George Washington's Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon : At Home in Revolutionary America

3.98 (56 ratings by Goodreads)
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George Washington knew little of architecture when he planned and built Mount Vernon, but he did know what he wanted in a home. This unique and lucidly written book is the intimate story of the relationship between Mount Vernon, George Washington, and all the people involved in creating what has become one of America's greatest more

Product details

  • Hardback | 322 pages
  • 180.34 x 256.54 x 25.4mm | 952.54g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 61 halftones, 25 line drawings
  • 0195121147
  • 9780195121148

Review quote

"Washington was both the most indispensable and the most inaccessible of all the founders. In most histories he floats above the revolutionary era like a platitude. Here we finally get him grounded, palpable and human, off guard, at home."--Josepth J. Ellis, author of American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson"This thoughtful, well-written study casts important light on the evolution of Mount Vernon and the relationship of Washington and his home to the American Revolution. Part of really getting to know Washington will now be to read the Dalzells' book."--Don Higginbotham, Dowd Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill"George Washington's Mount Vernon interweaves architectural history, social history, and biography into a complex and entrancing story of a man and his house. That George Washington kept improving Mount Vernon to the end of his life, while laboring to bring the nation into existence, is evidence of architecture's power of the gentry imagination in the eighteenth century. In this illuminating book, we learn about Washington's spats with his workers, how he used the house socially, the problems of directing construction from a distance, and what the house may have meant culturally in the new American nation."--Richard Lyman Bushman, Gouveneur Morris Professor of History, Columbia Universityshow more

About Robert F. Dalzell

Robert F. Dalzell, Jr. is Ephraim Williams Professor of American History at Williams College and the author of Enterprising Elite: The Boston Associates and the World They Made and Daniel Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism, 1843-1852. Lee Baldwin Dalzell is the Head of The Reference Department of the Williams College more

Review Text

Washington as seen from the vantage point of his beloved creation, Mount Vernon. The Dalzells, Robert (American History/Williams Coll.; Daniel Webster and the Trial of American Nationalism, 1973) and Lee (head of the reference department at the Williams College Library) combine meticulous research and clear writing to help define the so-called "marble man" in a more human light as a friendly neighbor, an avowedly earnest perfectionist, and a demanding yet kind slave owner and employer among the land-seekers of colonial Virginia. Washington, according to the authors, directed managers, artisans, and other skilled workers even through his long periods away during the Revolutionary War and his presidency. We learn directly from his letters and diaries that although he meant to appear firm, calm, and aloof, he was also a creature of intense emotions, especially concerning Mount Vernon, his home for more than 40 years. There he served enthusiastically as planner, architect, and constant renovator at a time when mansions were considered and used as both private and public places - havens where business and other meetings could be conducted and where casual travelers and relatives were also entertained (a sort of colonial bed-and-breakfast). The authors note Washington's gradual evolution as a man born into a master-slave society who believed in a republic administered by a virtuous elite, yet who became an ardent advocate of a democratic society (and who himself paradoxically despised slavery). To him slavery ultimately seemed the least efficient form of labor: hope and aspiration were obviously missing from it, and Washington reasoned that only a free people in a free society could better themselves and their country. In his will, as is well known, he emancipated his slaves and promised lifetime care for those too elderly to work. This is the definitive study of Mount Vernon, long overdue for the place that's been a seeding ground for ideals of American independence. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

56 ratings
3.98 out of 5 stars
5 23% (13)
4 54% (30)
3 21% (12)
2 2% (1)
1 0% (0)
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