Washington envisioned a relaxing retirement at Mount Vernon with his family after leaving the presidency in March 1797, but it was not to be. Between personal issues and a return to public service, the last couple of years of Washington’s life prior to his sudden demise would be filled with business and breaches of trust and friendship. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured Image: “Life of George Washington: The Christian” lithograph by Claude Regnier, original painting by Junius Brutus Stearns [c. 1853], courtesy of Library of Congress
On May 21st, 1796, Ona/Oney Judge slips out of the President’s House in Philadelphia, PA in a bid to obtain her freedom from enslavement. The story of her being born into slavery at Mount Vernon, her being brought to work in the Washingtons’ household, and the Washingtons’ attempts at bringing Ona back into captivity is a narrative that brings much insight into the institution of slavery in the United States in the mid-1790s as well as a more complete view of George Washington’s legacy. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Featured Image: Newspaper advertisement of the escape of Oney Judge with a reward for her return, 24 May 1796, Philadelphia Gazette, courtesy of Wikipedia
As Washington sets wheels in motion for some rather radical changes to his personal way of life, others at home and abroad start working towards some changes of their own. In western Pennsylvania, small-scale distillers and farmers begin to organize against a new federal tax that would impact them more detrimentally than it would larger operations. In France, as the new French Republic faces food shortages and military setbacks, crowds start agitating for new, more effective leadership. Back in Philadelphia, Secretary of State Jefferson begins packing his bags and wrapping up his work as he counts down to the day set for his departure from the Washington administration. The old status quo seems forever gone as the year 1794 comes roaring in like a lion. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
The new French Minister to the US arrives in Philadelphia and begins causing a stir both within the Washington administration and out in the streets. Meanwhile, Washington has another bout of ill health but recovers just in time to have to rush back to Mount Vernon despite being in the midst of diplomatic tensions. Party politics are taken to the next level with partisans beginning to organize their efforts just as both Jefferson and Hamilton contemplate their respective exits from the Cabinet to be free to pursue their own aims. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
The lead up to Washington’s second inaugural ended up being much more dramatic than anyone could have imagined as personal conflicts threatened the construction of the Federal City, Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds threatened to be made public knowledge, and Representative William Branch Giles filed resolutions against Hamilton accusing him of official misconduct and calling for his dismissal. In the middle of all this, a reluctant president turns to his family for support as he prepares himself for what already appears will be a more turbulent four years ahead than his first term had been. Source information can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
The colonies along the Atlantic seaboard declare independence and go to war with Great Britain, and George Washington is in the middle of all of the action. The lead up and the prosecution of the revolution would lift Washington from being just another Virginia planter to become “the Father of His Country” as he had to develop his skills as a politician, a military commander, a spymaster, and an administrator in order to ensure success for him and the colonial cause. In the midst of the social and political turmoil, personal tragedy struck the Washingtons at the beginning and the end of the Revolution, and the conclusion of the war would find Washington handing back all of the power that had been entrusted to him. His retirement would be short-lived as the new nation would soon find itself at a crisis point that only Washington could save them from. Sources used in this episode as well as other sources for more information on the Revolutionary War can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Our examination of George Washington begins with his early life in Virginia. Washington has to cope with personal loss and self-improvement as he works to make his way in the world. The coming of the French and Indian War takes his life in a new direction and sets the stage for the Revolution to come. We also look at his marriage to Martha Dandridge Custis and his establishment of industries based on slavery at Mount Vernon. Source notes for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.