Slide 1


George's School Days: The Rules of Civility

Rules 13-16, & 21 are concerned with bodily functions. You might note that buildings were less closed off from the outdoors than now, that all classes of people bathed less frequently without running water.

The transcription is the typed or printed version of the original manuscript.

Regarding infirmities (of nature), you might point out that medical procedures were much more primitive, so physical malformities that we would operate on today would remain uncorrected.

Rules 24-31 deal more with behavior toward others rather than physical appearance. This set of rules brings up an interesting topic for discussion—the notion of classes in the British colony. There is clearly a hierarchy among various groups of people and consciousness of superiors and inferiors. For his part, Washington was somewhere in the middle of the social scale. His family was comfortably "middle class," but certainly not wealthy.

On the other hand, rules 15, 52, and 54 seem to be a reminder not to emulate what might have been seen as arrogant British behaviors—putting too much stock in appearance, etc.

For more information, see:

Washington's School Exercises: Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation. Transcript and images of original pages written by Washington in 1744 at The Papers of George Washington web site.

The Fable of George Washington and the Cherry Tree From The Life of Washington, by Mason Locke Weems, 1809, at The Papers of George Washington web site.

Slide 2


Out in the Real World: GW Surveys the Scene

The visual for this slide shows the tools surveyors used (chain/poles, compass).

The first paragraph of the Enoch survey follows a standard format. "Waste and ungranted land" was a phrase used to denote unsettled land. Surveyors commonly used trees to describe a specific location. In this case, you'd come to a "red Oak and Spanish Oak on the side of a steep hill." Furthermore, these trees would be notched to indicate the boundary.

The "SCC" after Washington's name designates him as the official surveyor for Culpeper County. The three names at the bottom of the page are of the 2 chain carriers (Lorem and Keith) and the marker (Constant).

Students will need to use scratch paper for these multiplication and division problems:

Point A to Point B=200 poles=3300 feet;
Point B to Point C=270 poles=4455 ft;
Point C to Point D=260 poles=4290 ft;
Point D to Point A=275 poles=4537.5 ft.

The sum of these is 16,582.5 feet, so the perimeter of the property is a little over 3 miles.

The plat, or drawing of the survey boundary, shows the fork of the Cacapon and North Rivers. Later, the land was used as the site for a fort in the French and Indian War.

For more information, see:

Philander D. Chase, "A Stake in the West: George Washington as Backcountry Surveyor and Landholder," in Warren R. Hofstra, ed., George Washington and the Virginia Backcountry (Madison, Wisconsin: Madison House, 1998), 159-194.

See also "A Plan of Major Law. Washington's Turnip Field as Survey'd by me" by George Washington, 27 February 1747.

See also George Washington, Surveyor and Mapmaker at the Library of Congress.

Slide 3


Man on a Mission: Diary of the Journey to a French Fort

GW addresses the Indians as "Brother," in a very friendly manner, but he also has a clear request. After traveling nearly a month already, he desires assistance for the rest of the journey, in the forms of navigation, provisions and protection against Native tribes who have allied with the French.

Sachems are chiefs.

Wampum were strings representing ceremonial pledges. Throughout the journey, GW is constantly concerned that the French will convince the Indians who are friendly to the British to switch alliances. Along the way, GW is also conscious of what areas might prove valuable for colonists to settle and fortify.

The numbered paragraphs below the diary are the corresponding footnotes.

For more information, see:

The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 1. Donald Jackson, ed.; Dorothy Twohig, assoc. ed. The Papers of George Washington. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976. Journey to the French Commandant 31 October 1753 - 16 January 1754 at the Library of Congress web site. (introductory material to Washington's journal)

Slide 4


Family Man: A Letter to Martha

As he repeatedly did over the course of his life, GW expressed reluctance to assume high positions. Scholars have argued over how genuine his modesty really is. On the other hand, the command of the Continental Army was certainly a more ambitious position than he had held in the French and Indian War, so GW is justifiably concerned.

The numbered paragraphs following the transcription are the corresponding footnotes.

For more information, see:

Washington's Advice on Love and Marriage. Washington's views expressed through letters of advice to his younger relatives, at The Papers of George Washington web site.

Thoughts of Home: General Washington Kept a Picture of Mount Vernon in His Mind's Eye During the Revolutionary War, by Philander D. Chase, at The Papers of George Washington web site.

