A Discovery has lately been made on this Continent that will astonish the whole World. Our great and excellent General Washington is actually discovered to be of the Female Sex. This important secret was revealed by the Lady who lived with the General as a Wife these 30 years, and died the 6th instant at the General’s seat in Virginia, to the Clergyman who attended her. What is extraordinary, the Lady knew the Circumstance previous to the Ceremony of Marriage, and both agreed to live together from Motives of the most refined Friendship.In fact, there’s no record of an eighteenth-century Irish newspaper called the Dublin Register. The Pennsylvania Gazette didn’t publish on 11 Nov 1782. No article like this has been found in any American newspaper. And of course Martha Washington (shown above) hadn’t died.
Perhaps there are fewer Instances in Female Nature of such rigid Chastity than of manly Fortitude. The famous Hannah Snell served as a private Soldier in the British Army and was present at many Battles and Sieges in the late War. The Chevalier d’Eon was a Captain of Dragoons, Knight of the Royal and Military Order of St. Louis, and Ambassador from tho Most Christian King to his Britannick Majesty, and made herself celebrated by her repeated Challenges to the Compte de Guerchy, her Successor in the Employ. In more antient Times France nearly recovered her Empire from the Hands of the British Regency by the astonishing Bravery of the Maid of Orleans; and now the Rights of America have been asserted and her Independence established through the amazing Fortitude of a Woman. Perhaps it is fortunate that this Circumstance was not known at a more early Period of the Contest.
The Whitehall Evening Post had probably copied the article from the Daily Advertiser, which may have originated the story or may have been duped. The far less reputable Rambler’s Magazine picked up the tidbit for its March issue, adding the cartoon of “Mrs. General Washington” that I shared here.
After that, the story faded, but the Chevalier d’Eon clipped a copy and kept it in a scrapbook along with other items mentioning him, favorably or unfavorably.
(Thanks to commenter John Johnson for the pointer.)