The Publication That Helped Save Mount Vernon: A Near Complete, 2-Year Run of the Mount Vernon Record

Published by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, it contained articles and original engravings relating to Washington and the effort to save his home

Purchase $9,500

This is a very rare publication. Records show no such near-complete sets having reached the public market in at least several decades

Mount Vernon describes the effort to save Washington’s homestead: In 1853, Louisa Bird Cunningham was traveling on the Potomac River and passed by Mount Vernon in the moonlight. Struck by...

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The Publication That Helped Save Mount Vernon: A Near Complete, 2-Year Run of the Mount Vernon Record

Published by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, it contained articles and original engravings relating to Washington and the effort to save his home

This is a very rare publication. Records show no such near-complete sets having reached the public market in at least several decades

Mount Vernon describes the effort to save Washington’s homestead: In 1853, Louisa Bird Cunningham was traveling on the Potomac River and passed by Mount Vernon in the moonlight. Struck by its sad appearance, and fearing that it would soon be lost to the nation for lack of upkeep, Mrs. Cunningham wrote a letter to her daughter, Ann Pamela Cunningham, then thirty-seven years old. In the letter, Cunningham made the comment that if the men of the United States would not save the home of its greatest citizen, maybe the women should do it.

Those words galvanized her daughter into action. Initially writing under the nom de plume “A Southern Matron,” Ann Pamela Cunningham challenged the women of the South, and later the women of the entire country, to save the home of George Washington. After convincing John Augustine Washington III, a great, great nephew of George Washington, to sell the property, Cunningham and the organization she founded, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, raised $200,000 to purchase the mansion and two hundred acres. The methods utilized to raise funds give insight into the Association’s larger goals during its formative years.

The Mount Vernon Record

Between 1858 and 1860 the Association put out a newsletter called The Mount Vernon Record. Published in Philadelphia, the small periodical was illustrated with woodcuts depicting scenes from George Washington’s life as well as portraits of his contemporaries and depictions of places that he visited. The purpose of this publication was to keep interested individuals in touch with the status of fund raising efforts, to record the names and contributions of donors, and to educate the readership about people, places, and events in colonial and revolutionary America as a means of raising further interest. Subscriptions to The Mount Vernon Record cost $1.00 per year and any proceeds that remained after costs were paid went directly to the Association.

Cunningham’s ultimate goal was not simply to purchase Mount Vernon in order to save it for the nation. John Augustine Washington had set a high asking price of $200,000. A sales contract was signed between Washington and the Association in April of 1858, at which time $18,000 was transferred as a down payment with the remainder to be paid by February 22 of 1862. The Association was hoping, however, to pay off the debt early and have the entire amount turned over to the seller by George Washington’s birthday in 1859. In addition, the Association had the farsighted goal of restoring not just the house, but also the garden and grounds.

The Illustrated Mount Vernon Record, the Organ of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, Containing Important Official Matter of the Association, Appeals of Vice Regents and Lady Managers, Monthly Reports of the Secretary, List of all Contributions to the Fund; Together with a great variety of Valuable and Highly Interesting Matter relative to our Colonial and Revolutionary History. Vol. I. and Vol. II Philadelphia: Devereaux and Company. [1858-1859]. The entire first year is present. The 2nd year is missing only 3 of the 12 pamphlets.

This is a very rare publication on the public market. Records show no such near-complete set having reached that market in several decades, if ever.

Purchase Now $9,500

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