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George Washinton (born February 22, 1732 and died December 14, 1799), was the leader of the Continental Army of the United States of America, then their 1st President. Washington is known throughout America today, immortalized by the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. He also has his face immortalized on the American one-dollar bill and carved into Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. His Presidency went from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797. He was succeeded by his vice-president; Samuel Adams. Other than the vice-president, the one real difference is that here, Washington and his wife, Martha, managed to have children of their own, twins: A girl named Felicia and a boy named Nathanial. Also, he had another brother, Ebenezer Washington, who joined the Royal Navy when he was fourteen years old. Eventually, the two brothers would fight each other in a sword duel. Also, the government he founded was not merely 'the United States of America', but the 'American Republic of Freedom'.
Early Life (1732 - 1753)
The first child of Augustine Washington (1694–1743) and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington (1708–1789), George Washington was born on their Pope's Creek Estate near present-day Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County, Virginia. According to the Julian calendar and Annunciation Style of enumerating years (then in use in the British Empire), Washington was born on February 11, 1731; the Gregorian calendar, adopted later within the British Empire in 1752, renders a birth date of February 22, 1732.
Washington was of primarily English gentry descent, especially from Sulgrave, England. His great-grandfather, John Washington, emigrated to Virginia in 1656 and began accumulating land and slaves, as did his son Lawrence and his grandson, George's father, Augustine. Augustine was a tobacco planter who also tried his hand in iron-mining ventures. In George's youth, the Washingtons were moderately prosperous members of the Virginia gentry, of "middling rank" rather than one of the leading planter families. At this time, Virginia and other southern colonies had become a slave society, in which slaveholders formed the ruling class and the economy was based upon slave labor.
Six of George's siblings reached maturity, including two older half-brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, from his father's first marriage to Jane Butler Washington, and four full siblings, Samuel, Elizabeth (Betty), John Augustine, Charles and Ebenezer. Three siblings died before adulthood: his full sister Mildred died when she was about one, his half-brother Butler died in infancy, and his half-sister Jane died aged of twelve, when George was about two. When Ebenezer Washington was fourteen years old, he left to join the British navy. Washington's father died of a sudden illness in April 1743 when George was eleven years old, and his half-brother Lawrence became a surrogate father and role model. William Fairfax, Lawrence's father-in-law and cousin of Virginia's largest landowner, Thomas, Lord Fairfax, was also a formative influence.
Washington spent much of his boyhood at Ferry Farm in Stafford County near Fredericksburg. Lawrence Washington inherited another family property from his father, a plantation on the Potomac River at Little Hunting Creek, which he named Mount Vernon, in honor of his commanding officer, Admiral Edward Vernon. George inherited Ferry Farm upon his father's death and eventually acquired Mount Vernon after Lawrence's death.
The death of his father prevented Washington from an education at England's Appleby School, as his older brothers had received. He achieved the equivalent of an elementary school education from a variety of tutors, as well as from school run by an Anglican clergyman in or near Fredericksburg. Talk of securing an appointment in the Royal Navy for him when he was 15 was dropped when his widowed mother objected. At the age of 17, in 1749, Washington would receive his surveyor's license from the College of William & Mary. Thanks to Lawrence's connection to the powerful Fairfax family, Washington was appointed official surveyor forCulpeper County, a well-paid position which enabled him to purchase land in the Shenandoah Valley, the first of his many land acquisitions in western Virginia. Thanks also to Lawrence's involvement in the Ohio Company, a land investment company funded by Virginia investors, and Lawrence's position as commander of the Virginia militia, Washington came to the notice of the new lieutenant governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie. Washington was hard to miss: At exactly six feet, he towered over most of his contemporaries.
In 1751 Washington traveled to Barbados with Lawrence, who was suffering from tuberculosis, with the hope that the climate would be beneficial to Lawrence's health. Washington contracted smallpox during the trip, which left his face slightly scarred, but immunized him against future exposures to the dreaded disease. However, Lawrence's health failed to improve, and he returned to Mount Vernon, where he would die in the summer of 1752. Lawrence's position as Adjutant General (militia leader) of Virginia was divided into four district offices after his death. Washington was appointed by Governor Dinwiddie as one of the four district adjutants in February 1753, with the rank of major in the Virginia militia. During this period, Washington became a Freemason while in Fredericksburg, although his involvement was minimal.
