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  • Did you know that George Washington invented and designed a 16-sided treading barn for processing wheat on his plantation at Dogue Run Farm? It was in the fall of 1792, and the barn was desperately needed on Dogue Run, one of five working farms on Washington’s 8,000-acre estate.

    “When Washington moved from tobacco to wheat as his cash crop, he faced the challenge wheat farmers have always encountered — that is, how to separate the wheat berry from the top of the wheat stalk,” explains Deborah Colburn, interpretive programs supervisor of the historic trades at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

    She notes that after wheat is harvested, the common way to separate the wheat berry from the stalk was to thresh it with a flail. “A laborer would literally beat the grain to separate it from the straw. This was very time-consuming and exhausting.” Fortunately, there was another way to thresh wheat: treading. (more…)

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  • “George Washington always paid keen attention to his dining spaces and their furnishings, mealtime rituals provided opportunities to present himself as a sophisticated member of the gentry class, an enlightened gentleman, and a gracious host,” explains historian Carol Borchert Cadou in the tabletop book published in 2011 by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, “Dining with the Washingtons: Historic Recipes, Enteraining, and Hospitality from Mount Vernon.”

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  • If you didn’t know much about Alexander Hamilton before the hit show “Hamilton” took Broadway by storm in 2015, odds are good that you are now quite familiar with the Founding Father who helped create our fiduciary system. An American political philosopher and the author of the majority of the essays that comprise the Federalist Papers (a series of 85 essays urging the citizens of New York to ratify the new US Constitution), Hamilton was also the first US secretary of the Treasury. (more…)

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  • Students Opposing Slavery (SOS) is an award-winning youth education and modern abolitionist program at President Lincoln’s Cottage, a nonprofit historic site and National Monument in Washington, DC. (more…)

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  • It was the day before the 2017 Presidential inauguration when a school bus filled with students from Lake Forest Academy in Illinois pulled into Mount Vernon for a visit. (more…)

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  • GeorgevGeorgeBy Hope Katz Gibbs, executive producer, David Bruce Smith’s Grateful American™ Foundation

    If you were planning on writing a book about one of America’s greatest legends, how would you approach the assignment?

    Northern Virginia-based children’s book author and illustrator Roz Schanzer researches her historical figures carefully. First, she consults every significant adult book and scholarly article about the subject she can find. Then she takes a close look at ancient photos, period items from museums, painted portraits, and old political cartoons.

    Schanzer’s favorite scoops almost always come from primary source material written by the folks from history who take part in her stories. These sources are full of surprises and can include anything from love letters, private journals, and obscure speeches to outrageous newspaper editorials and secret military correspondence from spies. (more…)

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  • On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond, VA, at the Second Virginia Convention.In attendance were 120 delegates, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, Edmund Pendleton, and Peyton Randolph. Dozens of British sympathizers were in the audience. (more…)

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  •  March 4, 1817 — On an unusually warm March afternoon 200 years ago, James Monroe took the oath of office in Washington, DC, as America’s fifth president. In a capital city still recovering from having government buildings burned to the ground three years earlier by the British, large crowds thronged the city to celebrate Monroe’s inauguration. (more…)

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  • The complex relationship between Thomas Jefferson and slavery has been studied extensively and debated by his biographers and scholars.

    The owner of more than 600 slaves throughout his life, Jefferson acquired them by inheritance, marriage, the birth of children to enslaved people, and trade from the time he turned 21. In 1764, he inherited 5,000 acres and 52 slaves after his father’s death. More followed in 1772 upon his marriage to widow Martha Wayles Skelton when her father, John, gave Jefferson two plantations and an additional 135 slaves. (more…)

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  • What drew nearly 600,000 students from around the world to prepare exhibits, documentaries, papers, performances, and websites for the annual National History Day competition?

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  • Charles Willson Peale (April 15, 1741 – Feb. 22, 1827) was an American painter, soldier, scientist, inventor, politician, and naturalist. He is best remembered for his portrait paintings of leading figures of the American Revolution, as well as for establishing one of the first museums.

    Born in 1741 in Chester, Queen Anne’s County, MD, Peale became an apprentice to a saddle maker when he was 13 years old. When he got older, he opened his own saddle shop, but his political enemies conspired to bankrupt his business. He tried fixing clocks and working with metals, but both of these businesses failed as well. He then took up painting. (more…)

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  • July 4, 2016 — David Bruce Smith’s Grateful American™ Foundation is proud to release “Grateful American™ Kids Rock!” The music video stars students from The Steward School in Richmond, VA, who rap and dance to lyrics that honor America’s Founding Fathers and Founding Mothers.

    “David Bruce Smith and I are incredibly excited to launch GratefulAmericanKids.com, and can’t think of a better way to do it than to have 30 students from The Steward School sing about the founders in a fun, educational manner,” says Hope Katz Gibbs, executive producer of the Grateful American™ Foundation, who penned the lyrics to “Grateful American™ Kids Rock!”

    Smith and Gibbs are especially grateful to Bonnie Anderson and John McAlister, The Steward School’s music teachers who put the beat to the words and helped the students rock out on the lyrics. Thanks, too, to The Steward School’s Cary Jamieson, director of the Bryan Innovation Lab, and Rachel Williard, director of marketing and communications. And kudos to the marvelous moms at The Steward School who supplied all the costumes and helped dress the students. (more…)

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