Martha and George Washington were married on this day in 1759. While the couple is well-known among Americans, there are plenty of things about George and Martha Washington that you are not aware of. Here are five facts you probably didn't know about the First Couple.
George Was Eight Months Younger Than Martha Martha Washington was born on June 2, 1731, in New Kent County, Virginia. Her mother gave birth to her in a bedroom at their home at the Chestnut Grove plantation. About eight months later, on February 22, 1732, George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. George's birthplace was approximately 100 miles north of where Martha was born. Being the oldest in the marriage was new for Martha, her first husband had been 20 years her senior.
George Had To Compete For Martha's Hand In Marriage After Martha's first husband, Daniel Custis, died in July 1757, George had to compete for Martha's hand against a wealthy tobacco planter named Charles Carter. Carter was about twice Martha's age and had already fathered 12 children from his previous marriage. Though Carter's wealth and status certainly would have made him a tempting suitor, the prospect of taking on such a large family was no doubt daunting to the 26-year-old Martha. George and Martha began their courtship in March 1758, about eight months after her husband died.
Martha Was A Wealthy Woman When She Met George
Perhaps Charles Carter's wealth didn't impress Martha because she was very wealthy in her own right. In fact, Martha owned numerous properties and more than seventeen thousand acres of land across various counties. She also owned herds of cattle and sheep, as well as almost 300 slaves who worked on her tobacco plantation. Martha was actually the wealthiest woman in Virginia when George proposed to her, and her social and economic status likely meant a lot to the future president. Marrying Martha quickly advanced George's social status and pushed him into Virginia's high-class society.
They Couldn't Have Children Of Their Own Together
While there isn't any documented evidence of the reason why, historians reasonably suspect that George was the problem, not Martha. After all, in her previous marriage Martha had given birth to four children. Her two eldest children died, and George became the legal guardian of the two youngest children. It's possible that George was infertile, and if so, his condition might have been brought on by his bout with tuberculosis when he was younger.
Martha Was In The Room When George Died
George Washington died on December 14th, 1799, of a throat infection. He passed away in his bedroom in his home at Mount Vernon, with Martha sitting at the foot of his bed. His last words followed instructions he gave his secretary, Tobias Lear, to "have me decently buried; and do not let my body be put into the vault in less than three days after I am dead" After Lear confirmed that he understood his mentor's final wishes, George spoke his final words: "Tis well." Martha passed away on May 22nd, 1802, about two and a half years after George died.