Here, George Washington Was Born
Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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List of Illustrations
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Never would I have imagined prior to this project that I might write a book, or anything else for that matter, about George Washington. Blame and thanks for that entirely unforeseen yet fortuitous turn of events goes to Heather Huyck and Rich Lowry at the College of William and Mary...
Introduction: Birthing Washington
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Virginia State Route 3--known locally as "Kings Highway"--takes its name from King George County, through which it winds west from Fredericksburg into the commonwealth's Northern Neck, peeling back layers of urban sprawl as it does. Th e rolling fields and quaint country homes that...
CHAPTER 1. The First Stone
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The history of commemoration at Washington's birthplace properly begins with a flamboyant character named George Washington Parke Custis. George and Martha adopted Custis after the boy's father, John Parke Custis--Martha's son by her first marriage--died in 1781. Custis was only...
CHAPTER 2. Costumed Ladies and Federal Agents
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Despite all eff orts by the National Park Service to perpetuate the myth of a "place untouched by time," the most distinguishing feature of Washington's birthplace today is its unwitting preservation of decade upon decade of commemorative recalibration--and each layer invokes the ideological...
CHAPTER 3. Building X
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The excitement generated by Washington's 1932 bicentennial spread everywhere, even into the funny pages. That year, cartoonist Frank King's nationally syndicated Gasoline Alley followed Uncle Walt and Skeezix on their tour of famous places associated with the life of George Washington. Their first stop was Wakefield. King introduced the series with a tri-panel comic...
CHAPTER 4. A Contest of Relics
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When used today by scholars and pundits, the word "contest" usually refers to a struggle among cultural rivals to establish their beliefs as normative. The nightly news routinely covers contests of faith, politics, and values. Historians write about contests of cultures stemming from colonization,...
CHAPTER 5. Framing the Colonial Picture
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Superintendent Russell Gibbs and his staff had a rough go of it during the spring and early summer of 1959. The Potomac River oyster wars--an ongoing and very violent turf war between Maryland and Virginia oyster tongers dating all the way back to Washington's day--erupted anew in...
CHAPTER 6. Homecomings
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Although living history achieved a remarkable victory in the contest of relics at Washington's birthplace by the early 1970s, the Memorial House slowly but surely crept back into the spotlight during subsequent decades and remains to this day the park's most prominent feature. Explaining...
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Our story, and consequently my role in it, began on a summer morning in 2003 inside the park's Log House with historians and rangers wrangling over the historical significance of George Washington's birthplace. It is fitting, then, and perhaps even a shade ironic that we end in the same place...
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Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 19 b&w photos, 1 map
Publication Year: 2008