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The General and Mrs. Washington: The Untold Story of a Marriage & a Revolution by Bruce Chadwick
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Therefore, we aim to make as much in house as possible. Although, this October of , our farm will offer Certified Organic produce as we are in pre-certification now carrying forward. Washington northern regions of his new home, Virginia. He also purchased slaves to work on his farms, as so many men did.
His sons and grandsons followed this practice of purchasing land and slaves over the next seventy years. They all prospered by growing tobacco, a product much in demand in the British Isles and in Europe. His grandson Augustine was also a giant of a man. Height and strength were already hallmarks of the Washington men by the time Augustine married Jane Butler. She gave birth to three sons, Butler, Lawrence, and Augustine, and a daughter, Jane, before her death in Augustine then married Mary Ball, an attractive twenty-three-year-old orphan who already had a reputation as being an excessively strong-willed, highly opinionated woman.
The first child was George, who came into the world on February 22, George would have three half brothers, Butler, Lawrence, and Augustine; one half sister, Jane, who died at age two; three brothers, Samuel, John Augustine Jack , and Charles; and two sisters, Betty and Mildred.
He would wind up with twenty-five nephews and nieces from their families, plus five more nephews and nieces from the family of Martha Custis. He maintained close relationships with his brothers and sisters, particularly Jack, throughout their lives. Augustine Washington moved his family to Ferry Farm, a rather flat piece of land across the Rappahannock River from the tiny but bustling town of Fredericksburg, in order to run an iron foundry nearby. He died young, at forty-nine, as did many of the men in his family, and bequeathed most of his land to his sons by his first marriage.
That angered Mary Ball. Lawrence was given a large farm on the southern shore of the Potomac River that he named Mount Vernon, after a military leader he had served under during a brief stint in the British Army. George, eleven at the time, had to be satisfied with the relatively tiny Ferry Farm, its small farm house, and its nineteen slaves.
There, he and his mother oversaw the production of wheat, tobacco, and corn.
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They also earned some money from the operation of a small ferry that crisscrossed the Rappahannock River. Bruce Chadwick 17 Lawrence Washington married into the wealthy and politically influential Fairfax family soon after taking up residence at Mount Vernon. He told his stepmother that the Fairfaxes had considerable influence and might be able to help young George, then fourteen, obtain an appointment in the British Navy.
Perhaps he would be made a cabin boy for a famous sea captain and embark on a career, becoming a captain himself one day, a position of great prestige in society. The overly protective and irascible Mary would hear none of it. She knew that life in the navy would take George away from her on long and dangerous sea voyages. Seamen visiting different ports, especially in the Caribbean, often contracted fatal diseases, too, such as smallpox and tuberculosis. George was intrigued by Virginia society and was determined, even as a young teenager, to find an avenue that would permit him to enter it.
Toward that goal, he read whatever he could; simple books at first and, later, popular novels such as Don Quixote and Tristram Shandy. One of his favorite works was The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, a short guide on how to become a gentleman. Washington read it several times and even copied the entire work in his own handwriting. It would be, he hoped, his guide to upward mobility. By seventeen, he became a land surveyor, a profession that he thought might help him move into the circles of the rich and influential.
The work gave him a chance to earn money and, best of all, spend long days riding through the countryside. He loved horses almost as much as he loved the rolling farmlands of Virginia. Riding was 18 The General and Mrs. Washington a recreation that he enjoyed as a teenager and liked even more as he grew into a young man. He would ride horses just about every day of his life. Others said that only the veteran express couriers on their fleet mounts could make the distance between Winchester and Williamsburg faster than Washington.
So they gave him land, a rather common practice, and in a few years the aggressive surveyor owned fourteen hundred acres in addition to Ferry Farm. He also surveyed for counties and towns, earning fees for that work.
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Washington had grown into a tall, strong young man. He had powerful arms and was able to hurl stones and pieces of wood great distances. Once, joking with his friend Fielding Lewis, he bent down, picked up a flat stone, and tossed it quite some distance across the Rappahannock River. His brother Lawrence convinced him to leave Ferry Farm and move in with him. Moving north to Mount Vernon was full of opportunity to help Lawrence, whom he admired; to meet new people and make friends in Virginia society; and to put some distance between himself and his overbearing mother.
The residence was actually a one-and-a-half story structure with dormer windows jutting out from the roof on the second level—modest compared to most of the plantation homes in the area and downright puny compared to the lavish, three-storyhigh brick manor house with its huge porch and lengthy driveway at Belvoir, the neighboring plantation, where the Fairfaxes resided.
There at Mount Vernon, having just turned eighteen, George slowly began to indulge himself in the social life of the Virginia Bruce Chadwick 19 wealthy, a dream since boyhood. He frequented the taverns of Alexandria, Norfolk, Fredericksburg, and Williamsburg and thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and entertainment there. Washington became a dedicated card player, keeping close track of his winnings and losings in games at the raucous taverns that served as the center of social life in those communities.
He enjoyed drinking tankards of good ale and listening to funny stories and ribald jokes. Although he spoke little and seemed stoic for someone so young, he was an easy man to get along with and soon assimilated into this new world. Washington learned how to dance, and dance well, during this time, and enjoyed the fast-paced Irish jigs and Virginia reels as much as the traditional, slow minuets.
People marveled at how gracefully he moved for such a big man. His superb dancing made him a sought-after guest. His physical strength and endurance made it possible for him to dance for hours, and it was common for him to dance well past midnight at the lavish parties and balls that were frequent throughout the colony. He developed a love of the stage as he approached the age of twenty and went to the theater in Williamsburg as often as he could to see plays presented by local companies or traveling theater troupes, some from London.