Slide 5


Stamping out the British: Support for a Boycott

GW writes his neighbor and fellow House of Burgess member that he is willing to experiment with a boycott, thereby following the example of the northern colonies, which have been more radical in their response to the taxes.

GW and others were also hopeful that a boycott would encourage more thrift and manufacturing at home. He is wary of the potential for unifying various constituents to support a boycott: trade is more diffused and merchants and the wealthy are unlikely to back such a protest. Yet, six years before the outbreak of hostilities, GW continues to express loyalty to the King, and dismisses the use of arms.

The numbered paragraphs following the transcription are the corresponding footnotes.

For more information, see:

The Road to Revolution. Letters to and from Washington at The Papers of George Washington web site.

Slide 6


Keeping the Troops in Line: General Orders from the Revolutionary War

GW admonishes that profanity among the troops will not endear God to their cause. Also, GW emphasizes that the troops are "American," a word that had only been in existence for a few years. Link to the General Orders (on Profanity), 3 August 1776.

The numbered paragraphs following the transcription are the corresponding footnotes.

For more information, see:

Farewell Address to the Army, 2 November 1783

Washington's Revolutionary War Itinerary and the Location of His Headquarters, 1775-1783. A full listing of homes, taverns, mills, and mansions used by Washington as his headquarters during the Revolution, with corresponding dates, cities, and states.

General Howe's Dog. From George Washington to General Howe, 6 October 1777. Writing from his headquarters at Perkiomen, Pennsylvania, two days after the Battle of Germantown, Washington apparently sent this message to General William Howe, who remained at Germantown.

Slide 7


Sweating it out in Philadelphia: Creating a New Government

In Article 1, Section 2, "servitude" has been changed to "service" and "forty" is now "thirty" thousand. Note also the controversial 3/5 clause for counting slaves for representation in Congress.

The change in Article 5 refers to the controversial provision for ending the slave trade in 1808—a concession to southern states in the heated arguments at the convention over slavery.

The Making of the Constitution, selected letters from Washington dated 1783 to 1788.

Slide 8


Pushing the Boundaries: Address to the Senate on Native Americans

The office of the presidency had been moved to Philadelphia while the new capital was under construction.

The Five Nations of the Iroquois (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and also the Tuscarora are sometimes included) included tribes in the state of New York. Timothy Pickering had advised GW that the tribes would benefit from acculturation, especially from education on farming and the "practical arts." The hope was that "civilizing" influences would ensure that the Iroquois would avoid joining what looked like war in the northwest. GW sought to evade a costly war and also to turn the Indians from alliances with the British and Spanish. While this address to the Senate refers to the tribes in the north, there were also problems in the south. Treaty violations and hostility between settlers on the frontier of the southern states and in the Southwest Territory also threatened the peace there.

When compared to Washington's account of his address during the journey to the French Commandant (slide 3: Washington as Adventurer and Author), GW is still worried about Indian alliances with European powers, only in 1792 the British are now included as harmful influences. This document and the many other messages to Congress, treaties, and letters, demonstrate that policies such as Jackson's Indian Removal had a long history.

The numbered paragraphs following the document are the corresponding footnotes.

For more information, see:

The Whiskey Insurrection, from Washington's Diaries September-October 1794 Washington's brief journal for 30 Sept.-20 Oct. 1794 records his journey from Philadelphia to western Pennsylvania with the militia raised to suppress the so-called Whiskey Insurrection that erupted in the fall of 1794 in the Pennsylvania counties of Westmoreland, Fayette, Washington, and Allegheny.

George Washington's Presidential Vetoes. George Washington was the first president to veto Congressional legislation, exercising that power once in each of his administrations.

Slide 9


Eight is Enough: The Farewell Address

Many aspects of the new country bind Americans. He points out that "you have the same Religeon, Manners, Habits & political principles. You have in a common cause fought & triumphed together...." The bonds that applies "more immediately" to their interest, however, is commerce, as GW explains in a full paragraph. "Factions," especially geographical, will result in division in the country, as will parties.

He reminds the audience of the national pledge to abide by the principles of the Constitution. They should not call for changes to the Constitution haphazardly, but give the new government time to work and to base any changes on true experience.

Unlike Jefferson, Washington openly advocates reliance on religious principles for the well-being of the country—"reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

As for financial matters, GW urges Americans to continue paying off their debts and to remember that paying taxes is at times necessary to this end. GW urges caution against the "insidious wiles of foreign influence," warning that the country could easily be led astray by imagined alliances. He favors strong commercial relations, but limited "political" connections.

