Volume seven of the Colonial Series presents the surviving correspondence of the adult Washington in the 1760s after the young colonel left the Virginia regiment to go with his new wife to Mount Vernon and before he, as the squire of Mount Vernon, became deeply involved in the Revolutionary politics of the 1770s. Many of the issues, enterprises, controversies, and involvements that run through the 1770s and 1780s and even continuing until his death had their beginnings in the 1760s. The details of these beginnings emerge from his sparse personal and much fuller business correspondence and from the other public and private papers, all augmented by more voluminous notes than the editors usually find it necessary to provide.
Volume seven, therefore, becomes a pivotal volume in the series and perhaps its editors’ most useful contribution. Among the things it documents are Washington’s early efforts to secure vast quantities of western land for himself and his old comrades in arms, to make the Potomac River the gateway to the West, to open up and develop the Dismal Swamp, to enlarge and improve his house, gardens, and farms at Mount Vernon, to convert Mount Vernon into a model economic unit freed of reliance upon tobacco cultivation, to render Virginia more self-sufficient and less dependent on Britain, and to make of himself what a man in his position was supposed to be. But the greatest value of the volume may be simply what it reveals of the business operations of a great Virginia planter on the eve of the Revolution.
W.W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig, eds., The Papers of George Washington: Colonial Series volume 7, January 1761 – June 1767. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1990.
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