George Washington ordered his overseers to begin the 1767 wheat harvest on June 24, a hot, cloudy Saturday at the end of a dry week. Thus began twenty days of unrelenting exertion for Mount Vernon’s slaves and no little anxiety for their master, who for the first time had given over his holding almost entirely to the cultivation of grain. Much depended on the success of this experiment, which was a crucial element in Washington’s scheme to free himself of the debts he had accumulated over the years of failing to produce tobacco that would sell on London’s finicky market. Rich as he was in land, he feared that, like so many of his fellow planters, he too would become permanently dependent on his English merchant creditors. It was a fate he dreaded above all, for to suffer it meant that he would lose the essence of a gentleman’s character, independence, and with it the capacity to behave in a truly virtuous way.
Continental Army general — one of Washington’s best; 1726—1783.
Continental Army officer, lawyer, politician, Vice President under Thomas Jefferson; killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel; 1756—1836.
Soldier, politician, New York governor, vice president under Jefferson and Madison; 1739—1812.
Washington’s aide-de-camp, lawyer, contributor to the Federalist Papers, Secretary of the Treasury; 1755/1757—1804.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
New York merchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence; 1716—78.
New York lawyer, politician, signer of the Declaration of Independence; 1746—1813.
Irish-born Continental Army general, formerly a British officer; 1738—75.
Merchant, financier; helped draft then stylized the Constitution; 1752—1816.
Author, revolutionary, political philosopher; 1737—1809.
Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754 - 1766 (2000)