Editor of The Times-Dispatch:
Sir, -- An article appeared recently in The Times-Dispatch animadverting upon the charge of 25 cents' admission to Mount Vernon. There was also allusion to spurious relics and a dime museum show.
Every visitor who pays this small entrance fee bears his part in the preservation of Washington's home and tomb. The income that supports Mount Vernon is derived from the entrance fee. Some of the patriotic societies of Virginia will be surprised to learn that through many distant States Virginia societies are represented as leading a movement demanding that the United States government shall take charge and establish free admittance to Mount Vernon. Hence the recent letter from Mr. Appleton, of Boston, asking the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities "which of the patriotic societies of Virginia are supporting this measure". Prompt and decided was the answer: "This association knows of no such movement. It approves the management of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, and places itself on record as opposed to such action." The Virginia Society of Colonial Dames has also put itself on record as opposed to this movement.
A "Mount Vernon Antifee Association" meets in Georgetown and invites "co-operation with them in influencing public opinion." From newspaper clipping inclosed by them with invitation we quote: "At a meeting held in Georgetown reports from civic and fraternal societies were read, showing the keen interest taken in the State of Virginia in removing this stigma."
"Mr. Edward Doherty of Alexandria association, spoke of his trip through Virginia, and the views of members of the House of Delegates."
"An extensive campaign to enlarge the order and send organizers into the field."
Virginians should know what is going on in Georgetown.
Since these conditions exist some facts should be stated.
The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union owns and hold the deed to this property. The carter of this association is granted by the Legislature of Virginia; thus the honor of Virginia is involved.
If for an cause the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association should cease to exist, Mount Vernon will revert to the State of Virginia. The State of Virginia, therefore, stands between Mount Vernon and an adverse action of patriotic societies.
Since 25 cents is the burden of complaint the question naturally arises, how heavy a tax would necessarily be imposed upon the people to cover the expense of maintaining Mount Vernon safely as a public thoroughfare with free admission? The regents of this association receive no salaries. Theirs is a labor of love, but the expenses of last year were $42,582.46. This included the unusual expense of dredging the river channel, for inasmuch as the Mount Vernon wharf is not a wharf of commerce the United States government officers declined to open the channel to a private wharf. The Mount Vernon Association therefore dredged its own channel. A very large increase of visitors, including many of the rougher class, would necessitate a large increase in guards and in general expense. Who can tell what amount might be demanded in the hands of politicians and perfunctory officials?
Women have accomplished what neither the United States government nor Virginia could do. Out of dilapidation and decay the home of Washington has been rescued. A perfected pattern of the olden time it appears as when Washington lived there. The simplicity, refinement and quiet sanctity of this lovely spot charms and impresses every one. From this loved home, his farm and park, his gardens and private wharf, went this Colonial Virginia gentleman and laid his all upon his country's altar. And after the weary strife of war, and out of the cruel strife of factions he found here his rest. No mausoleum reared by public funds is here. In this retired much-loved spot, in a simple tomb provided in accordance with his own direction, rests this illustrious man reverently guarded by the women of the nation.
MRS. CHARLES B. BALL, Vice-Regent for Virginia Mount Vernon Association.