Monument Mania: Memorializing George Washington

George Washington is certainly considered a hero of American history. He is often seen as the father of this country and is hailed as one of, if not the, greatest founding fathers. In the 18th and 19th centuries in particular, Washington was a celebrity and even before his death the public scrambled to construct monuments to Washington. Despite this perceived greatness, Washington’s status as a slaveholder is often forgotten. Very few, if any, monuments to Washington acknowledge the enslaved people that he owned and even Mount Vernon struggles to associate Washington with slavery. This project examines how George Washington's legacy is constructed through the memorials we construct to him and who is forgotten in his legacy.

This exhibit will focus on three memorials to Washington; the equestrian statue of Washington in New York, the Virginia Washington Monument, and the two memorials to enslaved people at Mount Vernon. These monuments each reveal different aspects of George Washington's legacy and demonstrate the importance of monuments and tha narratives that are told through them.