George Washington spent more of his working life farming than he did at war or in political office. On March 24, learn about Washington's role as a farmer during a lecture by Bruce Ragsdale, author of Washington at the Plow: The Founding Farmer and Question of Slavery by Bruce Ragsdale.

A reception and book signing will take place after the lecture. 

This event is part of the 2022 Michelle Smith Lecture Series. Receive discounted pricing when you register for all 3 lectures.

Member Tickets

In-Person Virtual

General Public Tickets

In-Person Virtual

Buy the Book

The Michelle Smith Lecture Series is supported by an endowment established by a generous grant from the late Robert H. and Clarice Smith.

Add to Calendar 03/24/2022 19:00:00 03/24/2022 20:00:00 America/New_York Washington at the Plow: The Founding Farmer & the Question of Slavery

George Washington spent more of his working life farming than he did at war or in political office. On March 24, learn about Washington's role as a farmer during a lecture by Bruce Ragsdale, author of Washington at the Plow: The Founding Farmer and Question of Slavery by Bruce Ragsdale.

A reception and book signing will take place after the lecture. 

This event is part of the 2022 Michelle Smith Lecture Series. Receive discounted pricing when you register for all 3 lectures.

Member Tickets

In-Person Virtual

General Public Tickets

In-Person Virtual

Buy the Book

The Michelle Smith Lecture Series is supported by an endowment established by a generous grant from the late Robert H. and Clarice Smith.

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Cost

Individual Lectures:
In-person: $55 for members, $60 for non-members
Virtual: $15 for members, $20 for non-members

3-Lecture Series:
In-person: $150 for members, $175 for non-members
Virtual: $40 for members, $55 for non-members

Location

In-person Attendees:
Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington

Virtual Attendees:
Tune in to our online broadcast

The Michelle Smith Lecture Series

Online Event
On-site event

George Washington at the Plow

George Washington spent more of his working life farming than he did at war or in political office.

He devoted himself to agricultural improvement, which he saw as the means by which Americans would attain the “respectability & importance which we ought to hold in the world.” He was a leading practitioner of crop rotation, he switched from tobacco to wheat, leading the way for the country, and he filled his library with the latest agricultural treatises and pioneered land-management techniques.

For many years, he saw enslaved field workers and artisans as means of agricultural development, but eventually found that forced labor could not achieve the productivity he desired.

His inability to reconcile ideals of scientific farming and rural order with race-based slavery led him to reconsider the traditional foundations of the Virginia plantation. It was the inefficacy of chattel slavery, as much as moral revulsion at the practice, that informed Washington’s famous decision to free his slaves after his death.

 

Bruce Ragsdale

Bruce Ragsdale is a former research fellow at the Washington Library, as well as the International Center for Jefferson Studies, and he was Mount Vernon’s inaugural fellow with the Georgian Papers Programme.

Ragsdale formerly served as the director of the Federal Judicial History Office at the Federal Judicial Center. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

Contact

Stephen A. McLeod

Director, Library Programs

703.799.8686

smcleod@mountvernon.org

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