Snow at Mount Vernon; Washington still hot

March 15, 2009

The photos don’t show the beauty, nor do they capture the wonderful quiet that accompanied it.

It snowed briefly and lightly at George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon Friday morning.

Snow at the Quarters, Mount Vernon, Virginia, March 13, 2009 - copyright Ed Darrell

Snow at the Quarters, Mount Vernon, Virginia, March 13, 2009 - copyright Ed Darrell

Al fresco dining would have  been cool, and wet.

Snow on tables, The Quarter, Mount Vernon, Virginia - copyright 2009 by Ed Darrell

Snow on tables, The Quarters, Mount Vernon, Virginia - copyright 2009 by Ed Darrell

Inside, a few minutes later, the conversation was hot.  We opened with a session the night before, and post-dinner meeting with William B. Allen, the editor of a recent collection of George Washington’s papers.  Allen is suave, with a perfectly-modulated baritone voice.  He doesn’t just speak in properly punctuated, grammatically correct paragraphs.  He speaks in chapters that summarize volumes.

Among other telling gems, Allen noted that Washington, who is often regarded as an intellectual inferior to Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton and others, because he “wrote so little,” has had his collected published papers now pass the 100 volume mark.  Reading the letters in full, as we did much of at this meeting, reveals Gen. Washington as little else can.

You should read yourself some Washington.

Tip of the old scrub brush, again, to the Bill of Rights Institute and Liberty Fund, sponsors and organizers of this event.

George Washington’s influence on American geography

March 15, 2009

A quick snippet of learning from my stay at Mount Vernon:

How many places are named after Washington?  How many schools?

At the relatively new museum here I found a display that notes how Americans have honored our First President by naming things after him:

  • 26 mountains
  • 740 schools
  • 155 places (the exhibit said “155 cities and counties,” but the map also showed the State of Washington)

(All of this comes without the aid of a George Washington Legacy Project to inflate his importance and the love of Americans for his work!)

George Washington can still lay claim to his friend Richard Lee’s eulogy, as “first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

I found the display on place names on the way out of the Education Center — a place designed to help visiting teachers learn about resources available for classroom use.

Of course the group works to help teachers who can’t visit at the moment, too.  To that end they’ve published online a series of lesson plans developed by the George Washington Teachers’ Institute, a summer residency program that provides professional development.

Check out the lesson plans at  Lesson plans are here.  I particularly liked the political cartoons included in this lesson plan, all drawn by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonists.

Renovations and new construction at Mount Vernon during the past decade have made the place a much more valuable resource for teachers and students.

Let’s tip the entire Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub to the Bill of Rights Institute and Liberty Fund, who sponsored the program at Mount Vernon.

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