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Ken Burns’ latest documentary, The Roosevelts, profiles Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, and explores their lasting impacts on government and society. These 20th-century luminaries were inspired by the leadership and pioneering vision of George Washington, and they visited his estate during their terms in office.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

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Theodore Roosevelt’s Visits to Mount Vernon

Theodore Roosevelt came to Mount Vernon at least twice during his presidency. He first visited in 1906 with his family, then returned the following year with a small delegation On this second trip, he was truly a “Rough Rider,” traveling to the estate on horseback and following the path which Washington himself generally took. Colonel Harrison Howell Dodge, who served as Mount Vernon’s director at the time of Theodore Roosevelt’s visits, noted in the estate’s records:

In 1907, the President again came to Mount Vernon, this time on horseback, accompanied by Mrs. Roosevelt, Miss Ethel, Postmaster General George von L. Meyer and Captain Fitzhugh Lee, military aide to the White House.  They had telephoned that they were coming and had accepted my invitation to lunch.  

Unfortunately, however, just before they arrived a heavy downpour of rain came on, practically without warning and the party arrived quite wet and very considerably bespattered with mud.

We set about making them comfortable.  Our housekeeper found wraps for the ladies as substitute for their riding habits, while the latter were being dried.  The gentlemen retired to the dressing-room where we afforded, as best we could, similar service for them.

I was surprised presently to hear the President calling loudly for me.  “Come, Colonel,” he shouted.  “I want you to see my Postmaster General in the tub taking a bath with his boots on.”

When I entered the room in response to this extravagant announcement, I found Mr. Meyer standing in the tub in the process of washing the mud from his boots under the shower jet.  This method of caring for the situation was canny and effective, but in view of the President’s Homeric enjoyment of the scene, the cabinet officer’s position in the tub was extremely ludicrous.

“At the luncheon-table Roosevelt, his risibility all upset by his still vivid memory of the incident, dwelt at length on it, magnifying and enlarging it with such keen enjoyment that the infection spread to all of us, and the meal proceeded with an extreme hilarity that bordered on hysterics….” (1906, 1907/1908)

Mount Vernon in the 1900s

© Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

Teddy Roosevelt was received by then Resident Director, Colonel Harrison Howell Dodge of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.

"Yesterday I went down with Mother and the children and several others to visit Mount Vernon. It is always a very impressive place to visit, of course. And how beautiful it is, especially now in the full flush of spring."

Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Kermit Roosevelt, May 6, 1906

View Original Letter

First Lady Edith Roosevelt

First Lady Edith Roosevelt also came to Mount Vernon several times during her husband’s presidency.  Their youngest son, Quentin, was a student at Episcopal High School in nearby Alexandria. On his free days, his mother would plan excursions for him, including many visits to Mount Vernon. As Dodge notes:

All were ardent pedestrians and found enjoyment in searching out long-forgotten landmarks; such as the site of Washington’s grist-mill…the site of his distillery…the former location of the huge octagonal barn, with grain floor equal in area to the rotunda of the Capitol, excited Quentin’s inquisitive mind, especially its provision of the previously mentioned spacious basement… 

Today many of the landmarks that the First Lady visited have been meticulously restored to Washington's original construction and are available for seasonal tours.

Plan a trip to Washington's Distillery and Gristmill

The White House Historical Association

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Visits to Mount Vernon

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made many visits to Mount Vernon during his presidency. The first recorded visit took place in 1933.  Explore photograph collection below of FDR's historic state visits and read through his address to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Mrs. Roosevelt came out to Mount Vernon many times. 

She paid a call on the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association in May of 1933.

On June 9, 1939, she along with her President Roosevelt, escorted Britain’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on a visit to Washington’s home.

Later that same year, on April 14th, she and President Roosevelt came back with President and Mrs. Samoza of Nicaragua.

On George Washington’s birthday of 1943, she returned with her husband and Madame Chiang Kai-Chek.


FDR and King George VI Visit Mount Vernon

King George VI?s visit was the first time a reigning British monarch had ever been to America.

Watch the video

"That Washington would have refused public service if the call had been a normal one has always been my belief. But the summons to the Presidency had come to him in a time of real crisis and deep emergency."

- President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Speech at Mount Vernon April 14, 1939

Read the Full Speech

Springwood Estate at Hyde Park

Learn more about the Roosevelts at FDR's family home, Hyde Park, New York at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site operated by the National Park Service.

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The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

The Mount Vernon Ladies Association is proud to be a sponsor of Ken Burn's documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.   

Watch the Trailer