Dear Friend,

Mary Higgins Clark is a New York Times bestselling author with more than 85 million books in print worldwide.

However, because I know Mary Higgins Clark for her good works and public service as much as for her marvelous novels, I am deeply grateful to have earned her approval of our work to preserve Mount Vernon and George Washington’s impressive legacy of character, integrity, and leadership.

Several years ago, Mrs. Clark’s very first book – then out of print — was brought to our attention. The book is an account of the 42-year marriage of George and Martha Washington. When we asked Mrs. Clark’s permission to reprint the book under a new title – Mount Vernon Love Story – she graciously agreed.

This past January marked the 258th anniversary of George and Martha Washington’s wedding.

I invite you to join us in our celebration of the Washingtons’ long and successful marriage by reflecting on our first president’s devotion to his wife, his home, and the country he led to freedom.

To start you off, your gift of just $29 will entitle you to a copy of Mary Higgins Clark’s 223-page hardcover book, Mount Vernon Love Story. Because each and every gift to Mount Vernon is greatly appreciated and much needed, Mrs. Clark has kindly agreed to autograph a bookplate for you as a further thank you.


 Why is each and every gift so important? Because George Washington’s Mount Vernon receives absolutely no government support. This has been so from our earliest days. John Augustine Washington — the last Washington descendant to actually live on the property – all but begged the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia to purchase the property and manage it as a public site. Amazingly, these pleas were rejected.

Instead, we rely solely on the American public to keep George Washington’s legacy alive and the doors of Mount Vernon open for every guest who wishes to visit Washington’s home and final resting place.

But this has never been an easy task.

Mount Vernon was Washington’s refuge from both war and public service. It is the place to which he retired after decades of sacrifice.

At Mount Vernon, Washington turned his considerable talents to farming and animal husbandry. And, under his management, Mount Vernon became a prosperous and self-sufficient homestead.

But I think you would be shocked to discover how quickly George Washington’s estate faded from that beautiful and prosperous plantation.

A mere 55 years after Washington’s death, at a time when his reputation and popularity remained incredibly high, the condition of his home reached an equally incredible low.

One evening in 1853, a steamboat traveled down the Potomac River. As was customary, the captain tolled the ship’s bell as Mount Vernon came into view. The moon was full and the sky was clear, so the east facade of the Mansion was illuminated as if it were a stage set.

The sight should have been inspirational. Many would find it so today. But in 1853, it proved to be absolutely dismal.

The weathered paint was chipping. The sagging piazza roof was propped up with the masts of old ships. The lawn was overcome by weeds.

One of the passengers on that steamboat, Louisa Dalton Bird Cunningham, wrote her daughter, Ann Pamela Cunningham, wondering, “Why was it the women of [Washington’s] country did not try to keep [Mount Vernon] in repair, if the men could not do it?”

Ann Pamela Cunningham, a patriotic and forward-thinking American woman, accepted her mother’s query as a personal challenge. She did not believe the American people would stand by and do nothing.

How could we, she wondered, as a nation, show so little respect for this greatest of great men?

She was determined to raise the necessary funds to purchase the property. It took her more than five years but, in 1858, the remnants of Washington’s estate were acquired by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association for $200,000 – a truly astronomical sum in 1858 and quite an accomplishment!

More than 150 years later, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association remains the caretaker of Washington’s estate and the principal guardian of his extraordinary legacy, which is far more than the plantation he so diligently created along the Potomac.

More than any other man, George Washington felt the weight of history upon him as he personally created the model to which all future American presidents would aspire.

But our country is forgetting this great man. Quite simply, George Washington and his great work to build a free and united nation are being diminished and ignored.


 You and I were taught from a very young age about George Washington’s courage and character. Then, his birthday was a national holiday. Do you remember how you celebrated his birthday as a child? I fondly recall cherry pie and paper hatchets on February 22nd.

Today, George Washington’s birthday has been turned into a generic “Presidents’ Day” and it is known more for selling cars and furniture than as a time for honoring our first great patriot.

Schools across the country once had portraits of our Founding Father proudly hanging on their classroom walls. Today, this is rare.

Once, textbooks were rich with accounts of Washington’s life and unparalleled contributions. Today, they provide only 10 percent of the coverage given him a generation ago.

The Father of Our Country deserves much more.

The great General who led us to freedom from tyranny, the first president who guided our fledgling country through the hazardous Founding Era to become the America we know and love, should not only be remembered, but revered, by all generations.

That is why I ask you to join with the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in our critical mission of preservation and education.

As in the past – indeed, as is our now long and successful tradition – we ask for the help of Americans like you who share our patriotic commitment.

Working together, we can return George Washington to the level of prominence his heroism, service, and sacrifice deserve.

Your special gift of $25, $29*, $49**, $100, $250, or more helps us in our daily work to reach millions of schoolchildren across the country with on-site field trips, as well as online distance learning opportunities.


 With your support, our educational outreach for scholars, teachers, and schoolchildren through Mount Vernon’s enhanced website, interactive learning centers, museums, and new National Library, is having an impact. And, because of you, we are putting more and more curriculum-relevant lesson plans and engaging interactive learning videos and educational broadcasts online – free of charge – and into the hands of teachers.

Loyal and generous supporters like you keep his spirit alive! Washington himself seemed to foreshadow just how important educating new generations of Americans would be when he wrote, “If our children grow up in ignorance, we cannot expect them to understand the nature of liberty.”

But as I noted above, we simply cannot do this without you. Only by working together can we preserve not just George Washington’s home, but his rightful place in American history.

Please consider a gift of $25, $29*, $49**, $100, $250, or more today. I thank you, most sincerely, for your kind generosity.


 Yours sincerely,

Curtis G. Viebranz



P.S. Mount Vernon is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We do not accept, nor have we ever accepted, funds from any state or federal government.

Only people like Mary Higgins Clark and you and me, working together, keep Mount Vernon and George Washington’s memory alive.

Please help us in this challenging endeavor. We simply cannot do it without you.

P.P.S. As a thank you for your tax-deductible donation of $29 or more, we will send you a copy of Mary Higgins Clark’s very first novel, Mount Vernon Love Story. Mrs. Clark will autograph your book on a special commemorative bookplate as a further thank you for your generosity.






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