Washington Inaugurated - History

Washington Inaugurated - History


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1789- Washington Inaugurated

The outgoing Congress of the Confederation set the first Wednesday in January for choosing presidential electors. Despite his reluctance to serve as President, Washington was the overwhelming choice of the electors. On April 16th, Washington left Mt Vernon, Virginia, for a triumphal journey to New York City to assume the Presidency. He was given a civic dinner in Alexandria, Virginia. After he crossed the Potomac, he was given the honors of the city of Baltimore. In Wilmington, Delaware, he was again honored. He was met at the Pennsylvania line and escorted into the city by the state's governor. Two triumphal arches had been prepared at the southern entrance of the city, and a parade was held in Washington’s honor. It was then on to Trenton, New Jersey, for another celebration. On April 23, Washington reached Elizabethtown, New Jersey, where a barge awaited him with thirteen master pilots in white uniforms. New York Harbor was filled with decorated boats honoring the general. The shore was packed with people; and as Washington's barge arrived at Murray's Wharf, the city celebrated as volleys of cannon fire were released and the bands struck up music.

On April 30th, Washington took the oath of office on a balcony of the Federal Hall. The oath was given by Chancellor Robert Livingston, Chief Justice of New York. Washington then returned inside to read his inaugural address to Congress.

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10 Facts About President Washington's Election

On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first president. The path to the presidency, and the task of leading a new nation, was uncharted territory for which there was no precedent.

1. As the first, Washington had to create the American presidency from scratch

George Washington, as the first president, was well aware of the great responsibility of defining the American presidency. "I walk on untrodden ground," was a frequent comment he made in the days leading up to his first inauguration.

Washington believed that the precedents he set must make the presidency powerful enough to function effectively in the national government, but at the same time these practices could not show any tendency toward monarchy or dictatorship.

In addition to defining the actual powers of the office, Washington also needed to show the new nation how the leader of a democracy should behave socially. There was no precedent for this office in a world full of kings, leaving Washington the monumental task of figuring out how to act like a president.

2. Washington's presidential campaign cost zero dollars-- because he did absolutely no public campaigning

Presidential candidates of the 21st century spend millions of dollars winning the endorsements of their parties and mounting nationwide campaigns. But Washington himself did absolutely no public campaigning, and even cast doubt on whether he would take the job if elected. The retired general said that he had "no wish which aspires beyond the humble and happy lot of living and dying a private citizen" at his Mount Vernon farm.

3. Washington did not really want to be president

After winning the Revolutionary War and helping set up the new government for his country at the Constitutional Convention, George Washington's thoughts turned away from battlefields and assembly halls to a much more modest arena-- his home at his Mount Vernon estate -- and the opportunity of "living and dying a private citizen on my own farm."

Yet, his dreams of a tranquil retirement were at odds with his peers and the American people at large. Even before the Constitution was ratified, rumors spread declaring George Washington would likely elected first President of the United States (much to the dismay of Washington himself).

George Washington's Reasons for Wanting to Decline the Presidency

2. Washington's "encreasing fondness for agricultural amusements"

3. "My growing love of retirement"

4. Belief that the Anti-Federalists may oppose his selection

5. After having already retired in 1783, Washington feared he would be looked upon as inconsistent, rash, and ambitious if he returned to office

6. Belief that "some other person. could execute all the duties full as satisfactorily as myself."

On the other hand, Washington could not escape his conscience. In a formal letter of acceptance, Washington succinctly assented to what he had agonized over for more than a year:

Having concluded to obey the important and flattering call of my Country .

4. Washington is the only president to have been unanimously elected by the Electoral College

In both the election of 1789 and 1792 Washington received all votes from the Electoral College. During the first election, Washington won the electors of all ten eligible states. Three states, however, did not contribute to the vote total. Both North Carolina and Rhode Island were ineligible neither had ratified the Constitution yet. In addition, New York was unable to participate in the election, as the legislature had not passed a bill in time to appoint its eight electors. In 1792, Washington received all 132 electoral votes, winning each of the fifteen states.

5. Washington was the only president inaugurated in two cities

However, neither of those cities was Washington, D.C., as the seat of government did not move there until 1800. Washington&rsquos first inauguration occurred in New York City on the portico of Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan on April 30, 1789. The second inauguration was in Philadelphia, held in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall on March 4, 1793.

6. First Lady Martha Washington had her own separate inaugural celebration which lasted 11 days (3 more than her husband's)

One month after President Washington left Mount Vernon, Martha Washington set out on her own triumphant trip to the seat of the new government in New York. On May 16 1789, Mrs. Washington and her grandchildren, Nelly and Washy, embarked on an 11-day journey through Baltimore, Philadelphia, and more.

Her entourage attracted considerable attention and was greeted by crowded streets filled with admirers, ringing church bells, fireworks, and gun salutes.

7. The streets were so filled with people at Washington's inauguration in New York that the newly elected president had to walk home

President Washington's inauguration was celebrated with illuminations and fireworks. Citizens of the new nation showed up in droves. One exhilarated eyewitness recalled that " . my sensibility was wound to such a pitch that I could do no more than wave my hat with the rest, without the power of joining in the requested acclamations which rent the air!" Another described the streets as "so dense that it seemed as if one might literally walk on the heads of people".

8. The first artist to do a life portrait of President Washington was a former loyalist

Although John Ramage (circa 1748-1802) is well-known among art historians and collectors of portrait miniatures, his name is not immediately associated with Washington portraiture. Yet, Ramage painted George Washington from the life and was the first artist to whom he sat as President of the United States.

Ramage was in Boston, Massachusetts when the Revolutionary War broke out. There he enlisted in a unit formed by Irish Loyalists to fight the American colonials and General Washington&rsquos Continental Army. After the war, he became firmly established in New York&rsquos small artistic community.

Considered the best artist in the city, he was the obvious choice for Washington's first presidential portrait. The sitting took place on October 3, 1789, probably in the president's official residence on Cherry Street in New York.

9. The initial draft of the first inaugural address was over seventy pages long

James Madison later called the rambling first draft a "strange production". The first draft of over seventy pages had been prepared by Washington's aide David Humphreys and included extensive recommendations to Congress on such topics as internal improvements, military affairs, international treaties, and the expansion of national borders. After a private meeting at Mount Vernon, Madison prepared a drastically more concise address which left more open to Congress's discretion.

10. Washington's Acts of Congress, a rare volume which includes the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a record of acts passed by the first Congress, returned to the Mount Vernon collection in 2012

George Washington's copy of the Acts passed at a Congress of the United States of America (New-York, 1789) contains key founding documents establishing the Union: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a record of acts passed by the first Congress.

The most significant features of this book are Washington&rsquos personal notes, penciled in the margins. All of his notes in this volume appear alongside the text of the Constitution, where he drew neat brackets to highlight passages of particular interest.

