Sunday, May 10, 1998

Letter to Editor: Defense of Motherhood and George Washington

[Click on the images below enlarge for easier reading.]

On the Thursday before Mothers' Day in the Year of Our Lord 1998, The Mount Vernon Gazette printed the article to the left with the title "George Washington and his mother: No love lost".

I received the paper before noon that day, unusual for most weeks it was delivered near 4 p.m. This week I saw and read the article and had a letter to the editor that same day, before close of business, though I dated the letter on Mothers Day, three days later.

Shown to the left is a much annotated version. If you click on the image it should be enlarged enough to ease the effort in reading it.

The scholarship on the article printed by The Mount Vernon Gazette was sadly deficient.

I had been asked by Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria where George Washington attended church to speak on the relationship of George with his mother Mary Ball Washington as a special Mothers Day Sunday lecture between the two morning services.

Consequently, for some two months I had been researching the question of the mother and son relationship of the Washingtons, which provided the basis for my Letter to the Editor which is shown to the left.

I knew the letter was too long to be published as it was, yet I thought there was value in providing a more thorough discussion of the question for the benefit of the Editor.

I believe there were 15 paragraphs, and the Editor selected 8 to print in the paper two weeks after the article.

The printing of the Letter to the Editor created some notice among the many women's groups who did not like to see the Mother and Son relationship maligned as has become all too popular in certain circles of academia.

I have seen many articles that defame Mary Ball Washington, but few based on the facts or of the concept "Before you choose, criticize, or abuse, walk a mile in her shoes."

In addition, the Letter to the Editor was seen by an aide to Governor James S. Gilmore, who called and asked if I might like to be named to a Board or Commission. When "out of the blue" I asked about the Mount Vernon Board of Visitors, he said, "I am so glad you asked, it just so happens we have a vacancy there."

Since I had been a volunteer at Mount Vernon for a year or so, I did not want to embarrass anyone, so the letter at the bottom was my letter to Jim Rees, at the time given the title "Resident Director" now "Executive Director", providing him a copy of the Letter to the Editor before it would be printed so he would know what to expect and not be "blind-sided", suggesting that some one had written the article for him as the head of the Mount Vernon organization.

Richard Gamble is a scholar on the relationship between George Washington and his older half-brother, Lawrence.

Washington's Christ Church talk on Mothers' Day a.d. 1998

[Please click on the image to enlarge for ease of reading.]

The Mothers Day talk at Christ Church on George Washington and his beloved mother Mary Ball Washington was given on 10 May in the Year of Our Lord 1998.

One of the best images of George Washington and Mary Ball Washington is in the book on Washington by Woodrow Wilson where the line drawing shows the recently victorious General Washington after the Surrender of the British to Lincoln at Yorktown, escorting his mother into the Victory Ball in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

And it is in Fredericksburg where President Eisenhower dedicated a Washington Monument to Mary Ball Washington at the Prayer Rocks a few blocks from the home purchased for her by her son George.

Current White House Press Secretary Tony Snow showed a Newsreel of that Eisenhower event on his Sunday morning program on Fox News back in 1998 or so.

And few know that President Eisenhower was an artist of considerable talent. At the home of Mrs. Mary Anne Washington Shaffner in the Hollin Hall area of Mount Vernon District, is a pastel drawing of George Washington done by artist Dwight Eisenhower.

There is some consideration that George Washington, as the third son of Augustine Washington was named for neither grandfather Lawrence, or father Augustine, since his two older half-brothers carried those names, but rather for George Eskridge, essentially the "foster father" or guardian of Mary Ball Washington.