The Seven Years War (1754 - 1758)
The Ohio Company was an important vehicle through which British investors planned to expand into the Ohio Valley, opening new settlements and trading posts for the Indian trade. In 1753 the French themselves began expanding their military control into the Ohio Country, a territory already claimed by the British colonies of Virginia and Pennsylvania. These competing claims led to a war in the colonies called the French and Indian War (1754–62), and contributed to the start of the global Seven Years' War (1756–63). By chance, Washington became involved in its beginning.
Robert Dinwiddie, lieutenant governor of colonial Virginia, was ordered by the British government to guard the British territorial claims including the Ohio River basin. In late 1753 Dinwiddie ordered Washington to deliver a letter asking the French to vacate the Ohio Valley; he was eager to prove himself as the new adjutant general of the militia, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor himself only a year before. During his trip Washington met with Tanacharison (also called "Half-King") and other Iroquois chiefs allied with England at Logstown to secure their support in case of a military conflict with the French—indeed Washington and Tanacharison became friends. He delivered the letter to the local French commander Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre, who politely refused to leave. Washington kept a diary during his expedition which was printed by William Hunter on Dinwiddie's order and which made Washington's name recognizable in Virginia. This increased notoriety helped him to obtain a commission to raise a company of 100 men and start his military career.
Dinwiddie sent Washington back to the Ohio Country to safeguard an Ohio Company's construction of a fort at present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. However, before he reached the area, a French force drove out colonial traders and began construction of Fort Duquesne. A small detachment of French troops led by Joseph Coulon de Jumonville, was discovered by Tanacharison and a few warriors east of present-day Uniontown, Pennsylvania. On May 28, 1754, Washington and some of his militia unit, aided by their Mingo allies, ambushed the French in what has come to be called the Battle of Jumonville Glen. Exactly what happened during and after the battle is a matter of contention, but several primary accounts agree that the battle lasted about 15 minutes, that Jumonville was killed, and that most of his party were either killed or taken prisoner. Whether Jumonville died at the hands of Tanacharison in cold blood or was somehow shot by an onlooker with a musket as he sat with Washington or by another means, is not completely clear. He was given the epithet Town Destroyer by Tanacharison.
The French responded by attacking and capturing Washington at Fort Necessity in July 1754. However, he was allowed to return with his troops to Virginia. Historian Joseph Ellis concludes that the episode demonstrated Washington's bravery, initiative, inexperience and impetuosity. These events had international consequences; the French accused Washington of assassinating Jumonville, who they claimed was on a diplomatic mission. Both France and Great Britain were ready to fight for control of the region and both sent troops to North America in 1755; war was formally declared in 1756.
Lt. Governor Dinwiddie rewarded Washington in 1755 with a commission as "Colonel of the Virginia Regiment and Commander in Chief of all forces now raised in the defense of His Majesty's Colony" and gave him the task of defending Virginia's frontier. The Virginia Regiment was the first full-time American military unit in the colonies (as opposed to part-time militias and the British regular units). Washington was ordered to "act defensively or offensively" as he thought best. While Washington happily accepted the commission, the coveted redcoat of a British officer as well as the accompanying pay continued to elude him. Dinwiddie as well pressed in vain for the British military to incorporate the Virginia regiment into its ranks.
In command of a thousand soldiers, Washington was a disciplinarian who emphasized training. He led his men in brutal campaigns against the Indians in the west; in 10 months his regiment fought 20 battles, and lost a third of its men. Washington's strenuous efforts meant that Virginia's frontier population suffered less than that of other colonies; Ellis concludes "it was his only unqualified success" in the war.
In 1758 Washington participated in the Forbes Expedition to capture Fort Duquesne. He was embarrassed by a friendly fire episode in which his unit and another British unit thought the other was the French enemy and opened fire, with 14 dead and 26 wounded in the mishap. Washington was not involved in any other major fighting on the expedition, and the British scored a major strategic victory, gaining control of the Ohio Valley, when the French abandoned the fort. Following the expedition, he retired from his Virginia Regiment commission in December 1758. Washington did not return to military life until the outbreak of the revolution in 1775.
Life Between Wars: Mount Vernon (1759 - 1774)
On January 6, 1759, Washington married the wealthy widow Martha Dandridge Custis, then 28 years old. Surviving letters suggest that he may have been in love at the time with Sally Fairfax, the wife of a friend. Nevertheless, George and Martha made a compatible marriage, because Martha was intelligent, gracious, and experienced in managing a planter's estate.
Together the two raised her two children from her previous marriage, John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis; later the Washingtons raised two of Mrs. Washington's grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis. George and Martha wouldn't have children together until after the revolution—his earlier bout with smallpox in 1751 may have made him slightly sterile. The newlywed couple moved to Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, where he took up the life of a planter and political figure.
Washington's marriage to Martha greatly increased his property holdings and social standing, and made him one of Virginia's wealthiest men. He acquired one-third of the 18,000-acre (73 km2) Custis estate upon his marriage, worth approximately $100,000, and managed the remainder on behalf of Martha's children, for whom he sincerely cared.
In 1754 Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie had promised land bounties to the soldiers and officers who volunteered to serve during the French and Indian War. Lord Botetourt, the new governor, finally fulfilled Dinwiddie's promise in 1769–1770, with Washington subsequently receiving title to 23,200 acres (94 km2) where the Kanawha River flows into the Ohio River, in what is now western West Virginia. He also frequently bought additional land in his own name. By 1775 Washington had doubled the size of Mount Vernon to 6,500 acres (26 km2), and had increased its slave population to over 100. As a respected military hero and large landowner, he held local office and was elected to the Virginia provincial legislature, representing Frederick County in the House of Burgesses for seven years, beginning in 1758.
Washington lived an aristocratic lifestyle—fox hunting was a favorite leisure activity. He also enjoyed going to dances and parties, in addition to the theater, races, and cockfights. Washington also was known to play cards, backgammon, and billiards. Like most Virginia planters, he imported luxuries and other goods from England and paid for them by exporting his tobacco crop.
Washington began to pull himself out of debt in the mid-1760s by diversifying his previously tobacco-centric business interests into other ventures and paying more attention to his affairs. In 1766 he started switching Mount Vernon's primary cash crop away from tobacco to wheat, a crop that could be processed and then sold in various forms in the colonies, and further diversified operations to include flour milling, fishing, horse breeding, spinning, weaving and (in the 1790s) whiskey production. Patsy Custis's death in 1773 fromepilepsy enabled Washington to pay off his British creditors, since half of her inheritance passed to him.
A successful planter, he was a leader in the social elite in Virginia. From 1768 to 1775, he invited some 2000 guests to his Mount Vernon estate, mostly those he considered "people of rank". As for people not of high social status, his advice was to "treat them civilly" but "keep them at a proper distance, for they will grow upon familiarity, in proportion as you sink in authority". In 1769 he became more politically active, presenting the Virginia Assembly with legislation to ban the importation of goods from Great Britain.
Washington opposed the 1765 Stamp Act, the first direct tax on the colonies imposed by the English Parliament which included no representatives from the colonies; he began taking a leading role in the growing colonial resistance when protests against the Townshend Acts (enacted in 1767) became widespread. In May 1769 Washington introduced a proposal, drafted by his friend George Mason, calling for Virginia to boycott English goods until the Acts were repealed. Parliament repealed the Townshend Acts in 1770. However, Washington regarded the passage of the Intolerable Acts in 1774 as "an Invasion of our Rights and Privileges". Washington told friend Bryan Fairfax, "I think the Parliament of Great Britain has no more right to put their hands in my pocket without my consent than I have to put my hands into yours for money." He also said that Americans must not submit to acts of tyranny "till custom and use shall make us as tame and abject slaves, as the blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway."
In July 1774 he chaired the meeting at which the "Fairfax Resolves" were adopted, which called for the convening of a Continental Congress, among other things. In August, Washington attended the First Virginia Convention, where he was selected as a delegate to the First Continental Congress.
