CASE 1—GETTING TO KNOW THE MAN BEHIND THE IMAGE

CASE 2—VIRGINIA ENVIRONMENT,PART I

CASE 3—VIRGINIA ENVIRONMENT, PART II

CASE 4—THE NORTHERN NECK

CASE 5—FAMILY BACKGROUND, PART I

CASE 6—FAMILY BACKGROUND, PART II

CASE 7—THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR, PART I

CASE 8—THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR, PART II

CASE 9—PLANTER, POLITICIAN, AND PATRIOT

CASE 10—THE MAN, PART I

CASE 11—THE MAN, PART II

CASE 12—THE MAN, PART III

CASE 13—THE MAN, PART IV

CASE 14—THE MAN, PART V

CASE 15—DEATH AND APOTHEOSIS

CASE 16—PRESERVING THE MEMORY

CLEMENTS LIBRARY

George Washington: getting to know the man behind the image

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Case 2 —Virginia Environment—Part I

Virginia was the first English colony in North America. It was founded permanently at Jamestown in 1607 and had even earlier origins at Roanoke in 1584, going back to the age of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh. Virginia was not only the oldest, but the most populous colony (and state) throughout Washington's lifetime. Virginia had been an exciting colonial venture for England, generating much attention and many publications in the early decades of the seventeenth century. John Smith's History of Virginia (1624), with stories and pictures of combat with the Indians, Pocahontas saving the author from execution, and hints of fortunes to be made in the new land was part of Virginia's historical memory and a source of pride. Robert Beverley considered the colony to be sufficiently ancient by 1705 to write a book-length history--well before much of the present United States, even along the coast, had been settled.

Despite early visions of Virginia as a source of gold, a gateway to the Orient, a base for plundering the riches of Spanish America, tobacco would prove to be the basis of its economy. Slaves from Africa would provide much of the labor. Tobacco and slaves were ubiquitous in the colonial Virginia in which George Washington grew up. The index to the collected statutes of 1752 suggests how pervasive and complicated slavery was in the colony. One document displayed here relates to nightly slave patrols provided by the county militia. The various other manuscripts displayed here--one of them signed by Washington's brother Charles, another by his brother-in-law Fielding Lewis--document that tobacco served Virginia in place of currency when calculating wages, debt payments, and court fines.

The colony's early history, its size and wealth, and the pervasiveness of slavery left a clear imprint on the character of Virginia's ruling elite. The Rev. Andrew Burnaby published Travels Through the Middle Settlements in North-America. In the Years 1759 and 1760 (London, 1775). He enjoyed the hospitality of Mount Vernon. He provided us the classic description of the colonial Virginia society.

The index to the collected statutes of colonial Virginia, 1752
Report from nightly slave patrols provided by county militia

Virginia tobacco transactions
Virginia tobacco transactions

Virginia tobacco transactions

The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and The Summer Isles...Captain John Smith, 1624

The history and present state of Virginia, in four parts, 1705

The Rev. Andrew Burnaby published Travels Through the Middle Settlements in North-America. In the Years 1759 and 1760 (London, 1775).