Grateful American™ Radio Show

February 6episode

Mt. Vernon's Curt Viebranz on the real George and Martha Washington

When it comes to knowing George and Martha Washington, it’s often hard to separate the real people from the stories we learned in school. So in this episode of the Grateful American™ TV Show, we get an all-access pass to learn more about America’s first president from Curt Viebranz, president and CEO of the Mt. Vernon Foundation.

Co-hosts David Bruce Smith, creator of the Grateful American™ Foundation — and Hope Katz Gibbs, founder of Inkandescent Public Relations and executive producer of the Grateful American Series — had the opportunity to talk to Curt on the back porch of Mount Vernon, the spot where George and Martha spent many evenings sitting, talking, and sipping their favorite cocktail, gin and tonic.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

1. At many points in his life, Washington was in danger — starting with being 17 and landing the job (thanks to William Fairfax) as a surveyor.

2. That as a surveyor, Washington earned more than many of the lawyers of the time.

3. Washington was a savvy businessman, perhaps the savviest of all the Founding Fathers. For instance, he had a very successful fishing business — one year harvesting more than 1.3 million herring. He also had a successful whiskey operation.

4. He knew the importance of investing in a family home like Mount Vernon, which was originally built by his half-brother. After his early death, Washington bought it from his brother’s widow Anne Fairfax.

5. Washington continued to add on to the home throughout his life, even when he was at Valley Forge, and later when he was president. But he spent many years away from the plantation while he was President. Who did he entrust to take care of such a big and important project?

6. Similar to his fellow founding father Thomas Jefferson, Washington had an extensive garden and grew quite a number of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and flowers.

7. Unfortunately, Washington had a bad set of teeth. His dentures are in fact on display at Mount Vernon, as are Martha’s wedding dress and shoes — which are tinier than you might expect.

8. What about Washington’s relationship with Martha? While many of us think of her as an older, matronly woman — the portrait you have of her here shows her as being quite lovely as a young woman. How did they come to meet? And what do we know about their love affair?

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