An Ignoble Profession

The business of forging George Washington’s signature and correspondence to sell to unwitting buyers goes back 150 years

As the editor of the papers of George Washington at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, I have the privilege of intersecting with many people who come bearing documents supposedly signed by the first president. More often than you might think, I have the unenviable task of informing them that their letter‚ often lovingly framed and passed down for decades in their family is a fake. An office file, which we've marked "Forgeries," overflows with dozens of similar examples.Read more »

With Little Less Than Savage Fury

America’s first civil war took place during the Revolution, an ultra violent, family-splitting, and often vindictive conflict between patriots and loyalists

On April 22, 1775, three days after a British column marched out of Boston and clashed with militiamen at Lexington and Concord, the news—and the cry of Revolution!—reached Danbury, Connecticut, where 18-year-old Stephen Maples Jarvis was working on the family farm. Over the next several days, the young man would confront the hard, consequential choice between joining the rebel patriots or staying loyal to King George. He was not alone; all across the eastern seaboard, others were wrestling with the same dilemma. Read more »

The Imperial Congress

An impetuous and sometimes corrupt Congress has often hamstrung the efforts of the president since the earliest days of the Republic

On a little-remarked, steamy day in late June 1973, a revolution took place in Washington, D.C., one that would transfer far more power and wealth than did the revolt against King George III in 1776. On the 29th, a sweaty, angry majority of the House of Representatives and the Senate defied the president of the United States and voted to end armed American involvement in Vietnam. Read more »

A Medical Profile Of George Washington

Stalwart as he was, the general was often ill. A doctor studies his record and notes shortcomings in Eighteenth-Century medical care.

If one looks closely at Gilbert Stuart’s well-known portrait of George Washington, one observes an artificial bulging of the cheeks, as if they had been stuffed with cotton.

 
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Drill Master At Valley Forge

How Baron von Steuben used a tough winter to make a solid army out of a collection of untrained volunteers

On the first day of December, 1777, a group of four foreign gentlemen landed from the French ship Le Flamand at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They had had a rough voyage, 66 days at sea diversified by a mutiny of the crew and three occasions when the vessel was on fire. But they were not traveling in search of comfort and safety: they had come to offer their services to the army of the infant United States of America. Read more »

Big Guns For Washington

How tough Henry Knox hauled a train of cannon over wintry trails to help drive the British away from Boston

Knox was one of those providential characters which spring up in emergencies, as if they were formed by and for the occasion.

—Washington Irving, Life of George Washington .

 
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George Washington In Love

The Vivacious Sally Fairfax stole the young man’s heart long before he met Martha

ON MARCH 30, 1877, the New York Herald, one of the largest newspapers in America, printed a passionate love letter that had been written on September 12, 1758. Surely not hot news, you might ask? The Herald ’s editors knew what they were doing. Nothing they printed that day created a greater sensation. Read more »

Washington’s Boyhood Home Found

Archaeologists for the George Washington Foundation have found the site of George Washington’s boyhood home on a bluff overlooking the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg, Virginia.Read more »

George Washington, Founding CEO

Sharp business skills ensured the first president’s phenomenal success

America’s greatest leader was its first—George Washington. He ran two start-ups, the army and the presidency, and chaired the most important committee meeting in U.S. history, the Constitutional Convention. His agribusiness and real estate portfolio made him America’s richest man. He was as well known as any actress, rapper, or athlete. Men followed him into battle; women longed to dance with him; famous men, almost as great as he was, some of them smarter or better spoken, did what he told them to do. He was the Founding CEO.Read more »