WASHINGTON THE ATHLETE
BY ALBERT F. BLAISDELL AND FRANCIS K. BALL
MANY stories are told of the mighty power of Washington's
right arm. It is said that he once threw a stone from the
bed of the stream to the top of the Natural Bridge, in
Again, we are told that once upon a time he rounded a piece
of slate to the size of a silver dollar, and threw it across
the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, the slate falling at
least thirty feet on the other side. Many strong men have
since tried the same feat, but have never cleared the water.
 Peale, who was called the soldier-artist, was once visiting
Washington at Mount Vernon. One day, he tells us, some
athletic young men were pitching the iron bar in the
presence of their host. Suddenly, without taking off his
coat, Washington grasped the bar and hurled it, with little
effort, much farther than any of them had done.
"We were, indeed, amazed," said one of the young men, "as we
stood round, all stripped to the buff, and having thought
ourselves very clever fellows, while the Colonel, on
retiring, pleasantly said:—
" 'When you beat my pitch, young gentlemen,
I'll try again.' "
At another time, Washington witnessed a wrestling-match. The
champion of the day challenged him, in sport, to wrestle.
Washington did not stop to take off his coat, but grasped
the "strong man of Virginia." It was all over in a moment,
for, said the wrestler, "In Washington's lionlike grasp I
became powerless, and was hurled to the ground with a force
that seemed to jar the very marrow in my bones."
In the days of the Revolution, some of the riflemen and the
backwoodsmen were men of gigantic strength, but it was
generally believed by good judges that their
commander-in-chief was the strongest man in the army.