Death of Washington
Lear & Washington
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Death of Washington Bicentennial
Mount Vernon, VA
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Washington Bicentennial

When we heard last summer that the 200th anniversary celebration of George Washington's death was based on the account of our Portsmouth, NH boy Tobias Lear -- we had to grab a flight to DC. Washington died on a cold December 14, 1799, but when we arrived in July it was nearly 100 degrees. Tobias Lear, by the way, was president of the Potomac Company, the group of investors who first tried to turn this swampland into the nation's capital. The first plan went bankrupt.



Washington Bicentennial

We figured our best bet was to take an air conditioned bus to Mount Vernon in Virginia where Lear and his three wives lived with the Washington's like part of the family. The trip took a whole morning, plenty of time (we thought) to see the sights and avoid the crowds.



Washington Bicentennial

At first Mount Vernon looks a bit like Sea World, but that's only the gate. This is where the buses park in droves. There is a single hotel and restaurant, a few concessions and the ticket booth. But the Mt Vernon Ladies Association has done an amazing job retaining the dignity and authenticity of this restored historic site, while keeping the crowds flowing. "We'll see you back here in 90 minutes!" the bus driver shouted. "Anyone who is late, WALKS back to DC."



Washington Bicentennial

The grounds are more beautiful than ever and it's a healthy walk to the Mansion. We figured to tour the house, catch a slide show and joint a re-enacted funeral march to Washington's tomb. The bus driver told us it was a very light trafficked day and we should hustle right up to Mansion before the lines started to form.



Washington Bicentennial

Darn! Tourists from around the world were already waiting -- and the guided tour Washington's funeral was already starting on the side lawn. Tobias Lear, we were told, was speaking in Washington's bedroom where he attended the President in his final hours -- leaving a precise written record of Washington's death. We opted to catch the funeral and come back for the Mansion tour when the crowds had died down a bit.

Photos and text by J. Dennis Robinson
© 1999 SeacoastNH.com

CONTINUE Mount Vernon Tour

See tour of where Lincoln died

WASHINGTON & LEAR HOME / DEATH STORY / SEACOASTNH HOME

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