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George Washington, father of... 

Alan Tjeltveit provides a fascinating follow-up to yesterday's post:

Nice story. Plenty Coups, however, got the generosity right, but not the Washington story. George Washington didn't give Mount Vernon to the American people. He gave it to his nephew. (One of the ironies of American history, of course, was that George had no children. That is, the father of our country was sterile.) Mount Vernon passed through family hands until John Augustine Washington III (George's Great-great-nephew) sold it to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association (which still owns it) just before the Civil War. John Augustine Washington, was, according my mother-in-law (who is John's great-granddaughter), not a very practical man. This father of seven sold Mount Vernon for $200,000 in 1859. In 1860, his wife died. In 1861, the Civil War broke out. So what did John, with all his money and children, do? He gave his money to the Confederacy and signed up. An aide to his distant cousin, Robert E. Lee, John was killed in September of 1861.

What fascinates me is how George Washington's story got told in such a way that it inspired Chief Plenty Coups to such generosity. Or that Chief Plenty Coups thought the best way to talk about his own generosity was to tie it to the (supposed) generosity of our first president. And that the speaker about the current act of generosity wanted to tie it to the generosity of both.

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