Writings

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Library of America, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 1149 pages
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This one-volume collection - the most extensive and authoritative ever published - covers five decades of Washington's astonishingly active life and brings together over 440 letters, orders, addresses, and other writings.
Among the early writings included are the journal Washington kept at age 16 while surveying the Shenandoah Valley frontier and his dramatic account of the winter journey he made through the Pennsylvania wilderness in 1753 while on a diplomatic mission. Some two dozen letters written during the French and Indian War, including first-hand accounts of the controversial forest skirmish that began hostilities and of Braddock's bloody defeat, record Washington's early encounters with the harsh challenges of military command.
An extensive selection of letters, orders, and addresses from the Revolutionary War record Washington's determined leadership of the Continental Army through years of defeat and deprivation.
Letters from the Confederation period (1783-1789) show Washington's pleasure at returning to Mount Vernon, his continued interest in Western land speculation and river navigation, his growing concern with the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, and his role in the framing and ratification of the Constitution. The writings from his two terms as president show how Washington strove to establish enduring republican institutions, to build public trust in the new government, to avoid the divisions of party and faction, and to maintain American neutrality during the war between Britain and Revolutionary France. Also included in the volume are letters revealing his close and careful management of Mount Vernon and his evolving attitudes toward slavery.

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George Washington : Writings (Library of America)

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The Library of America was red hot this year. In addition to this collection of Washington's most important papers, the publisher also produced volumes of Nathaniel West, Wallace Stevens, John Muir, and a gangbusters, two-volume collection of American crime fiction. (Classic Returns, LJ 4/1/97) Read full review

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Contents

Rules of Civility Decent Behaviour in Company
3
A Journal of my Journey over the Mountains began Fryday
11
Design for a Coat c 1749mo
17
Copyright

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About the author (1997)

George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Va., on Feb. 22, 1732. His father died in 1743, and Washington went to live with his half brother Lawrence at Mount Vernon. He was appointed surveyor for Culpeper County in 1749. Washington's brother died in 1752 he ultimately inherited the Mount Vernon estate. Washington first gained public notice when, as adjutant of one of Virginia's four military districts, he was dispatched in October 1753 by Govenor Robert Dinwiddie on a fruitless mission to warn the French commander at Fort Le Boeuf against further encroachment on territory claimed by Britain. Discouraged by his defeat and angered by discrimination between British and colonial officers in rank and pay, he resigned his commission near the end of 1754. The next year, however, he volunteered to join British general Edward Braddock's expedition against the French. In 1755, at the age of 23, he was promoted to colonel and appointed commander in chief of the Virginia militia, with responsibility for defending the frontier. In 1758 he took an active part in Gen. John Forbes's successful campaign against Fort Duquesne. Assured that the Virginia frontier was safe from French attack, Washington left the army in 1758 and returned to Mount Vernon, directing his attention toward restoring his neglected estate. With the support of an ever-growing circle of influential friends, he entered politics, serving from 1759 to 1774 in Virginia's House of Burgesses. After 1769, Washington became a leader in Virginia's opposition to Great Britain's colonial policies. As a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congress, Washington did not participate actively in the deliberations. In June 1775 he was Congress's unanimous choice as commander in chief of the Continental forces. Washington took command of the troops surrounding British-occupied Boston on July 3, 1775. After the war, Washington returned to Mount Vernon. He became president of the Society of the Cincinnati, an organization of former Revolutionary War officersand in May 1787, Washington headed the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and was unanimously elected presiding officer. After the new Constitution was submitted to the states for ratification and became legally operative, he was unanimously elected president in 1789. Washington was reelected president in 1792. By March 1797, when Washington left office, the country's financial system was well established; the Indian threat east of the Mississippi had been largely eliminated; and Jay's Treaty and Pinckney's Treaty with Spain had enlarged U.S. territory and removed serious diplomatic difficulties. Although Washington reluctantly accepted command of the army in 1798 when war with France seemed imminent, he did not assume an active role. He preferred to spend his last years in happy retirement at Mount Vernon. In mid-December, Washington contracted an illness; he declined rapidly and died at his estate on Dec. 14, 1799.

John Rhodehamel is the Norris Foundation Curator of American Historical Manuscripts at the Huntington Library.
Thomas F. Schwartz is curator of the Lincoln collection at the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield.

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