Washington brought the book home to Mount Vernon after retiring from the presidency in March 1797. Since leaving the hands of the Washington family in 1876, it has been treasured and preserved by several noted private collectors. The book now resides within The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

Video

Justice Kennedy on George Washington

Watch our interview with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Learn about the vital role that Washington played during our founding.

The Library

The Acts of Congress

Learn more about George Washington's annotated copy of The Acts of Congress - one of the prized holdings in our Library collection.

More Facts

Ten Facts About Washington’s Presidency

Did you know that President Washington never lived in Washington D.C.? Learn more about how George Washington shaped the role and function of the President of the United States.

The First President

Unanimously elected twice, President George Washington helped shape the office's future role and powers, as well as set both formal and informal precedents for future presidents.

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Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization.

We don't accept government funding and rely upon private contributions to help preserve George Washington's home and legacy.

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About

Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, a private, non-profit organization.

We don't accept government funding and rely upon private contributions to help preserve George Washington's home and legacy.


New York City and the Inauguration of George Washington

The story of New York City’s role in the birth of American government is sometimes forgotten. Most of the buildings important to the first U.S. Congress, which met here from the spring of 1789 to the late summer of 1790, have long been demolished. There’s little to remind us that our modern form of government was, in part, invented here on these city streets.

Riding high on the victories of the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers organized a makeshift Congress under the Articles of Confederation. After an unfortunate crisis in Philadelphia, that early group of politicians from the 13 states eventually drifted up to New York (specifically to New York’s City Hall, to be called Federal Hall) to meet. But they were an organization without much power or respect.

The fate of the young nation lay on the shoulders of George Washington who arrived in New York in the spring of 1789 to be inaugurated as the first president of the United States. His swearing-in would finally unite Americans around their government and would imbue the port city of New York with a new urgency.

This is Part One of a two part celebration of these years, featuring cantankerous vice presidents, festive cannonades, and burning plumage! (Part Two arrives in two weeks.)

FEATURING Washington, Adams, Madison, Livingston and, of course, HAMILTON!

The Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast is brought to you …. by you!

We are now producing a new Bowery Boys podcast every two weeks. We’re also looking to improve the show in other ways and expand in other ways as well — through publishing, social media, live events and other forms of media. But we can only do this with your help!

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The signing of the Constitution, September 17, 1787.

George traveling to his inauguration, as depicted in the 1896 book “The Century book of famous Americans : the story of a young people’s pilgrimage to historic homes”

Internet Archive Book Images

And from an 1889 illustration:

Courtesy NYPL

President-Elect Washington crosses floating bridge (Gray’s Ferry) — and through one of many triumphal arches — on his inaugural journey, Philadelphia, April 20, 1789

NYPL

Washington’s reception on the bridge of Trenton in 1789 on his way to be inaugurated 1st president of the U. S.

NYPL

An illustration from 1855 depicts Old City Hall before it was renovated to house the new federal government.

Another view, with Washington’s six-horse coach in the foreground.

NYPL

A depiction of Broad Street and Federal Hall as it looked in 1797, but you can easily picture how filled the streets would have been on Washington’s inauguration just eight years earlier.

NYPL

Here’s how it looked on the 2008 HBO mini-series John Adams:

From an 1899 oil painting (artist unknown)

The presidential mansion on Cherry Street:

NYPL

The lovely Richmond Hill, the vice presidential mansion home of John and Abigail Adams

St. Paul’s Chapel, where Washington worshipped in New York. Â More information at Trinity’s website.


Arriving at the Senate Chamber

The procession arrives at Federal Hall thirty minutes later. The military units are drawn up on two sides to provide avenue for the president-elect and his party. Washington proceeds to the Senate chamber where the two houses of Congress awaited their new head of state and is formally welcomed by John Adams, his vice president.


Washington Inaugurated - History

T he Constitution of the United States was ratified by the states in June 1788. In February of the following year the new nation's Electoral College selected George Washington to be its first president. On April 16, 1789 Washington began the journey from his home at Mount Vernon to New York City, then the nation's capital, where he would be inaugurated. Washington was reluctant to leave the serenity of his home and uncertain about his new position. His journal entry for that day noted:

His journey to New York City took seven days and was transformed into a triumphal procession by the crowds and local officials who greeted the new president along the way. Celebrations erupted at numerous towns along his route including Alexandria, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia and Trenton. Washington arrived at Elizabeth Town, NJ on April 23 where a ceremonial barge awaited to take him across the river to Manhattan.

Rudolph Von Dorsten was the Secretary of the Dutch Legation in New York City and describes Washington's entrance into the city:

"President George Washington made his entry into New York on Thursday, April 23d. On the previous day a barge left this city. The barge was built expressly by the citizens of New York, and was rowed by thirteen pilots, all dressed in white. A committee of three Senators and five Representatives on behalf of Congress, and three of the first officers on behalf of New York, went to Elizabethtown in New Jersey, to welcome the President, and to await his arrival there. His Excellency was also accompanied by some well-equipped sloops and by a multitude of small craft with citizens of New Jersey and New York on board.

A Spanish royal packet-boat, happening to be anchored at the entrance of the harbor, at sight of the barge, on board of which was

Washington crosses to New York
the President, fired a signal-shot, whereupon that vessel was dressed at once with the flags of all nations. When the presidential barge passed, the Spanish vessel saluted his Excellency by firing thirteen guns, which was repeated by the Battery, and again thirteen guns were fired by the fort when the President landed.

His Excellency was received by Governor George Clinton, the mayor of the city and other officers, and, after a procession had formed, consisting of some companies of uniformed citizens and the merchants and other citizens of the city, the President walked with his escort and, Governor Clinton at his side, to the house prepared by Congress for his use."

Taking the Oath of Office

Washington remained at his New York residence for a week while the House and the Senate ironed out their differences over how the formal inauguration should be conducted. Finally, on April 30, Washington was escorted to Federal Hall on Wall Street and into the Senate Chamber. Washington, Vice President John Adams, the Senators and Representatives stepped out of the chamber onto a balcony overlooking the street filled with a cheering crowd. As there were as yet no Supreme Court Justices, the Oath of Office was administered by Chancellor Robert R. Livingstone - New York's highest ranking judge. After taking the oath, Washington and the others returned to the Senate Chamber where the new president gave a short speech.

William Maclay was a farmer, a lawyer and one of Pennsylvania's Senators. He kept a diary of his experiences. We pick up his story as Washington arrives at the Senate Chamber:

"The President advanced between the Senate and Representatives, bowing to each. He was placed in the chair by the Vice-President the Senate with their president on the right, the Speaker and the Representatives on his left. The Vice-President rose and addressed a short sentence to him. The import of it was that he should now take the oath of office as President. He seemed to have forgot half what he was to say, for he made a dead pause and stood for some time, to appearance, in a vacant mood. He finished with a formal bow, and the President was conducted out of the middle window into the gallery, and the

Washington takes the oath
oath was administered by the Chancellor. Notice that the business done was communicated to the crowd by proclamation, etc., who gave three cheers, and repeated it on the President bowing to them.

