The coat is a man's double-breasted coat with a turn-down collar. It is made of wool, cotton, and linen. The coat does no retain any of its buttons; only the thread which once held them remains. The coat is unlined and the edges are unfinished. The coat was made in the United States between 1790 and 1799 by Hartford Woolen Manufactory.
Consider these questions while looking at Washington's coat.
- Why do you think Washington wanted to support American manufacturers? Do you think this coat was well received by people he spent time with?
- The buttons on this coat were given away as tokens after Washington's death. Why do you think this happened? Do you agree with the people who took the buttons?
- How do you think the coat would feel? Was it warm, or do you think it was light? How do you think the fabric would feel like if you were wearing it?
- What can we learn about Washington just by looking at his coat?
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Washington sought to encourage civic pride and US industries during his presidency and retirement by supporting American manufacturers and buying their goods, noting in 1789 that "we have already been too long subject to British prejudices." To that end, he wore American-made clothing to public speeches and private events. A note written by his granddaughter, Elizabeth "Eliza" Parke Custis, indicates that it is "made of the first American cloth sent to General Washington and much worn by him."