The Wall Street Washington: Emblem of Commerce (1883-Today)


When America termed George Washington a man of business, it was drawing upon ample biographical evidence. He was a punctilious businessman and landowner, a man who loved to count, measure and weigh his possessions. Biographer W.E. Woodward calls him "a thing man not an idea man," for Washington was deeply interested in the hows but not the whys of the world. The Father of Our Country did not speak a foreign language, did not appreciate art, and did not read for pleasure. When he died, his library contained almost 900 volumes, but the vast majority of these were concerned with agricultural or commercial matters. As a boy, he often used his surveying skills as a party trick-- after dinner, young George would survey the turnip patch for the Washingtons' guests. His mind was concerned with the prosaic details of business. Halsted Ritter termed him the "prototype of the modern man of business." Fittingly, the United States placed his portrait on its most common paper currency, the dollar bill.