2/19/2007

Happy President's Day


I think George Washington hasn't gotten a fair shake in the more commonly known portraits of him. One of his problems was supposedly the various sets of false teeth he had to use, and of course the oil portrait styles of the time. This life mask is a much more likely representation of his normal facial appearance.

He inherited his brother's estate at Mount Vernon in 1752 at the age of 20. Today's version of that estate is not what George Washington would have been managing in the 1700's--a very different world which grew from the original 500 acres to 8,000 acres divided into 5 farms, designed to be a self-contained, self-producing community with a workforce of slaves who later were emancipated in his will. While other people did the heavy lifting, George did all and more that management of his estate required:
He worked constantly to improve and expand the mansion house and its surrounding plantation. He established himself as an innovative farmer, who switched from tobacco to wheat as his main cash crop in the 1760's. In an effort to improve his farming operation, he diligently experimented with new crops, fertilizers, crop rotation, tools, and livestock breeding. He also expanded the work of the plantation to include flour milling and commercial fishing in an effort to make Mount Vernon a more profitable estate. By the time of his death in 1799, he had expanded the plantation from 2,000 to 8,000 acres consisting of five farms, with more than 3,000 acres under cultivation. Biography

Washington, and others of his time, was not given the type of academic education we think of as necessary today, but his education came more in the form of private tutoring. People of his time were trained in social behavior as well, including standards of behavior which George copied when he was very young, The Rules of Civility, standards which are just as applicable to people today and which should be required reading in my opinion.



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2 comments:

David Airey said...

Hello Julia,

Just a quick note to say thanks for visiting, and for commenting on my blog. Your thoughts are very much appreciated!

I hope you have a great week,

David

David Hodges said...

Nice to have a new image of his face and some tasty biographical details to fill out the portrait. Washington was an extraordinary leader in so many ways, resisting the early colonists' desire to "King" him, and on the battlefield establishing an extremely high standard for the humane treatment of captured enemy. Not perfect in every way, but very worthy of praise.

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