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But then something close to a miracle actually did occur in the person of Ann Pamela Cunningham of rural South Carolina. Having heard of Mount Vernon’s plight, she decided to dedicate her life to saving it from destruction. In 1853, she established the nation’s first historic preservation society – made up entirely of women -- and launched a national fundraising campaign. Five years later, she and her fellow members of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union were able to purchase the Mansion and 200 acres of the original Estate from John Augustine Washington III for $200,000.
Today Mount Vernon is still managed by a board of approximately 30 women, each from a different state. The Mansion and grounds have been preserved to look as they did in 1799, the year that George Washington died.
George Washington has been acclaimed for 200 years as the indispensable man of our Revolution. But he secured immortality by insisting that he was dispensable. He asserted that the cause of liberty was larger than any individual. He wrote, "It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn." This call to his fellow citizens was meant for each of us as well.