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She’s the ‘Mother of Our Country’

If George Washington is the Father of our country, then his beloved wife, Martha, is the Mother. In a ca. 1897 drawing by artist Peter Newell, George Washington asks, “Dear Martha, will you be the mother of your country, love, this land of liberty?”

Peter Newell, artist. 'How Washington proposed.' Inaugural Address, March 4, 1793, in secretary's hand (probably Tobias Lear).

An introduction to the relationship of George and Martha is in the America’s Library Web site for kids and families. This site, with more than 4,500 pages of fascinating and educational materials, invites you “Meet Amazing Americans,” “Jump Back in Time,” “Explore the States,” “Join America at Play” and “See, Hear and Sing.”

George Washington is also well represented in American, where the George Washington Papers collection consists of approximately 65,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Washington documents in the world. Document types include correspondence, letterbooks, diaries, journals, financial account books, military records, reports and notes accumulated by Washington from 1741 through 1799.

The papers document Washington’s youth and early adulthood as a Virginia county surveyor and as colonel of the militia during the French and Indian War. Washington's election as delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses and his command of the American army during the Revolutionary war are also well documented as well as his two presidential administrations from 1789 through 1797. Because of the wide range of Washington's interests, activities and correspondents, which include ordinary citizens as well as celebrated figures, his papers are a rich source for almost every aspect of colonial and early American history.

Documents relating to Washington’s two inaugurations, in 1789 and 1793, are in “’I Do Solemnly Swear…’”. In “Presidential Inaugurations: Historical Highlights,” Marvin Kranz, historical specialist in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, reviews nine inaugurations, from George Washington's in 1789 to Theodore Roosevelt's in 1905. The ceremonial traditions associated with presidential inaugurations -- using a Bible when taking the oath of office, reading an inaugural address, attending an inaugural ball -- were all established by George Washington at his first inauguration and have been followed until the present day.

A. Peter Newell, artist. "How Washington proposed." 1897?. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction information: Call No.: CAI - Newell, no. 14 (A size) [P&P]

B. Inaugural Address, March 4, 1793, in secretary's hand (probably Tobias Lear). Manuscript Division, The Papers of George Washington. Digital ID: mssmisc pin0201

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