Image: Paul Emory Washington
William Luther  /  San Antonio Express-News via AP
Paul Emory Washington, left, sits in a chair Tuesday afternoon Oct. 7, 2008 in San Antonio, as one of his sons, Bill Washington, looks up a family connection in a genealogical book.
By
updated 10/8/2008 9:11:33 AM ET 2008-10-08T13:11:33

A genealogy Web site says it has found the king of America — or rather, the descendant of George Washington's family who would have most likely held the title had the nation's first president been its first monarch instead.

Long live Paul Emerson Washington, 82, of San Antonio, a retired regional manager for a building supply company.

Paul Washington is the one among 8,000 possible Washington descendants that the chief family historian at Ancestry.com believes would currently hold the crown — had there been one.

"He kind of won the sweepstakes," said Megan Smolenyak, with the genealogical research group.

George Washington had no children. He had an older half brother, Augustine, and a younger brother, Samuel. Many descendants died young or as lifelong bachelors. Other Washington descendants had only daughters, Smolenyak said.

She ran four family lines to account for the two brothers and lines of succession with and without women inheriting the crown. She found that against improbable odds, two of the four lines led to Paul Washington.

Paul's son, Bill, said his father now spends his days caring for his wife, who has Alzheimer's disease. He said his father is honored but completely unpretentious about his would-be crown.

"He's always been a modest, soft-spoken person," said Bill Washington, a 54-year-old bookseller.

The family has long been proud of its connection to the founding father.

"I was dubious as a child growing up because I always thought, 'Why don't we have a sword lying around or a three-pointed hat?" Bill Washington said.

But as an adult, Bill began filling the second floor of his home with George Washington-related artifacts, and he participates in historical re-enactments wearing a Revolutionary War artillery officer uniform.

Still, he says George Washington made the right decision, allowing himself to be elected president but not seeking a crown.

"He fought for eight years to do away with the monarchy, and I think he made the right decision," Bill Washington said. "The idea of one individual having supreme power over all others is an antiquated idea — to say the least."

Easy for him to say. As the second of Paul Washington's three sons, he's not next in the line of hypothetical succession.

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