FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC, January 20, 2015 — “George Washington has been the subject of thousands of books and articles, and yet he still remains a distant figure to many of us,” knows Douglas Bradburn, PhD, Founding Director of Mount Vernon’s Fred W. Smith National Library, located adjacent to Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.
So, how can he help demystify the mythology around this Founding Father?
That was the focus of a recent interview with Dr. Bradburn on Grateful American™ TV. Co-hosts David Bruce Smith and Hope Katz Gibbs visited Dr. Bradburn at the Library to talk about the man who led the nation in its earliest days and whose image graces the $1 bill.
Dr. Bradburn explains:
- Washington’s business and entrepreneurial side: “When Washington was growing up, North America east of the Mississippi River was controlled by many different nations. Washington comes to articulate and really believe in a vision of one united country of independent states. The ability to imagine that the world you grew up in can be different requires a tremendous kind of vision, and I think Washington developed that capacity in part through the work he did as a surveyor when he was younger. A surveyor takes a piece of wilderness and makes it into a formal piece of property. A vision is all about creating some kind of order, and Washington was obviously obsessed with order throughout his life. And trying to order and improve things leads directly towards his own entrepreneurship.”
- His reputation as a slave owner: “Washington managed his labor in a way that was consistent with 18th century labor management. As his estate at Mount Vernon expands over time, we see that he experiences a change in understanding. He comes to view his workers as human beings, and he comes to understand the institution of slavery in the abstract, as a system for doing things — whether positive or negative — in the development of America. We see by the 1780s that Washington is trying to identify ways to get rid of slavery. He says in a letter during this period that slavery is a system that no person more than he wants to see gotten rid of, but that this can only be done by active legislation. Of all the presidents who owned slaves, Washington is the only one who frees them in his will.”
- Would Washington have expected to be remembered after nearly 250 years: “I think he expected his name to last beyond his lifetime. He is projecting an image of himself in history; he really projects a statue of virtue for the county to emulate. The motto on his family crest is exitus acta probat, which means, ‘result is the test of the action.’ He writes letters that often say, ‘I never want to have to be revealed by my expression, but rather by my view,’ meaning in essence, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’”
To learn more, visit www.GratefulAmericanTV.com.
About the Grateful American™ Foundation
Founded in 2014, David Bruce Smith’s Grateful American™ Foundation is dedicated to restoring enthusiasm in American history for kids and adults. (Smith is pictured at right.) From TV and radio shows to books and Fascinating Facts about the nation’s Founding Fathers and Mothers — the organization has rolled out dozens of interviews with the directors of presidential and historic homes, ranging from George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, to Alexander Hamilton’s The Grange, and the Benjamin Franklin House in London. Sign up for the monthly newsletter, and learn more at www.GratefulAmericanFoundation.com.