George Washington was one of the Founding Fathers who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 until 1797.
I was wondering how many languages George Washington spoke, so I did some research, and here’s what I found.
This post will go into detail on what languages George Washington spoke, how fluent he was in them and what his accent was.
What Languages Did George Washington Speak?
George Washington only spoke one language. George Washington spoke English.
Famously, Washington always required the use of an interpreter whenever he had to deal with French or Dutch colonists as he couldn’t speak any language other than English.
He was also involved in many meetings with Native American tribes however Washington made no attempt to learn any of their languages and used interpreters instead.
In fact, he pushed hard for all Native Americans to assimilate into American society so it’s hardly surprising that he never bothered to learn their languages.
Although he came from a wealthy family, Washington never received a formal education which is likely why he never picked up any other languages.
In fact, the education he did receive was only equivalent to elementary school.
It is quite surprising that he didn’t receive a proper education given that his family was very wealthy.
At the time, most children from well-off families learned to speak French and Latin so it’s unclear exactly why Washington never did.
Additionally, Washington only ever traveled abroad just once when he visited Barbados.
Other than this short trip, he never visited any other countries so was never immersed in any other languages.
Did you know? Although George Washington only spoke English, famous first lady Jackie Kennedy spoke several languages (way more than her husband JFK).
George Washington’s First Language
English was George Washington’s first language as he was born to an English-speaking family in Virginia.
Washington was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
His parents, Augustine and Mary Ball Washington, were of English descent.
Washington’s father even sent some of his older brothers to school in England however George Washington himself wasn’t sent and instead received his education in Virginia.
Did George Washington Have a British Accent?
At the time of his birth in 1732, Virginia was a colony of Great Britain as this was prior to the formation of the United States.
George Washington’s great grandfather, John Washington, had migrated to Virginia from England in 1656.
As the colony of Virginia was physically separate from Great Britain, different dialects formed.
It’s unclear exactly what George Washington sounded like however most historians agree that Washington sounded predominantly American with a hint of English.
This was likely due to the fact that he grew up in rural Virginia meaning he was mostly surrounded by an American-style accent.
He would have heard English accents around him often though so this would likely have had an influence on his accent.
It may come as a surprise to you that George Washington was a mostly monolingual speaker. It surprised us too!
It’s super surprising that George Washington never spoke any other languages, especially considering that he came from a very wealthy family.
It’s actually pretty common for US presidents to speak additional languages. For example, Barack Obama can speak conversational Indonesian.
Thanks for reading this post which answers the question ‘how many languages did George Washington speak?’.