Did Washington Cut Down a Cherry Tree?

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Many myths surround the first United States president. Some ponder if George Washington wore a wig, while others question if he really tossed a silver dollar across the Potomac River. Perhaps the most famous of all is whether Washington cut down a cherry tree.

The Myth

The Truth

  • The story of George Washington cutting down a cherry tree is only a myth. The false story first appeared in an 1800 biography, "A History of the Life and Death, Virtues and Exploits, of General George Washington" by Mason Locke Weems. Weems invented several anecdotes about Washington's life to make him appear heroic.

Significance

  • The myth wasn't debunked for nearly a century, so many early textbooks contained the story, including the McGuffey Reader. These widespread teachings likely sealed the story as a true event in presidential history. Nonetheless, whether fact or fiction, the cherry tree story offers a moral lesson.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images cherry tree flower image by Lovrencg from Fotolia.com
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