As the company returned into the Senate chamber, the President took the, chair and the Senators and Representatives, their seats. He rose, and all arose also, and addressed them. This great man was agitated and embarrassed more than ever he was by the leveled cannon or pointed musket. He trembled, and several times could scarce make out to read, though it must be supposed he had often read it before.

He put part of the fingers of his left hand into the side of what I think the tailors call the faIl of the breeches (corresponding to the modern side-pocket), changing the paper into his left (right) hand. After some time he then did the same with some of the fingers of his right hand.

When he came to the words all the world, he made a flourish with his right hand, which left rather an ungainly impression. I sincerely, for my part, wished all set ceremony in the hands of the dancing-masters, and that this first of men had read off his address in the plainest manner, without ever taking his eyes from the paper, for I felt hurt that he was not first in everything.

He was dressed in deep brown, with metal buttons, with an eagle on them, white stockings, a. bag, and sword."

References:
Van Dorsten's account was first published in Clarence Bowen (ed.) The History of the Centennial Celebration of the Inauguration of George Washington as First President of the United States (1892) republished in Paul Angle (ed.) The American Reader (1958) Senator Maclay's account appears in Bowling, Kenneth, Helen Vent (eds.) The Diary of William Maclay (1988) Jackson, Donald (ed) The Diaries of George Washington (1976-1979) Schecter, Stephen L. and Richard Bernstein (eds.) Well Begun: Chronicles of the Early National Period (1989).


Preparations for the Inauguration

After delays in counting votes and certifying the election, Washington was officially informed that he had been elected on April 14, 1789. The secretary of Congress traveled to Mount Vernon to deliver the news. In an oddly formal meeting, Charles Thomson, the official messenger, and Washington read prepared statements to each other. Washington agreed to serve.

He left for New York City two days later. The trip was long, and even with Washington's carriage (a luxury vehicle of the time), it was arduous. Washington was met by crowds at every stop. On many nights he felt obligated to attend dinners hosted by local dignitaries, during which he was toasted effusively.

After a large crowd welcomed him in Philadelphia, Washington was hoping to arrive in New York City (the location of the inauguration as D.C. had not yet become the nation's capital) quietly. He didn't get his wish.

On April 23, 1789, Washington was ferried to Manhattan from Elizabeth, New Jersey, aboard an elaborately decorated barge. His arrival in New York was a massive public event. A letter describing the festivities that appeared in newspapers mentioned a cannon salute was fired as Washington's barge passed the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan.

A parade formed consisting of a cavalry troop formed when he landed and also included an artillery unit, "military officers," and "the President's Guard composed of Grenadiers of the First Regiment." Washington, along with city and state officials and followed by hundreds of citizens, marched to the mansion rented as the President's House.

The letter from New York published in the Boston Independent Chronicle on April 30, 1789, mentioned that flags and banners were displayed from buildings, and "bells were rung." Women waved from windows.

During the following week, Washington was kept busy holding meetings and organizing his new household on Cherry Street. His wife, Martha Washington, arrived in New York a few days later accompanied by servants which included enslaved people brought from Washington's Virginia estate at Mount Vernon.


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Jackson’s parade was historic, but what happened after it became notorious. A mob of his salt-of-the-earth supporters descended on the White House, horrifying Washington socialites in their silks and furs. They shoved waiters and climbed on upholstered furniture in work boots. Eventually, a clever steward lured them outside with tubs of whiskey punch, but not before they broke china and dirtied the carpets.

President-elect Donald Trump has been compared to Jackson many times. Of all the people who could have moved into the White House on Jan. 20, it is Trump—stager of fervid rallies, star of reality TV, builder of resorts and casinos—who seems most likely to arrive with a circus in tow.

In fact, Trump’s inauguration will be on the skimpy side compared to others, given that organizers have struggled to attract performers. The chief of Trump’s inaugural committee promised that what it lacks in A-listers it will make up for with “a soft sensuality”—a weirdly NC-17 phrase reminiscent of the discarded Trump-Pence campaign logo that had a capital T, er, entering a P. Maybe it means the design of the parade and inaugural balls will reflect Trump’s rococo taste, or maybe the surrogate was just clumsily trying to manage expectations.

Like Andrew Jackson, Trump has inspired thousands of ordinary citizens to come to Washington to watch him ascend to the presidency. The difference is that many of them are coming to protest him from the sidelines, while his formal parade will feature the Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team, the Boy Scouts, the U.S. Border Patrol Pipes and Drums, and school marching bands from distant parts of the country (D.C. bands declined the invitation). About 8,000 people will be involved in the one-hour event, a big drop from the 15,000 who took part in Barack Obama’s first parade in 2009.

Parades were more extravagant a century ago. At Teddy Roosevelt’s inauguration in 1905, 50,000 flags decorated Pennsylvania Avenue, and the Apache chief Geronimo and the Rough Riders drew huge crowds. Roosevelt watched his parade from a neoclassical reviewing stand in a “Court of Honor” that stretched between 15th and 17th Streets NW, in imitation of the World’s Fair of 1893 (Chicago’s famous “White City”). At that time, Pennsylvania Avenue merchants set up general viewing stands in front of their stores and sold tickets to the public.

Dwight Eisenhower’s parade in 1953 was a blowout. “A lot of folks believe that 1953 was the biggest,” says Jim Bendat, the author of Democracy’s Big Day, a history of inaugurations. It had 73 bands, 59 floats, three elephants, an Alaskan dog team, and a turtle waving an American flag with its front legs. It lasted four-and-a-half hours.

James Garfield put on a grand spectacle despite winning by the thinnest of margins: less than 10,000 votes out of 9 million. Perhaps more than any other president, he grasped the architectural possibilities of the occasion, building 39 large wooden arches at intersections between the Capitol and the White House. The main arch was 70 feet high and painted bronze, straddling 15th Street north of Pennsylvania. Garfield, inaugurated in 1881, was also the first president to build a formal reviewing stand, not a makeshift platform of wood and canvas.

From Garfield’s day until the late 20th century, considerable thought went into the design of the president’s stand. For a time, the American Institute of Architects even helped the inaugural committee choose the designer in a competition.

The master of the reviewing stand was Waddy Wood, the architect of many D.C. landmarks, including the U.S. Department of the Interior and what is now the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Wood designed a stand for Woodrow Wilson in 1913 and two for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1933 and 1937. The first of FDR’s was designed to resemble Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated. The second was an elaborate replica of the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home.

Presidential stands took a Modernist turn with Harry Truman’s inauguration, and the design for John F. Kennedy’s in 1961 by local architect Robert Paul Brockett—a simple pavilion with a slightly upturned roof and rows of supporting piers—remains the default today. Of course, the pavilion is now fitted with a carapace of bulletproof glass and other security measures. Safety and comfort, not visual symbolism, have become the overriding concerns.

