For Immediate Release
Embargoed: April 8, 2013, 12:45 p.m.
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Media Contact: Melissa Wood
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MOUNT VERNON, VA – Today the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, hand-delivered books originally from George Washington’s library to Mount Vernon. The National Library of Scotland is helping to complete a recreation of George Washington’s original book collection in the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, set to open September 2013. The books will be on loan to Mount Vernon from the National Library of Scotland.
“As a man who was driven to improve on his poor education as a child, Washington’s love of reading was voracious and topics covered everything from animal husbandry to Greek history,” said Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland. “Prominent however was his interest in all things Scottish and he held many volumes which reflected this, including works by Burns.”
“It is therefore only fitting that we should help realise the dream to house all of his papers on his magnificent estate at Mount Vernon. I am honoured to be able to present these two volumes from the National Library of Scotland on loan to the library to help realise this wish.”
As part of Salmond’s visit to Mount Vernon, the First Minister toured Washington’s estate with Stewart D. McLaurin, Vice President for The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. During a moving tribute performed by a bagpiper, the First Minister laid a wreath at the tomb of Washington. Following the wreathlaying, Salmond presented the books from the National Library of Scotland to Mount Vernon’s president, Curt Viebranz during a private ceremony.
“George Washington had a multitude of long-lasting Scottish influences throughout his life,” said Curt Viebranz. “It is an honor and privilege for his Estate to again work with the Scottish people, through the generosity of the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Government, to help recreate Washington’s library.”
The books presented to Mount Vernon are two volumes entitled the “Official Letters to the Honorable American Congress, Written, During the War between the United Colonies and Great Britain, by His Excellency, George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Forces (London: 1795).” In 1795, John Carey, editor of ‘Official letters’, sent these volumes to President Washington with manuscript remarks.
This unique copy of 'Official letters' was donated to Scotland's national collection in 1938 by the family of Hugh Sharp, a bibliophile and wealthy jute manufacturer.
For the first time, Mount Vernon’s special collection of books, manuscripts, and archival materials will be organized, conserved and made available to researchers in the 45,000-square-foot Library. Destined to be a George Washington ‘think tank’, this long-overdue initiative will maintain Washington’s importance and relevance in a fast-changing world.
In addition to safeguarding Washington’s books and manuscripts, the Library will serve as a scholarly retreat, a center for educational outreach programs, and a go-to source for seminars and training programs with a special focus on Washington’s leadership.