Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Death of George Washington

In September 1796 George Washington published his Farewell Address, one of the defining documents of the young republic; after retiring from the US presidency in March 1797 he returned home to Mount Vernon to resume his favoured profession, that of gentleman farmer.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHis first year back Washington turned an unprofitable farm on the property into one of the country's largest distilleries, and within two years it was earning him a tidy profit*.

Anyway, Washington had always been a successful farmer, owing as much to his administration of it as the fecundity of the land itself; the plantation already produced cotton, tobacco, and hemp - as well as housed more than 100 slaves - why not hooch as well?

In 1798 his successor (and former Vice President) John Adams promoted Washington to the rank of Lieutenant General, then the senior rank in the US military (just as during the Bicentennial year President Gerald Ford would posthumously promote him to General of the Armies, so 'that no officer of the United States Army should outrank' him).

The following December Washington spent a blustery day surveying his property, after which he sat down to supper in his wet clothes; two days later, on this day in 1799, the Father of His Country was dead at the age of 67, attended by his best friend Dr. James Craik and his secretary Tobias Lear V. Within three years, in May 1802, Lady Washington would join him.

In March 2007 a restored version of that distillery was reopened on the grounds of Mount Vernon National Historic Landmark.

*This is what former Presidents used to do to make money in the olden days, before golf and whoring their dreadful memoirs around the lecture circuit for a few years became de rigeur.

share on: facebook

No comments: