Did George Washington Chop Down A Cherry Tree?

Sat, Jul 3, 2010


George Washington as a child, according to the writing of Mason Locke Weems, is believed to have chopped down a cherry tree. Is the tale legend or fact?

Fact or Fiction? George Washington & The Cherry Tree

Tradition has it that George Washington, America’s first president, chopped down a cherry tree in his youth. The incident may have been the concoction of an ex-parson turned bookseller, Mason Locke Weems, who first wrote about the incident. According to Weems young George had a new hatchet. Hatchets are meant for chopping wood. The trunk of the supposed cherry tree was, of course, wood, so what better place for George to try out his new tool?

In Weems’ story George gives the tree a good whack and chops it down. His father sees the damaged tree and asks his son if he knows who did the deed. George is reported, in Weems’ writing, to have replied to his father’s query by answering:

“I can’t tell a lie, Pa; you know I can’t tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet.” (and this is what I want to talk about today)

So the culprit is caught. However, Weems’ story continues with the elder Washington saying he is glad that George killed the tree, explaining that by George being honest about the situation he has well paid his father for the ruined tree.

But the big question is this: Did young George Washington actually cut down the cherry tree and then be honest about it to his father?

It is generally believed today that the entire story was a fabrication by Weems.

George was rewarded by his dad by telling the truth and that’s what I think you should do in all your communication and dry cleaner advertising with your prospects and customers.

By telling the truth, you show your “human-ness” and that links others to you. I know this is contrary to popular belief with advertising, but I’ve always told the truth and my prospects and customers have swarmed to me to buy whatever I have to sell.

If business is slow, tell them. If business is good, tell them. If a pressing machine broke down, tell them. If your mother died and you’re all screwed up for a while (as mine did), tell them.

In my Welcome Kit, I include the eulogy for my Mom’s funeral. I took a chance when I first sent it out to my customers, but I was in pain and this was my way of getting rid of it. I really didn’t care what the results were, I just did it.

Well guess what? Most of my customers opened up to me. I got phone calls. I got letters. I got cards.  And most importantly I bonded with them like no other dry cleaner ever had.

And this is the kind of response you get when you let go and just be you:

Hey Greg,
Bob and I loved your Valentine Brunch video. We also love the sayings you leave with your pick up day reminders. You are the most fun and likable dry cleaner we’ve ever had.
You do a great job on our clothes too.
Hope you enjoyed your brunch.
Anne and Bob Woodhams

Valentine’s Day Bruch Video: http://colosicleaners.com/recipes/valentines-day-brunch-ideas

Tell the truth and be who you are (and let people know) in your dry cleaning business. Talk to you soon.

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2 Responses to “Did George Washington Chop Down A Cherry Tree?”

  1. Stephen "Dusty" Roberts Says:


    Great blog, fantastic advice. I gotta agree that admitting your mistakes and tough as this seems is good for business, and it also shows leadership for your staff.

    Have a great holiday


  2. Greg Says:

    Dusty–you’re right, it’s very good for your staff too. Keep up the good work.

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