Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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May 7th
Mount Vernon
On this day in 1775, George Washington was traveling north, having left his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia, to attend the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. As he rode along, his thoughts were pulled in opposite directions. Ahead, war loomed—fighting had broken out at Lexington and Concord. Behind him, at his beloved plantation, the fields were full of green wheat and newly planted corn. Herring were running in the river, and the gardens were in bloom. He was not sure when he would be able to return.

Washington inherited Mount Vernon in 1761 from his half brother Lawrence, who had named the estate in honor of Admiral Edward Vernon, Lawrence’s commander in the British Navy. The plantation eventually covered about 8,000 acres, and the columned house, atop a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, was one of Virginia’s finest. Washington was keenly interested in farming and never tired of trying different crops and breeding livestock.

He could not have known, as he rode north, that he would have to spend years away from his plantation, first as commander of the army, later as president. “It is my full intention to devote my life and fortune in the cause we are engaged in, if need be,” he wrote his brother John in 1775. But he always yearned for Mount Vernon.

When the long years of service were finally over, he happily retired to his home. “At the age of sixty-five I am recommencing my agricultural pursuits and rural amusements, which at all times have been the most pleasing occupation of my life, and most congenial with my temper,” he wrote in 1797.

Washington was able to live his last years at Mount Vernon, where he died in 1799. He and his wife, Martha, are buried in a simple hillside tomb there.

American History Parade
1789
The first inaugural ball, honoring George and Martha Washington, is held in New York City.

1915
A German U-boat sinks the British liner Lusitania off the Irish coast, killing 1,200, including 128 Americans, hastening U.S. entry into World War I.

1945
Germany surrenders its forces to the Allies in Reims, France, bringing an end to World War II in Europe.

1957
John F. Kennedy is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage.

1992
The Twenty-seventh Amendment, barring Congress from giving itself a midterm pay raise, is ratified.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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