GW's slaves? Mount Vernon confronts the issue now
Despite Washington's indignation over the "disloyalty" of his "Negroes," slavery was one of the few subjects in his life that the first president was ambivalent about. Financially he knew that he and Martha could not run the presidential house in Philadelphia or his beloved estate Mt. Vernon in Virginia without their several hundred slaves. But in his later years, Washington came to hate slavery for dividing families and undermining the best ideals of the Revolution.
The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, which in 1858 heroically rescued Washington's by then weedy, decaying estate (the front portico was being held up by a sailboat's mast), was itself long ambivalent about how to treat the subject—especially during the civil-rights era of the 1950s and 1960s.
This month a replicated Mt. Vernon slave cabin—home to Washington's slaves Silla and Slamin Joe and their six children—will open, one of the final touches on a $100 million effort to augment Washington's mansion and gardens with exhibits providing context for Americans who, with each passing generation, sadly seem to know less and less about their first president.
comments powered by Disqus
Lawrence Brooks Hughes - 9/1/2007
I don't see how they could possibly squander $100 million on Mount Vernon. The last time I was there, about 15 years ago, it seemed in good shape. Archivism has become a highly venal business. Take the newly replicated slave cabin you mention. They had several of those there before, and what does one more tell us about George Washington? Not much, and certainly not $100 million worth, but like all such profligate spending on historical monuments today, it was politically correct, to put it mildly. No doubt there were lots of cocktail parties and travel vouchers for the insiders, too, of whom few actually care about (or know about) the artifacts... These people tend to run away from anyone who does. Somehow one expected better of the M.V. Ladies Association. Shed a tear for its founders.
- New documentary explores the legacy of the 5,000 Rosenwald schools set up by a Sears magnate and Booker T. Washington
- Rare silent Native American movie of 1920s attracting a lot of interest
- It happened in Idaho and was the largest massacre of Indians in US history, but where exactly did it take place?
- Junípero Serra’s Missions Destroyed Entire Native Cultures. And Now He’s Going to Be a Saint.
- Isis destruction of Palmyra's Temple of Bel revealed in satellite images
- Two scholars from UT object to the Texas school's decision to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis
- A history professor explains why Americans are so prone to conspiracy theories
- Now Greg Grandin has come out with a study of Henry Kissinger
- Japanese historian upends the familiar narrative of WW 2 by taking a bottom up approach, focusing on fascism from the grassroots
- Holocaust-denying historian David Irving organises 'disgusting' £2,000-a-head holiday tours of former concentration camps and Hitler's HQ so people can 'make up their own mind about the truth'