Washington's Greatest Gift

Washington’s Greatest Gift

What was Washington’s greatest gift to our country? While in Virginia we have been visiting locations associated with George Washington.

Perhaps more words have been written about George Washington than about any other American. Without his monumental effort, our country wouldn’t exist. His gifts to our country have a lot to do with the birth of the country but I think one thing that he did was his biggest gift to the nation. I will put my answer at the end of this post.

Since at best I am an amateur scholar of American history. I am even less informed about how Washington’s personal life helped shape the very foundations of our country. I am going to make this more of an opportunity to share some pictures rather than an interpretive opinion article.

Birthplace

We know that George Washington was born at the Pope’s Creek plantation in Virginia. His great grandfather immigrated from England and the family was wealthy landowners. George Washington Birthplace National Monument now occupies the Pope’s Creek Plantation. Even though an estate house is on the tour, it is not his birthplace. An outline of the foundation for a house was laid out in white stones and that location (according to the sign) was the original house. There is however no evidence that Washington was born in a house associated with that foundation either. The design of the foundation is remarkably like the foundation for a stable also at Pope’s Creek.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument
The white stone at the bottom of this picture is the outline of the “proposed” foundation. One thing for certain is that Washington was not born in the house in this picture — it wasn’t built until 1931 in the style that would have existed in the early 1700s. It is likely that the reconstructed manor house is built at the same location as the original house stood. Perhaps we will never know the true location.

Between the time of his birth and becoming known as the father of our country, George Washington did many of the things that the wealthy did as members of Virginia society. This includes getting a job and spending time away from home. As a young adult, Washington was also instrumental in surveying the Shenandoah. Here is a quick link to our visit to the Shenandoah region. Shenandoah River

Washington also spent time in the British military and commanded the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War.

Little Hunting Creek

Washington’s brother renamed Little Hunting Creek to its current name, Mount Vernon. This is the location that we think of as associated with George Washington. Mount Vernon is the plantation that George Washington operated before the Revolutionary War. Mount Vernon was the place where George Washington retired after his public service ended.

George Washington's mansion at Mount Vernon.
The mansion at Mount Vernon was rebuilt three times by George Washinton. It started as a single-story house built by George’s father. The original house was very large for the time at about 3,500 square feet. George remodeled the house and expanded the main house to nearly 11,000 square feet.
the portico George Washington's mansion.
The location overlooking the Potomac River is stunning. The backside of the mansion portico had a relaxed feel but the windows on this side of the house were small compared to the front of the house.
The view of the Potomac River from the back porch of George Washington's mansion.
The view of the Potomac River from the back porch is grand. The location of the house was so well-positioned to take advantage of the view.
The view from the front driveway gives a glimpse of the view across the Potomac River.
The view from the front driveway gives a glimpse of the view across the Potomac River. This is a covered walkway leading to the main house and to the back patio and yard.

Interior

We were pretty shocked to see the paint color here in the dining room.
We were pretty shocked to see the paint color here in the dining room. Our host assured us that it was authentic.
This bedroom also had some serious color on the walls.
This bedroom also had some serious color on the walls.

On the Plantation

The atrium (greenhouse) at George Washington's mansion.
This is the atrium (greenhouse). Washington and most of the founding fathers were very interested in farming and had both interior growing spaces and lots of buildings and land dedicated to producing the farm crops (tobacco mostly).
Stables close to the main house at George Washington's mansion.
Stables close to the main house.
Reconstructed barn and livestock buildings at George Washington's mansion.
Reconstructed barn and livestock buildings near the river on the plantation.
George Washington's mansion outbuildings.
These buildings near the main house held different craft shops to produce the different items used on the plantation.
Quarters for enslaved people at Mount Vernon.
Quarters for enslaved people at Mount Vernon.

Washington’s Greatest Gift

King George of England understood well that Washington could easily have been the new ruler of the United States. Washington was the single most influential person associated with the creation of the United States. Washington lead a collection of untrained, underpaid, and underfed farmers to defeat the most powerful military in the world to win independence.

Washinton also made provisions to free all his slaves.

Washington's Greatest Gift

He quit

Washington’s greatest gift to the country is that after two terms as President of the United States he resigned his office to return to Mount Vernon and be a farmer. His gift was he did his duty and then he resigned and created a system for a peaceful transition of the highest office.

Washingtons greatest gift still endures today.

Links to places mentioned in this article.

George Washington Birthplace National Monument

Mount Vernon

4 thoughts on “Washington’s Greatest Gift”

  1. I enjoy reading biographies of our founding fathers. And it doesn’t take long to see the enormous respect they all accorded to Washington. But if you read his writings, examine his career achievements, or view the sum of his military achievements… not THAT great.

    Yet all of these extraordinary men clearly held George Washington in the highest of esteem. I have decided that it was a combination of extreme honesty, solid courage and unwavering ethics. I believe he was chosen to be the first president and was looked up to and trusted by our best and brightest, because of a level of character that let him shine above any partisan politics of the day. They chose well.

  2. Great photos of a beautiful home (except that godawful dining room… yikes!).

    I agree that his decision to resign after two terms was crucial to the long term health of our country. I’m glad that decision was later codified in the Constitution. It seems many more norms and practices should have been codified in the ensuing years, but as a nation, we’ve taken many things for granted.

  3. George Washington rebuilt three times or his wife! Stunning views. I knew that he placed the residence there because of the river but not the rest. I wonder if the children played checkers on the dining room floor.

    I agree the colors are bold, not subdued like natural plant-made dyes. Looks like he pretty much had a self-contained plantation.

    We are indebted to his leadership. Great read, my friend.

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