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MOUNT VERNON, VA – Five books published in 2021 by the country’s most prominent historians have been named finalists for the George Washington Prize. The annual award recognizes the past year’s best works on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance a broad public understanding of early American history.

“At a time when Americans are looking to understand the origins of the United States, the prize continues to surface the best new work--once again we have a stellar list, each of whom would make a worthy laureate of this most significant prize,” said Mount Vernon President and CEO, Dr. Douglas Bradburn.

Created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Washington College, the $50,000 George Washington Prize is one of the nation’s largest and most notable literary awards.

"By honoring the best books on Washington and the founding era, the George Washington Prize not only elevates the work of great historians, it provides teachers, students, and general readers with a guide to the best books about our country's early history -- at a time when we need them more than ever,” said James Basker, President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

As has happened every year since the Prize was created in 2005, an independent jury evaluated between 50 and 100 books published in the past year that explore the history of the American Founding era. The five books named as finalists for the Prize are outstanding examples of just how rich and robust this field of study has become.

The 2022 George Washington Prize finalists are (in alphabetical order):

  • Max M. Edling, Perfecting the Union: National and State Authority in the US Constitution (Oxford University Press)
  • Julie Flavell, The Howe Dynasty: The Untold Story of a Military Family and the Women Behind Britain's Wars for America (Liveright Publishing Corporation, A Division of W.W. Norton & Company)
  • Jeffrey H. Hacker, Minds and Hearts: The Story of James Otis, Jr. and Mercy Otis Warren (Bright Leaf, Amherst and Boston, An imprint of the University of Massachusetts Press)
  • Bruce A. Ragsdale, Washington at the Plow: The Founding Farmer and the Question of Slavery (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England)
  • David O. Stewart, George Washington: The Political Rise of America's Founding Father (Dutton, An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC)

The announcement of the 2022 winner will be made at a ceremony held at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home in Virginia, on May 25, 2022.  The event will also recognize past winners, 2021 winner Mary Beth Norton, 1774: The Long Year of Revolution and 2020 winner Rick Atkinson, The British are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777.  The ceremony is open to the press and will also be live-streamed on

More information about the George Washington Prize is available at




The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Now celebrating its twenty-fifth year, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Organization of American Historians, and the Council of Independent Colleges. Learn more at

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Since 1860, more than 85 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon the most popular historic home in America. 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. In 2013, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association opened the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, which safeguards original books and manuscripts and serves as a center for research, scholarship, and leadership development. Learn more at

Washington College

Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The college’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores the American experience in all its diversity and complexity, seeks creative approaches to illuminating the past, and inspires thoughtful conversation informed by history. Learn more at

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