“I can truly say I had rather be at home at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me, than to be attended at the seat of government by the officers of State and the representatives of every power of Europe.” - George Washington
The Mount Vernon land was owned by the Washington family for seven generations - from 1674 when King Charles II granted the land to John Washington, George Washington's great-grandfather, until 1858 when it was in the possession of John A. Washington, III, George's great-grandnephew. The Washington family had hopes of selling the estate to the state or federal government but amidst the turbulence leading up to the Civil War, a government purchase proved to be impossible. In order to save the home of our nation's first president, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association was formed under a charter of the Commonwealth from Virginia and purchased the Mansion and 200 acres.
Mount Vernon was the place George Washington called home. As a child, he spent five years, 1735 – 1738 & 1741, living at Mount Vernon, from age three through eight spending most of his childhood in Westmoreland County, Virginia, where he was born. As a teenager, anxious to enhance his social and professional opportunities, young George moved to Mount Vernon to live with Lawrence Washington, his older half brother. During this period, Washington endeared himself to the neighboring Fairfax family and learned the professional trade of surveying. He also capitalized on his brother's well-connected network of friends and socialized with the military, political and social elite of the Virginia. Through these connections and his own incredible perseverance, Washington was appointed commander of the Virginia militia, the highest-ranking military leader in the colonies. After his military service, he returned to Mount Vernon, the home he eventually inherited, after the early death of Lawrence. In 1759, at the age of 27, Washington married widow Martha Dandridge Custis, and settled at Mount Vernon with his new bride and her two young children, John Parke and Martha Parke Custis.
With an unmatched architectural eye, George Washington expanded Mount Vernon and accumulated more land, while building a prosperous plantation operation. In 1775, duty called with Washington's appointment Commander in Chief of the Continental forces. This took him away from Mount Vernon for eight years. After the victory of the Revolutionary War, Washington resigned his commission and returned to Mount Vernon to focus on his farming operation. Public duty, however, called him away again with his unanimous election as first president of the United States in 1789. Despite a grueling public schedule, Washington was able to return to Mount Vernon on 15 separate occasions during his two-term, eight-year presidency.
After the presidency, Washington returned to Mount Vernon for his final days. Washington embarked on many new projects, including a successful distillery. On December 14, 1799, the young nation was cast into mourning at the dawn of a new century with the death of the illustrious George Washington. Two hundred mourners came to Mount Vernon to bid farewell to their leader.