Trump’s stand looks a lot like those used by Obama and George W. Bush. But he has broken with tradition another way—by firing Charlie Brotman, the announcer for every parade since 1957. That makes inauguration historian Bendat indignant. “I think it’s the most petty thing I’ve ever heard,” he says. (Brotman has been hired as an announcer for NBC.) Another unexpected move by Team Trump was dismissing the commander of the D.C. National Guard, effective the minute Trump takes office, 12 p.m. on Inauguration Day. The motivation is unclear, but there will be an abrupt change of command as the city churns with Trump supporters, protesters, and tens of thousands of law enforcement and troops.

There were protests at George W. Bush’s inaugurations and at Richard Nixon’s in 1969, when opponents of the Vietnam War camped on the Mall and threw rocks and tomatoes at the presidential motorcade. But the Women’s March and other demonstrations planned for this inauguration weekend could dwarf those. Two hundred bus groups have applied to park at RFK Stadium on Jan. 20 and 1,200 on the day after, when the Women’s March on Washington is being held. Protesters may end up outnumbering supporters, which would be a first.

“The protest that takes place on the Saturday will be probably the largest protest for an inauguration weekend we’ve ever seen,” Bendat says.

On Inauguration Day itself, thousands of protesters as well as supporters are expected to line the parade route. (D.C. anticipates 800,000 people in total.) Riding past his ethically compromised hotel in the Old Post Office, with gold letters spelling out his name on the facade, will the new president get out of the limo and pose for photos? The ANSWER Coalition, an activist group, has received a permit to demonstrate in the west end of Freedom Plaza, probably within earshot of the hotel.

Despite riding in armored limos for their protection, most first couples choose to walk part of the mile-and-a-half-long route. (The one couple that walked the whole way was, unsurprisingly, the Carters.)

Will the Trumps walk any part of the route? The president-elect thrives on adulation but loathes criticism, and is rumored to wear a bulletproof vest out of fear for his safety.

The best thing he could do to restore confidence at such a fraught time is put duty over nerves and ego. Trump could get out of the car near the National Archives where the nation’s founding documents are kept to signal deference to their principles. He could walk hand in hand with Melania down the avenue, accepting the jeers of protesters as well as the applause. He could show that he is humbled by the massive responsibility that now rests on his shoulders.


Presidency

In 1789, George Washington was elected as the first President of the United States. In 1793, Washington was elected for two terms as president.

Farewell Address

In 1997, when his second term ended, Washington gave a farewell speech. In his farewell address, Washington stressed national unity, unselfish cooperation, caution in foreign affairs, a strong defense, and a respect for God’s laws. You can read the full Farewell Address here.

George Washington set multiple precedents for all the successive presidents to follow. One was a two-year term (even though Franklin D. Roosevelt served four terms). George Washington was a great example for everyone.


George Washington’s reluctance to become president, 1789

From 1787 to 1789, as the Constitution was submitted for ratification by the states, most Americans assumed that George Washington would be the first president. In this April 1789 letter to General Henry Knox, his friend from the Continental Army who served as Secretary of War, Washington accepted the inevitability of his election to the presidency, but with remarkable reluctance. His tone suggests how precarious the future of America seemed to him. Just twenty-nine days later Washington would be inaugurated in the (then) capital, New York City, and would advise his fellow citizens that “the destiny of the Republican model of Government [is] staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

A full transcript is available.

Transcript

Mount Vernon April 1 st . 1789

The Mail of the 30 th . brought me your favor the 23 d . – For which, & the regular information you have had the goodness to transmit of the state of things in New York, I feel myself very much obliged, and thank you accordingly. –

I feel for those Members of the new Congress, who, hitherto, have given an unavailing attendance at the theatre of business: – For myself, the delay may be compared to a reprieve for in confidence I can assure you – with the world it would obtain little credit – that my movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied with feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution: so unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares to quit a peaceful abode for an Ocean of difficulties, without that competency of political skill – abilities [inserted: & inclination] which is necessary to manage the helm. – I am sensible, that I am embarking the voice of my Countrymen and a good name of my own, on this voyage, but what returns will be made for them – Heaven alone can foretell. – Integrity & firmness is all I can promise – these, be the voyage long or short, never shall forsake me although I may be deserted by all men. – For of the consolations which are to be derived from these (under any circumstances) the world cannot deprive me. – With best wishes for M rs . Knox, & sincere friendship for yourself – I remain


Lesson Plans

An analysis worksheet prompting students to read and analyze historic places using twenty questions. The worksheet may be used during field trips to historic places or in a classroom setting while using virtual tours or digital images of historic spaces. Included are links to Mount Vernon's virtual tour in Virginia and Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

The &ldquo20 Questions&rdquo series worksheets from George Washington&rsquos Mount Vernon are designed to guide students in a structured exploration of new primary sources. Each set of questions moves from concrete observations to an analysis of the source&rsquos relationship to people that lived in the past. The last questions ask students to make larger conclusions about the culture of the time to inform a final writing prompt. Included with each worksheet are primary sources from George Washington&rsquos world.

20 Questions for Reading and Evaluating Historic Prints

An analysis worksheet prompting students to read and analyze historic prints using twenty questions. Included are sample prints related to the Constitution, including: The Ninth and Sufficient Pillar Raised and A Display of the United States of America.

The &ldquo20 Questions&rdquo series worksheets from George Washington&rsquos Mount Vernon are designed to guide students in a structured exploration of new primary sources. Each set of questions moves from concrete observations to an analysis of the source&rsquos relationship to people that lived in the past. The last questions ask students to make larger conclusions about the culture of the time to inform a final writing prompt. Included with each worksheet are primary sources from George Washington&rsquos world.

20 Questions for Reading and Evaluating Historic Recipes

An analysis worksheet prompting students to read and analyze historic recipes using twenty questions. Included are sample recipes, including: Martha Washington's Great Cake Recipe, as well as 18th-century recipes for Ice Cream, Broiled Herring, and Indian Pudding.

The &ldquo20 Questions&rdquo series worksheets from George Washington&rsquos Mount Vernon are designed to guide students in a structured exploration of new primary sources. Each set of questions moves from concrete observations to an analysis of the source&rsquos relationship to people that lived in the past. The last questions ask students to make larger conclusions about the culture of the time to inform a final writing prompt. Included with each worksheet are primary sources from George Washington&rsquos world.

20 Questions for Reading and Evaluating Objects

An analysis worksheet prompting students to read and analyze objects using twenty questions. Included are sample objects for analysis, including: The Key to the Bastille, Martha Washington's shoes, George Washington's Field Bedstead, and a Surveyor's Compass.

