Hearing the news about the Custis widow, he contemplated his own future and turned his mind to his marriage prospects. George and Martha's first meeting is lost to history, but it is possible they met while Martha and Daniel Custis were married as they had many acquaintances in common.
After returning for another visit on March 25, Washington returned to his military post. Within months of these meetings, both parties began to plan a future together.
George Washington's Marriage
Washington began renovating and improving his home at Mount Vernon. Their attraction was mutual, powerful, and immediate. Martha was charming, accomplished, and, of course, wealthy. George had his own appeal. Over six foot two inches tall compared with Martha, who was only five feet tall , George was an imposing figure whose reputation as a military leader preceded him.
After his half-brother Lawrence and his widow died, Washington would inherit Mount Vernon, a beautiful acre estate located high above the Potomac River in Northern Virginia. But Mr and Mrs Washington were far from ordinary. George Washington knocks spots off Napoleon.
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He worried about his men — what they would wear and what they would eat. Washington understood that there was a contract between the men and the leadership whereby the authorities provided what the men needed to keep them effective.
Marriage and plantation life
Whether Washington genuinely cared for them as individuals is not the issue. He knew his men needed bread, boots and blankets if they were going to win a war against a professional army. Washington understood there was much more to sound military judgement than knowing how to win battles. Martha Washington devoted herself to the cause of liberty while being a partner to her husband. She had a family and business affairs to contend with in addition to the role she had to play as the wife of the general leading the Continental Army.
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She was a widow who brought up a young family during uncertain times when mortality was a fickle thing. She knew all too well the pain of loss but she got on with living.
George Washington and His Family
Martha seems like a remarkable woman to me. The author shows us how the Washingtons went from being solid upstanding colonial subjects supporting the mother country to people who asserted that revolution was the only way to break free from the undemocratic and dictatorial spite coming out of London. I wonder; had communications been faster, if things might have turned out differently?
We all know the pitfalls of discussions by text and emails in the digital age, so how fraught was it in an age when weeks and months could pass between responses when so much was at stake? George Washington was an experienced soldier who had the temperament, the knowledge and the belief to win. He set goals and saw them through.
To me this really does place him rungs above Napoleon. I am no great lover of politicians and so I find myself much more drawn to Washington the soldier than to his presidential years. Most social occasions in the tidewater were. Martha would have known what to expect and would have made meticulous preparations in advance to feed and accommodate a houseful of guests who would be cooped up together in the house for an indeterminate number of days.
Plantation weddings went on for a long time, and once guests had made the trip over bad, frozen, or snow-covered roads or up the icy Pamunkey River to White House, they would have had no inclination to go home quickly. Advance preparations must have involved making up endless sleeping pallets; preparing bedding; stocking up with firewood, extra soap, and candles; and an orgy of roasting, smoking, and baking; not to mention provisioning with cordials, brewing of beer, and ordering plenty of wine, Madeira, port, rum, brandy, and whiskey.
Colonials were a notoriously hard-drinking lot.
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