"...but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." 3 Nephi 22:8

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mount Vernon - Part Two

Slave houses for men and women also stood on the grounds of Mount Vernon, reminders of the men and women who worked behind the scenes. The burial grounds for slaves was quiet and peaceful, set in a copse of trees. These reminders of slaves caused me to reflect on the way of life and the political views of the days in which George Washington lived. He struggled with slavery, but in his will, George Washington left instructions to free all 317 of his slaves, a courageous act for a man who had owned slaves since he was eleven years old.

I loved being at Mount Vernon! It was a wonderful day. But I also learned a great deal about the man who made Mount Vernon what it was. George Washington was a hard worker. He was a man willing to learn and work for the success of the plantation. He expanded Mount Vernon to over 6,500 acres. He learned about crops and diversified into a variety of cash crops including tobacco and wheat and worked to build up other industry including spinning, weaving, and milling. Mount Vernon was the home of a very successful herring industry. The barns, paddock and stables are reminiscent of the his success with horse breeding.

He began his career as a surveyor at age 17. He worked hard and often lived in very primitive conditions. He surveyed over 60,000 acres.

George Washington was a great man who devoted much of his life for the benefit of others. He spent much of his life in military service beginning with the French and Indian War. He served as a colonel in the British Virginia Regiment. Perhaps the frustrations he experienced and the lessons he learned in this position helped him formulate ideas of his own regarding a different kind of government.

George Washington attended the First Continental Congress and showed up in military attire at the Second Continental Congress, signaling he was ready for war. He was appointed General by the congress and named Commander in Chief. His service lasted about eight years and was vital to the success of the colonies in their battle for freedom from British rule.

The Father of our country served with devotion as president of The United States of America for two terms, refusing to serve a third. He returned to Mount Vernon, perhaps with a sense of relief, working to make the land more profitable, yet continued to serve military appointments for another 17 months. He died unexpectedly at age 67, buried in a tomb at Mount Vernon.

The nation mourned this great man. But the world also mourned this man who had led his soldiers through death and starvation, defeat and victory. They mourned a man who led this new land, founded on freedom and established a place for it  in the world.

I believe that God ordained that this land be a land of freedom. I believe that Heavenly Father's plan for His children included a land where men and women could believe and worship and live without the strong arm of the government controlling their lives. I believe that George Washington was an important instrument in helping to lay the foundation of God's covenant land. I believe that we owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of our land, including George Washington.

I believe we all owe a great deal of gratitude to God who ordained this land.  

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