Without a doubt one of the most impressive places to visit is Mount Vernon. Clinton and I arranged to be in Washington D.C. For Labor Day weekend. I had booked a hotel in advanced for a really swank looking place close by to Dupont Circle because the University of South Florida (Go Bulls!) has an alumni group that meets in a restaurant at that location. Plus, I booked a boat ride from the D.C. Harbor to Mount Vernon – directly on the Potomac! It was really cool sitting on a boat and looking out at the land and river that George Washington loved. I can think of no better way to get to Mount Vernon! We took Spirit Cruise lines and the ticket included entrance into the park and round trip to the harbor. Make sure you watch the time when exploring at Mount Vernon– once they leave the dock for the day they are not coming back!
Mount Vernon is a lovely plot of land situated right at the banks of the Potomac River. The land had been owned by the Washington family for generations before our beloved George Washington entered the picture, who became the sole owner in 1761. One interesting fact that I learned while we were doing the house tour – even after the Washington’s “retired”, they still received enough visitors that they had specific rooms ready for certain friends and family, or even just someone passing through. It was rude to ask a guest when they were leaving, if you can imagine that attitude today! A lot of the history of the house is told from the point of view of Martha Washington, and it was very moving to spend time listening to her explain the hardships of being a wife of a famous general and leader of such a large movement. We sometimes build our Founding Fathers into these almost mythical like Heros who do no wrong and sweep in during bad times to solve our most prominent problems…but in reality these men and women of history are just human, like us. They suffer vices, they make mistakes, and they are not perfect. It puts many things in perspective when listening to the personal life of someone, and to delve a bit more into their true lives to get that bigger picture is refreshing. George Washington spent maybe 434 days total at Mount Vernon while serving his two terms as President, for instance, and while preaching for “Freedom for all men”, Washington was himself a slave holder. It is worth mentioning that in his 1799 will, Washington became the only slave-owning Founding Father to free them upon his wife’s death. At that time there were 317 slaves – 153 from Martha’s first husband, given in her dowry but legally binding to her first husbands estate and therefore not eligible for freedom under Washington’s will. Martha Washington would sign a deed of manumission in December 1800 to emancipate those slaves on January 1, 1801.
Mount Vernon as a house is a very practical and beautiful, but the real winner is the view of the Potomac and surrounding forest. The gardens are practical and speak of the hobbies and attitude of Mr. Washington himself, including fishing, gardening, tobacco, and boat making. Living there before modern conveniences would have been a bit of a struggle for many of us today, but I can’t speak enough about the area, the view, and the loveliness of imaging the area without many of the conveniences today!
We headed back and picked up our luggage from the hotel and heading back home via the Metro. If you are traveling around D.C. definitely look to using the Metro as much as possible – there are usually plenty of parking spots in the outskirt locations (more difficult the closer to D.C. you get) and then it is an easy ride into town. We also use Uber frequently when traveling around D.C., but we make a point to verify the driver and the vehicle tag before getting into the vehicle.
This was the last Founding Father home that we visited while living in Baltimore, but it definitely was not the last exciting place we want to talk about! Keep your eyes focused here for another great place to #TalleyYourAdventure!
**Disclaimer – Proper Prior Planning would have assisted the Traveling Talleys this trip. We did not pack a phone charger and our phone almost died enroute to Mount Vernon – we wanted to make sure we had the actual time to make the boat over photographing our lovely visit. We are picture-less this post!