Few animals are bestowed the name, “Royal Gift.” But as a gift from the Spanish King Charles III to George Washington, such a name for a donkey would be appropriate.
Animal husbandry was a significant part of Washington’s life at Mount Vernon, and one of his most highlighted, noteworthy farm animals was Royal Gift, the Spanish jack ass. This prized creature, sent to Washington by the Spanish king in 1785, played an integral part in breeding mules – Washington’s long desired wish for increasing the ease of farm labor. To learn more on this uncommon but fascinating part of Washington’s life, visit the links provided below.
Letters and Documents related to Royal Gift
- William Carmichael to George Washington, 3 December 1784.
- Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 10 December 1784.
- Thomas Cushing to George Washington, 7 October 1785.
- Diary entry mentioning arrival of Royal Gift at Boston, 26 October 1785.
- George Washington to John Fairfax, 26 October 1785.
- George Washington to Francisco Rendon, 19 December 1785.
- George Washington to Lafayette, 25 July 1785.
- George Washington to Bushrod Washington, 13 April 1786.
- George Washington to Lafayette, 10 May 1786.
- George Washington to William Fitzhugh, Jr., 15 May 1786.
Mount Vernon Links
- Mount Vernon’s Digital Encyclopedia, full description of Royal Gift.
- Catalog information for the Accounts and Miscellaneous Papers Relating to Royal Gift, 1792-1795.
- Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser article, 23 March 1787, Vol. 14, Issue 24, Page 1.
- George Washington: A Biography, John Richard Alden, Louisiana University Press, 1984, p. 214.
- All Cloudless Glory, Vol. II: The Life of George Washington: Making a Nation, Harrison Clark, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1996, p. 84-85.
- George Washington: A Biographical Companion, Frank E. Grizzard, ABC-CLIO, Inc. 2002, p. 275.
- George Washington: Farmer, Paul Leland Haworth, Library of Alexandria, 2012.
- General Washington and the Jack Ass and other American Characters, in Portrait, J.H. Powell, A. S. Barnes and Co., Inc., 1969.
- George Washington’s Leadership Lessons: What the Father of Our Country Can Teach Us About Effective Leadership and Character, James C. Rees and Stephen Spignesi, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007.