November 2013

George Washington Finally Gets a Presidential Library

Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George WashingtonFred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington

Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington
Curtis Viebranz, president of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, looks at a book that belonged to Washington at the new presidential library.

More than 200 years ago, President George Washington wrote in a letter to a friend that he wanted to have a place built to keep his large collection of “military, civil, and private papers.” This year, Washington’s wish finally came true. On September 27, the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington opened at Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, Virginia. Mount Vernon, which is located on the banks of the Potomac River, was Washington’s plantation home.

The new two-story library has a wealth of historical treasures related to Washington, including 103 books from his personal library. It also contains about 6,000 documents and maps, 500 letters, and many books about Washington, such as biographies, novels, and children’s books. The library even has Washington’s personal copies of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

On the library’s opening day, a special ceremony was held. It began with a procession of men dressed as Revolutionary War soldiers. They performed fife-and-drum music as they presented the American flag. Next, the United States Army Band performed the national anthem. Students from nearby Fort Belvoir Elementary School then recited the Pledge of Allegiance. After a brief prayer was read, Mount Vernon estate president Curtis Viebranz welcomed everyone to the new library.

U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia spoke to the audience about George Washington’s influence on politics today. Senator Kaine talked about how the U.S. Congress reads Washington’s Farewell Address as a yearly tradition. In that famous address, Washington gives advice about how the U.S. government should conduct itself.

Historian and best-selling author David McCullough was the event’s keynote speaker. He talked about Washington’s lasting impact on the United States. He also said that the new library was one of the best places to learn about America’s first President and other founders of the nation.

Image credit: ©AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

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Question 1
What is Mount Vernon?

Question 2
About how many documents and maps does the new Washington library have?

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