If George Washington were alive today, he’d still be dead! I mean, it’s his birthday, and he’d be 277 years old, for God’s sake. What’s that you say? George Washingtons birthday isn’t until February 22nd, you say. Wrong. George Washington wasn’t born on his birthday. He was born on February 11, 1732. If you don’t believe me, try believing your own eyes. Here’s a picture of the relevant page from the Washington family bible.
How is this possible? Religion and politics.
The Julian calendar came into effect in 45 BC at the insistence of Julius Caesar. It had a 365 day year with leap year every four years. The trouble is our Earth goes around the Sun slightly faster than that. Not much, but a little. So in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull decreeing a new calendar which became known as the Gregorian calendar even though he didn’t invent it. I don’t presume Julius Caesar invented the Julian calendar either. By that time, the Julian calendar was about 10 days out of synch with the celestial orbit of the earth. The Gregorian calendar has the same 365 days and the same leap day every four years, except that if a year is evenly divisible by 100, but not by 400, it isnt a leap year. So, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years although 2000 was. Doing away with another leap year every one thousand years would make the Gregorian calendar even more accurate, but it isn’t yet 500 years old, so we don’t have to worry about that for a while.
If you have surmised that Pope Gregory XIII was a Roman Catholic, you are correct. If you recall your history, you also know that 1582 came after Henry VIII made England a Protestant nation. In fact, it came after Henry VIII all together. So, England, and when it came into being, the British Empire did not embrace the Gregorian calendar until September of 1752, and by that time the two calendars were 11 days out of synch. I told you the difference was small. Returning to America’s first President, George Washington was born as that bible says on February 11, 1732. So, between his 20th and 21st birthday, the calendar was changed, 11 days were added and his birthday became February 22nd. But he was born on February 11th. I already asserted that and proved it. Now, I’ve explained it.
That concludes the educational portion of this blog item.
Now on to the burning question: How come I know that (and lots of other similarly useless information), but I don’t know anything that would make me tons of money? One ton of US currency (if its all in $100 bills) is around $9 million, so I could probably make due with a single metric ton.