was sent for. Now this poor overseer guy was scared shitless to draw blood from George. Understandably so, how would you feel if you were to kill a national treasure? But George said, “Don’t be afraid,” and bared his arm himself. When the dude made the cut George had told him, “the orifice is not large enough.” and that’s what she said. high five!
No, eventuallly 3 doctors came to take care of George. (kind of excessive right?) and they bled him a total of 4 times. As what one would expect when dealing with 3 doctors there was a difference of opinions about what his problem was, and even more confusion about how to treat him. So they bled him again! Which basically killed him for sure. (btw modern doctors think Washington died specifically from either diptheria or strep. too bad they didn’t have amoxoclyn back then!). Washington’s room was filled with people, including Martha, Lear, house slaves, and the doctors. He kept asking what time it was and thanking everyone. He kept telling Lear to take care of little things that he was remembering. He said, I kid you not, “I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.” and that is going to be my motto for everything ever from here on out. Washington died in the early hours of December 14th. Martha asked quietly, “is he gone?” and all Lear could do was hold up his hand in a silent assent. How heartbreaking.
you know what was pretty cool about Washington dying though? He wrote in his will that once he kicked it, his slaves would be freed. Well actually, he wrote that his slaves would be freed once Martha died, since he didn’t want to split up the slave familiesof his household. And that would have happened because half of the slaves on Mount Vernon were technically Martha’s. Washington had developed a severe aversion to slavery, and had struggled for years withhow to handle it. He never ever sold a slave or moved them without their consent, and almost never allowed them to be physically punished. In fact, a lot of literature says that Mount Vernon went to shit because the slaves could get away with anything they wanted. which is pretty cool. except for the whole still-being-slaves part. Washington even secretly set some of his slaves free while he was president by accidentally “leaving” them in Pennsylvania when a law was passed that abolished slavery in that state. He wanted the slaves he freed to be able to find work for themselves and learn skills, and he made sure that any one who was too old or too young to take care of themselves would be taken care of. what a nice guy.
He also left his secretary Lear the use of Mount Vernon. Imagine! leaving your estate to your secretary. It’d be like Don leaving the house to Joan.