Volume 6: Sept. 1758 – Dec. 1760

The first half of volume six deals with Washington as a brigade commander in General John Forbes’s army participating in the campaign that culminated in the French abandonment of Fort Duquesne at the forks of the Ohio in November 1758. This campaign was certainly the most important of the military experiences that was to prepare Washington for what was to come in 1775. After the campaign was over, Washington gave up his commission, married Martha Custis, and took his bride and her two children to live at Mount Vernon.

Now twenty-seven years old, something of a military hero, a burgess for the first time, and, through his wife, the manager of an estate that dwarfed his own, Washington took on the life of the well-to-do Virginia planter. As those of his surviving papers from 1759 to 1760 reveal, Washington immediately undertook the personal management of his own plantations and of those belonging to his wife and her children with decisiveness, with his usual remarkable attention to detail, and always with an eye to better ways of doing things.

During the first two years of his marriage, Washington also devoted a great deal of attention to the settlement of the estate of his wife’s first husband, Daniel Parke Custis. Because until the Revolution the management of the Custis property was one of Washington’s main concerns and because in a sense it was the basis of his own future, the editors of this volume have attempted to bring together and reconstruct all of the scattered and mutilated documents involved in the settlement of Daniel Parke Custis’s estate, 1759-61. The result is a remarkable statement of the affairs of a great Virginia planter at midcentury.

W.W. Abbot, ed., The Papers of George Washington: Colonial Series volume 6, September 1758 – December 1760. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1988.

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