On Friday, George Washington was finally honored with his own presidential library near his Mount Vernon estate after a 216 year wait (Bill Clinton’s opened a mere four years after he left office back in 2004). Though the vault will only be accessible to visiting scholars and researchers, the historic new facility does sport a wealth of fascinating items. Here are seven of the most interesting.
1. A Farm Report Written By His Nephew
George Augustine Washington, son of the president’s brother Charles, was asked to assume control of Mount Vernon’s farms in 1786. The document in question was composed in August, 1790.
2. Wood From A 300-Year-Old Tree
The American sycamore, which was downed to provide some of the establishment’s trimming, is of particular significance to building director Douglas Bradburn because, in his words, “It was alive at the same time as Washington.”
3. Washington’s Copy of The Acts of Congress… Complete With Handwritten Notes!
Previously, this remarkable document containing, among other things, his copy of the Constitution (into which the owner scribbled personal commentary on the margins), had been lent to other presidential libraries such as those of Kennedy and Reagan.
4. Washington’s Copy of Don Quixote
Delivered as a gift in 1785 by a Spanish diplomat named Don Diego de Gardoqui, the book is written entirely in Spanish. Washington couldn’t read Spanish, and the four-volume set appears to have been rarely-opened.
5. Washington’s Copy of Thomas Paine’s "Common Sense"
For more on Washington’s erratic relationship with Paine (which grew cold later in life), do go here.
6. Washington’s Copy of A New System of Husbandry
Written by Charles Varlo in 1770, Washington grew enamored with the comprehensive agricultural guidebook and copied a number of the botanical experiments prescribed therein.
7. Massive Busts of Hamilton, Jefferson, and Other Founding Fathers
Washington and his Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton shared a long professional partnership spanning several decades ... in fact, the last letter Washington ever wrote was addressed to his former aide, in which he complimented Hamilton’s support for the creation of a national military academy. Jefferson, on the other hand, wasn’t always so warmly-regarded by our first president, who viewed his frequently dissenting opinions as “disloyal."