Tobacco prevention has probably been around as long as the dangers of tobacco have been known. We know some of our presidents have used tobacco, and in some cases have even grown it, but would any one dare tell the president to quit their unhealthy practice? On this day 284 years ago, George Washington was born. Let’s see what we can find on out about his tobacco habits.
George Washington and Mount Vernon may be synonymous, but Washington was born on another plantation called Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1732. Although he was the first child of his father and Mary Ball, his father had two sons and a daughter by his first wife who died. It wasn’t until 1735 that Washington’s father moved the family to another home he owned, Little Hunting Creek Plantation, and moved again in 1738 to Ferry Farm near Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is at Ferry Farm where young Washington lived during his early childhood and his parents had five more children. George’s father not only held political office, he was a planter, owning several plantations. Washington’s father died when George was 11 and Ferry Farm was given to George according to the will. It was after Washington’s father died and George’s older half-brother Lawrence inherited Little Hunting Creek Plantation that it was renamed Mount Vernon. When Lawrence died, he had no living children, so his widow leased it to George. When she died, George inherited it outright.
Although Washington is known as a General in the American Revolution and as America’s first President, he considered himself first and foremost a farmer. He kept up with agricultural reforms and felt it was the duty of wealthy farmers to experiment with different farming methods as they could bare any failures. Washington initially grew tobacco as his main cash crop, as did most farmers, but he realized this crop would quickly deplete the soil of nutrients. He also felt that the growing nation needed food and grains to grow rather than tobacco. So, in the 1760s, he switched to grains, especially wheat, instead of tobacco. He worked with rotating crops every seven years, and learned new fertilizing methods.
George Washington may be the Father of our Nation, but he also realized that tobacco was not as important as food crops. In his own way, he was practicing early tobacco prevention. Happy Birthday George.
Photo from Wikipedia.