George’s Rippling, Rough-Hewn Endowment

Published:April 5, 2011 by Brendan Wolfe

Is it possible that Ron Chernow has a crush on George Washington? I wonder now that I’m reading his massive new biography. According to Chernow, our first president “had the imposing face and virile form that suited a commanding leader.” His “mild, deep-set eyes, of a pale grayish blue, seemed to glow with an inner fire.” In addition, “he was powerfully rough-hewn and endowed with matchless strength. When he clenched his jaw, his cheek and jaw muscles seemed to ripple right through his skin.” Also, “he was exceedingly graceful,” despite possessing (and here Chernow seems almost apologetic) an “oddly shaped” body and a small head. Did I mention that Washington was virile? He had “wide flaring hips with muscular thighs that made him a superb horseman.” All in all, Chernow tells us, his body “hinted at superhuman strength” and his features “were strong, blunt, and handsome.”

Oh, George!

Our entry on Washington is a work-in-progress and being written by Henry Wiencek, author of An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America (2003).

IMAGE: A detail from Rembrandt Peale’s portrait of Washington