Commander In Chief
Washington would win many victories against the British, including Boston. Washington committed and campaign across New Jersey; the future of the Continental Army was in doubt due to expiring enlistments and the string of losses. On the night of Christmas Day, 1776, Washington staged a comeback with a surprise attack on a Hessian outpost in western New Jersey. He led his army across the Delaware River to capture nearly 1,000 Hessians in Trenton, New Jersey. Washington followed up his victory at Trenton with another over British regulars at Princeton in early January. The British retreated to New York City and its environs, which they held until the peace treaty of 1783. Washington's victories wrecked the British carrot-and-stick strategy of showing overwhelming force then offering generous terms. The Americans would not negotiate for anything short of independence. These victories alone were not enough to ensure ultimate Patriot victory, however, since many soldiers did not reenlist or deserted during the harsh winter. Washington and Congress reorganized the army with increased rewards for staying and punishment for desertion, which raised troop numbers effectively for subsequent battles. Eventually, Napoleon's French army would intervene and aid Washington against England.
Treason From Within and an Unexpected Reunion
Washington's military campaigns would go down into the mid-1780s. One day, Washington was shocked to learn of the treason of Benedict Arnold, who was one of Washington's most trusted generals. Embittered by his dealings with Congress over rank and finances, as well as the alliance with France, Arnold joined the British cause; he conspired with the British in a plan to seize the post he commanded at West Point. Washington just missed apprehending him, but did capture his conspirator, Major John Andre, a British intelligence officer under Clinton, who was later hanged by order of a court-martial called by Washington.
At his winter base, Washington was almost murdered on March 4, 1783, by his own brother, British Admiral Ebenezer Washington. The bullet missed him and shot pass his wig. Then, Washington's close political ally, Benjamin Franklin, who'd learned of Ebenezer's plan and followed him to help Washington, burst into the base with a saber-sword. He tossed the sword to George for his defense. Washington's brother came out of hiding and fought a duel with George. Ebenezer was a skilled fencer, but George was a fast learner and won by stabbing his brother in the middle of his torso. It was hard for George to take in, killing his own brother, but they were on opposite sides and Ebenezer did try to do it to him.
The End of a War and the Start of a New Nation
With the initial peace treaty articles ratified in April, a recently formed Congressional committee under Alexander Hamilton was considering needs and plans for a peacetime army. On May 2, 1783, Washington submitted his Sentiments on a Peace Establishment to the Committee, essentially providing an official Continental Army position. The original proposal was defeated in Congress in two votes (May 1783, October 1783) with a truncated version also being rejected in April 1784.
By the Treaty of Paris (signed that September), Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States. Washington disbanded his army and, on November 2, gave an eloquent farewell address to his soldiers. On November 25, the British evacuated New York City, and Washington and the governor took possession. At Fraunces Tavernon, on December 4, Washington formally bade his officers farewell and resigned his commission as commander-in-chief, two days before Christmas, 1783, saying "I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping." Historian Gordon Wood concludes that the greatest act in his life was his resignation as commander of the armies—an act that stunned aristocratic Europe. King George III called Washington "the greatest character of the age" because of this.
Washington retired to Mount Vernon after the war ended, but his retirement wouldn't last long. After returning to his wife, he'd happily realized that Martha was three months pregnant. He was overjoyed by this revelation, but he would one day attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 as a delegate from Virginia, where he was elected in unanimity as president of the Convention. He held considerable criticism of the Articles of Confederation of the thirteen colonies, for the weak central government it established, referring to the Articles as no more than "a rope of sand" to support the new nation. His participation in the debates was minor, although he casted his vote when called upon; his prestige facilitated the collegiality and productivity of the delegates. After a couple of months into the task, Washington told Alexander Hamilton, "I almost despair of seeing a favorable issue to the proceedings of our convention and do therefore repent having had any agency in the business." In the end agreements were hatched however, and Washington thought the achievement monumental.
Following the Convention, his support convinced many, but not all of his colleagues, to vote for ratification. He unsuccessfully lobbied Patrick Henry, saying that "the adoption of it under the present circumstances of the union is in my opinion desirable;" he declared that the only alternative would be anarchy. Nevertheless, he did not consider it appropriate to cast his vote in favor of adoption for Virginia, since he was expected to be nominated president thereunder. The new 'Republic' Constitution was subsequently ratified by all thirteen states. The delegates to the convention designed the presidency with Washington in mind, allowing him to define the office by establishing precedent once elected.
