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"Hey dude, do you wanna go on a date for a beer with a dork? Well, I've got one right here - it's me!" - Briana Pond

georgewashington.jpgAmerican History has long fascinated me, so I love visiting places that continue to further my historical education. Instead of a strict daily breakdown of all events from my last trip through Virginia (and other similar trips I have taken and will hopefully continue to take), I have decided to combine locations that pertain to particular Presidents of the United States into one posting. Although I typically find all of the other people, places, and things that I have visited very fascinating, my primary goal is to find all of the Presidential locales, those being birthplaces, homes, places of employ, Presedential Libraries if applicable, and graves. Not surprisingly, the first locations I have chosen to share are those that pertain to our first President, George Washington.

I’ve been reading a lot about George Washington lately. I always do this sort of thing after returning from a trip in which I was submerged in historical locations and non-mandatory learning. I certainly don’t need to explain to anyone out there who George Washington was, although I have personally found most of the information I have been reading enlightening and revealing. From his role as a leader of the Continental Army to his reluctant acceptance of the office of President, I find it remarkable that this patriotic leader, who had already resigned himself to retirement, was so able to shape the government and the role of the President so succinctly. Anyway, you’re not here for a history lesson…so here’s the skinny on the George Washington locations Bob and I visited during our statewide Virginia tour.

Sunday, August 5, 2007 – George Washington Birthplace – It is highly appropriate that the very first historical stop of our trip was the birthplace of the first President of the United States. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the house itself in which he was born, is no longer standing, having burned on Christmas Day 1779. But it is remarkable that through archaeological digs from 1936, the National Park Service was able to determine exactly where his family’s house once stood. In order to keep the remnants safe, so to speak, they actually left them buried right where they had always been – in Westmoreland County at Pope’s Creek – leaving only an outline of oyster shells of the house along with an assumed replica (actually just a house-style from the period) built nearby.

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 Virginia historical marker

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 Me outside the National Monument

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 The site of the house outlined with oyster shells

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The spot where Washington was born

George Washington’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather are also buried on the premesis. Our docent was exceptionally loyal and patriotic (not to mention rather dramatic) to our founding father, announcing proudly that our country was born in this very spot. Not an enviable task, summoning this much enthusiasm in the 100-degree weather while wearing long-sleeves! She explained how she coped with the heat, though. She never turns her air conditioning on at home, so she can bear the blazing weather when she comes to work.

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The burial site of George Washington’s paternal ancestors

Sunday, August 5, 2007 – George Washington’s Ferry Farm – This was an active archaelogical dig on the site where George Washington’s boyhood home was once located. As the legend goes, if that old chestnut about him chopping down the cherry tree was true, it would have taken place here. Rather disappointing, or as Bob said “a bust,” since there simply was nothing there still standing.

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 Ferry Farm marker

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 Outside the visitor’s center

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The place was a bust

Sunday, August 5, 2007 – The grave and home of Mary Ball Washington – We made a brief stop to pay respects to the final resting place of the mother of George Washington, whose grave is located in Fredericksburg, not far from where the inn in which we would stay the night. We also had a look at the extrior of one of her former homes, also located in the same area.

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 Mary Ball Washington’s home

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 Proving I was there

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 Mary’s grave marker

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Me and Washington’s Mother

Monday, May 27, 2013 – Washington’s inaugural site, Federal Hall, New York City – The White House had not yet been built and Washington D.C. was not yet the nation’s capital when George Washington was sworn into office on April 30, 1789.

The building had been erected in 1700 and initially served as the City Hall for New York City. After the American Revolution, the building was used as a gathering place for the Founding Fathers. The Northwest Ordinance was adopted here, and the Bill of Rights was here first introduced to Congress. It became known as Federal Hall when it was adopted as the first United States Capitol in 1789. The votes were counted here for the first President, and he was sworn into office on April 30.

When the U.S. Capitol was moved to Philadelphia in 1790, the local government resumed occupancy of the building until 1812, when it was leveled. In 1842, construction of the current building was completed as the nation’s first customs house. The building became designated as the Federal Hall Memorial National Historic Site in 1939, and features a statue of George Washington (which was added in 1882) standing in the approximate location where he was inaugurated. Inside the building is part of the floor on which he was standing when he was inaugurated, the Bible on which he was sworn into office, and other displays highlighting the history of the building.

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Model of the original Federal Hall

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The Federal Hall Memorial National Historic Site

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Getting sworn in, just like Washington did

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The stone slab on which George Washington stood whilst getting sworn into office

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The inaugural Bible

Saturday, August 11, 2007 – Mount Vernon home and burial site – We jump to the end of our Virginia trip to visit both George Washington’s home and final resting place. After a week of visiting all kinds of historical sites, I was not quite prepared to see one that brought in the tourists the way this one did. After plunking down $13 and waiting longer than it takes to get onto Space Mountain, I was finally able to get a walk-through of Mount Vernon. The intensely hot weather had mercifully abated somewhat by Saturday, but Bob still declined to wait in the line and instead visited the George Washington Museum. There were no photos allowed inside the house, but it really wasn’t all that gripping anyway. Guides stood throughout the house and pointed out various features and occurences that took place in the rooms, one of which was the very room in Washington died.

The aforementioned Museum was pretty amazing too (and also reminded me of Disney World) with tons of vibrant, interactive displays. And yes, I got to see a set of Washington’s teeth, which were not made of wood incidentally, but ivory combined with human and animal teeth.

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My photo of Mount Vernon

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Me and Bob outside of Mt. Vernon

Of course, the highlight for me (and I hope this doesn’t make me seem morbid) was seeing the final resting place of George and Martha Washington. The crypts were inside a fenced-in brick building but I tried to get the best photo with the graves as possible. A docent stood outside this building as well and spouted off facts about the Washington burial.

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 The crypt where George Washington was buried until 1831, at which time, in accordance with his will, a new crypt was constructed and the family was moved

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 George Washington is in here

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Me and George

Overall, Mount Vernon was an exciting place to be, but I was still stunned at how touristy it seemed. I guess that it is a good thing that so many folks still deem it worthy to visit and pay respects to the father of our country.

Continue to the next President

Return to Sunday in Virginia 2007

Return to Saturday in Virginia 2007

2 Responses to “George Washington and Me”

  1. This is a wonderful and very interesting entry….
    That said, no exploration of George Washington is complete without a visit to Fraunces Tavern in New York City where you can see remnants of George Washington’s actual teeth and hair.

    I think there are many reasons why you should make a return trip to New York, but seeing one of old George’s chompers is a big one.

    Peter

  2. I was lucky enough to be at Mount Vernon in June, when they were having a ceremony at Washington’s Tomb. They opened the gates and two World War 2 vets placed a wreath inside. They allowed us access into the tomb for five minutes, then closed it back up. What a thrill! I was able to see the graves of 7 US Presidents on this vacation. I’d like to hit them all, eventually!

    Dave Chasteen