Mount Vernon is privately owned and will remain open in the case of a government shutdown.

When Ann Pamela Cunningham established the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (MVLA), the Association became the first preservation organizations in the United States. At the time, society favored women who remained in the private sphere and away from public affairs. Many believed, for example, that politics corrupted women. Cunningham was inspired, however, by a sense of patriotic duty to make the bold choice to enter the public arena in an effort to save George Washington’s home. Americans had a responsibility to their country and to Washington’s memory, as Cunningham argued. The first Regent was involved in every aspect of the organization, and she proved to be a clever leader who used print media to inspire women to join the MVLA. The ladies were relentless and successful in their efforts to reach people in small towns and large cities and raise funds to save Mount Vernon for future generations. Cunningham broke barriers by establishing the first preservation organizations in the country and inspiring many women to remain active members of their society.

A Southern Matron

Ann Pamela Cunningham

Ann Pamela Cunningham

Inspired by her mother and her own patriotic calling, Ann Pamela Cunningham decided to do everything in her power to save George Washington's home from ruin. Although Cunningham's requests to purchase and restore Mount Vernon were first ignored, she persisted until her plans were taken seriously. 

Primary Source: Photo of Ann Pamela Cunningham, 1859 

Born to an affluent South Carolina family, Cunningham was a well-connected and educated elite woman who proved to be a skilled leader.

For Honor and Morality

The Use of Print Media

Calling on Patriotic Americans

Mrs. Cunningham understood the social and political significance of the 4th of July celebrations and advised Vice Regents to reach out to citizens of their states and persuade them to donate money.

Photo Comparison of Mount Vernon

First Image
Second Image

Left: Copy of a circa 1858 photograph of the Mount Vernon Mansion, east front

Right: Visitors posed on the southeast lawn in front of the Mansion, 1884-1894


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