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I am currently reading George Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow, which says George Washington was an even 6 feet (183cm) tall:

It is commonly said that Washington stood six foot two or three, an estimate that gained currency after a doctor measured his corpse at six feet three and a half inches. ... There is no need for any guesswork. Before the Revolutionary War, Washington ordered clothes from London each year and had to describe his measurements with great accuracy. In a 1761 letter, he informed his remote taylor that "my stature is six feet, otherwise rather slender than corpulent," and he never deviated from that formula. Obviously Washington couldn't afford to tell a fib about his height to his tailor. One can only surmise that when the doctor measured his cadaver, his toes were pointing outward, padding his height by several inches compared with his everyday stature. (page 29).

But a few months ago I read His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis, which contradicts this, saying Washington was at least 6'2" (188cm):

His coats, shirts, pants, and shoes were all ordered from a London tailor, but they invariably did not fit. He complained that "my Cloaths have never fitted me well," but the reason for the persistent problem was that the instructions he customarily gave his tailor were misleading. For example, when ordering an overcoat he directed the tailor to "make it to fit a person Six feet high and proportionally made, & you cannot go much amiss." But Washington was at least two inches taller than six feet and disproportionately made, with very broad shoulders and huge hips. (chapter 2)

The two historians clearly use some of the same evidence (orders to London), but draw distinctly different conclusions.

What evidence do we have to support either the claim that George Washington was 6'0" (183cm), or 6'2"-6'3" (188-191cm) in height? I'm assuming there is no consensus among historians, so I'm interested in an overview of the main points in favor of both views.

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    Heh, I like Wikipedia's answer: 6 ft 1 1⁄2 in (the average of the heights given by the various sources). – yannis May 28 '13 at 6:04
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    Why did he go to the expense of ordering clothes from London if they never fit? Were there no tailors in Virginia? Was he as careless about measurements in his work as a surveyor? – bof Oct 11 '17 at 4:08
  • According to historian Brad Neely, "six foot twenty". ;) NSFW. – Schwern Jan 30 at 18:58
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+50

I know it is a pretty short answer, but the very scientically correct "Wolfram Alpha" says "1m88"...

See for yourself

There is also a list of sources on this matter on Wikipedia there.

But the best documented answer on the Internet seems to be here .

When he was 27, a fellow member of the Virginia House of Burgesses described him as "straight as an Indian, measuring 6'2" in his stockings and weighing 175 1bs." This estimate may have been conservative: After Washington's death, his private secretary claimed that he measured the body and found it to be 6' 3 1/2" tall.

  • This answer basically seems to confirm the question: Sources say he was 6'0"-6'3". I was hoping for something more thorough. I realize no consensus will ever be reached (barring uncovering new evidence), but I would be interested to see a summary of the available evidence for the various opinions. Your answer does offer evidence for both the 6'2" and 6'3½" measurements, but not much in the way of an analysis, or evidence for the other prevailing views. – Flimzy Jun 7 '13 at 4:43
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    @Flimzy - That's pretty close, considering a person's height will actually change by as much as an inch in a day, just due to the effects of gravity on the spinal column after being upright for hours. – T.E.D. Oct 11 '17 at 19:22
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I think Douglas S. Freeman wrote in Washington, the abridgment of his multi volume pulitzer prize winning work, that Washington was 6'2" and 209.

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The answer may rest with the statue of Washington that was sculpted by Houdan and stands in the Virginia state capital. The sculptor visited Washington at Mount Vernon and carefully measured him so that his work would be as accurate as it could be. The statue of Washington himself stands at 6'2 1/2 inches, but it must be noted that Washington's knees are bent. Supposedly somebody measured the space between the bent knees and it came out at about half an inch. So straighten the knees out and the statue stands at about 6'3". So it would seem that Washington's real height was most likely somewhere from 6'2 1/2 inches and 6'3".

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    This looks like a promising answer, but could use some citations. – Flimzy Feb 17 '18 at 11:54
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I don't have the sources in front of me, but I have read letters from John Adams and Thomas Jefferson suggesting that George Washington was the tallest of the three. Jefferson commented on being slightly shorter than GW, and Adams said they both towered over him so who would notice him in an election for President, but he also implied that GW was the tallest of the three.

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    Sources would make the answer better. – KillingTime Jan 30 at 20:14
  • Yes, hopefully you can take the time to put those sources in front of you, and edit this answer? Also, it would be more helpful with some sure height measurements for the other two. – T.E.D. Jan 31 at 18:54
  • Every source, every biography I have ever read about John Adams, with the exception of McCullough's biography, have listed his height at 5'7" (McCullough said 5'8"). And while a few biographies have said Jefferson was 6'2", most of the ones that have come out over the last 30 years have said he was 6'2 and 1/2". – Michael Jul 12 at 22:20

protected by Community Jul 12 at 23:09

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