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A Short History of George Washington including Ancestral Genealogy

1. History

I shall begin with this strange bit of historical information about George Washington. This is copied from a front-page newspaper article in the Florence Times-News, Florence, Alabama, Tuesday, March 18, 1931...

Capitol Hides Two Crypts Prepared for Washingtons Washington, Aug. 18 (UP) Few of the thousands who annually visit the capitol here realize that in the basement, under the dome of the structure, there are two vacant vaults, hewn out of rock, for George and Martha Washington.
The preparation of these two tombs and the reasons why they remain unoccupied are an interesting bit of the personal history of George Washington, which has been brought to light in preparation for the George Washington Bicentennial celebration in 1932.
When Washington died, historians believe, there was no doubt in his mind that his body would be claimed as national property and suitably interred in a national monument.
"It is certain that Washington never gave even a hint of his views, or wishes, in regard to the disposition of his remains, except what is contained in his will," wrote George Washington Parke Custis, Washington's adopted son, in his "Recollection's of Washington."
"He had no doubt believed that his ashes would be claimed as national property and entombed with national honors," Custis continues, "hence his silence on a subject people since his death."
Custis remarks that "the high authorities of the nation begged his remains for public interment at the seat of national government." Part of a resolution passed by Congress read:
"Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America assembled,
"That a marble monument to be erected by the United States in the capitol, in the city of Washington, and that the family of General Washington be requested to permit his body to be deposited under it;
and that the monument be so designed as to commemorate the great events of his military and political life."
President Adams followed Congress' instructions and received a reply from Martha Washington, saying that she had been "taught by the great example which I have so long had before me never to oppose my private wishes to the public will," and that she was willing to acquiesce regardless of the "sacrifice of individual feeling I must make to a sense of public duty." The only reservation Martha washington made was that she should be entombed beside her husband.
On the faith of this document President Monroe had two crypts constructed in the base of the Capitol, under the dome. But the resolution of Congress was not carried out.
Again in 1932, at the Washington centennial, a movement was made by Congress to have Washington's remains moved to the Capitol, but this, too, was never carried out.
The need for a national tomb for Washington has been obviated, according to the Washington Bicentennial Commission, by "efforts of patriotic women who have forever preserved Mount Vernon as a national shrine."
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On April 30, 1789, George Washington, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, took his oath of office as the first President of the United States. "As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent," he wrote James Madison, "it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles."

Born in 1732 into a Virginia planter family, he learned the morals, manners, and body of knowledge requisite for an 18th century Virginia gentleman.

He pursued two intertwined interests: military arts and western expansion. At 16 he helped survey Shenandoah lands for Thomas, Lord Fairfax. Commissioned a lieutenant colonel in 1754, he fought the first skirmishes of what grew into the French and Indian War. The next year, as an aide to Gen. Edward Braddock, he escaped injury although four bullets ripped his coat and two horses were shot from under him.

From 1759 to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington managed his lands around Mount Vernon and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Married to a widow, Martha Dandridge Custis, he devoted himself to a busy and happy life. But like his fellow planters, Washington felt himself exploited by British merchants and hampered by British regulations. As the quarrel with the mother country grew acute, he moderately but firmly voiced his resistance to the restrictions.

When the Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia in May 1775, Washington, one of the Virginia delegates, was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. On July 3, 1775, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he took command of his ill-trained troops and embarked upon a war that was to last six grueling years.

He realized early that the best strategy was to harass the British. He reported to Congress, "we should on all Occasions avoid a general Action, or put anything to the Risque, unless compelled by a necessity, into which we ought never to be drawn." Ensuing battles saw him fall back slowly, then strike unexpectedly. Finally in 1781 with the aid of French allies--he forced the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

Washington longed to retire to his fields at Mount Vernon. But he soon realized that the Nation under its Articles of Confederation was not functioning well, so he became a prime mover in the steps leading to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. When the new Constitution was ratified, the Electoral College unanimously elected Washington President.

He did not infringe upon the policy making powers that he felt the Constitution gave Congress. But the determination of foreign policy became preponderantly a Presidential concern. When the French Revolution led to a major war between France and England, Washington refused to accept entirely the recommendations of either his Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who was pro-French, or his Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who was pro-British. Rather, he insisted upon a neutral course until the United States could grow stronger.

To his disappointment, two parties were developing by the end of his first term. Wearied of politics, feeling old, he retired at the end of his second. In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances.

Washington enjoyed less than three years of retirement at Mount Vernon, for he died of a throat infection December 14, 1799. For months the Nation mourned him.


George Washington's Distillery

George Washington began commercial distilling in 1797 at the urging of his Scottish farm manager, James Anderson, who had experience distilling grain in Scotland and Virginia. He successfully petitioned George Washington that Mount Vernon's crops, combined with the large merchant gristmill and the abundant water supply, would make the distillery a profitable venture. In February 1797, the cooperage at the mill was converted for distilling, and two stills began operating.

