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George Washington is recognized for his extraordinary leadership during our nation’s founding.

Historic examples of his vision, character, and actions provide relevant models for student learning and civic contributions today.


Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796

Published in a Philadelphia newspaper on September 19, 1796, Washington used his Farewell Address to outline his advice to the new nation as he prepared to leave the presidency after two terms.

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Houdon Bust

Considered the most accurate likeness of George Washington, this bust was created in 1785 by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. Houdon spent two weeks at Mount Vernon studying Washington. Since its creation, the bust has never left Mount Vernon.

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George Washington to Edward Carrington, May 1, 1796

This letter to Virginia statesman Edward Carrington, dated May 1, 1796 provides a glimpse into Washington’s mindset regarding the Jay Treaty.

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George Washington to Martha Washington, June 23, 1775

George Washington wrote this letter to his wife, Martha before departing Philadelphia for the American camp in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The letter reveals the private side of Washington, a side rarely seen in his daily correspondence. After his death in 1799, Martha Washington destroyed all the letters written between herself and her husband. This letter is one of three that survive.

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  • What is Leadership?

  • What makes a good citizen?

  • How can we assess the leadership qualities of individuals across different historical periods and contexts?