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George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, has hosted a number of national and international events.

Yorktown Preparations

The Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown A.D. 1781, 1865-1875, MVLA, SC-171, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley DeForest Scott, 1985.
The Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown A.D. 1781, 1865-1875, MVLA, SC-171, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley DeForest Scott, 1985.
As the American and French forces made their way south to Yorktown, Virginia, General Washington made a brief trip to his home, his first in six years. During this short visit, Washington and French Lieutenant General Rochambeau refined their plan for the upcoming battle at Yorktown. Washington's forces defeated the British and the victory led directly to peace negotiations that ended the war and gave the British colonies their independence.  

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Mount Vernon Conference

Lacking a strong central government after the Revolutionary War, the states quarreled among themselves and some even established proprietary regulations, tariffs, and currency. To ensure mutually profitable commerce on the shared waterways of the Potomac River, the legislators of Virginia and Maryland recognized the need for an agreement between the two states. Washington invited commissioners from Virginia and Maryland to Mount Vernon in 1875 to discuss navigational rights in the states' common waterways. The Mount Vernon Conference successfully initiated the concept of regular meetings between states to discuss areas of mutual concern.

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View of Mount Vernon with the Washington Family on the Piazza, July 16, 1796, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, MVLA, W-5307, Purchased with funds provided in part by an anonymous donor, 2013.

Saving Mount Vernon

The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association was founded in the 1850s by Ann Pamela Cunningham to save George Washington's estate from ruin. It was the first national historic preservation organization and is the oldest women's patriotic society in the United States. The organization raised $200,000 to purchase Washington’s home, outbuildings, and about 200 acres of the surrounding land. The MVLA’s pioneering efforts in the field of preservation set an important precedent and have served as a model for many to this day.

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Mount Vernon Ladies' Association in 1884 on the piazza, MVLA.

Diplomatic Tool

Washington was not the only one who saw the value in diplomatic meetings at Mount Vernon. Since his death, many US officials have hosted foreign leaders on the estate. A few key visits include President James Buchanan accompanied British Prince Albert (future King Edward VII). In April 1917, a group including members of the British and French War Commissions, US Cabinet, the British and French Ambassadors, among many others toured the estate. First Lady Lou Hoover accompanied the Queen of Siam.

In July of 1943, Lieutenant-General Lesly McNair escorted General Henri Giraud and French officers. President Gerald Ford and French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing celebrated the bicentennial of the United States at Mount Vernon. President George H. W. Bush and the Crown Prince of Jordan, H. R. H. Prince Muhammed bin Talal visited. President Ronald and Nancy Reagan celebrated Washington’s 250th birthday on the estate. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and President George W. Bush held a closed-session meeting with advisors in the New Room of the Mansion.

French and British Missions visit Mount Vernon, April 29, 1917, Committee on Public Information, MVLA.

The Roosevelts

President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt visited Mount Vernon more than ten times between 1933 and 1943. Sometimes just the two would come for a visit, but often they brought with them guests from around the world. While both did not accompany every visit, either the president or Mrs. Roosevelt toured the estate with: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill; King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain; Lord Tweedsmuir, the Governor General of Canada and Lady Tweedsmuir; Prime Minister of Belgium and Mrs. Zeeland; President and Mrs. Samoza of Nicaragua and their daughter; Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands; and Madame Chiang Kai-Chek.

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President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt visiting Mount Vernon in 1933, MVLA.

Viewshed Preservation

In the early 1950s, the view from Mount Vernon became threatened by a plan to build an oil tank farm directly across the Potomac River. Vice Regent and Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton ensured this did not happen. She purchased 485 acres of land and established the Accokeek Foundation which works to preserve the Maryland shoreline. Another threat surfaced less than a decade later. This time the National Park System established Piscataway Park to protect additional land. Since the 1960s, there have been many more battles, most recently in 2018, to ensure Washington’s beloved view remains largely unchanged. 

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The same view Washington experienced during his lifetime.

President John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy hosted a state dinner at Mount Vernon in honor of President Mohammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan and his daughter, Naseem Akhtar Aurangzeb on July 11, 1961. It was the first state dinner held outside of Washington, DC. Guests traveled down the Potomac River on a fleet of four boats, including the President’s yacht. After docking, they were driven by limousine to the Mansion. Francis Beirne Regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association presented President Khan with a bust of George Washington. There was then a military drill by the US Army’s Colonial Color Guard and Fife and Drum Corps. Finally, dinner was served on the East Lawn overlooking the Potomac. 

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Olympic Torch

On June 21, 1996, Darrell Green, of the Washington Redskins, carried the Olympic Torch up the bowling green at Mount Vernon on its journey to the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Green was cheered on by 3,400 visitors.

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Darrell Green running around the Mansion Circle with the Olympic Torch, 1996, MVLA.

State Visit

The tradition of hosting diplomatic events at Mount Vernon continues to today. In April of 2018, President Donald and Melania Trump hosted Emmanuel Macron, the President of the French Republic, and his wife, Brigitte, for a private tour and dinner on the estate. 

The group arrived by helicopter and received a tour of the grounds and Mansion led by Mount Vernon Regent Sarah Miller Coulson and President and CEO Doug Bradburn. They briefly viewed Washington’s upper garden and greenhouse before moving into the Mansion. Following the couples’ dinner, the group paid tribute to George Washington by placing a wreath quietly at the tomb of the Washingtons.

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President Donald and First Lady Melania Trump with French President Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron at Mount Vernon, 2018, MVLA.

Experience Mount Vernon

You can stand in the same place as presidents, kings, and queens during your trip to Mount Vernon

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