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Sunday, 18 January 2009

George Washington Wasn't All He Was Cracked Up To Be

I once read an interesting anecdote about everyone's favorite hemp farmer, George Washington. He was in the habit of showing off his strength by cracking walnuts with his fingers. This got him a reputation as a man of incredible strength and probably helped the morale of the Continental Army as they froze at Valley Forge. But like almost every other story about the Founding Fathers, it isn't quite the whole truth.

You see, I can crack walnuts with my fingers too, and I'm not a man of incredible strength.

The trick is this. Find a walnut that's already a bit cracked, not so much that people will notice, just a thin crack that runs at least a third of the way along the seam. Any bag of walnuts you buy at the store will have at least a couple. Then hold it firmly with your fingers and press down on the seam with your thumb. After a bit of effort it makes a satisfyingly loud crack and impresses everyone at the table.

So Washington wasn't that strong, or at least he felt he wasn't as strong as he'd like to be and used this little parlor trick to show off.

Oh, and his army didn't freeze at Valley Forge. The men built warm winter quarters.

There are a lot of myths in popular history, but most are easy to see through.

1 comment:

Gennaro said...

And Washington never had that Mr. Honesty cherry tree moment either. Hell of a president though.