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George Washington's Mount Vernon : At Home in Revolutionary America - Robert F. Dalzell

George Washington's Mount Vernon

At Home in Revolutionary America

Paperback Published: 1st May 2000
ISBN: 9780195136289
Number Of Pages: 320

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George Washington's Mount Vernon brings together--for the first time--the details of Washington's 45-year endeavor to build and perfect Mount Vernon. In doing so it introduces us to a Washington few of his contemporaries knew, and one little noticed by historians since.
Here we meet the planter/patriot who also genuinely loved building, a man passionately human in his desire to impress on his physical surroundings the stamp of his character and personal beliefs. As chief architect and planner of the countless changes made at Mount Vernon over the years, Washington began by imitating accepted models of fashionable taste, but as time passed he increasingly followed his own ideas. Hence, architecturally, as the authors show, Mount Vernon blends the orthodox and the innovative in surprising ways, just as the new American nation would. Equally interesting is the light the book sheds on the process of building at Mount Vernon, and on the people--slave and free--who did the work. Washington was a demanding master, and in their determination to preserve their own independence his workers often clashed with him. Yet, as the Dalzells argue, that experience played a vital role in shaping his hopes for the future of American society--hope that embraced in full measure the promise of the revolution in which he had led his fellow citizens.
George Washington's Mount Vernon thus compellingly combines the two sides of Washington's life--the public and the private--and uses the combination to enrich our understanding of both. Gracefully written, with more than 80 photographs, maps, and engravings, the book tells a fascinating story with memorable insight.

"George Washington's Mount Vernon, the husband-and-wife collaboration of Robert and Lee Dalzell, is a lovely book...as much about the builder, the foremost Founding Father, as about his house. There are insights in it about the character of George Washington that don't emerge from the rest of the Washington literature, vast as the corpus is."--Eric L. McKitrick, The New York Review of Books "Much of the originality of George Washington's Mount Vernon is in the painstaking work the Dalzell's have done collecting biographies of the contractors, managers, overseers, carpenters, joiners, masons, bricklayers, and slaves who constructed Mount Vernon. Half of the book details the lives and labors of these obscure characters, an impressive piece of research. The work is further enriched by maps, drawings, and photographs of all phases of the Mount Vernon building campaigns, making it a necessary addition to any library of Washington studies."--William and Mary Quarterly "George Washington's Mount Vernon, the husband-and-wife collaboration of Robert and Lee Dalzell, is a lovely book...as much about the builder, the foremost Founding Father, as about his house. There are insights in it about the character of George Washington that don't emerge from the rest of the Washington literature, vast as the corpus is."--Eric L. McKitrick, The New York Review of Books "Washington left no formal memoir of either his public or private life, but Robert Dalzell and his wife Lee find Washington's personal history writ large in the home he loved so much. Rich in detail mined from Washington's personal papers, this beautifully illustrated volume chronicles not only the architectural facts of Mount Vernon, but also the human ones, most especially Washington's complicated relationships with his slaves...a superb history."--Publishers Weekly "The Dalzells combine meticulous research and clear writing to help defind the so-called marble man in a more human light as a friendly neighbor, an avowedly earnest perfectionist, and a demanding yet kind slave owner and employer among the land-seekers of colonial Virginia.... This is the definitive study of Mount Vernon, long overdue for the place that's been a seeding ground for ideals of American independence."--Kirkus Reviews "[The Dalzells] accomplish the basic task of interpreting Mount Vernon as a social statement about Washington. Oddly, no single book has explored the site with such precision...[a] fine book."--The Journal of American History "Robert F. Dalzell and Lee Baldwin Dalzell accomplish a fine balancing act, integrating the story of George Washington's home with the public and private life of its longtime occupant.... Without being overly mechanistic, the Dalzell's portray Mount Vernon as a sort of metaphor for the changes in Washington's own life and career. This approach necessitates considerable attention to the social, political, and architectural context of Washington's time and provides significant insight."--Library Journal "Mount Vernon was, and has been restored to be, a spectacular stage setting, and the Dalzells bring us behind the scenes, which enhances our appreciation of the performance. This is a book for all students of history, of material culture, of art and architecture, of landscape design, and for all visitors to Mount Vernon."--Reviews in American History "Washington was both the most indispensable and the most inaccessible of all the founders. In most histories he floats above the revolutionary era like a platitude. Here we finally get him grounded, palpable and human, off guard, at home."--Josepth J. Ellis, author of American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson "This excellent and very interesting new book on Mount Vernon is also a fine addition to the literature on Washinton.... Their careful study of how Washington twice rebuilt Mount Vernon illuminates characteristics of Washington's personality and values, just as their clear understanding of Washington's intentions helps explain why the Mount Vernon mansion and estate are unique and why Washington intended them to be that way.... The Dalzells find a unique blending of traditional and unusual features.... This is a fine and convincing book, tastefully illustrated and handsomely produced."--Richmond Times-Dispatch "This is an extremely important book concerning one of the best known, if not the most famous house in American history. It fills major gaps in the literature of architectural history and Washtington and early American studies."--Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History, University of Virginia "This thoughtful, well-written study casts important light on the evolution of Mount Vernon and the relationship of Washington and his home to the American Revolution. Part of really getting to know Washington will now be to read the Dalzells' book."--Don Higginbotham, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill "The Dalzells have given us George Washington, the builder of both a complexly stated home and of a nation in the throes of democratization. Over the course of forty-five turbulent years, Washington fashioned a structure that would reflect the colonial planter, the retired war hero, and the leader of the western world's only republic. His designs were distilled through craftsmen of every ilk--free and enslaved, white and black--and the story of how Mount Vernon was built is as fascinating as what the home ultimately reveals about this American figure whose self-expression was often measured and restrained."--John P. Riley, historian "An impressive and elegant book makes a convincing case that the man who was 'first in war, first in peace...' also claims recogition as an original American architect, whose life-long project designing, building and rebuilding Mount Vernon provides unexpected insights into Washington the man and Wahington the creator of an independent republican culture."--Kevin M. Sweeney, Amherst College "George Washington's Mount Vernon interweaves architectural history, social history, and biography into a complex and entrancing story of a man and his house. That George Washington kept improving Mount Vernon to the end of his life, while laboring to bring the nation into existence, is evidence of architecture's power of the gentry imagination in the eighteenth century. In this illuminating book, we learn about Washington's spats with his workers, how he used the house socially, the problems of directing construction from a distance, and what the house may have meant culturally in the new American nation."--Richard Lyman Bushman, Gouveneur Morris Professor of History, Columbia University "George Washington's Mount vernon combines the two sides of Washington's life-the public and the private-and uses the combinatipon to enrich our understanding of both."--Transcript "Exhaustive detail and meticulous research...a source of valuable insights into the life and thought of our nation's primary founder. Recommended for library collections."--Fore Word "The husband and wife team...breath life into their story of Mount Vernon...the Dalzell's present the wonders and beauty of Mount Vernonin their lavishly illustrated book."--Naples Daily News "Eloquently written and illustrated . . . both a history of a turbulent era and a personal portrait of one of America's most enigmatic leaders."--The Charleston Post & Courier

ISBN: 9780195136289
ISBN-10: 0195136284
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 1st May 2000
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 25.73 x 17.65  x 1.8
Weight (kg): 0.58