Little is known for certain regarding the sex life of George Washington. In his youth he was referred to as the “young stallion of the Potomac” and his passion for the wife of his neighbor and fellow planter Lord Fairfax has been well-documented. But his life with his wife Martha, who brought two children into their marriage from her first marriage, remains opaque to large extent. Washington had no children of his own, probably as a result of his smallpox at a younger age, and the letters which he and Martha exchanged were burned by her after his death.
We do know that despite his apparent uprightness regarding his marriage, he was the subject of several rumors which reported extramarital dalliances. Some of these were attempts by the British to destroy his character and bring him into disrepute. In August 1775 a Loyalist newspaper in Boston published a story in which it was reported that a letter from Benjamin Harrison, then in the Continental Congress from Virginia, had been intercepted by the Royal Navy. In it Harrison made mention of procuring a young lady for Washington’s pleasure. The story was later proven false.
The British tried again in 1777, creating a story of a woman who was actually a British spy, kept by Washington for sexual purposes near his headquarters. The story alleged that Washington visited her late at night and always in disguise. The timing of the incidents depicted in the story coincided with the presence of Martha Washington at Washington’s Headquarters and the story never gained much traction. The attempts of the British to sully Washington’s reputation through stories of sexual infidelity are an eye opening indication of the importance they put upon it in a day which we are led to believe it was never considered.
As with many southern planters there have always been rumors of Washington fathering illegitimate children with his slaves. This ignores the fact that he was most likely sterile after his bout with smallpox when in Barbados as a youth, the only time Washington ever left the North American continent. One of these rumors asserts that Washington fathered a boy named West Ford at the Bushfield Plantation, over one hundred miles from Mount Vernon. The boy’s mother was a slave named Venus. Washington’s voluminous records and diaries show no mention of his visiting Bushfield during the necessary time window to comply with the rumor.
Another rumor which is clearly false has Washington being forced to flee from the bed of his overseer’s wife on a cold, snowy night, unclothed, and sneaking into the main house undetected by anyone. It was this act from which he contracted the throat infection which would quickly kill him, with the aid of the doctors who attended him. Washington’s famous reserve and self-control prevented him from alluding to sex in his writings and public appearances, and while it is well known that he enjoyed the company of young women and their attention, there is little evidence of his sexual nature.