The &ldquo20 Questions&rdquo series worksheets from George Washington&rsquos Mount Vernon are designed to guide students in a structured exploration of new primary sources. Each set of questions moves from concrete observations to an analysis of the source&rsquos relationship to people that lived in the past. The last questions ask students to make larger conclusions about the culture of the time to inform a final writing prompt. Included with each worksheet are primary sources from George Washington&rsquos world.

A Birthday Celebration for George Washington

Plan a birthday party for George Washington in your classroom. Students join either a Birthday Party Planning Committee or a Parade Committee to plan a celebration to honor George Washington's birthday.

An Ale Glass

This lesson highlights the global economy of the 18th century by tracing one of Washington's ale glasses through production to consumption. Students will create a story on all the different people that they think would have touched the ale glass throughout this process. This activity will make them realize the many hidden hands behind a common object.

The American Revolution and Suffrage

This DBQ-style lesson asks students to examine suffrage-era primary sources to understand the role of revolutionary rhetoric in the thoughts, actions, and goals of the women&rsquos movement.

American Revolution Coloring Pages

American Revolution themed coloring pages featuring George Washington at Princeton, George Washington Crossing the Delaware, and a Map of the Thirteen Colonies.

American Revolution Fill-In-The-Blank

A fill-in-the-blank activity for students featuring eight key events of the American Revolution. Questions ask students to identify events from the Boston Tea Party to the Crossing of the Delaware to the Victory at Yorktown.

The American Revolution's Legacy of Protest

This DBQ style lesson asks students to use multiple primary and secondary sources from the 18th-21st centuries to evaluate the statement: Americans feel that those in positions of authority tend to be tyrannical and unjust. This lesson was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Michael Ellis.

Apotheosis of Washington

The primary documents in this activity depict the apotheosis of Washington through visual and text-based primary sources. Students have an opportunity to analyze and compare different types of primary sources to better understand the ways in which Washington was characterized after his death. Reflective practice on a historical figure&rsquos legacy provides context and periodization for historical practice.

Be an Archaeologist

This activity sheet focuses students' attention on historical artifacts in the Archaeology collection to learn more about the enslaved population's lives at Mount Vernon. Students will learn how to use artifacts as a primary source, which is especially important in such cases where artifacts are some of the only primary sources left from enslaved communities.

Be Washington: Genet Affair

This lesson was created to be used with Mount Vernon's Be Washington interactive experience. Students will analyze advice given to President George Washington during the Genet Affair crisis in 1794 through the use of primary and secondary sources.

Be Washington: Newburgh Conspiracy

This lesson was created to be used with Mount Vernon's Be Washington interactive experience. Students will analyze advice given to General George Washington during the Newburgh Conspiracy crisis in 1783 through the use of primary and secondary sources.

Be Washington: Second Trenton

This lesson was created to be used with Mount Vernon's Be Washington interactive experience. Students will analyze advice given to President George Washington during the Battle of Second Trenton in 1777 through the use of primary and secondary sources.

Be Washington: Whiskey Rebellion

This lesson was created to be used with Mount Vernon's Be Washington interactive experience. Students will analyze advice given to President George Washington during the Whiskey Rebellion crisis in 1794 through the use of primary and secondary sources.

Breaking and Mending the Two-Term Precedent

This lesson draws a connection between George Washington&rsquos establishment of the two-term precedent for the presidency and Franklin Delano Roosevelt&rsquos breaking of that precedent nearly 150 years later. In this lesson, students will analyze multiple primary and secondary sources, both collaboratively and independently. Discussion and debate is a large focus of this lesson. Students will make interdisciplinary connections between history and government/civics. This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Hannah Markwardt.

Bullet Journaling with Washington

This activity connects students to George Washington's meticulous record keeping by equating it with modern day bullet journaling. Students will look at a 1793 Farm Report made by one of Washington's overseers and was sent to him while he was President. They will then keep a bullet journal for a week to experiment with recording their own information. By reflecting on their experience they will be able to get a better understanding of Washington and his personality.

Character Chronicles

Ten newspaper-style explorations into the character traits of George Washington. Character traits covered include integrity, courage, perseverance, humility and devotion among others. This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Lisa Schisler.

Choose Your Weapon

This activity recreates the distribution of Washington's swords between his five nephews after his death. In groups of five, students will learn about five of George Washington's swords, after which they work together to choose which sword they would pick. They will consequently learn about how swords were used in the 18th century to represent a person's rank and identity, as well as the situation they are in. Students will also realize how artifacts are not static and their lives continue beyond their original use.

A Classroom Constitutional Convention

This lesson helps students understand the confusion and difficulties of the Constitutional Convention. Students will be separated into groups where they have to create a new form of government for their classroom that is more "democratic" than its current "monarchy" where the teacher as at its head. They will then reflect on how easy or hard it was to create a new form of government and convince others of their opinions.

The Concept of Ownership

This DBQ style lesson asks students to use multiple primary source objects from Mount Vernon&rsquos collection to explore the concept of ownership and what it can tell them about enslaved people in the 18th century. This lesson was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Michael Ellis.

The Constitution as a Job Description

In this lesson, students are asked to use Article 1 and Article 2 of the Constitution and George Washington's notes on his personal copy of the document to create a job description for the President of the United States in 1787.

The Constitutional Convention through Biography

This lesson outlines a role-playing activity intended to help students better understand the perspectives of individual delegates at the critical point when they were debating representation at the Constitutional Convention.

Create Your Own Infographic

This activity allows students to analyze a primary source and convey that information in the form of an infographic. Students will examine George Washington's List of Enslaved People, 1799 and create their own infographic to visually represent that data to convey a message. This will increase their media literary skills by analyzing the sources of infographics, while also learning more about the enslaved population at Mount Vernon in 1799.

Creating 18th Century Clothing in the Classroom

A guide to re-creating 18th-century style clothing, including hats and shoes, using modern materials. A great resource for biography projects, wax museums, and school plays.

Crossing the Delaware Comparison

In this lesson, students will compare Washington Crossing the Delaware to a suffrage political cartoon. This gives students the opportunity to analyze images while comparing social movements over time.

Curating the Slave Quarters

A lesson plan that encourages students to analyze and use evidence from diverse sources to act as curators and create an interpretation plan for the Greenhouse Slave Quarters at Mount Vernon.

The Death of Martha Washington

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to read and analyze an obituary for Martha Washington printed in the Augusta Herald on June 9, 1802. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Disease During Wartime

A lesson plan that draws a connection between the threat of smallpox during the Revolutionary War and the influenza pandemic during World War I. In this lesson, students will utilize educational technology to consult primary, secondary, and tertiary sources in the completion of a webquest. Writing across the curriculum is a large focus of this lesson. Students will make interdisciplinary connections between history and science (specifically biology). This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Hannah Markwardt.

Enslaved Worker's Cabin

This activity helps students understand the enslaved workers' housing conditions on George Washington's outlying farms. Students will measure out the dimensions of the size of a enslaved worker's cabin to think about how space was apart of the mental restrictions of slavery as well as the physical limitations.

