Death of Washington
Lear & Washington
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Death of Washington Bicentennial page #2
Mount Vernon, VA
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Washington Bicentennial

The peaceful front of the Mount Vernon Mansion belies the bustle inside on a steaming hot summer day. We hadn't been here since grammar school and the compulsion to roll down the lawn on the humid grass toward the river was hard to resist. Lear and his wives must have cherished their time visiting this plantation, as did Washington who was often away from home. Hundreds of African Americans were enslaved here to keep the president's personal fortune rolling in while he served his country in battle and public office. Lear was in charge of finances here for many years and was tutor to the Washington's step grandchildren.



Washington Bicentennial

A woman in funeral dress with flowers and a black parasol was assembling visitors for a recreation of the Washington funeral procession. Tobias Lear was in charge of these arrangements too. "Excuse us," we asked. "How long will this guided tour take?" It would be about 90 minutes the guide said. Be we had just under an hour before the tour bus departure. Grabbing a map, we struck out to find Washington's tomb on our own.



Washington Bicentennial

It's impossible not be struck be the sheer beauty of this extensive Virginia plantation and we're reminded that George Washington was, after all, a farmer. In our travels we found the multimedia show "Washington is No More" in the air conditioned greenhouse near the old slave quarters. The 8-minute show was narrated by Tobias Lear, played by veteran actor Al Troutman whose license plate reads 2BSLEAR. Minutes later were back on the 100 degree farm with 30 minutes to go and searching frantically for Washington's tomb.



Washington Bicentennial

You wouldn't believe how many buildings there are at Mount Vernon which was 8,000 acres in Washington's day. We had to skip the "Pioneer Farmer" exhibit, bypass the museum, the archeological display, the working gardens, the slave memorial, the stable, the riverwalk, the boat wharf, the 16-sided treading barn -- all to find the tomb. Where was that tomb? Here we stumbled on this Powell Coach on South Lane that the map said would take us to Tomb Road. The bus was leaving in 15 minutes, and it was a long walk back to Seacoast, New Hampshire!

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

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