Washington sought to encourage civic pride and domestic industry during his presidency and retirement by patronizing American manufacturers, noting in 1789 that "we have already been too long subject to British prejudices." To that end, he wore American-made clothing to public speeches and private events. This blue coat survives as a testament to his actions. A note written by his granddaughter, Elizabeth "Eliza" Parke Custis, indicates that it is "made of the first American cloth sent to General Washington and much worn by him." The garment no longer retains its buttons, as Eliza gave them away as relics.

Description

A man's double-breasted coat with a turn-down collar of fulled blue wool. The left-hand buttoning coat features evidence of once having seven buttons evenly placed on the right and left front panels, the bottom five of which would have been functional as they have corresponding blue edged button holes. The coat does not retain any of its buttons; only the thread which once secured them indicating their placement remains. The coat is unlined and the edges are unfinished. To retain a crisp and even surface, the front panels are backed with a strip of interfacing made from the same wool material that extends from the top of each shoulder to the bottom edge of the panels. The shape of the front panels is further maintained through the addition of two green baize pads sewn into the upper front right and left panels. They are anchored from the top of the shoulder to the third button from the top, and span the entire panel to fill out the hollow of the chest. The nappy fabric is lined with matching fulled blue wool. Set into the front panels are two deep pockets hidden by welted flaps, one on either side. The long sleeves are shaped to curve at the elbows, lined in a plain woven linen fabric, and terminate in a cuff secured by two buttons and corresponding blue edged button holes. The two back panels are made of the same fulled blue wool and are joined along the length of the seam to the waist, leaving a vent at the center back to separate the pleated skirt. The top of the vent is flanked by two nonfunctional buttons. The lower interior edges of the coat skirts also have a nonfunctioning button, one on either panel.

Date

1790-1800


People


Geography


Material/Technique

Wool, cotton, linen


Dimensions

Overall (top of turned-down collar to bottom of skirt): 52 3/4 in. (133.99 cm)
Other (chest, measured edge to edge): 44 in. (111.76 cm)
Other (waist, measured edge to edge): 42 1/4 in. (107.32 cm)


Credit Line

Purchase, 1949


Object Number

W-1514


Colors (Beta)


Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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