By the end of the summer, the makeshift distillery was so successful that Anderson lobbied George Washington to increase the number of stills. Construction began in October of 1797 on a stone still house large enough for five stills. The foundation consisted of large river rocks brought from the Falls of the Potomac, and the walls were made of sandstone quarried from Aquia Creek. Anderson's son, John, managed the production and was assisted by six enslaved African-Americans named Hanson, Peter, Nat, Daniel, James, and Timothy.

The enlarged distillery was working by the spring of 1798. Its success was immediate, and George Washington commented in a letter the following year to his nephew:

Two hundred gallons of Whiskey will be ready this day for your call, and the sooner it is taken the better, as the demand for this article (in these parts) is brisk.... (George Washington, October 1799)

That George Washington was willing to commit to distilling by building such a large structure is evidence of his desire to pursue the most innovative and creative farming practices of the day. Despite having no prior experience in distilling, he quickly became acquainted with the process. In 1798, George Washington noted that

Rye chiefly, and Indian Corn in a certain proportion, compose the materials from which the Whiskey is made.... (George Washington, February 1798)

The finished product was contained in barrels manufactured at the site and marketed to local farmers in Alexandria, in addition to supplying the needs of the Mount Vernon plantation. The distillery produced a great quantity of waste, and this slop was fed to 150 cattle and 30 hogs penned at the site.

George Washington's death in 1799 interrupted the growing success of the distillery, and within a decade the building fell into disrepair as many of the building’s stones were taken away to use in local construction projects.

In 1932 the Commonwealth of Virginia purchased the property and reconstructed the gristmill and miller’s cottage in addition to outlining the distillery.  It was opened as a state park and remained as such until 1995 when the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association agreed to restore the gristmill and research the area.  Two years later, archaeologists at Mount Vernon surveyed the land and located the foundation of the distillery. 

In 1997, Mount Vernon archaeologists began their archaeological investigation, a project which accelerated in 2001 with the generous donation from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).  The $2.1 million grant from DISCUS allowed Mount Vernon to excavate, research, and reconstruct the Distillery.

George Washington’s Gristmill was reopened to the public in April 2002.  Ground was broken in the summer of 2005 on the Distillery, and the building was completed in March 2007.  The Distillery opens to the public on March 31, 2007.



2. Ancestral Genealogy

Following is some family tree information for George Washington, the first president of the United States.

Not only was he president, he was one of the founding fathers involved in the creation of the country. During the American Revolution, he was a prominent military figure. Once the United States had declared its independence, he became a more political influence, leading to his election. He held his presidential post for 2 terms, between 1789 and 1797.

Though you may share ancestors with Mr. Washington, you won't be a descendant because he and his wife Martha had no children.

So, here is George Washington's ancestry, in the form of an ahnentafel chart.

1. George Washington – b.1731 d.1799

2. Augustine Washington – b.1693 d. 1743

3. Mary Ball – b.1708 d.1789

4. Lawrence Washington – b.1659 d.1697

5. Mildred Warner – b.1670 d.1701

6. Joseph Ball – b.1649 d.1711

7. Mary Bennett – d. 1720

8. John Washington – b.1633 d. 1676

9. Anne Pope – d.1667

10. Augustine Warner – b.1642 d.1681

11. Mildred Reade – d.1693

12. William Ball – b.1614 d.1680

13. Hannah Artherold – b.1614 d.1694

16. Lawrence Washington – b.1601 – d.1652

17. Amphyllis Twigden – b.1601 d.1654

18. Nathanial Pope – d.1659

19. Lucy

20. Augustine Warner – b.1611 d.1674

21.Mary Towneley – b.1614 d.1662

22. George Reade – b.1608 d.1674

23. Elizabeth Martiau – d.1685

32. Lawrence Washington – b.1568 d.1616

33. Margaret Butler – b.1568 d.1652

34. John Twigden – d.1611

35. Anne Dickens – d.1637

42. Lawrence Towneley – d.1654

43. Jennet Halstead – d.1623

44. Robert Reade – d.1627

45. Mildred Windebank – b.1564 d.1630

46. Nicholas Martiau – b.1591 d.1657

47. Jane

64. Robert Washington – b.1544 d.1620

65. Elizabeth Light – d.1599

66. William Butler

67. Margaret Greeke

68. Thomas Twigden

69. William Dickens – d.1582

70. Anne Thorton d.1614

84. Lawrence Towneley – d.1567

85. Margaret Hartley

86. John Halstead – d.1601

87. Elizabeth

88. Andrew Reade – d.1623

89. Alice Cooke – d.1605

90. Thomas Windebank – d.1607

91. Frances Dymoke

If you continue back for a few more hundred years, you will find the connection between George Washington and the British monarchy, specifically as a descendant of King Edward III.

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Updated November 2013