George Washington chatted with youngsters in the East Room at the Nixon Library today about his leadership during the Revolutionary War, his role in shaping the United States Constitution, and his tenure as America’s first Commander-in-Chief.
President Washington’s presentation is the first of Meet the Presidents, a summer long series which features interactive talks by five different American Presidents, Q&A sessions, coloring time, photo-opportunities, plus punch and cookies.

Washington began his talk by discussing Mason Locke Weems’ legendary story of the cherry tree.

According to the myth, a young Washington chopped down a cherry tree with a new hatchet. When his father discovered that the tree had fallen, the future President came clean:  “I can’t tell a lie, Pa; you know I can’t tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.”

His father replied, “what you’ve given me was worth more than 1,000 trees.”

While Washington conceded to the story’s folklore, he proudly spoke about his role in shaping the United States Constitution.

“We won the war and I decided to go home – then they asked me to do something else… they asked me to become President of the Constitutional Convention,” Washington said. “Believe me, the Constitution is the greatest document ever written.”

[smooth=id: 2; width:500; height:500; timed:false; arrows:true; carousel:true; links:true; info:true; align:center; frames:true; open:true; text:Pictures;]

Washington also spoke lovingly about his wife Martha (he showed kids that she was the first woman ever printed on U.S. currency), and told the youngsters that despite all his accomplishments, among his best was becoming a grandpa.

During the question and answer period, one boy asked his him if he had a Presidential Library. The President replied that his library was in Mt. Vernon, Virginia his longtime residence just outside the nation’s capital in Washington D.C.

One girl asked him if he helped build the White House.

“Yes, but John Adams was the first to live there,” President Washington answered.

America’s first President – as he told the kids – was inaugurated in New York City, serving there before moving to the capitol of which his name bears in 1790.

Bring your youngsters next Tuesday, June 29 to meet Teddy Roosevelt, the second President featured in our Meet the President series.

Click here for information on the entire summer series.