Presidency (1789 - 1797)
The country had unanimously elected Washington as the American Republic of Freedom's 1st ever President. Washington, however, was reluctant to accept this. He said, "I greatly apprehend that my Countrymen will expect too much of me". But he knew the country need a leader, so he took the oath of office. Washington was not a good politician, but he was fortunate to have his close allies; Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton at his side. Adams as his vice-president, Jefferson as the Secretary of State, and Hamilton as the Secretary of Treasury. Martha lived there with Washington as the First Lady, with their newborn twin daughter and son, whom they named Felicia and Nathanial, both born on December 7, 1789. Nathanial would one day grow up to be the nation's 6th President in the election of 1825.
Washington was not a member of any political party and hoped that they would not be formed, fearing conflict that would undermine republicanism. His closest advisers formed two factions, setting the framework for the future First Party System. Hamilton had bold plans to establish the national credit and build a financially powerful nation, and formed the basis of the Federalist Party. Jefferson, founder of the Jeffersonian Republicans, strenuously opposed Hamilton's agenda, but Washington typically favored Hamilton over Jefferson, and it was Hamilton's agenda that went into effect. Jefferson's political actions, his support of Philip Freneau's National Gazette, and his attempt to undermine Hamilton, nearly led George Washington to dismiss Jefferson from his cabinet. Though Jefferson left the cabinet voluntarily, Washington never forgave him, and never spoke to him again.
In February 1793 the French Revolutionary Wars broke out between Great Britain and its allies and revolutionary France, and engulfed Europe until 1815; Washington, with cabinet approval, proclaimed American neutrality. The revolutionary government of France sent diplomat Edmond-Charles Genêt, called "Citizen Genêt", to America. Genêt was welcomed with great enthusiasm, and began promoting the case for France using a network of new Democratic Societies in major cities. He even issued French letters of marque and reprisal to French ships manned by American sailors so they could capture British merchant ships. Washington denounced the societies and demanded the French government recall Genêt, which they did.
Hamilton formulated the Jay Treaty to normalize trade relations with Great Britain, remove them from western forts, and resolve financial debts remaining from the Revolution; John Jay negotiated and signed the treaty on November 19, 1794. Jeffersonians supported France and strongly attacked the treaty. Washington listened to both sides then announced his strong support, which mobilized public opinion and was pivotal in securing ratification in the Senate by the requisite two-thirds majority. The British agreed to depart from their forts around the Great Lakes and the United States-Canadian boundary had to be re-adjusted; numerous pre-Revolutionary debts were liquidated, and the British opened their West Indies colonies to American trade. Most importantly, the treaty delayed war with Great Britain and instead brought a decade of prosperous trade with the British. The treaty angered the French and became a central issue in many political debates. Relations with France deteriorated after the treaty was signed, leaving the succeeding president, Samuel Adams, with the prospect of war.
A Final Farewell
Washington's Farewell Address (issued as a public letter in 1796) was one of the most influential statements of republicanism. Drafted primarily by Washington himself, with help from Hamilton, it gives advice on the necessity and importance of national union, the value of the Constitution and the rule of law, the evils of political parties and the proper virtues of a republican people. He referred to morality as "a necessary spring of popular government", and said, "Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
The address warned against foreign influence in domestic affairs and American meddling in European affairs, and as well against bitter partisanship in domestic politics; he also called for men to move beyond partisanship and serve the common good. He cautioned against "permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world", saying the United States must concentrate primarily on American interests. He counseled friendship and commerce with all nations, but advised against involvement in European wars and entering into long-term "entangling" alliances. The address quickly set American values regarding foreign affairs.
After retiring from the presidency in March 1797, Washington returned to Mount Vernon with a profound sense of relief. He devoted much time to his plantations and other business interests, including his distillery which produced its first batch of spirits in February 1797. As Chernow (2010) explains, his plantation operations were only minimally profitable. The lands out west yielded little income because they were under attack by Indians and the squatters living there refused to pay him rent. Most Americans assumed he was rich because of the well-known "glorified façade of wealth and grandeur" at Mount Vernon. Historians estimate his estate was worth about $1 million in 1799 dollars, equivalent to about $19.9 million in 2014 purchasing power.
By 1798 relations with France had deteriorated to the point that war seemed imminent, and on the Declaration of Independence's 22nd Anniversary (1798), President Adams offered Washington a commission as lieutenant general and Commander-in-chief of the armies raised or to be raised for service in a prospective war. He accepted, and served as the senior officer of the United States Armyfrom July 13, 1798 until his death seventeen months later. He participated in the planning for a Provisional Army to meet any emergency that might arise, but avoided involvement in details as much as possible; he delegated most of the work, including leadership of the army, to Hamilton.
Almost two weeks before Christmas Day, 1799, Washington spent several hours inspecting his plantation on horseback, in snow, hail, and freezing rain; later that evening he ate his supper without changing from his wet clothes. That Friday he awoke with a severe sore throat and became increasingly hoarse as the day progressed, yet still rode out in the heavy snow, marking trees on the estate that he wanted cut. Sometime around 3 a.m. that Saturday, he suddenly awoke with severe difficulty breathing and almost completely unable to speak or swallow. A firm believer in bloodletting, a standard medical practice of that era which he had used to treat various ailments of slaves on his plantation, he ordered estate overseer Albin Rawlins to remove half a pint of his blood.
A total of three physicians were sent for, including Washington's personal physician Dr. James Craik along with Dr. Gustavus Brown and Dr. Elisha Dick. Craik and Brown thought that Washington had "quinsey" or "quincy", while Dick, the younger man, thought the condition was more serious or a "violent inflammation of the throat". By the time the three physicians finished their treatments and bloodletting of the president, there had been a massive volume of blood loss—half or more of his total blood content was removed over the course of just a few hours. Recognizing that the bloodletting and other treatments were failing, Dr. Dick proposed performing an emergency tracheotomy, a procedure that few American physicians were familiar with at the time, as a last-ditch effort to save Washington's life, but the other two doctors disapproved.
Washington died at home around 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 14, 1799, aged 67. In his journal, Lear recorded Washington's last words as being "'Tis well."
The diagnosis of Washington's final illness and the immediate cause of his death have been subjects of debate since the day he died. In the days immediately following his death, Craik and Dick's published account stated that they felt his symptoms had been consistent with "cynanche trachealis", a term of that period used to describe severe inflammation of the structures of the upper airway. Even at that early date, there were accusations of medical malpractice, with some believing that Washington had been bled to death. Various modern medical authors have speculated that Washington probably died from a severe case of epiglottitis which was complicated by the given treatments (all of which were accepted medical practice in Washington's day)—most notably the massive deliberate blood loss, which almost certainly caused hypovolemic shock.
Throughout the world, men and women were saddened by Washington's death. In France, First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte ordered ten days of mourning throughout the country; in the United States, memorial processions were held in major cities and thousands wore mourning clothes for months. To protect their privacy, Martha Washington burned the correspondence they had exchanged; only five letters between the couple are known to have survived, two letters from Martha to George and three from him to Martha.
On December 18, 1799, a funeral was held at Mount Vernon, where his body was interred. Congress passed a joint resolution to construct a marble monument in the planned crypt below the rotunda of the center section of the Capitol (then still under construction) for his body, a plan supported by Martha. In December 1800, the House passed an appropriations bill for $200,000 to build the mausoleum, which was to be a pyramid with a 100-foot (30 m) square base. Southern representatives and senators, in later opposition to the plan, defeated the measure because they felt it was best to have Washington's body remain at Mount Vernon.
In 1831, for the centennial of his birth, a new tomb was constructed to receive his remains. That year, an unsuccessful attempt was made to steal the body of Washington. Despite this, a joint Congressional committee in early 1832, debated the removal of President Washington's body from Mount Vernon to a crypt in the Capitol, built by architect Charles Bulfinchin the 1820s during the reconstruction of the burned-out structure after the British set it afire in August 1814, during the "Burning of Washington". Southern opposition was intense, antagonized by an ever-growing rift between North and South. Congressman Wiley Thompson of Georgia expressed the fear of Southerners when he said, "Remove the remains of our venerated Washington from their association with the remains of his consort and his ancestors, from Mount Vernon and from his native State, and deposit them in this capitol, and then let a severance of the Union occur, and behold the remains of Washington on a shore foreign to his native soil."
His remains were moved on October 7, 1837 to the new tomb constructed at Mount Vernon, presented by John Struthers of Philadelphia. After the ceremony, the inner vault's door was closed and the key was thrown into the Potomac.