J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

How Many Sashes Are at Mount Vernon?

Some recent books on Mount Vernon refer to a “Washington sash” in its holdings. For example, The George Washington Collection (2006) shows a woven sash and posits that it might be one that eager young George Washington bought near the start of his military career in 1754, as discussed here. We also know his Philadelphia supplier sent him another sash in late 1774, as quoted here.

The funny thing is that the photos of the “Washington sash” appear to show the same sash that other books (such as George Washington Remembers) identify as the sash of the late Gen. Edward Braddock.

George Washington: The Man Behind the Myths expresses doubt both that Washington wore that sash in his 1772 portrait and that it’s really connected with Braddock. But the date woven into the sash, 1709, has no apparent link to Washington and a possible link to Braddock, as I suggested earlier this month.

At this point, I’m guessing that:
  • Washington ordered a crimson sash in 1754 and probably had himself painted in it eighteen years later.
  • He accepted a second sash from the dying Braddock in 1755 and preserved that as a relic instead of wearing it. (It’s apparently still stained with the general’s blood—hardly what one should wear while commanding new troops.)
  • He ordered a third sash in 1774, but didn’t make that part of his Continental Army uniform.
The second is probably the one and only historic sash preserved at Mount Vernon today, returned after a trip to the White House. The other two probably don’t survive.

1 comment:

John L Smith Jr said...

Now we know! Great sleuthing, Mr. Bell, as always!