Presidential Last Wishes: George Washington

When it comes to the Presidents of the United States, some made their mark by solving conflict, while others spent their time establishing laws to better the lives of Americans. We’ve grown to love some leaders more than others, but there’s no denying our interest in learning more about the U.S. Presidents. In this article, you will learn about the last wishes of historical figures, such as George Washington.

George Washington

Out of all the Presidents, he is one of the most unforgettable because it is he who led the way for early politics in the United States. As the only president to be elected by the electoral college with a unanimous vote, Washington left a lasting mark on the American people. When Washington died on December 14, 1799, he was 67 years old. He had already signed his will in 1790. At the time of his death, his estate was valued at $530,000. Interestingly, as president, he was only paid a salary of $25,000.

When Washington penned his will, he had a request that burned deep within him, but it came with stipulations. He wanted to have his many slaves freed, but not until his wife had died. He knew that she relied greatly on the slaves, but also, the slaves were actually part of her dower , thanks to the constitution of Virginia. Washington stated that freed slaves that were too old, young, or sick to care for themselves would receive shelter, clothing and food from Washington’s heirs. Interesting, the concept and issues of slavery is a topic that seems to speak to dying men. A guilty conscience has been displayed in historical figures that date back to Plato’s time.

Slavery was not the only regret of Washington’s. He noted some of his disapproval regarding the then current state of education. He left funds to give a college in the District of Columbia to boost higher learning in the United States. The result was the establishment of George Washington University.

The last wishes of George Washington were written by hand. He did not ask for the assistance of a legal professional, yet he was precise in his words. His will was written on 15 sheets of personal parchment , complete with water marks. Both sides were used, as he carefully numbered and signed each sheet. No one was there to witness the creation of this document. However, during the 1790s, handwritten documents were legally binding.

At the time of George Washington’s death, he was the richest man in the country. In his possession, he had owned a gristmill, distillery, fisheries, and livestock that were worth more than $15,000. Washington also owned land in six different states , Kentucky, Philadelphia, New York, Maryland, and the Northwest Territory. His wife, Martha, benefited from this wealth, but it was his nephew, Bushrod, who received the infamous Mount Vernon estate. His nephew had recently been appointed to the Supreme Court.  

Historians believe that Washington died of an acute streptococcal infection of the larynx, which caused pain and swelling on the interior of the windpipe. He basically died from suffocation and could have lived longer if a tracheostomy was performed.