Getting to know George Washington

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Actor John Curd as Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of the new United States Navy.

If you want to know what George Washington and John Adams were really like, ask someone who knew them.

"My name is Benjamin Stottert. I am the first Secretary of the new United States Navy," says actor John Curd, who's playing one of Washington's loyal compatriots this weekend at a Virginia tavern.

Before he was a cabinet secretary, Stottert served in the Continental Army, foraging for food and horses for Gen. George Washington’s troops. Stottert says Washington "was a man who was carving out for himself his place in history" and modeled himself after heroes of classic literature.

"To a military man, the greatest thing that could happen to him was that he leads an under-numbered military force against impossible odds and he dies in battle - like a mythological god."

Washington, of course, did not die in battle … though Stottert recalls a battle in New Jersey where Washington and his men attacked unseen across the Delaware - a river “that should never have been crossed” - and captured an entire garrison of Hessian soldiers.

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