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George Washington's Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America
 
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George Washington's Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America [Kindle Edition]

Robert F. Dalzell , Lee Baldwin Dalzell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Inheriting Mount Vernon in 1754 at the age of 22, George Washington called it home for the remaining 45 years of his life. Even amid the turmoil of the Revolution, he spent most of this time busily expanding and remodeling the house on the Potomac a few miles south of what became the District of Columbia. Here he was neither general nor statesman, but paterfamilias and gentleman planter. Washington left no formal memoir of either his public or private life, but Robert Dalzell and his wife Lee (respectively, a professor of history and a reference librarian at Williams College) 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 (a house that "mixes its classicism with some decidedly nontraditional elements"), but also the human ones, most especially Washington's complicated relationships with his slaves, all of whom he instructed to be freed in his last will and testament, thereby breaking (if posthumously) with "the system that had so long held his own independence hostage to the denial of liberty to other human beings." The Dalzells fail in their attempt to force an unlikely analogy between Washington's evolution as a political thinker and the concurrent architectural evolution of his mansion, but they nevertheless provide a superb history?including ample notes and an appendix on 18th-century house-building techniques?of Mount Vernon as a place and Washington as proprietor. Photos, illustrations and blueprints.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Americans seem to view historical sites either as patriotic shrines or mere vacation locales. Seldom have places such as George Washington's home at Mount Vernon been analyzed for a deeper understanding of the past. The authors use Mount Vernon to present readers with a course in Colonial and early national history. Robert F. Dalzell Jr. (history, Williams Coll.) and Lee Baldwin Dalzell (head reference librarian, Williams Coll.) accomplish a fine balancing act, integrating the story of George Washington's home with the public and private life of its longtime occupant. Mount Vernon became significant as the residence of the famed planter, general, and president?albeit with long periods of absence?but also due to his taking personal responsibility for altering and expanding the mansion. Without being overly mechanistic, the Dalzells 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. For larger public and academic libraries.?Charles K. Piehl, Mankato State Univ., MN
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 15859 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (Sept. 24 1998)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006BY2CT6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #422,287 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Successful Mix May 8 2000
By "yyuu"
Format:Hardcover
Knowing Professor Dalzell and Mrs. Dalzell personally, I was incredibly curious to see how they blended the two seemingly connected but perhaps contrasting topics of George Washington and his home. Essentially, they were connected very successfully. The entire history of the home itself is told vividly with photographs, anecdotes, and objective descriptions of its development. Following, Washington's own personal, military, and political history is told in light of the times, and in the book's shining ability, in relation to the home itself. The Dalzell's cleverly-melded arguments and discussions leads the reader to a full knowledge of Mt. Vernon and its inspiring owner.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars A story at the heart of the republic Nov. 12 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I openned this book expecting to read a story about a house and how it was built. I was surprised, and impressed, to discover that what went on as Mt. Vernon took form was far more interesting than I had expected. This is not so much a book about a house as it is the story of how George Washington related to the slaves on whom he relied to execute his architecture. In other words, the story here reverberates far beyond the boundaries of the plantation. It went to the heart of the republic, and it goes to the heart of this nation. Slavery is encoded in our national DNA (sorry, Jefferson). The Dalzells make it clear that it is also mortared in the wood and plaster (cut and painted to look like stone) of our national edifice. Are you tormented, or at least intrigued, that a slaveowner could style himself father of a republic dedicated to freedom? Maybe Washington was, too. Find out. Visit Mt. Vernon, and do it by reading this book.
Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Mount Vernon was both architecturally innovative and a true mirror of Washington's feelings and mind. He never wrote an autobiography and his diaries consist largely of farm accounts, but in Mount Vernon, the authors write, "he produced a text from which it is possible to coax a remarkably full sense of his political convictions and of how, over time, they changed." The book, George Washington's Mount Vernon, combines the public and the private sides of his life and uses the combination to enrich our understanding of both.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Washington understood as an architect for democracy Sept. 14 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
For an Architect practicing in any era since Monticello was built, it has always been easy to enter into Jefferson's process--to commune with the models and the methods he sat down with as he designed (time and again) the house that he built as a monument to his ideas and his place in history. In part, this has been because he planned and drew much as we do today. We have the drawings. We know (and can quickly avert our eyes from) the form of labor. We can hold these two-dimensional maps up to the brilliant artifact, and be satisfied, with ourselves, that we have made a connection to the past. Mount Vernon, however, has had to wait for the Dalzells to read, for us, the full and fully three-dimensional process of its becoming. This beautifully written book brings to George Washington's home, a context of meaning and National symbolism that time and distance had almost obliterated. The book is a restoration project: and as such, it is a key compliment to the preservation work so ably executed over the years by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. I heartily recommend this book to architects (amateur and professional), their clients (who may find comfort in learning that building has always been a trial), architectural historians, or anyone at all who is curious about the faithfulness of our democracy to the designs of one of its primary draftsmen.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Washington understood as an architect for democracy Sept. 14 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For an Architect practicing in any era since Monticello was built, it has always been easy to enter into Jefferson's process--to commune with the models and the methods he sat down with as he designed (time and again) the house that he built as a monument to his ideas and his place in history. In part, this has been because he planned and drew much as we do today. We have the drawings. We know (and can quickly avert our eyes from) the form of labor. We can hold these two-dimensional maps up to the brilliant artifact, and be satisfied, with ourselves, that we have made a connection to the past. Mount Vernon, however, has had to wait for the Dalzells to read, for us, the full and fully three-dimensional process of its becoming. This beautifully written book brings to George Washington's home, a context of meaning and National symbolism that time and distance had almost obliterated. The book is a restoration project: and as such, it is a key compliment to the preservation work so ably executed over the years by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. I heartily recommend this book to architects (amateur and professional), their clients (who may find comfort in learning that building has always been a trial), architectural historians, or anyone at all who is curious about the faithfulness of our democracy to the designs of one of its primary draftsmen.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Successful Mix May 7 2000
By "yyuu" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Knowing Professor Dalzell and Mrs. Dalzell personally, I was incredibly curious to see how they blended the two seemingly connected but perhaps contrasting topics of George Washington and his home. Essentially, they were connected very successfully. The entire history of the home itself is told vividly with photographs, anecdotes, and objective descriptions of its development. Following, Washington's own personal, military, and political history is told in light of the times, and in the book's shining ability, in relation to the home itself. The Dalzell's cleverly-melded arguments and discussions leads the reader to a full knowledge of Mt. Vernon and its inspiring owner.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book enriches our understanding of Washington. Nov. 2 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mount Vernon was both architecturally innovative and a true mirror of Washington's feelings and mind. He never wrote an autobiography and his diaries consist largely of farm accounts, but in Mount Vernon, the authors write, "he produced a text from which it is possible to coax a remarkably full sense of his political convictions and of how, over time, they changed." The book, George Washington's Mount Vernon, combines the public and the private sides of his life and uses the combination to enrich our understanding of both.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good insight to the life of Washington through his home Aug. 16 2011
By Jason Greer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is really an architectural biography, that is a story of the life of Washington through his public and private spaces. Mount Vernon, the estate and house, has long been seen as an archetype of colonial America, yet this work exists to show just how unusual Washington was and how unusual his estate was.

