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Mount Vernon Acquires George Washington's Acts of Congress

Fri, 06/22/2012

For Immediate Release
June 22, 2012
Digital image available

Media Contact
Rebecca Aloisi

Mount Vernon Acquires George Washington's Acts of Congress

Mount Vernon, VA—George Washington’s original copy of the Acts of Congress will once again find a home at Mount Vernon, the first president’s beloved Virginia estate. The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association emerged as the winning bidder in today’s highly-anticipated auction at Christie’s in New York, securing the prized volume for the shelves of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. Slated to open in fall 2013, the library will function as a privately-funded presidential library for George Washington.

Emblazoned with Washington’s bookplate and featuring his handwritten notes penciled in the margins, the 106-page book contains Washington’s personal copy of the U.S. Constitution, a draft of the Bill of Rights, and other documents recording the early acts of the new Congress. Washington received the book in 1789, his first year in office as U.S. president, and brought it with him to Mount Vernon upon his retirement from public office in 1797.

Today’s acquisition ranks among the most significant in the history of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the private, not-for-profit organization that maintains and operates the estate in trust for the American people and accepts no government funding. Since purchasing the estate from the Washington family in 1858, the association has welcomed home scores of original Washington family objects, largely through private donations. Each year, the estate attracts more than one million visitors. The quick timing of the auction and the rareness of the opportunity sparked the association to move swiftly to place the winning bid.

"Washington himself once wrote, 'The Constitution is our guide, which I will never abandon.' By acquiring this book—his personal copy of the Constitution—we are taking him quite literally," said Ann Bookout, Regent, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. "It is extremely rare to see a book of such significance change hands, and we felt that it was essential to muster our resources to bring this extraordinary document home to Mount Vernon."

The volume is a centerpiece for the association’s latest initiative, the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington. Currently under construction near the main entrance to the estate, the library will serve as a place to safeguard Washington’s documents as well as a gathering place for leaders and scholars. The association has currently raised more than $85 million of the $100 million needed for the construction of the library and its initial slate of programming.

"We hope that other patriotic Americans will be inspired by our decision to secure this most important and unique document and cornerstone of our nation’s history and step up to lend their support to our cause," added Bookout.

Mount Vernon expects to take possession of the volume later this summer. The association will announce plans for its display and viewing at a later date. For more information about the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of Mount Vernon, visit


About Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens
Since 1860, more than 80 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens the most popular historic home in America, attracting more than one million visitors each year. Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, America’s oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853. A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital.

Hours of operation: April-August, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; March, September, October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; November – February, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular admission rates: adults, $15.00; senior citizens, $14.00; children age 6-11, when accompanied by an adult, $7.00; and children under age 5, FREE. Admission fees, restaurant and retail proceeds, along with private donations, support the operation and restoration of Mount Vernon. For more information about Mount Vernon, please visit