Washington, D.C. is inextricably linked with its namesake, George Washington. Two other sites are also part of this founding father’s story: his Mount Vernon estate and Alexandria, Virginia. Curated by GW students, this display of letters, prints, and artifacts from the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection presents a nuanced look at Washington through the places that shaped him.
About the Exhibition
After securing America’s independence from Britain, George Washington planned to retire to his Virginia home of Mount Vernon. Instead, he was called back into public service for an additional eight years as the first President of the United States. Yet, his own thoughts rarely strayed from his world in the Chesapeake region.
Mount Vernon was the most significant to him personally, but Washington also had a profound impact on the neighboring community of Alexandria, completing the first survey and plan for the town. The Federal City itself remains one of his greatest legacies. In 1790, Congress selected this area north of Mount Vernon as the permanent seat of government for the United States.
George Washington and His World explores the role of each of these three places in President Washington’s life and legacy, through portraits, letters, and other artifacts in the museum's Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection. The exhibition also marks the curatorial debut of 17 GW students who studied history with professor Denver Brunsman. The class contributed to exhibition development, research, and label writing.
Organized in cooperation with the Albert H. Small Center for National Capital Area Studies.
The Home of Washington, Mount Vernon, Va., Currier & Ives, New York, c. 1860, AS 898
John Russell, Plan of the City of Washington, London, 1797, AS 128
E. Sachse & Co., View of Alexandria, Va., published by J.T. Palmatary, 1854, AS 480
Letter to the U.S. Congress signed by President George Washington, December 13, 1791, AS 659
The Slave Market of America, printed by William Dorr, published by the American Anti-Slavery Society, 1836, AS 13
Edward Savage, George Washington Esq., 1793, AS 497
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