History: Teach Your Children Well

George Washington

A Birthday Cake for George Washington is a children’s book published by Scholastic and first released on January 5, 2016. It is told in the voice of Delia, the daughter of Hercules, Washington’s head chef who existed in real life.

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While the book depicts Mt. Vernon’s house slaves as happy and humble—eager to please the Master, an entry Mount Vernon farm report noted that Hercules “absconded” on February 22, 1797 — Washington’s 65th birthday. Louis-Philippe, the future king of France, visited Mount Vernon that spring and recorded the following entry for April 5, 1797:

The general’s cook ran away, being now in Philadelphia, and left a little daughter of six [Delia?] at Mount Vernon. Beaudoin ventured that the little girl must be deeply upset that she would never see her father again; she answered, ‘Oh! Sir, I am very glad, because he is free now’.”

This fantasy fiction was withdrawn by its publisher shortly after its release in 2016.

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