“The Many Faces of George Washington” is a traveling exhibit produced by George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, in conjunction with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. For the next six weeks, this exhibit which includes color graphics of paintings, photographs, and objects from the Mount Vernon collection will be at the Center for Lifelong Learning.
“The Many Faces of George Washington” looks at Washington’s leadership in the exhibition’s seven sections: Virginia Childhood, Risk Taker, Realistic Visionary, Wise Decision Maker, Impassioned Learner, Visionary Entrepreneur, and At Home at Mount Vernon. The exhibition has been made possible by a generous grant from the F.M. Kirby Foundation.
In school I heard the “rumor” that Washington chopped down the cherry tree, had wooden false teeth, and couldn’t tell a lie. I learned that he crossed the Delaware in a surprise attack that was successful against the British during the Revolutionary War. But….that is pretty much all I remembered about him.
With this exhibit I learned so much more.
For example, Washington was the oldest of six children. His father died when he was 11. At 14, he tried to enter the Navy but could not get his mother’s permission, so he became a surveyor instead. At 17, he was appointed county surveyor for Culpepper County in Virginia. At the age of 21, he inherited Mount Vernon from his half-brother.
That is a pretty significant lifetime packed into just seven years, but it was only the beginning. His next influence was in the militia. He started as a colonial officer in the militia fighting with the British in the French and Indian wars. Sixteen years later, he was named Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. For eight years the Continental Army fought the British until their victory at Yorktown.
We all know that he was the first President of the United States, but not everyone knows that he was a lifelong learner. His study had over 900 volumes. He had books on architecture, agriculture, history, politics, mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy. He was a firm believer in education, and helped to endow Liberty Hall Academy, which is now Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.
Washington was a farmer and entrepreneur. To expand the profit of his farms, he built a gristmill and a distillery, which enabled him to manufacture flour, cornmeal, and whiskey to sell locally and overseas. He also ran a profitable fishing industry on the Potomac River.
These are just a few facts from the exhibit. You will need to stop by to learn more. There is even a scavenger hunt for kids who visit the exhibit. While you visit you can enjoy a Pop Culture Gourmet Popsicle. There are six flavors – pear riesling, raspberry cream, roasted plum, banana pudding, key lime, and peach basil. They are yummy!
By: Wanda Campbell