Four months after taking office, President George Washington directed his London agents, Wakelin Welch & Son, "to send me by the first vessel, which sails for New York, a terrestrial globe of the largest dimensions and of the most accurate and approved kind now in use." Dudley Adams, globemaker to King George III, took several months to craft the globe, which Washington undoubtedly consulted throughout his presidency and then placed in his Study at Mount Vernon. After Martha Washington's death in 1802, Thomas Jefferson tried unsuccessfully to purchase it from Judge Bushrod Washington as a "relic." It is among the few rare items that have remained at Mount Vernon since George Washington's lifetime, leaving the property only when conservation work has required it. More

Object Details
Classroom Tips

Date

1789-1790


People


Geography


Material/Technique

Ink, watercolor, laid paper, papier-mâché, gesso, wood lathe (globe), mahogany and mahogany veneer, brass (stand)


Dimensions

Overall: 47 1/2 in. (120.65 cm)Other (wood base): 34 1/4 in. x 36 in. x 36 in. (87 cm x 91.44 cm x 91.44 cm)Other (globe): 28 in. (71.12 cm)


Credit

Transferred to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association through the generosity of John Augustine Washington III, 1860Conservation courtesy of T. Eugene and Joan H. Smith


Object Number

W-166


Colors


Classroom Tips

  • Ask students to look at a modern day globe or map either physically or digitally in the classroom. Tell students to study both their globe/ map and Washington’s globe, and explain the difference they see. Are the boundaries of nations the same? Are there areas that look unfamiliar? In which language are they written?

  • Hold a class discussion about why Washington ordered a globe at the beginning of his presidency. Ask students if they have a globe in their home. Why do people have globes? For what purpose would Washington have used it? Do we use globes for the same purposes today?

  • Pair this object with the eighteenth-century map of North America that shows the French and British land holdings in North America. Ask students to compare and contrast the map and globe. Many scholars today note that native holdings and the tenuous level that the European empires held the land are rarely reflected in eighteenth-century maps. Guide students to see what groups of people are on the map and globe and who is absent. Note that North America during the late eighteenth century was a conglomerate of tenuous ownership under French, Spanish, Native Americans, British, and American people.

  • Much of the language on Washington’s globe is in Latin. During the late eighteenth century, upper-class young men would learn Greek and Latin as part of their formal education before entering college. Washington was not able to study a foreign language as his older brothers did due to the timing of their father’s death. Ask students why they think the globe was designed in Latin? Based on the knowledge of young men educated in classical languages, for whom would globes be made? Discuss what types of jobs those people might go on to have. Ask students why they think Greek and Latin are not a part of their own school’s education curriculum today. Should they be, and why?

  • During Washington’s presidency, a number of foreign policy issues arose, including but not limited to the Genêt Affair, the Treaty of Tripoli, and Pinckney’s Treaty. How would Washington’s globe have been a useful tool during these trans-Atlantic events and others?

Classroom Materials are ZIP files that include, when available: object images (JPEGS) and teaching tips for the classroom. These materials are for educational uses only.

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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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