Happy Washington’s Birthday?

Today is Washington’s birthday– but he wasn’t born on February 22, 1732. He was born on February 11, 1731. Actually, both dates are correct. When Washington was born, the English colonies, England, and Ireland still used the Julian (Old Style) Calendar. In 1750, the Calendar (New Style) Act was passed, mandating the change to the Gregorian (New Style) calendar (Venice and the Holy Roman Empire made the switch in 1582). Washington, like many other people, consequently had two birthdates. It is interesting to note that according to the Washington Papers project, Washington’s birthday was celebrated on the old date in Virginia through the end of the 18th century.

 Jay on Washington, from a letter to Henry Knox, 10 December 1781.

General Washington has favored me with ^copies of^ the Articles of Capitulation Returns of the Prisoners &ca. I[t] gives me very sensible Pleasure to find that he commanded in Person on this glorious occasion, and had the Satisfaction of thus bringing Deliverance to his native, and consequently favorite Part of America. If Providence shall be pleased to lead him with Safety and Success thro? all the Duties of his Station, and carry him Home with the Blessings of all America on his Head, I think he will exhibit to the World the most singular Instance of Virtue, Greatness, and good fortune united, which the History of Mankind has hitherto recorded–

Leave a Reply