, 17 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
A thread on Trumpian conservatism, the #1619project, and the politics of interpreting (or erasing) the history of slavery at Mount Vernon.
We're doing a unit on George Washington and slavery (in history and memory) in my intro to US History class. This excellent Backstory episode couldn't have been better timed. backstoryradio.org/shows/the-long…
We've read parts of the #1619Project to set the stage for our discussion about how contemporary Americans should remember slavery and its relationship to our politics and our economy. So I thought, how does Mt. Vernon do this work? Which led me to this.
What follows is not a criticism of any person who appears in that video, or of any of its content. What's wrong here, and I mean egregiously wrong, is what's NOT in this video overview of Washington's Mt. Vernon. And that would be, slavery and enslaved people.
All of the food served at Mt. Vernon was prepared by enslaved people. All of the food grown at Mt. Vernon was cultivated and harvested by enslaved people. All of the livestock was cared for by enslaved people. Without enslaved labor, GW is not a rich man, nor a powerful one.
I mean, they didn't even take the absolute lowest hanging fruit in this video, which would have been to mention that Washington freed all of the people he claimed to own in his will.
This would have been tougher, but on the theme of freedom, they could have mentioned that during the Revolutionary War many of GW's slaves freed themselves by escaping his plantation, one of whom (Harry Washington) became a "founding father" of sorts of Sierra Leone.
Mount Vernon was a small town of about 300 people, about 98% of whom were black and were enslaved. This beautifully produced video makes it seem as if Mt. Vernon was an almost entirely white space.
Ok, "so where's the Trumpian conservatism" you might be asking. At the end of the video they mention that someone has generously offered to match any gifts to help do preservation work at Mt. Vernon. Historians much appreciate people who donate to such things....however...
At the end of this video that offered an egregiously whitewashed and patriotic version of Mount Vernon and George Washington, we might wonder who is this Karen B Wright? Hey @OpenSecretsDC, what have you got? opensecrets.org/outsidespendin….
@OpenSecretsDC Since 2017 alone, this person and her family members have donated over $2 million to far right political groups, like this America First Action PAC which spent tons of money to defeat Democrats and elect Republicans. opensecrets.org/outsidespendin…
@OpenSecretsDC Like any non-profit, Mount Vernon is not in a position to say no to people who want to give them money. And money given for historical preservation is a great thing. But what gets designated as "worth supporting" and "not worth supporting?"
@OpenSecretsDC Last time I went to Mount Vernon (about 5 years ago) I was stunned by how little there was on the history of slavery. There was an entire room devoted to GW's teeth, and a small cubicle on slavery. The Disney-like introductory video barely mentioned slavery at all.
@OpenSecretsDC There was a restored "slave quarters" that were interpreted quite well. They were away from the main house and near the bathrooms. I was one of 3 people there. There were probably 300 visitors on the site at the time.
@OpenSecretsDC As that @BackStoryRadio episode makes clear, doing public history around the topic of slavery is really hard. But if there's any place we should be trying to do it well, it's Mt. Vernon...the home of the "father of the country."
@OpenSecretsDC @BackStoryRadio A few million bucks could sure help that. Perhaps those Trump supporting donors to Mt. Vernon earmarked some or all of their gift to remedying the egregious oversight of the history of slavery that marks Mt. Vernon as a historical site?
@OpenSecretsDC @BackStoryRadio Somehow I doubt it. But I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Seth Cotlar
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!