Underwood & Underwood
Title: (15) Tomb of America’s greatest citizen, Washington, at Mount Vernon, Virginia.
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Letha Van Pelt
Accession Number: 1995.0006.0129
Inscriptions:This is Fairfax County, Virginia, a few rods from the west bank of the Potomac river, ten miles from the Capitol at Washington. The ground where we stand is part of a large estate granted by England to the grandfather of Washington in 1670. Here was the peaceful, prosperous country home of a colonial gentleman farmer during the uneasy days when William and Mary were rulers of old England and ardent Jacobites were still plotting for the restoration of the Stuart king.
The old mansion where Washington himself made is home for so many years is about fifty rods away at the N.E. He had always a deep affection for the old place, and it was with real pleasure that he looked forward to spending his old age here beside the river. When he wrote those famous words:
Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action-and take my leave of all the employments of public life,” the sturdy old trees and grassy slopes out here at Mount Vernon promised a happy home background for the unofficial work with which his remaining days were sure to be filled. He personally knew every field and hedge on the place. Every tree was an old friend. Indeed the very day before his death he spent out of doors in a chilly rain, riding about the estate, and one of the last bits work he ever did was to choose and mark certain trees and tree boughs for removal, so as to improve the healthy beauty of the place as a whole.
The tendency to think of the dying Washington as an old man is so strong that it takes a little effort to realize that when he died in 1799 his age was only seven years greater than that of Benjamin Harrison at the height of active power in the presidency. See biographies, especially that by Henry Cabot Lodge, Benson J. Lossing’s Home of Washington gives a great many interesting details in regard to scenes hereabouts.
Description: Women and children in front of a tomb