Mount Vernon

On Monday I went to Mount Vernon. It is where George Washington lived for much of his life. Just as Ronald Reagan spent around 18th of his presidency at his ranch, Washington spent around 430 days of his presidency at Mount Vernon.

It is in Virgina, around 20 miles out of DC. Easy to get to though as you take the yellow Metro to the end of the line for $2.35 and then a bus to the estate for $1.35.


Washington, and his wife Martha, are entombed here. The flag on he right is Washington’s flag as Commander in Chief during the War of Independence.


Around 300 slaves worked at Mount Vernon and were buried there. Slaves did not get marked graves. Washington never took a position publicly on slavery as he thought it would divide the union (which it did) but he freed all his slaves upon his death – the only Founding Father to do so – and also wrote privately that he wished there to be a way forward to end slavery.


Washington was a farmer, and Mount Vernon was a large farm. Washington was often up at 5 am, and took a great interest in what crops were planted etc. After the War of Independence he went back to farming for close to a decade.


This is the interior of a typical slave cabin.


This is the original crypt where Washington was laid to rest. In his will he asked for a new one to be made, and he was transferred there around three decades later.


This is the view Washington got from his house. Makes you understand why he spent so much time there!


And this is the main house.

Definitely worth a visit if in DC. You can easily spend a day there as you have not just the house and grounds to explore, but also a museum.

I may do a longer post on Washington at some stage, but it is hard to describe how respected and revered he was. He was almost unique in carrying the trust of men from all the 13 states, regardless of their individual politics.

He wasn’t one of the legendary generals (he lost many battles) but he was a proven leader of men. He was made Commander in Chief of the Virginia militia at age 23. And while he lost many battles against the British, he had to forge an army that had never before existed – with no money, no uniforms, no established chain of command and little experience. And the British were amongst the best in the world.

One of his greatest acts may have been resigning as Commander in Chief at the conclusion of the war, and retiring to his farm.  Few Generals have done the same – which is what ended the Roman Republic. He also convinced a group of officers not to threaten Congress, even though they had not been paid. Washington himself was never paid a salary during his years of service.

His other great virture is that he genuinely did not covet power, and did see public office as a service. He set the vitally important precedent of a maximum two term presidency (broken only once) and had to be persuaded to even do a second term. He remains the only President to have been unanimously elected by the Electoral College – twice.

His farewell address as President in read into the Senate record annually. Various Senators take a turn at reading parts of it.

Various founding fathers playing important roles in the founding of the United States – Jefferson, Madison, Adams etc. Washington is unique in that is is quite arguable there never would have been a United States without him – no one else could bring national unity when it was most needed.

Comments (13)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment