Tuesday, December 11, 2007
As you enter the Ford Orientation Center at Mt. Vernon, and after you've looked at the scale model, you can enjoy the beauty of stained glass while at the same time taking in a little history lesson. These panels tell the story of George Washington from the time he was a little boy until he was 51 and took the oath of office as America's first president. I've provided thumbnails of the left and right panels for better viewing. Just click on each image to see it in a larger format.
Top Left: Washington is immortalized as a man of honesty and character, traits which he supposedly exhibited as a young boy growing up in Virginia. The mythological story is told that one day he cut down a cherry tree. When his father questioned him about it, Washington is reported to have said, "Father, I cannot tell a lie. I cut the tree." The story isn't true, but it's been used and passed down through the century's to illustrate Washington's sense of honor. That moment is captured in this first panel.
Bottom Left: Washington, as Commander of the Continental Army, with Major General Alexander Hamilton at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. When General Washington became President Washington, he appointed Hamilton his Secretary of War.
Many Americans wonder why the Declaration of Independence does not bear the signature of George Washington. He was encamped at the time of the signing in Philadelphia, but when he received a copy of it, he ordered it read aloud to his troops. The center panels (see above) depict that moment.
Top Right: This panel shows Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776, to escape British forces. To this day, a reenactment of this crossing is staged on Christmas day at the exact spot where Gen. Washington and his men escaped capture. If you grew up studying American history, you probably had grand visions of a wide and swift river, but in fact the Delaware is fairly narrow and meanders.
Bottom Right: In 1789, Washington was elected President of the United States of America. Here, we see Washington taking the oath of office and swearing by the same words that every president since Washington has sworn: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 12/07