He justifies his own policy of neutrality in the war in Europe by arguing that the young government needed stability, without the demands of war upon evolving institutions.

For more information, see:

The Farewell Address at the Papers of George Washington, including an introduction and a list of related correspondence and documents.

Slide 10


Master of Mount Vernon: Farm Reports and Slavery

The Farm Reports are roughly organized according to work at each of GW's five farms: Mansion House, Muddy Hole, River Farm, Union Farm and Dogue Run. The system of accounting is an interesting one—each slave's work for one day=1 day, so even though the record is for the past 6 days, some of the list totals are far higher.

Early on in his farming career, GW switched from tobacco (unprofitable for him) to wheat as his cash crop. GW also attempted to profit from fishing for herrring; note Tom Davis repairing the seines (a fishing net designed to hang vertically in the water, the ends being drawn together to enclose the fish).

Certain age groups of students might be interested to know a distillery was also in GW's plans for making money. Female slaves are recorded by name as knitting and spinning, with the exception of "Lame Peter" who knits, however. Males lay bricks, haul hay, repair fences, plant hedges, take the boat to town, spread manure etc., during the winter months.

There are many births and deaths recorded throughout this report, of both slaves and livestock. Anderson recommends a separate area to house those slaves who are sick.

"Do" stands for "ditto" in the lists.

For more information, see:

Link to Library of Congress Papers of George Washington to read more farm reports. Search under "plantation records."

Link to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, for more on Washington and the farm.

See a sample of Osnabrig material, a coarse, heavy linen used for slave clothing at Mount Vernon.

Slide 11


A Last Word on Slavery: Washington's Will

Look at footnotes # 2 and # 3 in the will for more information on freeing the slaves. There are reports that some of the slaves, learning they were to be freed, left before Martha Washington's death, when all of GW's slaves were freed. (link to Washington's Will)

The < > signs in the transcription of the will denote sections of text that are difficult to read in the original manuscript.

The numbered paragraphs following the transcription are the corresponding footnotes.

For more information, see:

Washington and Slavery. A guidepage to Washington documents referencing slaves at The Papers of George Washington web site.

George Washington's Terminal Illness A Modern Medical Analysis of the Last Illness and Death of George Washington, by White McKenzie Wallenborn, M.D., at The Papers of George Washington web site.

A Concert of Mourning. An on-line Bicentennial Exhibition Commemorating the Period of National Mourning after Washington's death, by Mary Anne Andrei with a foreword by Philander D. Chase, at The Papers of George Washington web site.

Norfolk In By-Gone Days: President Washington's Funeral. By the Rev. W.H.T. Squires, D.D. Norfolk (VA) Ledger-Dispatch, 1944, at The Papers of George Washington web site.

Ode on the birth-day of Gen. Washington. By Peter Markoe. Recitative, 1787, at The Papers of George Washington web site.

Slide 12


GW Lives On: Paging through History at the Papers of George Washington

In the letter provided on the questions page, GW is writing his dentist, John Greenwood, near the end of his last year as President, complaining about a set of ill-fitting dentures.

Here at the Papers of George Washington, we follow a very thorough set of rules for transcribing—in most cases, retaining punctuation and spelling exactly as they appear in the original.

"Instt" is an abbreviation for "instant," referring to the current month.

"Your very Humble Servant" was a common way to close a letter.

Contrary to popular belief, the teeth were not made of wood, but of various materials—a cow's tooth, hippopotamus ivory, and one of GW's own teeth.

Note that the Gilbert Stuart portrait on slide 12 depicts a tight-lipped GW, usually attributed to problems with a new set of dentures (see photo of GW's dentures here). Washington exchanged several letters with John Greenwood during his retirement.

*There is a link to the transcription at the end of the document, which you may or may not want students to use.

Forgeries: The top document is what is known as a "Spring forgery," one of several hundred crafted in the mid-nineteenth century.

For more information, see:

In His Own Hand: Editing the Papers of George Washington. An on-line exhibit at The Papers of George Washington web site.

George Washington Forgeries and Facsimile by Dorothy Twohig, Editor Emeritus, at The Papers of George Washington web site.

The Young George Washington and His Papers by W. W. Abbot, at The Papers of George Washington web site.

An Uncommon Awareness of Self: The Papers of George Washington by W.W. Abbot, at The Papers of George Washington web site.

Go to the Papers of George Washington home page

See also the Papers of George Washington at the Library of Congress