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George Washington Prize Nominees Announced, Special Author Discussion and Book Signing at Mount Vernon August 24

Four books published in 2022 by the nation’s most prominent historians were recently 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.

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

For the first time, this year’s George Washington Prize nominees will convene on one stage for a panel discussion of their work on Thursday, August 24, 2023, at 7 p.m. EDT at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The event will be free and open to the public. The nominees will be available to sign books following the event. Please register here.

The 2023 George Washington Prize finalists are (in alphabetical order):

  • Mary Sarah Bilder, Female Genius: Eliza Harriot and George Washington at the Dawn of the Constitution (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2022). 360 pp.
  • Fred Kaplan, His Masterly Pen: A Biography of Jefferson the Writer (New York: Harper, 2022). 657 pp.
  • Stacy Schiff, The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams (New York: Little, Brown, 2022). 422 pp.
  • Maurizio Valsania, First among Men: George Washington and the Myth of American Masculinity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2022). 403 pp.

James Basker, President, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, notes, "It is heartening to see such fine writing about the Founding Era, on a wonderfully expansive range of topics. These books all make important contributions, and above all, each of them is beautifully written. Readers are in for a treat with all four of these finalists for the Washington Prize!"

“Each of these four books sheds new light on an extraordinary American from the Revolutionary era,” said Adam Goodheart, Director of Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. “Three of these figures became famous names, while the fourth has been largely—and undeservedly—forgotten. Together, the nominees prove that the saga of our country’s founding still has the potential to surprise and enlighten us.”

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 four books named finalists for the Prize are outstanding examples of how rich and robust this field of study has become.

Patrick Spero, Ph.D., Executive Director of the George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon, said, “For the first time, the finalists for the Washington Prize are all biographies. It is an enriching group that includes original takes on well-known figures and works that bring individuals who have been overlooked for too long to life. Each book contains important lessons from the past that resonate today; perhaps most important of all is the power of individuals to shape their world.”

The George Washington Prize winner will be announced in New York City on September 21, 2023.

More information about the George Washington Prize is available 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

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

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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