Drawing on extensive use of primary sources, the authors have made the case that Washington's working estate was intended to be a public location for showing how a private life could be lived well, with late 18th century virtue at its heart.

The authors do not ignore the role that slave labor played at Mt. Vernon, nor Washington's changing attitudes. Mostly what they accomplish with this work is to show and flesh out in greater detail how this estate, and its evolving history, to 1799, was used to create and demonstrate what the new American Republic could be.

Washington might be surprised at the attention to detail that the preservation of Mt. Vernon has today. He would not be surprised that it is a public space, welcoming to people from across the land. He might be surprised at its attention today, froze in amber in 1799, as it remained a working estate, constantly changing, to be used and grown for economic output in his day.

This is a readable, well researched history that fleshes out Washington and the important role that Mt. Vernon played in his life.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story at the heart of the republic Nov. 12 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I openned this book expecting to read a story about a house and how it was built. I was surprised, and impressed, to discover that what went on as Mt. Vernon took form was far more interesting than I had expected. This is not so much a book about a house as it is the story of how George Washington related to the slaves on whom he relied to execute his architecture. In other words, the story here reverberates far beyond the boundaries of the plantation. It went to the heart of the republic, and it goes to the heart of this nation. Slavery is encoded in our national DNA (sorry, Jefferson). The Dalzells make it clear that it is also mortared in the wood and plaster (cut and painted to look like stone) of our national edifice. Are you tormented, or at least intrigued, that a slaveowner could style himself father of a republic dedicated to freedom? Maybe Washington was, too. Find out. Visit Mt. Vernon, and do it by reading this book.
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