Volume 4: 1784 – June 1786

Volume 4 of the George Washington Diaries includes entries for the years 1784 through June 1786 and covers Washington’s efforts to expand his military operations, his interest in improving the navigation of the Potomac River, and the multiplicity of tasks and visitors awaiting him at Mount Vernon after the Revolution (1785-86). A journal of Washington’s trip west of the Allegheny Mountains (1784) is included. Again, the annotation of the diaries and journal is carefully balanced to give the reader essential information without cluttering the text.

Washington’s extensive entries concerning his commercial agriculture and experimental gardening are thoroughly annotated. The Latin name and an explanation of each of the many plants with which he worked so assiduously are provided. These entries are perhaps the most complete record of the development of the new agriculture in early America. The diaries contain the names of thousands of persons of every rank and calling with whom Washington associated in his commercial, social, and political life. Almost all of them are identified, usually with an explanation of their relationship to Washington in terms of family, business, politics, recreation, and/or neighborhood acquaintance. This annotation of persons provides a unique view of the multiple and constantly changing levels of colonial and post-Revolutionary society, from the servants, through gentry and merchants, to the leaders of Chesapeake society and the emerging nation.

Donald Jackson, ed., The Papers of George Washington: Diaries volume 4, 1784– June 1786. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1978.

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