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George Washington's infertility: why was the father of our country never a father?

By John K. Amory

Abstract

George Washington was the single most important figure in the founding of the United States of America. Numerous biographies of Washington have been written and his name is honored in countless ways, including as the name of the United States' capital. Washington has become so idealized in U.S. consciousness that it is easy to lose sight of his failings and disappointments. Undoubtedly, one of his most personal sorrows was his inability to have a child with his wife Martha. As the historian W.S. Randall puts it, "He was content with Martha, but mystified why, year after year, he and Martha could produce no Washington heir." In this article, George and Martha Washington's inability to have children is discussed, and it is suggested that George was the likely source of the couple's infertility. The author also speculates as to the cause of Washington's infertility and its effect on the course of American history. Frank discussion of Washington's infertility might provide some comfort to men struggling with infertility today.

Topics: Infertility, Male, history, Male, United States, Humans, History, 18th Century, Famous Persons
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2003.08.035
OAI identifier: oai:digital.lib.washington.edu:1773/4364
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