Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mount Vernon - Pt. 2

Mount Vernon is an interesting place on numerous accounts. Not only does it reveal our nation's most hallowed hero as more than just a general, but it also reveals him in all the realities of 18th century social life - including slavery. Washington owned over a hundred slaves and when he married Martha that number climbed to over 300. Washington's relationship to slavery is rather complicated. Early in life he adopted the common views of his parents--he accepted the institution as a way of life. However, as he grew older, he more and more came to oppose slavery. Although he officially was an abolitionist toward the end of life, he chose not to free his slaves until his death. Washington, a man worthy of respect, had at least a few spots on his record. Below are the slave's quarters at Mt. Vernon.

This is supposedly what Washington would have looked like in his early 20s, when he was a commander in the French and Indian War (between the English and the French). An interesting tidbit--Washington was 6'2'', a giant for his day. He literally commanded respect as soon as he walked into the room. As it turns out, tall men are good leaders and just all around swell guys (if you don't believe me, think of Napoleon!)

Since we received some requests to see the baby (out with the kids, in with the grandkids), here are some pics. Sierra got a pit tuckered from all the touring around Mt. Vernon.

Halfway through our tour of the mansion, Sierra simply had to bust out in smiles. Maybe she hadn't hit her quota yet for the day.

Some thoughts on George Washington: After touring the museum as well as the plantation, I had to ask myself, Can any one man really be this good? He was an industrious and inventive farmer; he was an ingenious military commander; he was obviously a legendary president; he was even a man of deep character. When Washington could easily have become king, he retired to his home in Mt. Vernon to finish out his days. Sure, he was a slave owner, but he even treated his slaves with a relative amount of respect. Here's my question. Am I too getting sucked into the persona of an American hero? I'm not sure. Washington was truly a remarkable man. Better than Napoleon and Caesar combined, he made an impact on America like none other. Posterity remembers him with a monument stretching into the sky. How do you remember him?

2 comments:

Bev said...

Great history lesson Jeff! Thanks for adding the babe ... she seems like such a part of you now, it was weird seeing pics without her. Glad you had fun today - even tho the challenge of getting around took extra time. Being in the elevator at the right time paid off!
Love ya

Lynn Haanen said...

I guess I haven't given George Washington much thought beyond the lessons taught in the primary grades. Thanks for the new insights. Guess I'll have to visit there myself someday. Looking forward to your next entry! And thanks for another peek at your precious little girl!