3 Cool Facts You Should Know About George Washington -- But Probably Don't

Every Fourth of July, we celebrate Independence Day, because on that fateful day in 1776 the Continental Congress agreed to -- and signed -- the Declaration of Independence. But the father of our country didn't read it that day. He had to wait until July 9, when he read the document in front of City Hall in the Big Apple.

General George Washington is remembered for many things. His story has become a legend, and some of the legends are historically dubious. The well-known incident with the cherry tree, for instance, likely never happened. The crossing of the Delaware, however, very much did. A national hero par excellence, his shadow looms large over our country, and still inspires great deeds of national service.

Despite a great familiarity with Washington's life, most of us still need reminding about some important aspects of it. One of our first president's defining moments is often forgotten, though it is arguably the centerpiece of his tapestry of civic virtue. But before we get to that, there are two other major facts about Washington that are often overlooked.

1. He owned a whiskey distillery.

This may not seem like a big deal, but stern and stately George Washington enjoyed a good strong drink. He enjoyed it so much, he owned his own whiskey distillery, and you can still try some at Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia.

Washington looms large as the father of our country, and he took virtue very seriously. But he also knew the virtues of alcohol, and the high demand for it, in the early days of our republic.

Our first president only began producing rye whiskey and brandy for sale in 1798, the year before his death. Mount Vernon produced more alcohol than any other distillery on the East Coast at the time -- 11,000 gallons of alcohol a year in 1798 and 1799, with only eight men (two paid, and six enslaved)! The distillery fell into disrepair after Washington's death, but was reopened in 2007 and sells whiskey today.

Next Page: Contrary to popular belief, Washington was not a deist -- he was a leader in a Christian church!