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.

This website is a record of the exhibit, as it appeared in the display cases of the William L. Clements Library. Each page features an image of a single display case and its contents, with details of the artifacts and the accompanying text below. Please click on the images to view enlargements and use the "back" button on your browser to return.

Copyrights to the contents of this exhibit, both text and images, are held by the Clements Library. Permission for use and reproduction must be obtained in advance from the director of the Clements Library.

Case 16Preserving the Memory

 

In George Washington's own world, Mount Vernon represented all that he cherished the most. The land on which the house stands had been in the family since the 1660s. It was the home of his beloved older brother Lawrence, the place he had brought his bride in 1759, and the locale he constantly dreamed and thought of throughout the Revolutionary War and his Presidency. He spent his happiest times there, and it was where he died. The large print, based upon a drawing by Robertson and issued in 1800 provides one of the few views of the house as it looked during Washington's lifetime.

 

Mount Vernon was a tourist spot even during Washington's lifetime, and by the 1850s it was falling into ruin. Thanks to the persistent efforts and exceptional organizational skills of Ann Pamela Cunningham of South Carolina, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association was founded in 1858 (based on efforts begun in 1853) to purchase the home and two hundred acres surrounding it. This photograph shows the house, in disrepair, as it looked when the Association took possession.

The Regents of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, ca. 1870s.

 

Early certificate of appointment to the Regents of the Association, 1859.

With contributions from throughout the nation, the purchase was successfully made, representing a pioneering effort in historical preservation in the United States. One of Miss Cunningham's early appeals for money, this one printed in Charleston in 1857, is also on display.

The Mount Vernon Ladies Association, this year (2003) is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Miss Cunningham's first public appeal to save Mount Vernon. The organization continues to thrive today, making possible care and restoration of the estate, continued acquisition of artifacts relating to Washington and a vibrant interpretive program for visitors.

 

We need to keep Washington's memory alive. We need to save enough of the world he lived in to understand him. Doing so requires public support of historic sites such as Mount Vernon, editorial efforts such as the Washington Papers Project at the University of Virginia, and libraries such as the Clements that preserve his original letters. We need to be able to hear his voice and understand how he met the challenges of his world--'partly because his successes brought our country into existence, and partly because his example is worth studying, perhaps even emulating, as we deal with the problems of today's world.

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