Today historians say the whole story was made up by an embellishing biographer trying to make our first President a model for truth and morality (and sell a few books). How’s that for bursting the bubble of what I was taught in elementary school! Bummer.
But imagine with me for a moment that the story really happened. That Mr. Washington’s favorite cherry tree was chopped down. Did someone tattle on the boy or did Mr. Washington already have more than a few suspicions when he called young George over for a chat? (After all, who gives a six-year-old a hatchet and doesn’t expect him to use it on things made of wood?) According to the story, this father was a paragon of parental patience as he calmly asked the menace if he knew anything about what happened to the cherished tree. (I have an idea that voices were likely raised. At least I’d probably be ranting something about “how many times have I told you not to chop wood that’s still alive?”)
It’s a good thing George expressed great remorse and immediately told the truth. And that his father valued character in a child more than cherries. Otherwise, George might not have lived to celebrate another birthday … and my kids wouldn’t have the day off from school to wreak havoc in my house.
Happy Birthday George Washington. I’m glad you grew up to lead our nation during difficult times.
What about you? If the story were true and you were Mr. Washington, what would you have done? Why?