Mount Vernon is a beautiful property with rolling hills overlooking Potomac River. We enjoyed a tour of the house, the barn and learning about the hospitality of the day: if anyone stops by, you cater to their needs, food, lodging, animal care, surrey or carriage repairs, horse shoeing and all. Complete strangers might stop for water or for days on end, depending upon their situation. We greatly enjoyed the view from the expansive porch where comfortable, large chairs line the pavement.
We also learned the Washington's could clearly afford to be such hosts. Not far from the main farm is the distillery which apparently did quite a business back in its day. Washington got into the business upon completing his term as our nation's first president in 1797. By the time of Washington's death in 1799, it was producing 11,000 gallons of whiskey each year, sold at a tidy profit, which made it the largest distillery in America.
This tour flipped a switch in my brain: I finally realized our nation has always been led by royalty of sorts. It's said you have to have money to make money, but it turns out you have to have money to lead the country as well. While the Washingtons may indeed have been generous with their home and property, the fact remains that they benefited on the backs of the slaves who they owned, and others below the Washington family's status