Establishing the Presidency

A lesson plan that facilitates discussion amongst students about the challenges George Washington faced as the first President of the United States.

Farewell Address: Giving Advice and Leaving a Legacy

This lesson examines George Washington's advice in his Farewell Address in order to understand the context and rationale for it. Students are asked to create their own farewell address that offers advice to students in next year's class, specifically referencing a growth mindset. This lesson was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Joanne Howard.

Feeding the Continental Army Winter 1775-1776, Boston

An infograph created by the staff at the Washington Library that visually represents the food required to feed the Continental Army during the Siege of Boston.

First in Industrialization

A lesson that draws a connection between the innovative steps that George Washington took as &ldquofirst farmer&rdquo and the wave of changes that comprised the American Industrial Revolution. Students will explore information from sources such as text, video, and drawings. Students will make interdisciplinary connections between history and science/engineering. This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Hannah Markwardt.

Flat George Washington

A cut-and-color activity sheet that encourages students to find George Washington in their school or community.

Following in the Footsteps of Their Fathers?

This DBQ style lesson asks students to use multiple primary and secondary sources to evaluate if the Southern secession movement in the 19th century was an extension of the ideals of the American Revolution. This lesson was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Michael Ellis.

George Washington and Civic Virtue

A lesson focused on George Washington&rsquos character and civic virtues. Students examine the connection between these virtues and fostering a democratic and free society in the United States.

George Washington and the Suffragists

Students will compare traditional imagery of George Washington and the American Revolution to political cartoons from the suffrage movement. This allows students to better understand the goals of suffragists, as well as the legacy of Revolutionary figures and ideals.

George Washington Farmer

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to use historical thinking skills to analyze a work of art depicting George Washington's life. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

George Washington in Song

A lesson asking students to investigate and analyze the historical context of the Revolutionary War song, Yankee Doodle. As a culminating activity, students are asked to create their own additional verses about George Washington to the tune of the song.

George Washington in the Wilderness Coloring Page

A coloring page based on the painting Washington and Gist Crossing the Allegheny River attributed to artist Daniel Huntington.

George Washington Personality Case Study

In this psychology lesson, students look at short primary and secondary source excerpts in order to determine how different psychologists (Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Albert Bandura, and any trait theorist) might discuss the personality of George Washington. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Kelsey Snyder.

George Washington Quotes

This classroom resource directly supports the video A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Making of the Constitution. Use this reference sheet to draw attention to evidence on the state of the government under the Articles of Confederation using George Washington's own words.

George Washington's List of Enslaved People, 1799

A lesson that uses George Washington&rsquos list of enslaved people from 1799 to reveal him as a meticulous businessman and slave owner. Students will explore information related to the institution of slavery in the 18th century.

George Washington's Foreign Policy

A lesson that asks students to connect George Washington&rsquos Farewell Address to later presidential foreign policy messages. As a group, the class will discuss the influence Washington&rsquos message had on the nation and posterity. Working in groups, students investigate excerpts from later presidential foreign policy messages and compare and contrast these with Washington&rsquos Farewell Address. A Socratic Seminar analyzing past U.S. foreign policy also asks students to chart a course for future U.S. foreign policy.

George Washington's Inauguration

Two activity sheets with information and short activities introduce young students to President George Washington. Students learn about George Washington's election as President and his journey from Mount Vernon to New York City for his inauguration, as well as what happens during a presidential inauguration.

George Washington's Letter to Henry Knox About the Presidency

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to use historical thinking skills to source an excerpt from George Washington's 1789 letter to Henry Knox about accepting the presidency. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

George Washington's Life in Color

Four seasonal magazines use inquiry, cross-curricular connections, and coloring pages to explore color through the landscape George Washington loved, the home he built, the army he led, and more. Students learn how Washington&rsquos world encompassed the full spectrum of colors by examining 18th-century life and material culture. This resource was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Lynn Miller.

George Washington's Tweets

This activity has students summarizing entries from George Washington's 1754 Journal in the form of a tweet. Students will be divided into groups to analyze one of the entries from The Journal of Major George Washington, which was written after Washington's expedition to the Ohio territory before the French and Indian War. They will them summarize that information by transforming it into a tweet and then presenting that to their fellow classmates.

George Washington's Views on Slavery

A lesson that asks students to examine document-based evidence related to George Washington and slavery. Students are asked to use evidence to write an essay that answers the essential question: What were George Washington&rsquos views on slavery?

A Grub Hoe

This activity is designed to question students' assumptions on how labor was divided at Mount Vernon. Students will look at an artifact (the grub hoe) and then analyze primary and secondary sources to reinterpret that artifact. They will learn that enslaved women primary worked in the fields, while enslaved men usually did "skilled" tasks. This is an activity that will illustrate how gender binaries are constructed and have changed throughout history. It also reinforces students' STEM skills, such as percentages and ratios.

Hoecake Recipe

This lesson shows how recipes are one way women documented their lives in the 18th century. Students will closely examine a recipe for hoecakes and focus on the people involved in that recipe. They will then hypothesize on the lives and interactions of those people based on the recipe.

Home at Mount Vernon

A Readers' Theater and Read Aloud Story that introduce students to the people who lived and worked at George Washington's Mount Vernon plantation. Students meet members of the Washington family, members of the enslaved community at Mount Vernon, and indentured servants working on the estate. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Julie Huson.

Ice Cream at Mount Vernon

An inquiry-based module that provides primary and secondary sources to help students answer the question: Why was ice cream an exclusive treat at Mount Vernon long ago? Using a familiar sweet treat as an entry point, students research and analyze the lives of enslaved individuals, as well as the specialized skills and objects that went into serving a single dish of ice cream. Source materials include farm reports, material culture objects, rooms, maps, and biographies. This project was developed in partnership with McGraw Hill Education.

Imperial Trade in 18th Century British North America

An infograph created by the staff at the Washington Library that visually represents colonial imports and exports between 1768-1772.

The Inauguration of George Washington

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to read and analyze George Washington's diary entry from April 16, 1789, the day he left Mount Vernon for his inauguration in New York City. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Integrating Women's History in the Founding Era

A series of lesson plans that uses Martha Washington as a case study to integrate women's history into the events of the American Revolution and the New Nation historical eras. This lesson was created by 2017-2018 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Bonnie Belshe.

The Journal of Major George Washington, 1754

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to read and analyze an advertisement George Washington wrote after his report to Governor Dinwiddie was published in 1754. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Journey to the Presidency Board Game

A printable board game that follows George Washington's journey from Mount Vernon to New York City for his inauguration in April 1789. The board game prints best on 11x17 paper.

Key Concepts of the Constitution

This lesson supports the video A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Making of the Constitution. After viewing the video, students use image-based flashcards to practice and demonstrate their understanding of the key concepts of the Constitution presented in the video. Visual cues provide new routes for student understanding of these complex ideas. Key concepts addressed reflect the importance of compromise, the weakness of the union after the War for Independence, the importance of George Washington as a unifying figure during a fractious time, and the elements of government reflected in the first seven Articles of the Constitution.

