Of all the legendary figures in American history, George Washington is in a class by himself. Founding father, Commander of the Continental Army, and America’s first president – his face is as familiar as the dollar bill. Most everyone knows this great man, or thinks they do. But we’re starting to learn that much of what we thought is fact, is actually fiction.
Did you know Washington has often been cast as Colonial aristocracy, but his roots are far more common? Archaeologists have uncovered the lost remains of his boyhood home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The site reveals not a wealthy man, reluctant to accept the greatness thrust upon him – but an ambitious youth faced with adversity.
The legend of Washington and the Cherry Tree is a childhood fable known the world over. But contrary to this myth, Washington could tell a lie. In fact, during the Revolution, he told a great many of them. This episode explores Washington’s use of misinformation, secret codes, invisible inks, and other spycraft to confuse and deceive the British.
Also, you will learn of the issue of Washington and slavery, including his ruthless pursuit of runaways, and the startling discoveries archaeologists have made at his Executive Mansion in Philadelphia.
Finally, we’ll learn how scientists are applying modern forensic techniques to create an accurate depiction of Washington’s face. Using 3D laser scanners and historic pieces of art, we’ll be able to see Washington not as painters have romanticized him, but as he truly appeared.
Through the work of these modern scholars and scientists, we’re starting to cut through the layers of myth that surround George Washington, separating fact from fiction.
Tune in to Explorer: The Real George Washington Sunday at 7p and see Washington, not only as a great leader, but as a man – the founding father we hardly knew.