He was a great leader, an inspiring general, and a reluctant president who was fully aware that his public identity would become the country's solace during the difficult times of crafting a new nation. His careful silences may have contributed to his social and political success, but they did not entirely satisfy a populace who desired an icon of such moral superiority that Parson Weems' largely fabricated Life of Washington was a bestseller for years.
To discover the truth of Washington's life as well as the larger truth of his myth's impact upon the American psyche, the Central Rappahannock Regional Library recommends these materials, both online and in print. Learn about the fascinating life of the man who would not be king.
In the Library
Cincinnatus: George Washington and the Enlightenment by Garry Wills
Washington was compared by his contemporaries to Cincinnatus, the Roman general who refused to become emperor. Wills examines how Washington's image was used to inspire a young nation.
The Diaries of George Washington 6 Vols. Spans the years 1748 to 1799.
Includes bibliographies and indices.
The Estate of George Washington, Deceased by Eugene Ernst Prussing
A lengthy book (512 pages) that includes illustrations and maps.
For King and Country: The Maturing of George Washington, 1748-1760 by Thomas A. Lewis
Washington's rise to prominence during the French and Indian War was not entirely on noble deeds. Lewis draws his narrative from Washington's own letters, diaries, and dispatches.
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington by Richard Brookhiser
A discussion of Washington's uncommon character as illuminated by incidents in his life. Brookhiser delves beneath legend and Washington's visage of aloofness while never straying too far into speculation.
George Washington, a Biography by Douglas Southall Freeman
This scholarly seven-volume set is considered to be a definitive biography of the first president.
The George Washington Atlas
Twenty-eight of these eighty-five maps were made by Washington. Others were annotated by him or made at his request. Forty-two new maps were created to illustrate his life and achievements.
George Washington, Freemason by William Moseley Brown
An examination of George Washington's activities as a Mason, which began with his initiation as an apprentice at the Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in 1752.
George Washington in the American Revolution, 1775-1783 by James Thomas Flexner
This is volume two of Flexner's scholarly series on Washington's life.
George Washington's Expense Account by Marvin Kitman
Washington declined a salary when he served as commander in chief of the Continental Army, choosing rather to have only his expenses met. To Congress' chagrin, the general's taste for fine food, clothing, and accomodation far surpassed a simple salary. The book includes the actual expense account as well as humorous commentary by the editor.
George Washington's Fredericksburg by Paula S. Felder
"A history of Fredericksburg as it relates to George Washington. Part One deals with the early years of Washington's life. Part Two is a history of Fredericksburg explored through entries in Washington's diary."
The Journal of Major George Washington : An Account of His First Official Mission, Made as an Emissary from the Governor of Virginia to the Commandant of the French Forces on the Ohio, October 1753-January 1754 Facsim ed.
A facsimile edition with introduction and notes.
The Life of George Washington by John Marshall
Five volumes of presidential biography as written by one of Washington's contemporaries, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall. The first volume mostly concerns early Virginia history before Washington's time.
The Life of Washington by M.L. Weems
The bestseller from 1809 created a folk hero for generations of school children. Selected chapters are available online at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/gw/weems.html
The Making of the President 1789: The Unauthorized Campaign Biography by Marvin
Kitman Kitman continues to play historical jester through his examination of Washington's life, finding much humor in the general's successes with social-climbing and shady land deals.
Maxims of George Washington
Quotations from Washington on matters political, moral, religious, social, and military.
Note: selections from The Papers of George Washington are available online at the University of Virginia
Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation by Richard Norton Smith
Washington, the Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner
An indispensable one volume biography especially recommended for those lacking time for reading Flexner's multi-volume set.
On the Web
250 Years of Freemasonry in Fredericksburg
"George Washington was initiated into Freemasonry in the Lodge at Fredericksburg on November 4, 1752. He was passed to the second degree on March 3, 1753; and raised to the third degree on August 4, 1753. He was somewhat unusually only twenty years of age when he was initiated."
Beyond the Last of the Mohicans: Resources for the French and Indian War
"The Rappahannock region had more of a connection with that war than most people suppose. Fredericksburg's own George Washington can be said to have begun it, all by himself, and emerged from it as a celebrity, even a hero. And when he returned he brought some of his wartime friends back with him, men who came to figure prominently in these parts, like Hugh Mercer."
George Washington: A National Treasure
"George Washington stands before you in a full-length portrait by Gilbert Stuart....
This interactive portrait allows you to explore the portrait in detail, from three very different vantage points: the symbolic, the biographic, and the artistic."
George Washington's Birthplace National Monument
"People have made the pilgrimage to the birthplace of George Washington since 1815. Visitors from all over the world have come to see where the first President of the United States was born. Today this 550-acre park memorializes George Washington and the place of his birth."
George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation
George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation manages Ferry Farm, the property in Stafford where Washington spent his boyhood, and Kenmore, the former home of George Washington's sister Betty and her husband, patriot Fielding Lewis.
The Life of Washington by Mason Locke Weems
Portions of Parson Weems' Washington biography, including the fabled cherry tree story, are reproduced online.
The Papers of George Washington
Portions of a series of original papers broken into five sections covering the years of George Washington's life from 1748-1799. Includes diaries.
Richard Brookhiser on George Washington
An interview with the author of Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington conducted by an editor-at-large at U.S. News and World Report.
A Tale of Two Presidents...and One City
Fredericksburg entertained both Washington and Lincoln-- but under vastly different circumstances.