Life After Slavery: A Receipt for Wages to George Smith

This activity sheet is designed to get students to look closely at a primary source document so that they can extract and analyze the information with in it. Students will use the source to learn about what happened to the enslaved people at Mount Vernon after George Washington's death.

Lighting the Little Spark of Celestial Fire

A lesson plan that uses rules from the Rules for Civility and Decent Behavior to establish a context for behavior and social expectations in George Washington&rsquos time and creates best behavior practices for present-day classrooms and communities.

Make Your Own Exhibition

In this activity students will use objects from the Lives Bound Together exhibition to create their own exhibit. Students will learn to use primary sources as evidence to convey a message.

Manners & Mores of Washington's America

A lesson that engages students in an in-depth study of the manners and mores of late 18th century America. Students explore the personal rules of decorum by which George Washington lived and compare and contrast these to the rules they live by today.

Map of Mount Vernon

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to use historical thinking skills to source a map of George Washington's five farms. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Martha's Bible

This activity has students examine Martha Washington's Bible as a primary source and then recreate Martha's family tree from clues like those in the bible. Students will learn to use fragmented information to create a larger picture, as well as use math to calculate birth and death dates.

Martha Washington's Garnets

This activity gives students a chance to write their own interpretation labels for a primary source object. Students will be receive information on one of five aspects of Martha Washington's garnets and use that information to interpret the object. The class will then come together to discuss all aspects of Martha's garnets to show how many different stories can be told using one object.

Martha Washington's Letter about the Presidency

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to read and analyze a letter written by Martha Washington to her nephew John Dandridge about the presidency. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Measuring Loyalism in America c. 1775-1785

An infograph created by the staff at the Washington Library that visually represents loyalists in America during the Revolutionary War, and where they migrated to following the war.

"Meet the Press" - American Presidents

A lesson that uses the weekly news show &ldquoMeet the Press&rdquo as a model for engaging students using primary sources. Students portray George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the current President of the United States in a television interview. Students will develop answers to the host&rsquos questions through primary sources research and current news articles.

Mount Vernon During the Civil War

A lesson that draws attention to the continued importance of the legacy of George Washington in the midst of the Civil War. In this lesson, students practice map skills and analyze primary source documents in order to develop a historical argument and make interdisciplinary connections between history and geography. This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Hannah Markwardt.

The New Room - Place as a Primary Source

A lesson that challenges students to use non-text-based sources to consider the essential question: What did George and Martha Washington want to convey to their guests in the New Room? After close examination and analysis of the architecture, paintings, and objects in Mount Vernon's New Room students debate whether George Washington created an autobiography through his home.

Oliver Evans' Patent

This activity exemplifies George Washington's appreciation for innovation and ingenuity. Students will examine Oliver Evans' Mill Patent, which Washington adopted in his own Gristmill, and analyze how those represent both Washington's and America's values at the time.

The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret: The Founders' Failure to End Slavery

This DBQ style lesson asks students to use multiple primary and secondary sources to evaluate the statement: Ideals and moral concerns regarding human equality and the evils of slavery espoused over the course of the Founding Era were impossible to carry out and enforce due to the economic necessity and racial dynamics of slavery. This lesson was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Michael Ellis.

Origin of the Purple Heart

A lesson that explores the creation of the Purple Heart military decoration, known during the American Revolution as the Badge of Military Merit. Students explore the historical and modern significance of this award created by George Washington.

Powder Bag and Puff

This activity examines the more "gentlemanly" side of the Revolutionary War and the importance of appearance and discipline in the military. Students will practice analyzing Washington's Powder Bag and Puff and other primary and secondary documents to answer questions on life in the Continental Army.

Presidency Comparison

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students compare how both George and Martha Washington felt about General Washington becoming the first President of the United States. This lesson builds on the George Washington's Letter to Henry Knox about the Presidency and Martha Washington's Letter about the Presidency worksheets which should be completed prior to beginning this worksheet. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Putting Up Resistance

This DBQ style lesson asks students to use multiple primary and secondary sources to evaluate the statement: Non-violent opposition proved to be the most productive method of effecting change during the Revolutionary Era in America. This lesson was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Michael Ellis.

The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to rank ten modern rules of civility alone and in small groups before completing a short activity sourcing and rephrasing George Washington's version of the Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Reading the News

A worksheet encouraging students to read and source a newspaper article reporting on a celebration of George Washington's birthday from the Massachusetts Gazette from 1787.

Realpolitik in 1793

A lesson that draws a connection between the realpolitik practiced during the Nixon administration and George Washington&rsquos foreign policy practices. Students explore the application of modern foreign policy styles to 18th-century diplomatic situations and make interdisciplinary connections between history and government/civics. This resource was created by 2013-2014 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Hannah Markwardt.

Samuel Vaughan Plan

A primary source worksheet for students focused on using place as a primary source. Students will explore Samuel Vaughan's 1787 map of Mount Vernon to gain a better understanding of George Washington and the 18th-century world in which he lived.

Seven Years' War Primary Source Set

Mount Vernon&rsquos Primary Source Sets contain documents, maps, objects, and images all related to a given theme. Each primary source includes a brief background for students and supporting content for instruction (additional background information, discussion questions, activity suggestions, and resources). Supporting content is available as one complete document for teachers. Use these sets as a whole collection, in small groups or pairs, or individually depending on classroom needs.

The Slave Quarters at Mount Vernon

This activity uses the Slave Quarters at Mount Vernon to better understand the lives of the enslaved population who lived and worked on Mansion House Farm. Students will learn how to use place to examine American values and culture in the late 18th century.

Slavery at Mount Vernon, 1799

An infograph created by the staff at the Washington Library that visually represents information from George Washington's List of Enslaved People, 1799.

Snuff Box and Hogshead

This activity compares two containers of tobacco- one on the production side and the other on the consumption side to show how tobacco was made and sold in the Colonies and in England. Students will analyze a snuff box and hogshead as well as British advertisements for tobacco and snuff to understand the importance of tobacco to the 18th century. It also shines a light on how slavery was the foundation of Colonial and English economy, government, and lifestyle.

Solomon Gundy Recipe

This activity highlights the global economy that Mount Vernon was a part of in the 18th century. Students will use primary and secondary source to follow the process of how fish from Mount Vernon could become Solomon Gundy, a fish paste that was traditional in Jamaica. It also shows how George Washington was an active member of the slave trade and profiting off of the institution of slavery independent of him owning enslaved people.

Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to read and analyze George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Tue' Tue': Transmitting Songs

This activity uses music to explore how enslaved African people transmitted their traditions down to subsequent generations. Students will learn how to sing as a collective and see how that builds a sense of shared community.

Two Accounts

This activity explores two accounts of a meeting between the Iroquois Nation and the French before the French and Indian War. Students will analyze the sources of the two accounts and evaluate how truthful or biased they are to reconstruct what actually happened during that meeting. Students will consequently learn the difficulties historians have in interpreting history and increase their media literacy skills.

An Unalterable Affection: Did George Washington Have a Soft Side?

This DBQ style lesson asks students to use multiple primary and secondary sources to evaluate the statement: George Washington was a stern and unknowable man, always in complete control, with little tolerance for sentimentality or familiarity. This lesson was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Michael Ellis.

Using Music to Communicate

This activity explores how music was one of the main forms of communication on the battlefield. Students will work together to create musical signals that convey marching directions. They will then show how they work as a team to give and follow those commands as a well-organized military unit.

Using Political Cartoons to Understand History

A lesson that uses political cartoons to engage students in a deeper understanding of George Washington's presidency. Students examine political cartoons, created in 2005 by well-known political cartoonists from newspapers across the country for the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center at Mount Vernon, to explore issues related to the president's title, the Jay Treaty, and the debate surrounding a national bank.

Washington Becomes Commander

This activity sheet uses a primary source document to introduce students to critical thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of Washington becoming Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Students will learn about Washington's deliberation about taking on this leadership role, while extracting information from a primary source.

Washington Survives Braddock's March

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to read and analyze George Washington's letter to his brother John Washington written after Braddock's defeat in 1755. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Washington's 1799 Last Will and Testament and William Lee

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to read and analyze a section of George Washington's 1799 Will and Testament concerning the freedom of his enslaved manservant William "Billy" Lee. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Washington's 1799 Will and Testament Concerning National Education

A primary source worksheet for students focused on close reading skills. Students are asked to read and analyze a section of George Washington's 1799 Will and Testament concerning the creation of a national university. This resource was created by 2015-2016 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Marcia Motter.

Washington Family Portrait Coloring Page

A coloring page based on the painting The Washington Family by artist Edward Savage.

Washington Leaving Office

This activity puts Elizabeth Willing Powel's 1792 letter to George Washington asking him to serve a second term as President in conversation with Washington's 1796 Farewell Address. Students will analyze those two documents, find the main arguments in each, and then juxtapose them to the counterarguments of the other. Finally, students will evaluate what makes a good argument and learn how to create a debate.

Washington to Wilson: Taking a Stance on Suffrage

Students will learn the arguments for and against suffrage using Washington as a basis. They will do independent research to understand both sides and argue their opinion before the class.

Washington's Whiskey Legacy

This activity uses advertisements of Mount Vernon Whiskey to analyze how George Washington's image has been used in marketing throughout history. Students will learn to examine primary source images and explain how they use qualities associated with Washington and Mount Vernon to sell their products.

What Makes a General?

A lesson exploring George Washington&rsquos leadership and character as commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary War. Students analyze primary source documents and images to examine the relationships between George Washington and his generals during the American Revolution. A short research project focused on a Revolutionary War military leader challenges students to examine leadership characteristics.

Which Grace: Analysis of Historical Resources

A lesson challenging students to analyze primary and secondary sources to answer the question How many enslaved individuals named Grace, Isaac, and Suckey were there at Mount Vernon from 1750-1799? Using information available to researchers and scholars at the Washington Library, students become historians as they work to answer a question that has no definitive answer. As an optional extension, students can create a biography about one of the individuals identified in their research.

Who Are Our Greatest Presidents?

A lesson that encourages students to actively develop their own conclusions, rather than passively absorbing ideas generated by the media or other outside influences. Students use systematic analytical methods to compare past presidents to current or future presidents and to create their own research-based ranking system to compare presidents.

Who Are We?

A lesson plan to help students gain an understanding of the lives of the enslaved people on Mount Vernon. The students will use a primary source document, entitled the French&rsquos Slave Census 1799, to research an enslaved individual in order to answer questions and write an introduction about the person. This lesson was created by 2017-2018 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Donella Smither.

Who You Are Today Is Not Who You Will Be Tomorrow

This lesson explores George Washington's legacy through a growth mindset by allowing students time to research and know George Washington by analyzing myths about him and exploring why those myths were created. This lesson was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Joanne Howard.

Wisdom Through War

This DBQ style lesson asks students to use multiple primary and secondary sources to support the historian Joseph Ellis&rsquo statement: Instead of going to college, Washington went to war. And the kind of education he received&hellipleft scars that never went away, as well as immunities against any and all forms of youthful idealism. This lesson was created by 2016-2017 Life Guard Teacher Fellow Michael Ellis.

Vocabulary of the Constitution

This lesson supports the video A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Making of the Constitution. After viewing the video, students use flashcards, quizzes, interactives, and worksheets to study and demonstrate their understanding of advanced vocabulary.

Yorktown: Now or Never (Elementary School)

A graphic organizer to help guide upper elementary students in analyzing and evaluating secondary source material as historic resources. This worksheet was created to accompany Mount Vernon's animated presentation Yorktown: Now or Never.

Yorktown: Now or Never (Middle School)

A graphic organizer to help guide middle school students in analyzing and evaluating secondary source material as historic resources. This worksheet was created to accompany Mount Vernon's animated presentation Yorktown: Now or Never.

Yorktown: Now or Never (High School)

A graphic organizer to help guide high school students in analyzing and evaluating secondary source material as historic resources. This worksheet was created to accompany Mount Vernon's animated presentation Yorktown: Now or Never.

Hands-On History- 18th-Century Recipes

Did you know George Washington loved hoecakes for breakfast? Work together to cook a historic recipe in your kitchen. Here are other recipes you can try at home.

Hands-On History- Washington Spymaster Activities

Did you know there were spies in the Revolutionary War? Download these activities to become one of Washington's agents, decoding and sending messages. Make the messages extra secretive by writing them with invisible ink.

Hands-On History- Writing with Hornbooks

George Washington wrote out the Rules of Civility to practice his penmanship and learn how to be a proper gentleman. Hornbooks were used to help children memorize important things, such as the alphabet or sayings that they needed to remember! You can make your own hornbook.

Hands-On History- Create-Your-Own Crafts

Artists painted George Washington&rsquos portrait many times during his lifetime and after. Some portraits show scenes from Washington&rsquos life. Explore your creativity by downloading these templates to create your own portrait, along with your own dollar bill, Mount Vernon postcard, horse puppet, quilt block, and fan.

Hands-On History- Mount Vernon Bingo

Explore Mount Vernon&rsquos website and virtual tour to complete bingo! Play in a group or by yourself.

Hands-On History- Mansion Bingo for Young Learners

There are many shapes and colors on the Mansion. Use the virtual tour to find more shapes you can find!

Importance of Health

Students will examine excerpts from different primary source documents to understand the importance that Washington placed on being proactive about personal health. After the examination, students will create their own health diaries, like Washington.


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